TV Review: Season 2 of FX’s “Reservation Dogs” Regroups its Lead Characters While Balancing Humor, Heart, and Whimsy

FX’s critically acclaimed series Reservation Dogs returns on Wednesday, August 3rd, exclusively on Hulu. Now an established streaming hit, series creators Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi demonstrate the show’s strength with weekly episode releases, kicking off with a double-episode premiere. With the first season splitting up the gang in the finale, it’s finally time for them to regroup.

(Shane Brown/FX)

(Shane Brown/FX)

Elora (Devery Jacobs), Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor) worked so hard to save up money to get to L.A., but at the end of Season 1, only Elora got in the car and drove away. The double-episode premiere doesn’t miss a beat, diving right back in as if no time has passed. We not only see what Bear, Willie Jack, and Cheese are up to in Elora’s absence but also how Elora and Jackie (Elva Guerra) fare as two teenagers out on the open road.

One of my favorite aspects of the series is the way it balances humor, drama, heart, and fantasy. The second season continues to tackle these themes, bringing back Spirit (Dallas Goldtooth) with even more frequency while also dealing with some pretty heavy dramatic moments too. The season premiere, titled “The Curse,” stands as a shining example of how the series dances through every emotion you could imagine in a half-hour of scripted entertainment. It’s hilarious, sad, scary, and fanciful.

Reservation Dogs never plays it safe and the show continues to expand the community the four main characters live in. This is both a blessing and a curse because you come to love all of the tertiary characters and crave more of them, with it often feeling like a lot of time goes by before we get to see them again. At the same time, every new character folded in becomes such a highlight that you don’t want the creators to limit the interactions to just those we’ve already seen. Having seen the first four episodes of the season, I’m already craving more of Big (Zahn McClarnon), the tribal cop/”lighthorseman” who barely appears in the first half of the season, but will presumably get more screen time based on the press kit.

(Shane Brown/FX)

(Shane Brown/FX)

The four leads were largely unknowns when Reservation Dogs premiered last year, but all proved to be charming enough to carry the series, not just as an ensemble but also solo in several bottle episodes. Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis, and Lane Factor are still the quirky characters you fell in love with from the first season, but you can also feel a sense of newfound confidence from each of them in this sophomore season. The love they have not only for their characters but for the series as a whole is evident in every scene.

Reservation Dogs strengthens the FX brand by being a wonderfully original series that dares to be different. While exploring themes unique to the Indigenous experience in America, the show also manages to find humor and whimsy in dreary places. But most of all, by the time each episode ends, you’re desperate for the next one to begin.

I give Season 2 of Reservation Dogs 5 out of 5 bags of Flaming Flamers.

Reservation Dogs Season 2 premieres Wednesday, August 3rd, only on Hulu.

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