(Warning: This post contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of Peacock’s “Rutherford Falls.”)
The last few minutes of the 10th and final episode of Peacock’s “Rutherford Falls” Season 1 take viewers through a real roller coaster of closure and uncertainty, as best friends Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) and Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) finally make up. Nathan, whose brain is basically broken after finding out he’s not a Rutherford, but a D’Angelo, apologizes to Reagan for only thinking of himself and his desires to uphold his legacy over hers to uphold her Native community’s. And she tells him she is far from fully “getting it” as he thinks she does, and that no one is ever fully in the right over someone else.
Though Nathan isn’t coming home to Rutherford Falls right away — he has a lot to sort out still — the call ends with the two reconciled, and Reagan begins the daunting task of opening the cultural center she has just fought so hard to earn the position of running.
And then, Nathan turns on the radio in his car and hears the beginning of journalist Josh Carter’s (Dustin Milligan) podcast about Rutherford Falls — which Reagan had begged Josh not to go through with, after she told Josh so many personal things about Nathan’s family history during their brief romance.
So where does this leave Reagan, Nathan and Josh heading into a potential Season 2 of “Rutherford Falls,” which was co-created by Helms, Mike Schur and Sierra Teller Ornelas?
“Well, we don’t have season two mapped out yet, obviously, because we don’t know if we’re going to get one. But what we did try to do with this season was really give each character a full experience so that we have a lot to work with when we come back,” Schmieding told TheWrap. “And, you know, we haven’t made any decisions about a Season 2. We don’t know, like, is Nathan going to double down yet again? Is he going to freak out? Is he going to be churning butter? What is Nathan’s life to look like now that he’s had this sort of like identity crisis, this deep, deep identity crisis? How do you come back from that? How will their friendship come back together?”
“I think, you know, in terms of Reagan’s experience, she’s leveled up in her career. But like more money, more problems,” she continued. “That’s not an easy thing to tackle. S–t’s going to hit the fan a lot when she’s running an entire museum. And in terms of Josh, he got his, too. So he has like a lot of stake in this town now. He has done like a weird thing to Rutherford Falls, which is he put it on the map and not necessarily in a great way for everyone. So everybody has, like, blown up their lives in a weird way. And we don’t know yet what that’s going to look like. But I trust that the writers and show creators of our show, I trust that we will have a great time figuring it out.”
Setting aside those final moment twists, Jana told TheWrap about Reagan’s earlier challenge in the finale, where she went live on social media in an attempt to convince her fellow Minishonka Nation tribe members that she is the right person to run the culture center casino owner Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes) is opening — even if they think she’s stuck up and too separated from their community to represent them.
“This was sort of our crabs-in-a-bucket episode,” Schmieding said. “And I don’t think it’s meant to vilify Native communities. But certainly I think it’s important to sort of understand, like, you know, when a young person comes into a community and people are already suspect and I think it’s fair to say, like Reagan sets up shop and she’s like, ‘Here I am! Here’s my cultural center! I’m honoring our people!’ The fact that her community, which is made up of elders and children, people who have been there and living this experience for generations and, you know, for her to kind of like think that she can sort of represent her people without really deeply consulting them and asking, ‘What would you like? How would you like to be represented?’”
She continued: “I think what we’re trying to do is not necessarily say like, yeah, Native people like we hate each other or we don’t let each other thrive. But, like, the way that we function culturally is to say, like, you know, it’s hard and even when we have good intentions, I think a lot of times in modern society, we want to do things fast. We want to like get it done. We want to be in the spotlight and like, you know, and without going through a lot of the traditional protocol, which is like a lot of consultation and a lot of asking, do you agree with this? And Reagan, she’s like, ‘I have done the work, I’m trying I’m trying to do it right. And and now it’s just getting petty, you know, now you’re just going to dig your heels in.’ And I think it’s also kind of goes with the theme of the show, which is when someone’s beliefs about a person or a circumstance or history is challenged, how, normally, people aren’t just like, ‘Huh, good point, I’m going to change my mind about that.’ But rather, the the psychological analysis and data shows that most people double down and just defend their beliefs and they’ll do anything.”
Schmieding explained that this scene shows “everybody is experiencing that, not just Nathan Rutherford, and that no amount of leadership in a tribal community doesn’t come without a little bit of pushback.”
“So we are also seeing Reagan’s ability to hold her own. She’s kind of come into her own and she has answers. They’re going to question her and she has answers finally. So I think that it’s important to see both of those things.”
“Rutherford Falls” Season 1 is streaming now on Peacock.