‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ Episode 7 Recap & Spoilers: Was Bass Sentenced To Death?

The seventh episode of Lawmen: Bass Reeves finally reached the cusp of where it was always intended to reach. This was never a simple tale that was going to show us the conquests of the legendary figure of Bass Reeves, the first colored Deputy U.S. Marshall, but a story of how the resolve of upholding your duties inevitably collides with the responsibility to question the status quo as a citizen. Bass had done his duty diligently over the years, catching criminals in Indian Territory, Arkansas. But was the ‘law’ that he was working forever cognizant of why there were people like Esau Pierce who were pure evil as far as Bass was concerned? In a country at the time when slavery had just been declared illegal, Bass really had to think about what it would take to make some people understand that it shouldn’t matter if it’s illegal; it’s inhuman, period. Why then did Esau have the Texas Ranger badge, and why it would be ‘unlawful’ to kill that man when it was clear to Bass that Esau was the slavehunter Mr. Sundown? Bass reached the limit of his rational mind in this episode and got in deep trouble because of it.

Spoilers Ahead


Why Did Judge Parker Send Bass On Duty Again?

Bass had been away on duty for months, spending very little time with his family. In the previous episode, he had come back home and was bombarded with questions regarding his intention of being an ally for Edwin’s mission of a ‘Black Nation’. He had been told about the black folks and their mysterious disappearance, and now, with the revelation of the existence of Mr. Sundown, he could link facts in his head. There was little to no doubt in Bass’ mind that Esau wasn’t just after criminals who happened to be of color but was deliberately targeting them to kill or capture. The evil in Esau made him see even the non-threatening folks as his enemies, and Bass knew Esau wouldn’t hesitate to kill them, no matter if they were children. Shouldn’t Bass question Esau’s authority? That question was haunting him, and Esau had crossed all limits, killing Jackson Cole, whom he was supposed to have turned in alive. Esau had killed Curtis, Sara’s child, without batting an eye and had the audacity to label Bass a ‘wolf,’ implying there was no difference between them, ethically speaking. Bass, even while at home, was lost in thought, thinking about how to deal with Esau. When Judge Parker and his wife visited Bass’ place, Parker noticed him with his attention wandering elsewhere and offered to give him a holiday to make Bass snap out of it. Bass couldn’t take a holiday as he saw it as a charity, or perhaps he just didn’t want anyone to peek at the inner thoughts he was having regarding his job. That offer of a holiday was a trick anyway, on Parker’s part. He somehow knew Bass would act offended hearing about a holiday and be ready for another job, and hence there it was—his next job, where he was to arrest an old black woman who had killed her husband.


Why Did Bass Shoot Willy Leach?

Bill Crow introduced Bass to Willy Leach, who was a cook, and it seemed there was no harm in taking him along for the ride; at least that was Bass’ initial assessment. But after Bass made the arrest and was on his way to Fort Worth, Willy Leach let the woman go free while Bass and Crow were asleep. Bass was fuming with anger, as was Willy, who seemed to be angry at Bass himself for arresting an old lady, fully aware of the circumstances under which she must have committed the ‘crime’. Willy seemed to have been affected by Edwin’s ideology. There was no explicit mention of it, but the way he questioned Bass about hunting slaves for the ‘white man’s noose’ seemed eerily close to what Edwin wanted to say about Bass’ attitude towards his so-called duties. Being constantly slammed by people for just doing his job had made Bass a hot-headed creature. Esau’s visions were flashing before his eyes, and he saw Willy’s actions as an obstruction to justice. Was letting Willy go unpunished the same as Esau’s evil misuse of the law? Obviously not, but to Bass, the pursuit of justice was next only to God. Even the most minor obstruction was intolerable to Bass, and seeing Willy touch his holster was enough for him to shoot him in the neck. He aimed a little left, perhaps a sign that he wanted to scare him or just graze his ear, but Willy succumbed to his wound, and Bass was arrested, as he had no authority to kill him, even if he had let the woman go.


Why Did The Little White Girl Knock On Jennie’s Door?

What Sally had done at the carnival, i.e., telling a little white girl to mind her manners, was going to have its repercussions. Sally herself was not too concerned, but Jennie and Esme knew that it could bring them trouble. The same little girl came to Jennie’s house and knocked on her door. Her sole purpose seemed to be to check if Bass was home. It was clear that she had been sent by her brothers, who had been scared away after Sally and Arthur had put up a fight. But they were not going to back down so easily. After getting news of Bass’ absence, they sent their message loud and clear by lighting the scarecrow in Jennie’s farm on fire. Perhaps they could have done more harm, but knowing that Bass was a lawman deterred them from going overboard. This was a clear sign of terrible things to come in the future, and Bass’ arrest was sure to damage his credibility in the area.


Was Bass Sentenced To Death?

Bass gave a long speech to Judge Parker in private, giving his point of view on the idea of justice. Parker had questioned him if Bass was ‘gold’ or just ‘pyrite,’ questioning if his integrity was still intact with regards to his job. Maybe Parker was impressed by Bass’ speech, which is why he pronounced him not guilty of the murder of Willy. It looked as if Parker wanted to give Bass a second chance, as there was room for doubt, given that Willy did seem to have reached for his gun. Whatever the case, Bass had only one thing on his mind: Esau Pierce. Had he been arrested or sentenced to death, he wouldn’t have had to confront Esau and answer back to the demons in his head that were constantly making him feel guilty of so many things. Bass had not been to save Curtis and had arrested so many black folks, many of whom perhaps didn’t deserve the death sentence. Bass wasn’t sure what he would gain by killing Esau, but that was a door he wanted to walk through. This time, he went on his own mission, informing Jennie about his task, but he wasn’t alone. Deputy Lynn and Bill Crow were by his side, and they were coming for Esau.


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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