Reservation Dogs Review: Waititi Comedy Moves Slow and Steady

It is slow moving, yet its themes are beautiful, and the pacing is a major cause of the general tone of the show. While imperfect, this first season is certainly worth watching.

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Timur takes a deep dive into the series, Reservation Dogs.

Reservation Dogs, Taika Waititi’s newest comedy series concerning a group of kids attempting to gain the money to migrate from a Native American reservation to California, is a show that may lack excitement, but possesses purpose. It is slow moving, yet its themes are beautiful, and the pacing is a major cause of the general tone of the show. While imperfect, this first season is certainly worth watching.

Reservation Dogs is not an exciting show, and appeals to patient viewers who will appreciate the themes and messages within each episode. The story shows us the monotonous lives for each character, yet their inner stories are more tumultuous. The lack of focus on plot allows for major focus on character development.

The third season of another Taika Waititi show, What We Do in the Shadows, is upcoming, yet these shows could not be more different in terms of their substance, tone, and themes. Reservation Dogs also has a rare trait in most shows: it gets better as you continue watching. Short episodes make this an easy watch, and now that this show has recently been renewed for a second season, there is no better time to start.

The first four episodes of this season may have been slow moving, but the second four episodes presented a larger focus on the themes of the show and individual characters. For the writers, it is clear that plot takes a back seat to character, but in this show, that is perfectly fine. It is a heartwarming and beautiful tale of the lives of Indigenous people and their children, and truly feels like a slice of life.

The highlight of this season came in the penultimate episode, entitled “California Dreamin,” which presented a character on their drivers test, but eventually came to concern far more. Overall, this show presents an emotional and fascinating story, despite slow pacing and a lack of excitement throughout. The tone is excellent, being reminiscent of Atlanta, and the pacing is a major part of that.

The one place in which this show fails is that it is too even. There is not a single bad episode in the show so far, yet none of them have reached excellence either. This problem has nothing to do with the pacing, but with a lack of change in characters. The season finale presents slight character growth, but Reservation Dogs might have attempted to bite off more than it could chew; there are many different characters that receive attention, but the attention they are given is not enough to allow us to connect with them individually.

Though the sum of this shows parts is great, the parts themselves seem to still be figuring itself out. Despite its flaws, this show is certainly worth watching and Taika Waititi has created another major success.

 

Final Rating: 3.5/5