Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan’s latest series Lawman: Bass Reeves, premiered on Paramount+ this past weekend on November 5th, with the first two episodes of the series. The series is also executive produced by the title character, David Oyelowo. The series follows the untold story of the first Black U.S. Marshal. The series also stars Lauren E. Banks and Dennis Quaid and is created by Chad Feehan.
The first episode of the series, titled “Part I,” starts with our protagonist, Bass, in the heat of the Civil War in 1862 in Arkansas. Bass, the slave of Colonel George Reeves, is told by his master to follow him in the charge. Bass ponders his decision for a moment but soon after charges along with his master, being the only two to do so. Bass and Colonel George Reeves look at the oncoming army hopelessly as reinforcements arrive on horseback to the aid of our protagonist. In this instance, we see Bass’s bravery and marksmanship, two of his most prominent traits.
Post-battle, Colonel George Reeves is relinquished of his post after talking back to his superior about the poor strategy; Bass and his master pack up and leave to return to the Reeves residence. When the pair arrive back at the Reeves estate, Bass has a lover waiting for him, Jennie Reeves, another one of the Reeves’s slaves. Bass and Jennie share a night before a drunk, lone George Reeves calls for Bass to come into the house.
In his drunken state, George places a wager of Bass’s freedom on a card game. In one of the episode’s best scenes, we watch as a teary Bass reveals his plain flush, a good hand, but George Reeves destroys his hopes with a four-of-a-kind. Bass notices that George cheated and beats him to a pulp. Bass is forced to run away to escape his master, leaving Jennie behind.
After a few days on the run and showing off some more of his gunslinging skills, on the verge of death, Bass is discovered by a Creek Mother and her son and taken in by them. Bass spends 3 years with the family, helping out where needed and learning the language. Then one day, an old member of the Confederate army he once knew stages an attack on the stagecoach and Creek trading post, ultimately killing the son, Chuck, of the family that once adopted him.
After burying Chuck alongside his mother, Bass returns to Arkansas on his new, gifted horse Pistol. He arrives at the Reeves family house to look for Jennie, eventually finding her in the town, free with their shared daughter already having been born. The episode ends on that note as Bass, reunited with the lover, begins life as a free man.
In Lawman: Bass Reeves Season 1 Episode 1, director Christina Alexandra Voros and writer/showrunner Chad Feehan give us a great introduction to our protagonist, Bass Reeves, as well as the background of what drives Bass’s decisions when he later takes on the mantle of U.S Marshal.