‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending Explained: Was George Reeves Dead Or Alive?


Directed by Christina Alexandra Voros and Damian Marcano, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is based on the works of Sidney Thompson. History tells us that Bass was one of the first Black people to be enlisted in the United States Marshal Service, and it was an astounding story where a person born as a slave had been able to break his shackles and go out there and conquer the world. We believe the makers have taken a lot of creative liberties, but most of the characters are inspired by real life people and they have kept the backdrop of the Confederate vs. The Union Civil War and the socio-political environment of that era pretty much the same. So, let’s find out what happened in the first episode of the series and what life has in store for our protagonist.

Spoiler Alert

Why did George Reeves leave the army?

George Reeves commanded the 11th Texas Cavalry, and throughout his career, he had been a proud man who had led from the front. But of late, George had started feeling that the Confederacy brigadiers were not making the right strategies and lacked a vision, because of which they had to incur huge losses in terms of resources and manpower. In the last war that George’s men fought, they were not only outmaneuvered, but there was an extreme shortage of supplies, which amputated them and made them realize that the Confederacy leaders were either not capable of handling the situation or they just didn’t care how many people died, until and unless it came to their lives. George Reeves had an argument with one of the brigadiers, and he didn’t like the condescending tone of the man.

At the beginning of Lawmen: Bass Reeves, George Reeves decided to desert the army and go back to his home situated in Grayson County, Texas, together with his slave, Bass. We saw Bass on the battlefield, and we realized that he might not be a major or general, but he knew how to fight his way through. He was like a savage wolf on the battleground, and Major Esau Pierce, who saw him in action, got so impressed that he asked for his name later that evening. Bass told him that he was accompanying his master, George Reeves, there, and he didn’t hold any rank in the army. George Reeves seemed to be an unhappy man who was quite temperamental and at times very unpredictable in his approach. George and Bass were headed home, and, on their way, they bumped into a group of white men who were carrying a slave with them and witnessing the sight we realized the slaves were treated like animals and they had to bear all kinds of atrocities. George Reeves threatened Bass to not perceive him as a deserter as he was leaving the army because he felt that he could put his skills and experience to better use on the political playground rather than risking his life on the battlefield. It made us realize that George thought a lot about what others thought of him, and he was the kind man who didn’t take criticism well, no matter how constructive it was. 

Was George Reeves dead or alive?

Later that evening, after George Reeves and Bass reached Grayson County, the former presented a challenge to Bass. He asked him to defeat him in the game of cards and win his freedom. For a moment, Bass didn’t understand what George was up to, as this was a genuine chance his master was giving him, and it seemed like he wanted to play a fair game, something the slaves weren’t used to at that time. They started playing, and Bass got a good set of cards, and there came a moment where all of a sudden he started crying. As soon as he laid down his cards on the table, he knew that it was a sure shot win for him. But Goerge apparently had a better set of cards that were a notch higher in the hierarchy than what Bass had. As soon as Bass saw George’s cards, he knew that he had cheated, and he got enraged. Bass lost his temper completely and did something that had the potential to change his life entirely. He assaulted George brutally, and he almost killed the man. In a state of paranoia, Bass hurriedly went to his cottage and told his wife, Jennie, about it. Jennie knew what that meant, and she told Bass to leave the place immediately and never return. Bass didn’t want to abandon his wife, but he had no option. He took a horse, and he was just about to cross the estate when a group of white men bumped into him. The white men realized that Bass was trying to escape and that he had done something wrong, but before they could do anything, Bass took out his gun, which belonged to George, and shot those three men down.

What happened to Curtis?

Bass traveled on foot and reached the Indian territory in early March of 1862. Bass was in a miserable state, and he had spent days without food or water. He had survived by eating the rotten flesh of animals he had found lying on the ground, and it was no less than a miracle that he was alive when Sara Jumper, a member of the Seminole tribe, took him in. Sara lived with her son, Curtis, and her husband had gone to fight what she referred to as the war of the white man. She gave him food and saved him from dying and Bass knew that he was indebted to that woman for life. Bass quickly adapted to the circumstances; he learned the Seminole language and started contributing in whatever way he could. He learned how to hunt, and he got quite close to Curtis during that time, who also loved hanging out with him.

In Lawmen: Bass Reeves episode 1, Curtis and Bass had gone to Turkey Creek Trading Post to pick up groceries when they bumped into a group of Confederate soldiers who were carrying prisoners. One of the prisoners was Esau Pierce, whom Bass had met during the time he was with George in the Confederate base camp in Arkansas. Esau told him that he was no longer a major, and as his allegiance lay with the Union, he was being sentenced by the leaders of the rival group. The moment it felt that Bass’ life was coming back on track, he was thrown off course and the series brought another twist that once again turned his life upside down. The Union soldiers attacked the trading post to free the prisoners, and Esau Pierce shot Curtis dead before he fled with others. Bass didn’t understand why he had to do that when Curtis was clearly putting his arms down. Sara was heartbroken when she got to know about it, as her only source of happiness had now left her too. She asked Bass to take her horse, leave immediately, and never come back again.

Did Bass Find Jennie?

At the end of Lawmen: Bass Reeves Episode 1, our protagonist went back to Texas and met George’s wife, who told her that Jennie was in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Bass straightaway went to Arkansas and found that Jennie now had a daughter, and the first assumption he made was that she had married someone else and was living happily. Little did he know that the woman was waiting for him all the while, and when they finally met during the last moments of episode 1, she told her that the little girl was his daughter. George was elated, and after enduring so much for so many years, he finally found happiness. Bass had witnessed many ups and downs, and it seemed like life would be better from hereon. We have to wait for subsequent episodes though to find out where he was headed next and what fate had in store for him.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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