Lawmen: Bass Reeves – Season 1 Episode 3 Recap & Review

Part III

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Episode 3 starts in May, 1875. Bass Reeves says goodbye to his pregnant wife, Jennie, heading to Fort Smith Courthouse to meet Judge Parker and be sworn in as a Deputy U.S Marshal.

At the courthouse, Bass speaks with a man who is under arrest and also waiting to speak with the judge. The man claims he was attacked, and he killed a man in self defence. Bass doesn’t respond to the man. He goes in to speak with Judge Parker, and is told by him that he was encouraged to hire him due to him being Black, but he says he’s hiring him because of his skill with a gun and his good character. Bass is sworn in as a deputy, and before he departs Parker’s office, he asks him about the man outside, and the Judge tells him he needs a lawyer. 

A Native American man is repairing a wheel on a wagon when a stagecoach stops and offers help, but it’s a trap. The man, Billy Crow, turns out to be an outlaw who robs travellers along with his gang, known as the Underwoods. This crime gives Bass Reeves his first proper job when a man called Garrett Montgomery offers himself up as a posse man to help him apprehend Billy for $6. Bass accepts the offer, and they head to a town where Garrett thinks the gang is. Bass thinks the hotel employees might have information on where the gang does business. As it transpires, Garrett has a gambling problem and owes a lot of money to different people, including the hotel.

Bass is sat with gamblers at a table, playing a few hands with them, and when he wins, he asks for information instead of money. Bass learns the gang’s rig is nearby with Billy guarding it, so he confronts Billy, who initially lies about his identity. Garrett finds Mabel Underwood, the leader of the gang, and tells her that when Billy talks, she’ll be arrested. Billy makes a run for it, with Bass chasing him, and he tracks him down. They head back to Fort Smith, and Billy faces up to being hung if he doesn’t talk to the authorities. However, if he does talk, the gang will kill him. They set up camp for the night, but Bass doesn’t start a fire because he wants to keep the location quiet. 

At Fort Smith, Bass puts Billy in jail and demands the location of the stolen money. Billy tells him it’s at Eagle pass at the base of sister oaks with entwined roots. Bass goes to Judge Parker’s courtroom, where the man who killed the other man in self defence is given the death sentence. The Judge is sympathetic, but he has to stick to the law. Later on, Bass meets with Judge Parker and tells him Garrett died as a hero in the line of duty and tells him Billy isn’t all bad, but merely a very confused man. Judge Parker tells him confusion isn’t a defence, but he’ll take it into consideration that Billy did reveal the location of the stolen money.

Back at the Reeves home, Jennie tells Sally she’ll have to step up when the baby arrives. Later on, Sally goes for a walk with a young man called Arthur Mayberry, and they get to know each other. Arthur reveals he’s an orphan, as his mother died when he was a child, and his father died in the war. Jennie goes into labour, and Sally must help deliver the baby. When Bass returns home, he finds Jennie asleep in the chair, holding their newborn baby. She says she’s doing alright, and Bass tells her he’s happy now he’s home and holding his new son. 

The Episode Review

This is a fantastic episode that really kicks off the series after the first two entries that set up the story. Bass Reeves takes on his first proper job as a lawman after being sworn in by Judge Parker, who is played by Donald Sutherland. The Hollywood legend is a welcome addition to the cast and adds gravitas to his supporting role as the man who hires Bass Reeves.

There’s some gripping action with Bass showing why he’s such a good marksman, taking out a whole gang. It’ll be interesting to see how this series develops, and on the basis of this episode, it’s going to be an entertaining ride. 

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