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The Cinematic Inspirations Behind Reservation Dogs' Psychedelic Season 2 Episode

"Reservation Dogs," FX's comedy series about life on a Native reservation, has been hailed a breath of fresh air by critics, holding a perfect 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing. Co-created by Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, the show follows a group of reservation kids navigating their burgeoning adolescence in the wake of a friend's death. However, the tribe's elders are never far outside the show's focus, and in the latest episode of Season 2, entitled "This Is Where the Plot Thickens," we get a psychedelic tale centered around the reservation's policeman, Big (Zahn McClarnon).

The episode picks up when Tribal Law Enforcement officer Big stops at the local scrapyard to investigate a small-scale theft of catfish. While there, he spots a Mountain Dew-style soda and chugs it down, unaware that the bottle has been laced with a hefty serving of LSD and ayahuasca. He tries to make himself vomit, but of course, that's no use. The scrapyard's proprietor, Kenny Boy (Kirk Fox) decides to trip with him and gulps down a dose. The two of them take off into the forest, where they stumble across a white supremacist cult who have not only stolen the catfish Big was looking for but are also doing some, shall we say, unsavory things with them.

In many ways, the episode is indebted to a long lineage of psychedelic films, but it is also a fresh take on the idea from an often-marginalized perspective. Luckily, the creators of "Reservation Dogs" Season 2, Episode 8, have gone on the record to reveal the cinematic inspirations behind their mind-bending installment.

Jodorowsky and buddy cop movies inspired Reservation Dogs Season 2 Episode 8

Speaking to Deadline, director Blackhorse Lowe, along with actors Kirk Fox and Zahn McClarnon, explained the cinematic inspirations behind "This Is Where the Plot Thickens" and its psychedelic journey. According to Lowe, he hopes the episode will have a similar affect to the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky, specifically 1970's "El Topo" and 1973's "The Holy Mountain."

"Both really shook my sensibilities on understanding using psychedelics in cinema," the director explained. Notably, both films contain parallel elements to parts of "This Is Where the Plot Thickens." For instance, the group of cultists Big and Kenny Boy encounter in the woods feels reminiscent of the cultists encountered by the hero of "El Topo," while the visions and flashbacks Big experiences during his trip seem to mirror some moments from "The Holy Mountain" (though they are not as surreal or absurd).

According to Fox and McClarnon, Lowe also screened a movie called "The Night Before." Though McClarnon refers to it as a '70s movie, the film in question is probably the Keanu Reeves-starring movie by that title from 1988.

However, since most of the "Reservation Dogs" episode is a classic tale of unlikely buddies, one of whom is a cop, buddy cop movies were also referenced heavily while filming. While Fox says those influences weren't really on his mind, he explained, "Everyone around us was referencing the buddy cop movies, whether it was 'Lethal Weapon' or '48 Hours,' because it was undeniable that what they were seeing was something they could reference it to."

New episodes of "Reservation Dogs" air Wednesdays on Hulu, and with only two more installments left in Season 2, fans are sure to be watching with excitement to see where else the creative team can take them.