It’s not aliens who want to take Cheese out for hamburgers, of course, but his actual friends Elora (Devery Jacobs), Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), and Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis). Unfortunately, Cheese is drifting away from his friends like someone else Irene once knew. And refers to him as the term of endearment “Chebon” just like that boy back in the ’70s. Though Grandma Irene can’t get Cheese to hang out with one set of relatives she’s able to force him out of the house to go fishing with another. This older crowd is made up of Big (Zahn McClarnon), Bucky (Wes Studi), and Uncle Brownie (Gary Farmer), the latter two of whom were also Maximus’s friends back in the day just like Irene.
If “House Made of Bongs” was about the tragedy of one child not being able to feel his village’s warmth, “Frankfurter Sandwich” is about the child and his elders learning to build a fire together. Though it goes unspoken for some time, Big, Bucky, and Brownie’s mission is clear: bring this kid back from the brink. None of the older men, however, are able to do it on their own.
Bucky merely confuses Cheese by trying to convince him hat he can’t scientifically extricate himself from his friends, saying “We’re all connected on a molecular level. Even if you’re not seeing them, the quantum thread cannot be disentangled.”
Big tries to teach Cheese a lesson about community but really just drones on about the time he saw four Big Foots in the woods. (It’s interesting that Big, who is only one generation removed from Maximus and his crew, experienced hallucinations but was able to stay connected to his community while Maximus was whisked away for primitive medical treatment like electroshock therapy.)
And then there’s Bucky, who is really too high to even attempt to deliver a life lesson to Cheese.
It’s not until Cheese meets them halfway by introducing the therapeutic heuristic of a “talking stick” that the boy and his elders are able to make any headway. After Big breaks down over the people he has lost and his perceived failure as a man to save them, Brownie and Bucky chime in to articulate their own pain.