Part-time Indigenous media critic, but full-time Indigenous professional.
The Gist of Season 2
The second season of Peacock’s hidden gem, Rutherford Falls, picks up a few months after the Season 1 finale, and there have been many changes during that time. With Nathan (Ed Helms) on his “self-discovery journey,” the Rutherford Museum is under Reagan’s (Jana Schmieding) management, who has changed the museum to the Minishonka Cultural Center, at least until the official Cultural Center finishes its construction.
With Bobbie’s (Jesse Leigh) flair, and the many props that Nathan left behind, Reagan gives tours of the cultural center that would make Nathan come back for more, which (surprise!) he has as Reagan’s “White Man in the Cupboard” (also the name of Season 2 Episode 1). After a brief attempt at figuring out who he is—outside of being a Rutherford—Nathan came back to hide in his home and has been helping Reagan with the many tasks given to her by Terry (Michael Greyeyes). Of course, let’s not forget Terry, who has turned the town of Rutherford Falls into a commercialized Ye Olde Rutherford Falls attraction, which does not go over well with the community.
This is where the plot starts rolling because we find out that Mayor Deirdre Chisenhall (Dana L. Wilson) has been named the Interim State Controller, and as a result will be stepping down as Mayor of Rutherford Falls. When Terry is told this at his surprise birthday party—which featured an amazing Dirty Dancing routine—he realizes that he needs to find an ideal candidate who can help move his plans along and stop his rival, Feather Day (Kaniehtiio Horn).
Stepping Away from Nathan
Once the Mayor position has been revealed to be the overarching plot of the season, this is where Rutherford Falls excels. Nathan comes out of hiding with one goal in mind and that is to not center himself too much. The viewer would expect that Nathan would throw his hat into the ring, but he takes a step back and gives Terry Rutherford Falls’s best hope, Bobbie Yang.
Bobbie takes on the task with great enthusiasm and they prove to Terry that they can connect with the town in ways that Terry isn’t all too familiar with. Throughout the first half of the season we find that the show leaned away from Nathan and centered itself on Reagan’s story.
Indigenous Characters Fleshed Out
Along with Reagan’s story we get to see more of the supporting Indigenous cast show their own acting chops and flesh out their characters. Sally (Julia Jones) and Wayne (Bobby Dues Wilson) feel more a part of the community that Reagan came from when we reach the Reagan’s episode, "Aunt Sue" (Season 2 Episode 3). Their shenanigans, from ghost hunting to revealing a Pretendian (pretend Indian), brings the originality that one might expect from a 1491s sketch (an Indigenous sketch comedy group that Bobby Wilson co-founded).
Then there is newcomer Nelson (Dallas Goldtooth), who plays the new Minishonka Cultural Center curator, and is not afraid to point out any mistakes. We find that he and Reagan come from similar backgrounds, in that they both obtained college degrees to better serve their own communities. While their personalities clash, they do get romantically linked and look at Minishonka land assignments together by the end of the fourth episode ("Land Back") in a way that seems natural, so we hope to see more of Nelson as the two continue their efforts of cultural preservation.
Looking Forward to the Second Half
The first half of this second season has been a blast to watch and get to know where each character stands. The show is taking far more chances with telling stories in hilarious fashion that Indigenous audiences can relate or laugh at. I look forward to continuing to see the dynamic grow between Bobbie and Terry as the Mayor election heats up with each passing episode.
Like with the IHS episode from Hulu's Reservation Dogs, the Indigenous audience who had to work with their enrolled tribal office gets to see Reagan’s montage of her efforts to apply for land assignment. The montage would have the audience laugh and say, “Been there,” as they get to watch Reagan go through the many hoops that one has to take just to start some paperwork.
With this land assignment looking to be Reagan’s big end goal for the season, I look forward to seeing the next ridiculous task the Minishonka offices have planned for her. Let’s also not forget Nathan as he figures himself out and his big plans after THAT big reveal at the end of Episode 3.