Warning: This post contains spoilers from the Wednesday episode of Reservation Dogs.
Reservation Dogs is a satire fueled by funny characters and whip-smart humor, but Wednesday's episode titled Mabel took a rather gloomy turn as Elora Danans world completely caved in.
Elora found herself back on the rez just in time to say goodbye to her dying grandmother after her mother's death. These are the beginning of a storm of unpleasant and conflicting feelings.
DEVERY JACOBS | I knew I wanted to be a part of the writers room. I wanted to be a part of the show, but also to give my opinions about death, but also through the lens of our communities. I think it's important to remember that death is something we all know and love.
Then again, it's all about the money.
Danis Goulet, who I thought handled the episode with such care, we had a great conversation about how we wanted to honor each others artistic vision for it. I told her, Im leaving my writing hat and giving this script completely over to you. Im so excited to see what you do with it, and now is my chance to reflect on it differently as Elora. I'm so proud of it both as a writer and as an actor.
TVLINE: What were some cultural traditions you wanted to include while writing? I left that up to Sterlin because Im Mohawk we have different customs than Muscogee and Seminole communities do, but I think the element we wanted to convey was the community coming together and the way in which we say goodbye to people. That was something we thought was very important.
Elora appears a bit numb in the first part of the episode. What's going on inside her head at the very start of 2X04? Elora Danan is overwhelmed. She has suffered with severe anxiety because her previous experiences with death have been not necessarily positive experiences, like her grandmother's passing. So for her to experience death in the right way, meaning of natural causes and being surrounded by community, turns out to be a powerful healing experience.
TVLINE | Can you tell me a bit about the significance of the plate of food that Elora asks Bear to bring back? It depends on the community, but there are different ways to do it. It's also a plate of food for the person who died. In my community, William Knifeman comes and eats it! It's hilarious!
Bear and Elora are at a very interesting crossroads in their friendship. What's the point of these two? It doesnt mean they have spoken out about everything and made amends for the mistakes that have been made. I don't know if Bear and Elora will ever fully heal themselves, but they both love each other.
Elora tells Jackie that she'll be back on the road soon, but it doesn't appear like her heart is really in it anymore. Was she really hoping to go to California because of all of these negative emotions and memories she's had since coming back. She's discovered that California isn't necessarily the place she expected her to be in her journey.
Aunt Teenie tells Elora how she left the reservation and what she did with her life. Was that conversation helpful to Elora? One of the things that she was experiencing is anger and resentment that this person should have been in her life. Another is that she is looking at an older friend group that has gone through similar trauma. It gives her a different perspective on life.
Tamara Podemski was the perfect fit to play Teenie because there was no one else to do it. Her ability to do this was exceptional. She got to play Sarah Podemski, her younger sister, and we saw that connection blossom. It ended up being really special.
TVLINE | The rest of the Rez Dogs seem to dislike Jackie. Will she ever join the core crew? I'll leave that for Willie Jack, specifically, because she's almost resentful towards Elora. The friend group can't always be blaming her. They're showing up to support her. But a lot of that betrayal and rage is projected onto who Elora left with.
TVLINE | Can you elaborate on the significance of filming on location in Oklahoma? We shoot during tornado season, its hot, its cold, everybody gets ticks, its a whole-on experience! It's a special place in the world, one with people who are so resilient.
Sterlin talked us through what had transpired in the Trail of Tears. Originally, his country was based in the Atlanta and the southeast, but they were mutely relocated to Oklahoma. That is why it ended up being a really communal experience. With so many Indigenous crew members who are local, we could never film anywhere else.