Reservation Dogs season 1, episode 3 recap – “Uncle Brownie”

August 16, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
3.5

Summary

“Uncle Brownie” explores the idea of family, street fighting, and the changing nature of weed in a low-key chapter.

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3.5

Summary

“Uncle Brownie” explores the idea of family, street fighting, and the changing nature of weed in a low-key chapter.

This recap of Reservation Dogs season 1, episode 3, “Uncle Brownie”, contains spoilers.


Nothing much happens in “Uncle Brownie”, by design. Continuing the laidback, specific style of last week’s bumper premiere, this third outing digs into the idea of family, not to mention the changing nature of weed, as Elora tracks down her reclusive, traditionalist uncle who is legendary for having knocked out ten, or twenty, or perhaps even thirty people in a single night.

Reservation Dogs season 1, episode 3 recap

Oddly, though, the episode opens with an older white couple driving down the road while debating how much, if any, land the so-called Indians have a right to reclaim. The husband argues that “all of it” seems unreasonable — aren’t the casinos enough? — whereas the wife believes that they’re entitled to as much as they want, given it’s technically theirs and all. Neither has much to contribute when they hit and kill a deer, which Elora, Willie Jack, and Bear later stumble on, assume (correctly) was the doing of “old white folks”, and bundle into the back of Elora’s grandmother’s car, where it stays for virtually the entire episode.

Like a lot of things in Reservation Dogs, the deer is pushed aside but not forgotten about. But there are more pressing matters to attend to. The kids, still embroiled in a small-scale gang war, want to learn how to fight, and who better to teach them than a man famed for his pugilistic exploits? Either that or he can curse one of their enemies using a lock of their hair that Willie Jack has taken to carrying around in a Ziploc bag. Whatever works.

At first blush, though, it doesn’t seem like the titular “Uncle Brownie” is capable of much — nothing useful, anyway. They find him digging up his land — which is strewn with traps and bombs — looking for weed he buried 15 years prior. He isn’t interested in the kids and the kids come to believe that the stories of his combat exploits have been exaggerated, to say the least. Feeling bad about his rudeness, though, and considering the family connection, Brownie agrees to teach them a few things if they take him to town to sell his weed.

As it turns out, selling weed when it’s legal is kind of difficult to do, which probably works as an argument in favor of legalization. Nobody wants Brownie’s old weed when they can just buy the good stuff from the dispensary — even the dispensary doesn’t want it, though the proprietor at least gives Brownie a bong hit so he can see what he’s missing. That’s the older man’s arc throughout the episode, by the way. He hasn’t just retreated from his own family but from public life entirely, hiding away from the world and the aspects of himself he’s not proud of. And the root of his personal guilt stems from Old Muggy’s bar, the venue of his often-talked-about knockout streak.

In a funny twist, it turns out Uncle Brownie was downplaying that story. When he finally decides to head back to the bar in the hopes its die-hard clientele will purchase his old weed, we learn that he probably knocked out thirty people, and two cops, all while high on meth. But far from being a crowning achievement, it’s something he’s ashamed of; the loss of control, the people he hurt. The bar agrees to take the weed along with two rounds of cheap beers and backstraps from the dead animal in the car, and it’s sat outside, covered in that thing’s guts, that Brownie is reminded about the value of real family. Far from having something to teach the kids, he really had something to learn from them.

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