In the world of television, the final episode of a beloved series often leaves fans with mixed emotions—saying goodbye to characters who have become like friends can be bittersweet. ‘Reservation Dogs,’ a groundbreaking show that has touched the hearts of many, recently concluded its three-season run, and co-creator Sterlin Harjo has opened up about the inspirations behind the series finale and hinted at what the future might hold for the ‘Rez Dogs’ universe.
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Harjo’s vision for the finale was not just about providing closure to the storyline but also about emphasizing the show’s core message: the importance of community. “It’s not just for kids on the rez,” Harjo told Variety. “It is their whole community. And we see that by going back into the past with some of the elders. We see that by learning more about the other characters.” In this final episode, all the characters come together to bid farewell to one of their own, Fixico, in a poignant and culturally rich funeral scene.
What makes this episode stand out is Harjo’s homage to the legendary filmmaker Robert Altman. Harjo revealed that he spent a significant amount of time revisiting Altman’s films during the preparation for the finale. Altman was known for his skill in crafting narratives with multiple characters, intricate foreground and background actions, and a sense of movement within the storytelling. Harjo aimed to capture that essence, drawing inspiration from Altman’s iconic film, ‘Nashville.’
The finale not only marks an end but also sets the stage for what lies ahead for the show’s characters. Elora embarks on a new adventure in college, Bear learns to navigate life independently as his mother takes a job in the city, and Willie Jack, having apprenticed under Fixico, turns her attention to helping others on the reservation. Cheese, thanks to his new glasses, gains a fresh perspective on life. The finale beautifully illustrates the characters’ growth and the different paths they are forging.
One of the central themes of ‘Reservation Dogs’ is the passing of knowledge and wisdom from the elders to the younger generation. Harjo explains, “Our native communities are about passing knowledge on to other generations. It’s about giving back.” In the third season, viewers witness the young characters not only learning valuable life lessons but also giving back to their community, bridging the gap between generations.
The finale also featured some surprise guest appearances, including Lily Gladstone and Ethan Hawke, who portrayed Elora’s estranged father. Harjo, a friend of Hawke’s, mentioned that the collaboration was a result of their friendship, adding an unexpected layer to the show’s narrative.
As the ‘Reservation Dogs’ journey comes to a close, Harjo expressed his mixed feelings about bidding farewell to the series. He shared a personal connection to the show, explaining that almost every character in the series was inspired by people he knows or family members he grew up with. The stories are deeply personal to him and the other writers and filmmakers involved in the project.
Looking to the future, Harjo hinted at the possibility of spin-offs and even a feature film within the ‘Rez Dogs’ universe. While the story needed to conclude in its current form, the door remains open for more tales from this rich and culturally significant world. Ideas for future projects include a road trip adventure with Uncle Brownie and Bucky or a deeper exploration of the enigmatic character, Deer Lady.
In closing, Sterlin Harjo’s reflections on the ‘Reservation Dogs’ finale provide insight into the creative process and inspirations behind the show’s conclusion. As fans bid farewell to this remarkable series, they can look forward to the potential of new adventures in the ‘Rez Dogs’ universe, keeping the spirit of the show alive for years to come.