Season 1 Episode 12

Totem Mole

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Dec 12, 2004 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
115 votes

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    Wonderfalls Episodes 11-12: Very Dark and Vaguely Racist

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  • Episode Summary

    Totem Mole
    Jaye, Sharon and Mahandra visit a nearby Indian reservation, where the spirit of a dead grandmother sends all three of them on a new path towards easing Jaye's burden. Aaron and Jaye continue on this path and hilarity ensues.

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    • Pathetic with great purpose

      The penultimate episode is an interlude between the main story and (hopefully) the big blow up of the finale. In it, we find out that Native Americans are – guess what – just like Normal Americans. We leave Heidi and Eric (and “those faces with their stupid little mouths”) behind and find Jaye, Sharon and Mahandra driving up to an Indian reservation (presumably the mating birds have left Sharon’s car). Mahandra, for no discernible reason, wants to capitalize on the 1/8th of her that is Native American and join the Satsuma Indian Nation. Perhaps she wants to sell on the cheap ciggies in the Barrel bar. Anyway, Jaye, encouraged by Cliff Richard disguised as a totem pole, enters a wigwam and communes with the dead. This leads her to once again try to get rid of her burden of hearing talking animals (“No purpose is a lot easier”). Her methods are a bit peculiar – does she really think persuading Bill to become the tribal leader is going to enable him to talk with his dead grandmother about her? The animals would hardly lead her on a path that would enable her to free herself from them. She should have learned by now that she’s not cleverer than them!

      For a few moments, I thought that Aaron would be right and Jaye would become the new spiritual leader; it would solve the Eric problem and get Jaye out of the retail world as well as giving her a sense of purpose, connection with people (the animals’ raison d’être?) and community, even if that community isn’t strictly her own. But it was not to be. After some shenanigans with a bracelet, the maid of the mist/sauna, looking a little like Chain Reaction era Diana Ross, stepped out with newly frizzed hair and a vision from the afterlife of casinos and gambling houses. The right-on bitch had become Fate’s Bitch.

      Like the Buffy episode “Pangs”, this ep seemed determined to ridicule Native American PC-ness - Littlefoot the lawyer getting her University mascot, a beaver, banned from campus, phrases like ‘bury the hatchet’ becoming “racial slurs”, Sharon quickly correcting her mistake: ‘Indian’ to ‘Native’ whilst trying to get cheap packs of cigarettes, Bill’s sit-in at the Wonderfalls store to protest against the Maid Of The Mist myth and “racist paraphernalia” toys, the rainbow teddy bear (one of the few things that doesn’t talk to Jaye) being representative of all people AND gay-friendly – all of these things are portrayed as faintly ridiculous. The Indians who live on the res. seem happy with capitalism, it’s the newcomers, Bill and Deana who are the Native American hardliners. The tall, calm, wise Amerindian points out that a lesson his people have learnt time and time again is that you should always pause before you give something up. Is the ‘something’ in this case the opportunity to make money from casinos, gambling and Vegas-style slots? In any case, in the end, it wasn’t a Native who had to “surrender to destiny”, but Jaye. Just like St Paul, Gandhi, Neo…

      Sharon was great in this episode; her presence made up for the lack of eyebrow-wiggling between Aaron and Mahandra. From her huffing on the treadmill to her competitive streak going overboard and for the first time failing, to her panic that she’d inadvertently killed Littlefoot and urging the handyman to “pry, man pry!” the sauna door open, she was the epitome of When Overachievers Go Wrong. A pity Jaye didn’t find out anything new about her gift, but maybe all will be revealed next week….

    Ryan Black

    Ryan Black

    Bill Hooton

    Guest Star

    Kyra Harper

    Kyra Harper


    Guest Star

    Duke Redbird

    Duke Redbird

    Tribal Judge

    Guest Star

    Neil Grayston

    Neil Grayston


    Recurring Role

    Jeffrey R. Smith

    Jeffrey R. Smith

    Muse Voice/Mall Security Guard

    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (0)

    • QUOTES (5)

      • Jaye: Wait! We've got some stuff that is not racist. Look! A rainbow teddy bear! He represents all people and he is gay friendly.

      • Jaye: An authentic Satsuma totem should not be speaking English.
        Totem Mole: I'm not authentic. They put me here for the tourists.

      • Aaron: St. Paul was just a punk until he was blinded by the light, and Gandhi was just drinking and whoring it up with his friends until he heard the cry of his people.
        Jaye: And Neo was just a geek until he swallowed that little red pill.

      • Indian: You said you needed a spiritual leader to relieve you of your burden. There she is.
        Jaye: Yeah, I guess so. (pause) You know, I'm not so sure if my burden is a burden or not. I mean, other people seem to want it, and that should always make you pause before you give something up.
        Indian: (sagely) A lesson my people have learned, time and time again.

      • Bill Hooton: Thank you for supporting this imperialist establishment. Enjoy your purchase and have a racist day.

    • NOTES (4)

      • Jaye's newest victims: Bill Hooten . . . TWICE - (dies from smoking a pipe and then shot by security guard at Wonderfalls) - and Deanna Littlefoot, locked in a steamroom.

      • We learn that Mahandra is part American Indian.

      • Tyron Leitso, William Sadler and Diana Scarwid do not appear in this episode.

      • It's not really clear why this show is entitled "Totem MOLE", since Jaye talks to a Totem POLE. The part of the pole she talks to is obviously a bird. Nobody does anything spy-like (an implied meaning of "mole"). The only thing even vaguely mole-like is Bill, who's kind of short and squat.

    • ALLUSIONS (1)

      • Jaye: And Neo was just a geek until he swallowed that little red pill.

        A reference to the character Neo from The Matrix science fiction trilogy.