Life in the 1870s American West was often a life-or-death proposition. In Lawmen: Bass Reeves‘ third episode, the earnest lawman encounters both.
Bass’ first official case as a deputy U.S. marshal tests his mettle, his patience and his sense of ethics. (Talk about a rough start to the job!) Back at the homestead, Jennie goes into labor with no one to help her but her kids. Bottom line: It’s a rough ep for the Bass family, all the way around.
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Read on for the highlights of Episode 3, “Part III.”
IT’S OFFICIAL | After bidding Jennie and her very pregnant belly a fond goodbye (“Don’t you go meeting everybody without me, now,” Bass murmurs to his child-to-be), Papa Reeves rides to Fort Smith Courthouse and meets with Judge Parker (played by The Undoing’s Donald Sutherland). “I suppose today is momentous,” the judge says, offering up some exposition as he says he was encouraged to hire Bass because Native Americans might be more apt to listen to someone who’s not white. “But that’s not why I called you in. I need a man with a good gun and a straight spine: You up to the task?”
Bass certainly is. And though Parker makes it clear that being a marshal involves hard work that most people don’t stick with, and the ones who do “end up like Sherill Lynn,” Bass doesn’t flinch. Also? “I ain’t never gonna be Sherill Lynn,” he says right before putting his hand on a Bible, getting sworn in and receiving his badge. “You have miles to ride,” Judge Parker says by way of farewell. “Godspeed the horses.”
GO GIT ‘IM! | Bass receives his first job: a warrant for Billy Crow, a bandit. Before he takes off, he meets Garrett Montgomery (Tulsa King’s Garret Hedlund), who offers to be Bass’ posse. The men get along well, and Bass says that if the job goes well, Montgomery can ride with him for the foreseeable future.
As they ride into Checotah, in Indian Territory, Garrett says he thinks that Billy Crow is part of a gang led by an outlaw called Huff Underwood; earlier in the episode, we saw the gang, including Billy, ambush a stagecoach carrying a German family. As Bass and Garrett enter a hotel in search of information, we learn that Montgomery has a large debt there. “I love them cards like I love women,” he says sheepishly. “Just the difference is, cards don’t love back.” So Bass sends him out to tend to the horses while he insinuates himself into a poker gang with some of Underwood’s men.
Things get a little tense, especially when Bass wins a hand, but he leaves with some knowledge about Crow… whom they find right outside. (Also of note: Underwood’s gang includes a tough-as-nails lady robber, too; though we meet her this episode, I have a feeling she’ll be more of a player in the future.) As Bass and Montgomery start back to the courthouse with their quarry, Crow says he’s a dead man, either way: If he doesn’t hang for his crimes, Underwood will kill him.
GOODBYE, GARRETT | That night, Billy attempts to bribe his captors into freeing him by offering the location of the money and jewelry robbed from the stagecoach. Garrett wants to investigate. Bass says no. It gets heated. “I ain’t asking. I’m telling,” Garrett says, and when Bass reaches for his gun, it seems like things are about to get super violent. And they are, but not for the reason you think: Reeves has seen men approaching from behind Montgomery, and just then, they attack.
Almost instantly, Garrett takes a direct hit and goes down. Crow also gets injured, but not so badly that he can’t run when Bass grabs him and makes a hasty exit. Bass eventually takes out Underwood; the next morning, he has Huff’s dead body over the saddle of one horse and Crow, shaken but alive, on the other. Garrett Montgomery is dead.
JUSTICE FOR ALL? | Back at the courthouse, Billy tells Bass where the loot is hidden. And later, as Bass briefs the judge on the job, he advocates for Billy. The kid isn’t a bad soul, “just confused,” he says. Then he shares the location of the German family’s money. “Noted,” is all the judge says in return.
While he’s there, Bass sees a Black teen being led into the courtroom; the kid’s name is Myson Davis, he’s clearly been beat up during his time in the jail, and he’s on trial for murder. The judge acknowledges that hunger and deprivation can drive people to commit extreme acts. However, “you have taken a human life,” he says. “This court finds you guilty.” Bass is deeply affected by Davis’ fate, watching with real sorrow as he is sentenced to be hanged.
WHOA! BABY! | While Bass is away, Sally finds some crocuses pinned to the clothesline, left by her wannabe suitor Arthur (This Is Us’ Lonnie Davis), whom we met in the previous episode. Though Jennie forbid the pair from hanging out, they go for a walk. Sally complains that she wishes she didn’t have so many chores, because she’d rather spend her days reading poetry. But she feels bad about kvetching when she learns he’s an orphan. “You’re blessed with a lot of love in your life,” he says gently. “Keep hold of it.”
Later on, Jennie is feeding the sheep when her labor comes on suddenly and strongly. There’s no time to run for a midwife, she tells Sally, because “this one’s coming faster than lightning in a storm.” And when Bass returns home that evening, he finds everyone in bed and Jennie dozing in a chair with their new infant in her arms. “You all right?” he whispers, concerned, as she stirs. She nods. “You?” His face is so full of love as he says, “I am now.” Then she hands him the baby, and the three of them snuggle.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!
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