“Friday” offers viewers a gentle comedown after the intense drama of last week’s episode, which has sparked some important, necessary public conversation around the history of Indigenous Boarding Schools in the United States. This week, Elora, Bear, Cheese, and Willie Jack each receive an important upgrade or piece of information or new relationship that I suspect will pay off later in the season by helping them to progress along their journeys.
It’s Friday at the Okern Indian Health Services clinic, and it seems like the whole town is here for one reason or another. In the waiting room, several of Jackie’s gang members are playing bingo hoping to win the amazing jackpot prize: a half-dozen cans of tuna and a t-shirt from an IHS symposium from five years ago. White Steve ends up taking the jackpot and is honored by the caller, Clinton, with a traditional bingo name and “warrior paint” (“Let me dob you, in that good way”). But there’s no fun or games for the Reservation Dogs who are now fully reunited and back home in Okern. Bear has been safely delivered home by Deer Lady (although nobody believes his story, not even his mom), but now the crew must face some consequences (which ultimately are not very serious) for their choice to secretly run off to California.
Elora is put on trash duty with Leon, Willie Jack’s dad, who is the custodian at the IHS. He tells Elora that he’s proud of the gang’s choice to head to California for Daniel and that “I think it was what you were supposed to do.” Always the supportive dad, Leon also tells Elora that he can get her a job at the IHS (so she can take over as the “matriarch” of the cleaning crew) and even offers to help her connect with the local community college. Yep, that’s the second big development we’ve gotten about Elora this season. First, we find out that her white dad is still somewhere around town. Now it appears Elora is still plotting to go to school … somewhere. While there are options that can keep her close to home, it’s unclear whether Elora has warmed to the idea of staying on the rez just yet. Later, after Elora is witness to some big-time smutty flirting between Bev and Big (who earlier is shown fully Donald-Ducking it **in cowboy boots** while waiting for some kind of exam … hopefully one that actually requires you to take your pants off), she picks up some of her medical records that give her a lead on her dad. His name … is Rick Miller (“What kind of fuckin’ name is Rick?”). Armed with this new information, Elora seems ready to stage a big confrontation with her long-absent father.
Meanwhile, Cheese and Willie Jack are tasked with removing a large mural that Willie Jack took upon herself to paint: a beautiful rendering of an enormous red ding-dong complete with a pair of cha-chas. But it’s mostly Cheese working on the clean-up project — Willie Jack can’t help as she’s is too busy snacking on Flaming Flamers and chatting with Fixico, the elder who sells various alternative medicines (and, apparently, bingo supplies but I guess bingo can be considered a kind of medicine, so let’s just go with it). Mose and Mekko arrive and ask Fixico if he can give them something to deflect the bad energies of some online haters, and he obliges. The curious Willie Jack asks for some insight into how Fixico chooses what medicine to give his clients, and he tells her that with Mose and Mekko, it’s an easy fix — he just always gives them some stinkweed. Fixico then shares another foreboding prophecy with Willie Jack: He’s not long for this world. He also shares that he’s looking for someone “serious” to pass along his knowledge to, and shortly thereafter, he agrees to take Willie Jack on as an apprentice.
Cheese keeps he/his/him-self busy trying to expunge Willie Jack’s beautiful illustration, but his vision is so bad that he can’t tell if all the scrubbing is working or not. So Willie Jack sends him off inside the IHS to locate a pair of glasses that he should have picked up ages ago (the glasses were prescribed during the eye exam, which took place aaaaaallll the way back in season one, episode two). In the optometry office, Cheese meets Natalie, a young, distracted employee who is busy recording some kind of dance routine, I’m guessing for TikTok (can you tell I don’t use TikTok?). We then get a deeply adorable reaction from Cheese, who, upon putting on his glasses for the first time, looks at Nataline and says, “Oh wow, you’re beautiful!” The question is, is there some kind of metaphorical meaning behind Cheese’s new glasses? Is he soon to be gifted with a new sort of vision about his future? Is it a symbol of his transition into adulthood, or is the change merely cosmetic?
Even though Jackie got ditched during the trip to Los Angeles, she is also conscripted into the day of manual labor — she and Bear are tasked with sweeping up the place. Bear catches Jackie up with his solo adventures so far, telling her about his interstate drive with Deer Lady and his encounter with Star People (and a conquistador) thanks to the mysterious Okern expat Maximus. Jackie thinks it’s all baloney, but Bear insists that what he’s experienced is true. From afar, Jackie’s auntie Bev speculates with Rita about whether Bear and Jackie are going to hook up — Bev seems convinced that the two are destined to be together, and there may be something to it given that the pair have been seen exchanging text messages throughout the season so far.
The five juvie junior janitors meet up in the episode’s final sequence, where they are headed off to the local sacred Sonics, and all seems well amongst the whole crew. But what about the metaphorical, or perhaps even literal rain that Fixico has predicted? Season one closed out with a giant tornado blowing through town, and that storm threw the whole community into disorder. Will the rain that’s now being foreshadowed wash away any lingering beef that’s built up between the Reservation Dogs, leaving them clean and fresh and ready for their next phase of life? Or does it symbolize that there’s some new trouble for the kids on the horizon?
Willy Jack’s Deadly Meat Pies
• During this episode, we get some A+ lines and improv from Bev (played by Jana Schmieding) and Big (played by Zahn McClarnon). Between Big’s booty shot and Bev’s “It’s called probably cause!” I can only hope that we can see these two working together on more projects someday. I also managed to finally catch up on the series Fargo last year (McClarnon plays a great villain in season two of the series), and I now have a new appreciation for McClarnon as an actor — he has an amazing range, and I’m big mad that we don’t see him in more of everything. Cast this man! The dude can really do anything!
• There’s still no sign of Spirit, a.k.a. William Knifeman. Bear now openly accepts the existence of Deer Lady, even bragging about her visit to his buddies, so it seems like he’s accepted his gift of otherworldly communication. But when will he reconcile with his original guardian spirit?
• With the revelation about Elora’s dad being white, I’m reminded that we’ve never gotten the full story of the enigmatic character that is … White Steve. What’s his deal?! Is he the missing piece in this developing Elora plotline, or is my tinfoil hat on a little too tight?