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'Wonderfalls' nostalgia recap: You poked a dead grandmother?

Season 1 | Episode 12 | “Totem Mole” | Unaired

The penultimate episode of Wonderfalls begins with Jaye, Sharon, and Mahandra on a day trip to the Satsuman Indian Reservation. Mahandra, who is approximately three percent Native American, wants to apply for tribal membership, mostly so she can cash in on any government payouts. Jaye, who came along on the adventure to escape the store—and, more importantly, the animals in it—is soon urged by a creature on a totem pole to enter a tepee across the street.

In the tepee, Jaye finds an elderly Native American woman who immediately acknowledges that Jaye is spoken to in many voices. This woman, Gentlefeather (Kyra Harper), says Jaye has been chosen for a great purpose, and gets her attention when she mentions silencing the voices forever. Just as Jaye is (maybe) about to get some of the answers she seeks, Gentlefeather’s grandson, Bill (Ryan Black), enters and is horrified to see Jaye disturbing his dead grandmother. That’s right—when Jaye looks back, Gentlefeather is very dead. That’s a new one for Jaye.

Meanwhile, Sharon is trying to buy a large quantity of cigarettes from the reservation when an old law-school rival, Deanna Littlefoot (Alex Rice), who is now legal counsel at the reservation, stops her with red tape. Sharon attempts to use Mahandra to help her case, but only succeeds in getting Mahandra’s application for membership unfairly denied. Outside, Jaye has caused quite a ruckus by disturbing Gentlefeather’s resting place. Jaye learns that since the death of Gentlefeather, the tribe has been trying to establish who is next in line to be their seer. Bill, an accountant with very few ties to his native people, seems the obvious choice, but has been unable to prove he has the gift. When the totem pole tells Jaye to “show him who’s special,” she decides it’s now her mission to force Bill’s spiritual awakening.

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At Wonderfalls, Jaye calls Aaron, resident expert in all things spirituality. He is fascinated by her story and exclaims “it’s inanimate humans, too?!” Aaron and Jaye show Bill the Maid of the Mist video, and Jaye encourages him to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps. Bill insists he’s been checking his whole life but has never developed the gift, which broke his grandmother’s heart. After a religion lesson (from Aaron) and some Matrix references (from Jaye), Bill is persuaded to at least submit to the official tests to see if he’s the next seer. Meanwhile, Mahandra and Sharon go to court to argue for Mahandra’s membership but are immediately and embarrassingly shot down by Littlefoot.

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Jaye is determined to make Bill pass the tests in the hope he will be able to communicate with Gentlefeather, and she’ll get her answer about silencing the voices. It quickly becomes clear the tests are identifying Jaye as the one with an actual gift, but she determinedly deflects everything back to Bill, helping him cheat in order to pass. Aaron doesn’t understand why Jaye is both fighting her own gift and forcing something upon poor Bill. The last test involves dying, speaking with the ancestors, and coming back to life, which Jaye assists with through the use of some very crude CPR. Bill, however, is excited because he did see Gentlefeather, and she told him that while he’s lost his path, he’ll find it again.

Now thoroughly convinced he’s special after all, Bill leads his tribe to have a sit-in at Wonderfalls to protest the fact that it’s a racist establishment perpetuating the Maid of the Mist lie. Jaye admits he only passed the tests because she helped him cheat, and tells him he’s not actually the chosen one. She now thinks she was supposed to show him that she’s the one who’s special, and decides the lesson must have been meant for her all along. Bill gets into a tussle with Jaye, and mall security shoots him. When Bill sits up unscathed, everyone starts to believe that maybe he has had the gift all along—until the guard says he merely shot him with a rubber pellet and not an actual bullet.

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In a subplot also orchestrated by the muses, Sharon’s efforts to kiss up to Littlefoot to help Mahandra end up with Sharon accidentally locking her rival in a sauna. Groggy from the steam, Littlefoot sees a vision of Gentlefeather—it turns out she is actually the tribe’s next seer. Jaye tries to console Bill, who is disappointed in his lack of purpose. She assures him that having a great purpose isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While she maintains being special has not been great for her, he thinks she doesn’t realize how lucky she is. A glowing Littlefoot comes to see Bill and tells him his grandmother said his accounting skills will be instrumental to the plan for the future of the tribe, which involves rebuilding a casino. Bill found a purpose after all, and it seems Jaye may have gained some perspective about her own situation.

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Between the monkey’s revelation last week that the muses only speak to Jaye because she listens and her new understanding that maybe having a greater purpose isn’t so bad, our heroine seems to be getting closer to accepting the animals’ roles in her life. It will all be tested in the next episode, the series finale, when a hostage situation (yes, you read that right) threatens to prevent Jaye from seeing Eric one last time before he leaves Niagara Falls.

Odds and ends

  • Dismayed over forcing Bill into something he isn’t meant for, Jaye hilariously laments that she’s “like those parents who force their uncoordinated children to play sports!”
  • Alex Rice, who plays Littlefoot, also appears in the Twilight franchise as Sue Clearwater.
  • You may recognize Kyra Harper, who plays Gentlefeather, from recent episodes of Orphan Black, where she plays Dr. Coady, the “mother” to the boy clones.
TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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