Unbowed Recap 8

Sorry for the long delay. Life tried to screw me over. I finally managed to survive it.

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When we last saw Cleola and Waka Mani, he proposed that they run away together and live happily ever after. Cleola is frightened and confused by the prospect. 

The new section begins with Simon Crow, Jumping Elk and Waka Mani dressing for dinner. Lewis comes in to announce that it’s time to party. Jumping Elk is ready for it. Simon isn’t and Lewis is distressed. Simon says he needs rest. Waka Mani thinks he’s teasing, but Simon insists that he’ll rest and join them later. Simon Crow aside, the mood is rather jovial. 

The dinner bell rings. Jumping Elk says, “At home, we don’t need a bell to tell us we’re hungry.” Everyone laughs. Waka Mani gives Simon Crow a brotherly tap on the shoulder as he and the others go to dinner.


In the parlor, President Duquesne compliments everyone on being ahead of schedule with that event that none of us cares about. He shakes hands with Richard, Lewis and Jumping Elk.

As Duquesne continues on and on about raising sufficient funds to enlarge their campus, Cleola and Waka Mani make goo-goo eyes at each other. Richard notices. The shining light of true love is blinding. Poor Richard moves to stand behind Cleola and places his hands on her shoulders. She isn’t the least bit happy about it. 


Duquesne continues with a bit more prattle and then announces that he won’t make a speech. Isaac claps, overjoyed. No one believe he’s such an idiot.
As a reward, they are allowed to indulge themselves with a glass of mild punch, whatever that means. A dash of liquor? 

Meanwhile, Cleola’s had just about enough of Richard trying to own her, so she takes off. He follows and everyone else starts milling out the room, too. Junius, because he’s the designated asshole, gives Waka Mani a look. Goo-goo eyes are difficult to hide. Oh yeah, he witnessed their first hot kiss way back when.

Upstairs, Simon Crow is struggling to breathe. His condition is deteriorating fast. He coughs up blood. Lewis… get your ass upstairs!

Downstairs, the President and Miss Cooper are dancing, much to the appreciation of Lewis. Junius and Anna are entirely too close, but it’s a celebration and Miss Cooper is having too much fun to notice. Jumping Elk is all about the food though. 

Cleola looks like she’d rather be dead than with Richard. They head off to another room, bypassing Waka Mani. Isaac and Lewis notice them leaving.  Waka Mani stands alone in thoughtful contemplation.

Poor Simon manages to get out of bed, yet he can’t open the door to call for help. We’re reminded that he and his friends are prisoners. Because the music is playing so loud, it won’t do any good to cry out. 

A bit of time has passed because Cleola, with Richard in tow, passes Anna and Junius. Waka Mani appears. The two of them share intense eye-to-eye contact. Richard is held up by the other couple, which is just as well or he’d get his feelings hurt. 


Cleola makes an announcement. “Tonight, I will go with you.” They share an intimate moment of hand contact that could pass as Vulcan sex. Somehow, Richard missed it all. 


Upstairs, poor Simon is removing the cross from the wall. He intends to use it to unlock the door.
Lewis, Jumping Elk and Waka Mani are heading back to the room. They’re all laughing. Lewis makes fun of the thin punch. He hears a thud and notices that the door is latched. 

Waka Mani leads the charge because he’s a man of action. He finds his beloved Kaji (crow) on the floor next to the bed. Blood is coming out of his mouth and nose. 


Jumping Elk runs to get President Duquesne. Waka Mani tries to clean up his friend.
Meanwhile, Cleola is sitting on the roof of the little house alone, wrapped in her mother’s shawl. She’s ready to go. 

Back in the dorm, the President and Miss Cooper examine Simon Crow. They both silently agree that there is nothing they can do for him. The President takes Waka Mani to the side.  Jumping Elk quietly enters the frame. “It’s… it’s some form of pneumonia,” the president says. “The air is much more humid here than where you’re from. There’s not much we can do.”

This is no joke, folks. I grew up in 85-100% humidity and it’s less than 30% here in winter and for five straight years, I was horribly ill until I figured out why. The opposite is happening to Simon Crow. 

Waka Mani and Jumping Elk are distressed because they don’t have their medicine. Waka Mani insists that they need the doctor from town. 


Duquesne lowers his head in shame. “He won’t come to a colored school and our doctor is away until school begins.” In other words, racism is killing Simon Crow.

Waka Mani makes no fuss when Duquesne refers to him as John. The President says he has enough training to know that they’re (he and Miss Cooper) are doing what a doctor would do. He then says he’s sorry and appears to mean it. 

Waka Mani and Jumping Elk exchange glances. “He will die,” says a heartbroken Waka Mani. Duquesne says it’s in God’s hands. 

Outside the door, Richard, Isaac and Junius are laughing. Duquesne doesn’t appreciate that crap at all. He marches out the door with a lecture on his lips. “Am I failing to comprehend something humorous in this situation, gentlemen?” These brothers suck…

Richard says no. Isaac claims it was irony because Junius said that Simon Crow would have preferred to have died in battle like most Indians. The brothers are disgusting. I wonder if this mess was added by the producer and/or director. 

Duquesne tells them that diseases had killed many more Indians than bullets. “Whole tribes were wiped out by cholera, small pox, pneumonia, tuberculosis.” He asks Isaac the reason it happened. Isaac said it was because they had no resistance. Without even looking at him, he addresses Richard. “Does that strike a familiar cord, Mr. Singletary?”

Shamefaced, Richard responds. “Yes, Sir. Many of the early slaves died of the same diseases…for the same reasons.”

A disgusted Duquesne finally looks at Richard. “Yes, we had that in common.” 

Isaac has the decency to feel bad about it. Junius continues his quest to be an ass of epic proportions. “Sir, we’re sorry the Indian is sick, but they should have never come here in the first place.”


Duquesne smiles sarcastically and places his hand on Junius’s shoulder. “For once, Mr. Parker, your appalling ignorance has unintentionally led you to a valid conclusion.”

It’s not liked that asked to go there, punk. 

Again, Isaac is uncomfortable, yet Junius refuses to evolve. Duquesne then orders them to be available to bring water when needed. He also instructs them to wait down the hall. Richard has the nerve to be shocked. The president says that if Simon Crow is to die, then it should be in the company of friends. The three leave.

Inside the room, Simon Crow is being supported by Lewis and Miss Cooper while Jumping Elk prays over him. Waka Mani is helpless. 

Cleola is still alone on the roof of the house. 

Duquesne is furiously reading the Bible.

Waka Mani takes Simon Crows hands and gets on his knees, and tries to ease his friend’s passage into the next world. 


Later, we see Isaac taking a walk. He bumps into Cleola. She asks him what he’s doing. He says that one of the Indians is sick and that they think he’s going to die. She immediately panics, calls out Waka Mani’s name and takes off running. 

Inside, she pushes past Richard and enters the room where Miss Cooper is standing guard. She is shocked, horrified and sadden by Simon Crow’s condition. 

She slowly lowers herself to the bed and wraps her hands around Waka Mani and Simon Crow’s entwined ones to prove that she recognizes Simon Crow’s humanity. She also does this to support the man she loves. 


Miss Cooper gently takes Cleola by the shoulders and leads her away. As before, Simon Crow deserved to die in the company of his friends: Lewis, Waka Mani and Jumping Elk. 

Simon Crow slips away surrounded by those who love him. The three friends are deeply distressed. Duquesne, Bible in hand, closes Simon Crow’s eyes for the last time. Lewis stumbles out the door and runs away.

Duquesne leaves the friends to grieve in private.


In the next scene, Waka Mani and Jumping Elk are back in the own clothes and are preparing Simon Crow’s body for its final journey. A distraught Lewis breaks the lock with a hammer and sets them all free. 


Duquesne is sitting alone with the Bible when Junius appears and confirms that Richard has left (the actor who played Richard, Chuma Hunter-Gault) was not available to complete the film). He was sent to find General Grollen.  

Junius wonders what Grollen would think of the death. Duquesne answers, “We are all saddened by the death of Simon Crow.” Junius isn’t, but he makes the appropriate gestures and leaves.
Duquesne shakes his head at Junius’ unforgiveable bigotry and looks to the heavens for guidance. 

Outside, Waka Mani is single-handed building a burial scaffold. Jumping Elk, who is leaning against a tree, disagrees. “This is wrong. He should be buried. The Elders will be angry!”
Waka Mani shouts back, “This is the way of our Grandfathers, before the white…”


He stops himself and tries to explain it another way. “Kaji is far from home. The old ways will help him find WakanTanka.” Wakan Tanka has frequently been equated with God. The Lakota people will most likely disagree with that assessment. 

Next, we see everyone else in the church. The men are sitting on one side and the women are sitting on the other. President Duquesne is pacing in front of a wooden coffin.
When Waka Mani and Jumping Elk return to their room, they discover that Simon Crow’s body is missing. Waka Mani cries out angrily. 

Just as Duquesne begins the service, the two burst into the church. Cleola calls out Waka Mani’s name. Someone else whispers that they’re in the house of god. Duquesne briefly continues and pauses and then tries again. Human decency wins out and he allows them to take their friend’s body. 

They carefully remove Simon Crow from the coffin and carry him away. Lewis joins them. Cleola rises to follow. Junius jumps up. “Do something! Stop her!” 

Miss Cooper also joins the procession. Anna sits, staring straight ahead. A confused Isaac doesn’t know what to do. 

After their friend is placed upon the burial scaffold, Waka Mani cuts and wraps up a lock of Simon Crow’s hair and presents it to Lewis. The little boy is peeking through the bushes. 


Lewis is distressed beyond words. Miss Cooper wordlessly comforts him. Cleola looks on with sympathy.

Cleola moves next to Waka Mani and extends her hand for the totem. She places it upon Simon Crow’s body. If the others are surprised that she knows what to do, it doesn’t show. 

That night, Waka Mani is waiting on the roof of the house. Cleola appears with a lantern. He throws his belongings to the ground and climbs down. They wordlessly and happily greet each other. They still plan to leave. Unbeknownst to them, Junius is skulking next to the house, spying on them. 


Waka Mani realizes that Cleola has no belongings. She explains that Anna wanted to talk and that she’d finally gotten away by saying that she was going to the church to pray for Simon. Junius withdraws a pistol (the same one that was in the drawer in the opening scene). You’d think Cleola was engaged to him. The loss of Chuma Hunter-Gault also changed the ending of the movie. 

Waka Mani has doubts. “It is far, [my Midnight Sky]. There are many dangers.”

Cleola is ride or die. She’s ready. He tells her to get her things and meet him at the reviewing stand. Finally, that silly stand serves a purpose. Junius, gun and all, leaves. Though they should hurry, Cleola makes a request.

“Waka Mani. You must promise me one thing...” He’s ready to lay down his life for her. “…that I will be all six of your wives.” 

He confirms that she’ll be all six. Lips lock. “All six… then I will have to love you forever.” Swoon people, swoon. 


“That’s long enough,” she says.

A short time later, Junius is hiding behind a tree near the reviewing stand. Waka Mani is walking from a different direction. Cleola is trying to sneak back. The maid appears, so she hides. Waka Mani is almost at the reviewing stand. Junius aims and shoots. Waka Mani hears the click of the gun and tries to dodge the bullet. He goes flying.

Cleola hears the shot and takes off running. Junius is casing the area around the reviewing stand looking for Waka Mani’s body. He didn’t look underneath it. Idiot. Waka Mani attacks his nemesis and disarms him. Cleola is nearly there. 

Waka Mani has his knife to Junius’ neck, ready to kill, but Cleola won’t allow it. 


 “Waka Mani! No! Please.” 

Waka Mani was the on the receiving end of that attack and he’s not feeling charitable.
Jumping Elk appears.

Cleola continues to try to save Junius’ miserable racist life. “Anna loves him.”
Lewis and Isaac appear in their night clothes. Neither tries to disarm Waka Mani, who still has justifiable throat-slashing on his mind.


He reluctantly frees Junius. Everyone signs in relief. He makes his way over to Jumping Elk. Junius stupidly tries to attack Waka Mani again, but he is thwarted by Lewis, who holds him back and silently begs him to stop.

Waka Mani turns his attention to Jumping Elk. “Leave him. He needs to hate.” 

Junius is brave for no reason at all. “I’ll track you down.” 

“Cleola, you’ll both be killed,” Isaac cries. 

Lewis makes a plea of his own. “John, don’t force her to leave.” Like the others, he fails to recognize that Cleola is in control of her own feelings.


Cleola steps forward and speaks for herself. “There is no place for us here.”


She and Waka Mani exchange looks. “We will make our own ways.” Right on, sistah. 

Junius continues to run his mouth. “Your way is here, Cleola.” He would die on the spot if she said that she and Waka Mani have already bumped uglies. 

Waka Mani moves to the other side of Cleola. “You can stay, [my Midnight Sky].” As if she was asking for his permission.

She considers it for half a second and then renders a verdict. “No.” Her days of being told what to do are over. 


Waka Mani and Cleola both acknowledge Jumping Elk and then head off into the safety of the darkness. Junius is angry. Isaac is confused. Lewis is distressed. Why didn’t Jumping Elk go with them? 



It’s funny that Cleola is escaping in her Beckwourth’s school uniform.

Note: The theme song, “Unbowed,” is plays in the background through the credits. The music was written by Elizabeth Sellers and the lyrics by director/producer Nanci Rossov, and was performed by Nita Whitaker. 

A tribute is made to Michelle Thomas (Anna). She passed away from a rare form of stomach cancer at the age of 29 on December 23, 1998. Unbowed was released in February of 1999. 


The Unbowed screenplay was written by Mildred Inez Lewis, an African American scriptwriter. It is rumored that this is the true story of her ancestors. If true, then we know for certain Cleola and Waka Mani made it.  

Try purchasing your own copy of this amazing movie here ($40.00) or here ($20.00 plus shipping and handling). I don’t know which one works the best. I used the first link years ago. 

DISCLAIMER: Unbowed is the copyright and intellectual property of FILMANTHROPIC and Mildred Lewis. No copyright infringement is intended, only thoughtful discussion. Perhaps a few more people will secure a copy of this marvelous film themselves.


  1. There love for each other makes me want to melt. Why is it so hard for guys to be straight up and say I love you and actually mean it? I need to find my Jay Tavare!!!!

    1. Grown men still exist. Since yours is probably working hard and trying to make something of himself, you won't be able to find him where other men gather. More than likely, you'll just bump into him one day out of the blue. Don't reject him if he turns out to be a nerd with questionable hair and doesn't look like the hunk of the month. The red thread of destiny knows what its doing. BTW, Jay Tavare is not married and he spends a lot of time working out with his dog. ;)

    2. @ Hateya: I agree. He might not even have a Facebook page or he's rarely plugged in. Could just be a hard-worker trying to prepare himself for the future.

    3. I'm sure you're bump into your true love in the least expected place. I know quite a few young men who aren't plugged in beyond work. A grown man won't judge you about your past either. He'll be able to handle the choices you made because good, bad or ugly, those choices contributed to the person you are today. If you've made past mistakes, then you've learned from them.

  2. Hateya, girl, it's a good thing you finally got this out because for a moment there I feared a revolt.

    1. I wasn't trying to hold back. I couldn't deal with Simon Crow's demise in my former state of mind. Bummer. I hope everyone has managed to secure their own copy of the movie, too.

    2. What did y'all think of the nickname Midnight Sky?

    3. I've always liked it because it was clear throughout the movie that he did not regard "darkness" as something negative. Instead, it was sanctuary. The mere possibility of Cleola's love changed him. The name Midnight Sky is mulch-faceted and I wish I could spell it correctly in Lakota. Like Leo Princess said, it's fitting.

    4. The nickname Black Sky reminded me of the Kemetic goddess Nut, who was goddess of the sky.

  3. Fitting. If you've ever seen a true night sky without modern city lights getting in the way, it is breath-taking - and we all saw how Waka Mani reacted when he first spotted Cleola.

  4. I love your Unbowed recaps! It so hilarious and witty I often times read your recaps while watching the movie. You really have a way with words. To bad this movie wasn't a miniseries or even a book. I feel as if there is more to tell with the story of Cleola and Waka Mani after they left together. How many children did they have? Did they make it to Canada? I can only wish.....


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