The relationship deepens: #NativeNerd review of Rutherford Falls Season 2

New characters, new storylines and more of the Minishonka Nation’s politics earns this show a perfect 10 from this Native Nerd

Greetings Native Viewpoint film review readers. Here is my review of Rutherford Falls season 2.

There were eight episodes as opposed to ten this season, so already there is a reason to want for more.

So where are we heading into season 2?

The gloves are off, the relationships have strengthened, and now, in season 2 we are ready to get into the nitty-gritty of the previously unexplored world of Native and non-Native relations in the little town of Rutherford Falls. 

Rutherford Falls season 2 is a funny yet insightful exploration into the world of tribal politics that most people never knew existed.

You won’t hear much about Big Larry, and Nathan Rutherford has learned his lesson, but admittedly in some ways, I don’t want him to learn everything. In my view, the non-Native characters making their way clumsily through the passageways of Rutherford Falls is the show’s true glory. There will always be an overbearing political figure someplace in this world “who refuses to see color.” (Insert Native Nerd groan here.)

Rutherford Falls season 2 is a funny yet insightful exploration into the world of tribal politics that most people never knew existed.

Vincent Schilling #NativeNerd, Rotten Tomatoes critic, Akwesasne Mohawk

Ok, a couple of points off for only eight episodes, but that said, I had a ton of fun. Michael Greyeyes as Terry Thomas really took a deep dive off a cliff landing heartily into his own character’s skin and well howdy it really works. Reagan Wells is still quirky and a bit out of the loop, but her striving to belong constantly is what makes this show work so well. 

Keep up the fun approaches Terry and Reagan, it’s really working for me.

I have to give serious props to some of the hilarious antics of Jesse Leigh as Bobby Yang as well as Bobby Wilson as Wayne and Julia Jones as Sally. They are three of my favorite characters in the show that should always have a running subplot. As I told Jesse in an interview, “they are the God/Goddess of one-liners,” please don’t ever stop.

See related story: Michael Greyeyes, Jana Schmieding, Ed Helms, Sierra Ornelas and others discuss Rutherford Falls

RUTHERFORD FALLS -- "White Man in the Cupboard" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Leigh as Bobbie Yang, Julia Jones as Sally, Bobby Wilson as Wayne -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/Peacock)
RUTHERFORD FALLS — “White Man in the Cupboard” Episode 201 — Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Leigh as Bobbie Yang, Julia Jones as Sally, Bobby Wilson as Wayne — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/Peacock)

My score 10/10

My quick quote: “An endearing revisit to the world of Rutherford Falls and the Minishonka Nation. If you enjoy hot dog condiment fights, getting into the wrong funeral casket and burning toy babies while running a firefighter’s gauntlet, you’re in for a real treat.”

Peacock TV's Rutherford Falls Season 2 (Courtesy Peacock TV)
Peacock TV’s Rutherford Falls Season 2 (Courtesy Peacock TV)

Synopsis:  In Season 2 of Peacock’s hit comedy Rutherford Falls, life-long best buds Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) and Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) help each other tackle work, romance, and major changes to their small town and the Native American reservation it borders, initiated by Tribal Casino C.E.O. Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes).

What’s new season 2?

The antics are a bit more internal to the Minishonka Nation, which are enjoyable to watch. I love the parody of non-apologetic historians causing a lot of troubles, in season 2, this is touched upon due to the investigations of NPR contributor Josh Carter. 

Nathan Rutherford (portrayed by Ed Helms) becomes a bit of an apologist, finding his way to self-reconciliation.

The cultural center has made its way to the Rutherford museum, and Terry Thomas hits a few bumps in the road due to the not-super-well-received colonial-themed tourist attractions in the Minishonka Nation.

Reagan Wells is as funny and high-spirited as always, and a new museum staff member makes his way into the mix. Enter Dallas Goldtooth.

Nathan makes his way into a coffin, Terry and Reagan make their way to New York City for a dose of sitcom cultural appropriation, and the entire Minishonka rez enjoys a Halloween celebration in the form of hot dog condiments. 

RUTHERFORD FALLS — “The New Curator” Episode 202 — Pictured: (l-r) — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/Peacock)

Throw in the fact Nathan Rutherford has to run the firefighter’s gauntlet with a rubber baby while two main characters run for mayor, and you are in for a lot of fun in season 2.

The perfectly-timed Nathan Rutherford video screen moment was freaking hilarious. You’ll know when you see it.

Rutherford Falls season 2 introduces a wonderful range of new characters to the show, and brings in a lot of new and fun storylines, all the while giving viewers reasons to pause and think about Native and non-Native relations today.

I love this show.

But what does it all mean?

In my view, the second season is much less about Nathan Rutherford, who time after time in season 2 asserts a gentle recusal from being a centerpiece. 

I also appreciated how flawlessly Nathan and others refer to Bobbie Yang by their pronouns, they/them. It’s a wonderful acknowledgment.

Terry Thomas and Reagan Wells take the viewers this time on a rez journey. It’s a maze of politics and protocols, often not found on the board listing of tribal offices. Although some of these roadblocks might seem like jokes, they are actually more real than people realize.

Rutherford Falls season 2 introduces a wonderful range of new characters to the show, and brings in a lot of new and fun storylines, all the while giving viewers reasons to pause and think about Native and non-Native relations today.

Vincent Schilling #NativeNerd, Rotten Tomatoes critic, Akwesasne Mohawk

The episodes are much more geared to getting the viewer to think about things. In the first episode, Reagan has what she wants, a new cultural center, but at what cost? The next episode is a run for mayor, and the choice made by the writers is a blast.

The issues are real, as I myself have been used as a pawn to cover up cultural appropriation in a television show. As if avenging my experiences — Terry makes quite a few vengeful decisions to give light to the matter. Well-played Terry, well-played.

RUTHERFORD FALLS -- "Aunt Sue" Episode 203 -- Pictured: Michael Greyeyes as Terry Thomas -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/Peacock)
RUTHERFORD FALLS — “Aunt Sue” Episode 203 — Pictured: Michael Greyeyes as Terry Thomas — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/Peacock)

The Halloween episode is hilarious, as a condiment kick to the chops is what every silly sitcom needs. As Terry Thomas warns, “stay off the ground, or it’s over.”

As demonstrated by the Land Back episode, an old grudge can be a real thing on the rez. 

Rutherford Falls season 2 is the ultimate demonstration of this fact. 

And as far as Nathan Rutherford making so many apologies, no worries, just be sure he continues to put his foot right back into his mouth after he thinks he is learning yet another valuable lesson, for it’s in the floundering that we can all find this humor. 

Just watch out for those fish hooks when making a wide cast, the flub could cost you a valuable tribal land allotment. 

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