Lawman: Bass Reeves tells the story of the first Black U.S. Marshal, Bass Reeves. In the second episode, titled “Part II,” Bass Reeves (David Oyelowo) struggles as a farmer when he is faced with a proposition from Deputy County Sheriff Sherill Lynn (Dennis Quaid).
The episode starts in 1875, 10 years after Bass started his new life with his wife, Jennie Reeves (Lauren E. Banks). Bass burns his crops and clearly struggles as a farmer. Bass confesses his worries to his wife about their money troubles, considering they have a lot of mouths to feed. Deputy County Sheriff Sherill Lynn approaches Bass and asks him to join his posse (a body of men, typically armed, summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law). Sherrill’s partner had recently died during one of their investigations, and he now needs a man who can wield a gun well.
Bass rejects Sherrill, telling him that he is just a farmer. Later, Bass talks to Jennie about the proposition, and she questions why he won’t do it, considering he is one of the best gunmen walking. After some convincing, Bass agrees to take the opportunity and join the posse.
Bass and Sherrill begin their work together as Sherrill shows Bass the ropes. While riding, the pair run into thieves and the dying man they seemingly just robbed. Bass and Sherrill ensue in a shootout with the thieves, beating them relatively easily. After the gunfight, Bass buries the victim when Sherrill asks him how he can believe in God after being a slave for so long. Bass simply responds, saying man made the chains that held him, and God gave him the hope that he could one day be without them.
That night, Bass and Sherrill make camp. Sherrill tells Bass about a hatred for Native Americans, but Bass argues back that no matter your skin color, “black, white, or red” are just men. The following day they approach the residence of the Crow man whom they are looking for. Inside, they only find his cousin, and when Sherrill attempts to use force, Bass is able to talk to her in her native tongue and find out where the fugitive might be hiding.
Bass and Sherrill approach the cabin where the native American hides, Bass once again wants to try and talk to him. A shootout ensues, but ultimately, Sherrill throws a Molotov cocktail inside, forcing the man to come out burning alive. Bass mercy shoots him in order to put him out of his misery. After the gunfight, Bass is angry with Sherrill and leaves him behind, telling him the scar on his head a Native American once gave him has chains of hate around his heart. Bass leaves Sherrill behind, but not before punching him in the face.
Bass returns to the cousin of the man they killed and informs her of his death. She seemed to know that his death was imminent but still thanks Bass for trying to save him. Bass returns home to find that Jennie had bought a piano, thinking he was making a salary, but seeing as he quit, this only puts them in more debt. Bass promises her he will figure out how to pay for everything, including the piano.
Bass returns to attempting to farm when, once again, Sherrill Lynn approaches. Bass assumes it is a negative visit. Sherrill quickly reveals to him that Bass’s earnestness and steadfast morals have gotten him promoted to U.S. Marshal. The episode ends as Bass accepts the position and looks to the future with his family as the first black U.S. Marshal.
In Lawman: Bass Reeves episode 2, director Christina Alexandra Voros, writer Jewel Coronel, and showrunner Chad Feehan powerfully portray strong themes of morality, faith, and race. This is a solid follow-up to the pilot and really sets the story forth, with Bass finally being named U.S. Marshal.