After a Slow Start, 'Bass Reeves' Is Really Heating Up

david oyelowo as bass reeves and mo brings plenty as minco dodge in lawmen bass reeves, episode 4, season 1, streaming on paramount, 2023 photo credit lauren smithparamount
'Bass Reeves' Is Really Heating UpLauren Smith - Paramount

In last week’s chapter of Bass Reeves, the legendary lawman finally had the opportunity to wrangle some outlaws. It was an exciting and action-packed change of pace from the premiere episode's focus on Reeves’ origin story. Bass even did some detective work down at the saloon! The deputy U.S. marshal also saw firsthand what happens to the criminals that he brings in alive—they're sentenced to death by Judge “Hanging” Parker (Donald Sutherland). How will Reeves reckon with his sense of justice, and what awaits the great historical figure next?

Well, we kick off Episode Four of Lawmen: Bass Reeves with a two-year time jump. Reeves approaches a secluded house somewhere in Arkansas, and a woman stares him down from her porch with a shotgun. He tells her that his name is Joe Gamble and asks her for some whiskey. Reeves is undercover, it seems, looking for information about her two wild sons. Hell, one of them is even named Wylie. It’s a tight cold open before the title card appears. The two outlaws wake up in the morning wrapped up in chains as Reeves sits on the bed, pistol in hand.

forrest goodluck as billy crow in lawmen bass reeves, episode 3, season 1, streaming on paramount, 2023 photo credit emerson millerparamount
Welcome to the team, Billy Crow.Emerson Miller - Paramount

Riding back to town, Reeves passes the men on to Billy Crow. We met the Native American outlaw for the first time last week. His character is a wink-wink reference to The Lone Ranger’s famous sidekick, Tonto. Now, he appears to be fully partnered with deputy Bass Reeves. One night, they’re taking the prisoners back to Arkansas, when one of the men starts telling a ghost story. He speaks of a slave catcher named Mr. Sundown. This fictional devil "is building a plantation out of skin and bone—a dark, dark church full of hell’s music." Metal. But Reeves, being the devoted Christian man than he is, silences him. Later that night, a stranger attacks him in his sleep. 'You ain’t no law here," the prisoner tells him. "This here’s hell." Reeves beats the living shit out of him, with Crow holding him back from killing him. The crazed man even ripped another sleeping prisoner’s face off. "Until God say otherwise," Reeves tells him. "I’m the only law there it is." Grim! It's a bone-chillingly dark scene.

In the morning, we're treated to a cameo from Yellowstone’s Mo Brings Plenty. He’s playing a Native American named Minco Dodge. (Very cool name.) He seems to be an informant for Reeves—and a friend. He tells Bass about Silas Cobb, a horse thief, and a guy with a TV villain name if I've ever heard one. “Figure I sweet talk Cobb into a pair of cuffs?” Reeves jokes. There are also some outlaws who've placed a bounty on Reeves’s head. Seems as if he’s made a reputation in the past two years.

A little trip to the gambling house/saloon/brothel might give Reeves some information as to Cobb’s whereabouts. The head woman of the establishment speaks to him in a gravely, scary voice. She sounds like she’s doing an impression of a dragon. Lucky for Reeves, Cobb is here. The same thing happened last episode when he was looking for a different gang. This man just has the best luck.

So, Reeves busts in on Cobb with a prostitute. Cobb offers the location of another outlaw, Jim Webb, in exchange for his life. Reeves seems to like the deal. Maybe this Jim Webb guy is even more evil. But Reeves is smarter than that. “Deal is I wouldn’t shoot ya,” he tells Cobb. “Plus, I’ll tell Parker you sang.” Cobb jumps out the window and escapes, but he rides his horse right in the direction of Billy Crow. Crow fires a bullet right through his gut and kills him. Cobb still has time before he dies to write a letter to his wife, and Reeves agrees to bring it to her. She basically knows what Reeves is there to say before he even rides up, marking an even bleaker end to the episode’s already dark beginning.

As his story continues, Bass Reeves is still the coolest guy of all time. "The second I called out his name, that man was my responsibility," he tells Crow. He then hands him a bullet from his pistol and tells him to think of each round as a man’s life. "One we’re either saving or taking," Reeves says. "Law says we get to make the choice because we got the badge. But only God knows know if it was right. Good thing, too, ‘cause I sure don’t." Damn. The two men ride off, ready for their next adventure.

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