Mohawk Girls: Ain’t it a Shame?

Last week on Mohawk Girls, we were left with Zoe (Brittany LeBorgne) falling off the wagon and into bed with Phillip (Max E. Williams), Caitlin (Heather White) running to Leon (Dwain Murphy) when Butterhead (Meegwun Fairbrother) ditched her for the lacrosse team, and Anna (Maika Harper) was snarled in a scheme with Iostha (Allyson Pratt) to oust Bailey (Jenny Pudavick) from Kahnawa:ke because she’s dating James (Jeffrey Wetsch). AND Anna was also second-guessing her decision to stay with Midas (Tanner Novlan). WHEW! That was a mouthful (pun intended)!

Sometimes when you watch an episode and it is finished you sit back and say “Wow!” My response to this week’s episode, “Shame Campaign,” was exactly that, as it tackled the effects of shame on so many levels. This time co-creators Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight have really outdone themselves. We still have all of the comedic elements that Mohawk Girls is known for, but this episode touched on several heavier topics, including verbal abuse, addiction recovery and the violence associated with the “Marry Out Get Out” movement. Of all the episodes since the series began five seasons ago, I feel this one counts as one of the best for scripting, timing, character reactions and interactions.

We open with Bailey taking James to the coffee shop where they immediately ran into her ex-fiancée Watio (Jimmy Blais) who was quick to accuse Bailey of being a race traitor. The entire shop backed Watio’s argument and Bailey and James left, but not before her father Sose (Glen Gould) witnessed the town’s anger and Bailey’s discomfort. The town’s rage continued to grow, the flyer campaign of Anna’s and Iostha’s doing took hold and by the episode’s end, Bailey’s car and home were left vandalized.

Meanwhile, Zoe immediately regretted her tumble with Phillip and she self-prescribed a dose of self-flagellation—”Weak, pathetic, a loser.” Apparently “Perfect Zoe” is still not allowed to make mistakes. But, some growth was evident when she was later confronted by town members at the coffee shop. They delivered an ultimatum: denounce Bailey as a race traitor. But Zoe refused and instead came to Bailey’s defense: “We should value happiness, and we should all have as much joy in our lives as possible.” And then who came to Zoe’s defense? Ohserase (Shawn Youngchief)!!! “She’s right. And, then maybe we’d stop trying to tear everyone down.”

In the meantime, Caitlin made the commitment to open her own salon, and she hired Watio to do the renovations. During their negotiation, Watio revealed that he’s inspired by Caitlin’s new found confidence. But not everyone was pleased.  Butterhead was not liking Caitlin’s metamorphosis. He’s “tired of playing second fiddle to Caitlin’s career,” and was definitely not liking the “no sex until I am finished working,” stand of Caitlin’s. Guess that self-love stuff is working because Caitlin’s confidence is growing! This arc delved to a darker level of overt verbal and very public abuse from Butterhead and we were witness to the effects his insulting comments had upon Caitlin’s confidence. “Proud of my new and unimproved shitty girlfriend who’s not there when I want her. And who is no longer fun and into partying because she is obsessed with her stupid salon. What the hell is there to be proud of?” Bravo to both Heather White and Meegwun Fairbrother for committing themselves to this scene.

And finally, we get to Anna. Up until now, Anna has been battling to locate herself in Kahnawa:ke. Now she is battling herself as she faces a critical choice in her journey. Will she embrace the angry and vindictive party girl that Iostha has been modelling for her, that negative stereotypical false concept of what a Mohawk should be? Or will she embrace the more culturally aware and authentic Mohawk traits? As a part of her Mohawk culture course, Anna was assigned to build a sweat lodge. In an attempt to force Anna and Bailey to mend their ways, Zoe invited Bailey along. Bumpy start is putting it mildly, but the three finally managed, and using traditional land-based education to understand their Mohawk culture and heritage, they realized success, healing and even the possibility of a liberal arts degree in the future for Bailey.

There are just two episodes left! How is Caitlin going to react to Butterhead’s escalating abusive behaviours? Will she run back to Leon’s arms for good? Now that Zoe has faced down the town, will she be able to face her parents? Will Bailey cave to the pressures of the “Marry Out Get Out” movement and break up with James? Will Bailey discover that Anna is behind the smear campaign? What is in store for the Mohawk Girls in the last two episodes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Mohawk Girls airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.