‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ First Two Episodes Are Utterly Stunning

David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves, episode 2, season 1, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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This article contains spoilers from the Paramount+ series “Lawmen: Bass Reeves.”

The first two episodes of “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” dropped Sunday and they were absolutely beautiful.

You can always tell when Taylor Sheridan, the brilliant mind behind “Yellowstone,” “Hell or High Water” and “Sicario,” has something to do with production of a major entertainment project. And “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” clearly got the Sheridan treatment in its absolutely glowing opening episodes.

The story follows the real life of America’s first black U.S. marshal and his rise from slavery to being the salvation for many across the nation. Reeves arrested thousands of outlaws throughout his career, literally making America a better place.

David Oyelowo is magnetic in the title role. It was like he was born to play Bass Reeves. While the script clearly wasn’t written by Sheridan, Chad Feehan does an excellent job of putting words to this wild moment in our history.

In true Paramount-Sheridan-Universe fashion, the brutal truth of Reeves’s journey is writ-large with violence, tragedy and the spitting nastiness of racial tensions across the U.S. in the 1800s.

In the first episode, we meet Reeves’ master, played by the endlessly talented Shea Whigham. After following his master into battle, Reeves returns home, where Whigham’s character cheats him out of his freedom. In return, Reeves beats the crap out of him. It was well deserved. (RELATED: ‘Yellowstone’ Makes Huge Announcement On Future Of Show, Kevin Costner And Next Spinoff)

We’re introduced to Reeves’ family, his purpose and his time living within Choctaw Nation. This follows into the second episode, where we meet Sherrill Lynn (Dennis Quaid), a lawman in his own right, who recruits Reeves to the career. I actually don’t want to give too much away of Quaid’s role in this series, but let’s just say it’ll probably be one of the best of his career.

You can watch “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” on Paramount+ whenever you want. New episodes drop on Sundays.