Analyzing ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ Compelling Start

Lawmen Bass Reeves

“Lawmen: Bass Reeves” burst onto our screens with a wild opening scene that was nothing short of graphic. It’s the kind of moment that leaves a lasting impression, and it challenges your expectations right from the start. I can’t recall the last time I saw someone getting scalped on television. It’s a stark reminder that the Old West was a brutal place. As a film critic, I didn’t expect the show to have this level of agency and honesty about the brutality of the times. It’s a daring approach that immediately sets the tone for what’s to come.

Lawmen Bass ReevesThe show does a great job of pacing and establishing tension. David Oyelowo takes the reins as Bass Reeves, a character who undergoes a significant transformation. His character’s introduction to Esau Reeves, played by the talented Barry Pepper, is absolutely captivating. The tension escalates further when Bass is put into an impossible situation with his owner, the colonel. The colonel’s offer of a poker game with freedom as the prize is intense. It’s a powerful moment that speaks volumes to the Black experience, highlighting the insincerity behind the offer.

The complex nature of Bass has a lot to do with the different women in Bass’s life. Bass’s wife, Jenny, proves to be a very important figure in Bass’ life. Jenny is shown to be an important figure in Bass’ life and a big motivation for his actions. She’s also a really heavy sleeper. Later in the show, Bass encounters Sara Jumper, a woman from the Seminole nation, who saves his life. While her decision to help Bass seems somewhat plot-convenient, it adds an intriguing twist to the narrative.

What I appreciate most about this show is the intention to focus on black love and families. Too many shows spend too much time focusing on black suffering. This intentional approach to showcasing positive aspects of Black people in the face of unfortunate circumstances is commendable. In the second episode of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” we fast forward a few years.  In this episode Bass Reeves now finds himself as a day with five kids! It’s quite the development!

Lawmen Bass ReevesThe performances in this episode are top-notch. David Oyelowo’s portrayal of Bass Reeves, with hints of Martin Luther King-like demeanor, is a testament to his acting prowess. He plays to his strengths and sets the bar high for the rest of the cast. Dennis Quaid brings the despicable Sheriff Lynn to life with an inspiring performance, making him a character you love to hate. Barry Pepper’s Esau Pearce is another standout performance.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the various perspectives on religion presented by the characters. In a particularly jarring moment, one character tells a black person that they shouldn’t expect to go to heaven. Why? Because, in their belief, only white people gain entry to heaven. This kind of thinking is not just disturbing but also a powerful reminder of the deeply entrenched racism of the era. It sets the tone for how pervasive and insidious racial discrimination was in those times.  Perhaps one of the most visually striking scenes is the image of a Bible with a bullet hole in it. This imagery is not only shocking but also raises intriguing questions. It serves as a form of meta-commentary, leaving us with a sense of suspicion about the role of religion in the lives of the characters.

In conclusion, this episode provides a deeper dive into the story of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves.” It confronts challenging themes related to faith, racism, and morality, while also delivering powerful character interactions. It’s a great addition to the series and keeps viewers engaged as it delves into the complexities of the Old West.

In conclusion, “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” delivers a great first two episodes that set the stage for an engaging and historically significant series. I’m giving it a solid 8 out of 10, and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds in the episodes to come.”

The Good:

  • The series opens with a wild and graphic scene that’s quite unexpected, giving an honest portrayal of the brutality of the times.
  • David Oyelowo shines as Bass Reeves, with a compelling character arc, and his introduction to Barry Pepper’s Esau Reeves is captivating. Shea
  • Shea Whigham’s brief appearance as Confederate Colonel George Reeves leaves a lasting impression.
  • The initial meeting between Bass and Esau reminds me of The Walking Dead’s Rick and Morgan, evoking a sense of two “wolves” meeting.
  • Bass’ wife, Jenny’s deep sleep, and source of strength for Bass’ decisions
  • The tension in the poker game scene with the colonel adds depth to the narrative, communicating unspoken truths to the audience.
  • The introduction of Sara Jumper and her decision to save Bass adds intrigue to the story.
  • The episode features a focus on black love and families, avoiding an exclusive focus on black suffering, which is a commendable approach.

The Bad:

  • Sara’s decision to help Bass may seem plot-convenient, lacking a clear motivation.
  • The graphic content in the opening scene might be unsettling for some viewers.


David Oyelowo’s performance as Bass Reeves, combined with the strong supporting cast, particularly Dennis Quaid and Barry Pepper, enhances the episode’s impact. One aspect that caught my attention was Bass Reeves, a black man, freely riding a horse. “Django Unchained” had drilled into my brain that Black people weren’t allowed on horses during that era, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Bass defying those expectations. The portrayal of black history and experiences is refreshing, focusing on positive aspects. Overall, a great first episode with a rating of 8 out of 10. It promises an engaging and historically significant series.


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Analyzing 'Lawmen: Bass Reeves' Compelling Start
  • Acting - 9/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7/10
  • Watchability - 8/10
  • Rewatchability - 7/10
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About Anthony Whyte

Content Manager | Senior Editor | Daydreamer | Keep your head on a swivel and don't blink