Much is obvious after Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 Episode 4.
We were right in our assumption that Billy would prefer to follow in Bass’s footsteps than carry on with a life of crime, and he’s got a lot to learn from his new mentor, especially when it comes to life, death, and justice.
What isn’t as obvious until you take a closer look is how much Bass’s job will impact his marriage.
In our interview with David Oyelowo, he spoke about the importance of the Reeves family to the telling of this story.
We’ll drill a little deeper with an upcoming interview with Lauren E. Banks, who plays Jennie Reeves.
Simply put, without their deep and abiding love and their unwavering support of one another, Bass and Jennie might not survive the new path their lives have taken.
“Part IV” didn’t see Bass and Jennie share a single scene. Most of Bass’s time is now spent on the road. He no sooner closes on case before he’s got another.
Saying he’s a busy man is putting it lightly. He’s also highly effective, which only adds to the burden of his assignments. If you’ve got a man who can capture as many outlaws as Bass can, why would you count on another to do the job?
Bass pulls from an incredible playbook to bring the baddies into custody.
We saw a hint of it on Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 Episode 3, when he inserted himself into a game of poker, won the hand easily, and offered to return all of the money for a little information.
What we didn’t expect was for Bass to have Oscar-worthy acting skills, to boot.
Maybe there’s a connection between someone’s ability to fool their opponents at cards and the same ability to fool a family entirely about who you are.
Bass did it very well under his alter ego, Joe Gamble, gaining entrance to a woman’s home, being invited for a meal, and even staying the night.
They played right into his hands.
When the episode began, I wasn’t sure if we were in the midst of a flashback or if that was actually a ruse he’d created, but given the Marshal’s track record of capturing some 3,000 outlaws, that it was a brilliantly concocted plan says a lot about his success.
Of course, we don’t know how much of the real Bass Reeves story is noted in history with this kind of detail, but if everyone knew who he was and saw him coming, he couldn’t have been as successful, particularly taking outlaws alive.
That’s what’s so interesting about the way he goes about his work. He doesn’t want to kill anyone. He wants everyone to have a chance at genuine justice.
Billy seems eager to pick up tips and do right by Bass, but when he is faced with either seeing a man they’d captured ride off or doing something to stop him, Billy Crow raises his gun and shoots Silas Cobb.
I couldn’t find any reference to an actual outlaw with that name, although there are a lot of references to the name in general, from a video game character to an early 20th-century industrialist and pioneer, not that it matters.
What matters is the outcome.
I had to laugh that Bass caught Silas with a lady of ill repute. I thought, dang, why not let him finish the job before crashing through the window? It could have been the last happy moment of his life! It turns out I was right.
In the brief moments we knew him before his death, Silas reminded me of Billy Crow.
When Silas was shot, he immediately reverted to a different state. He was scared as hell and crying that he didn’t want to die. He was absolutely shocked that Billy shot him.
It’s hard not to imagine Billy would have reacted the same way in Silas’s position. Neither of them were hard-core criminals in their hearts, but they were criminals nonetheless.
It hit Billy hard, and Bass did his best to help him understand that taking a life, no matter whose or why, still weighs heavily on your soul.
Billy helped Silas write a letter to his wife before he died, proving the depth of his own soul. Bass, sharing that letter with Silas’s wife, reminded him that merely having the opportunity to do it was driving a wedge between him and Jennie.
On Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 Episode 1, Bass hoped to learn to read so that he could use bible readings for comfort. The way he carries his bible, I thought he must have learned to read after he was free.
But upon discovering Silas’s wife was blind, Bass had to craft a letter from his own heart on the spot, and not only did that prove my earlier thought wrong, but it also showed how deeply he felt about leaving his family for such long periods of time.
With Bass unable to read or write, he and JennieTh wouldn’t even be able to communicate. How they weather this emotional storm created by longing and losing valuable time together will say everything about their love.
And I can’t be the only one worried about Jennie and the family after that touching scene of her clinging to her daughter in the middle of the night, knowing they were the only ones there to protect the family should something go wrong.
As soon as Jennie raised her hand in a room full of people indicating that they owned their own land, I began to worry about what that might mean.
Edwin has dreams of building a place for Black people to reside, but without land, he can’t do it. Even attempting to pour more wine into Jennie’s glass when she’d barely touched it didn’t sit well.
Will she be forced to stand against people who want their land?
Something is bound to give. After wartime, there are always women left to fend for themselves, and there are always men who try to take advantage.
It would sow seeds of regret for Bass if Jennie had to face a situation like that, even if Jennie would never share how it actually made her feel. They care too much about each other not to allow the other the freedom to do what they deem right.
If nothing else, they know that freedom is the key to their future, even if it doesn’t always end up like you imagine.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.