“That Dirty Black Bag” wonderfully captures the journey of a bounty hunter as he looks for his mother’s killer. And what makes it more interesting is how other lives are also connected to his journey. Multiple plots are given equal importance and add to the overall effect of the show. But this does not sway the show from its main plot as we are brought back to it in subtle ways.
‘That Dirty Black Bag’ Season 1: Episodic Recap, Explained
Episode 1: Steve reaches out to Sheriff Arthur McCoy of Greenvale to talk about his missing horses. According to Steve, the horses have been taken by Thompson’s men. Thompson has been eyeing his land for a long time. Word around is that a convict named Quinn, wanted for rape and murder in multiple counties, is back. The Sheriff and his two officers decide to visit Quinn. But there, they find Red Bill, a bounty hunter, who has already killed Quinn and has his head inside a dirty black bag he carries. The bag has more of these heads. The Sheriff gives him a final warning and tells him to leave the city. Meanwhile, Steve confronts Thompson, who is inclined toward taking Steve’s land by almost any means he can afford. The Sheriff and his officers find a federal coach that has just been ambushed by thieves. They shoot the one guy hiding inside the coach, find a case full of money, and decide to keep it. McCoy then goes and meets Eve, who runs a brothel, The Red Lantern, as well as the town’s water business. Later on, he gets the news that Red Bill is gone. Steve then comes and meets Eve, asking her to talk to McCoy about his horses. Steve and Eve were past lovers, but Steve is now married to someone else and has a son. Red Bill is on his way to look for Wilson Brothers when he meets a man named Butler and stops at his place for some water. However, Butler has other intentions. He gives Bill some kind of hallucinogen and captures him. Back in the city, McCoy decides to bring back Red Bill after one of his officers, Nathan, is unable to catch him. But he is stopped by his other officer, Kurt. Steve returns home, and we get a glimpse of the cave of gold that is there near his house, a place whose location only he knows. Bill opens his eyes and finds himself with his hands and legs tied.
Episode 2: McCoy and Hurt are back on track to find Red Bill. Nathan promises his daughter Mary to bring home a new mom, Symone, one of the ladies at Eve’s brothel. Nathan arrives at the Red Lantern to talk to Symone but is denied by Eve. Bill is unable to free himself from the clutches of Butler, who appears to have faith in the occult, kills men, drinks their blood, and collects their skulls. McCoy and Kurt cross a bridge over a valley and reach the outskirts of Greenvale, looking for Bill. Meanwhile, Steve’s wife Michelle comes and meets Thompson and agrees to let him push her husband harder and compel him to sell his land. This step of Michelle is out of her fear of survival on their parched land. Symone mentions her fondness for Nathan to all her friends at Red Lantern, but Eve is against it. Butler hangs Bill upside down and waits for him to die on his own, after which he can perform his rituals. Steve presents his offer of land to the people of Greenvale city. But Thompson intervenes, saying that nothing will grow on his land. However, one man named Jack takes the offer. Butler, while waiting for Bill to die, hears a knock on his door. It is McCoy and Kurt who are looking for a man. Butler says that he hasn’t seen anyone pass and offers them the same drink that he gave Bill, but McCoy somehow doubts both Butler’s drink and behavior. Neither he nor Kurt drink it and take Butler’s leave. However, while walking toward his horse, something bugs McCoy, and he returns to a shed that Butler has adjoining his house. There, to his utter shock, McCoy finds clothes and guns in a heap. Back at Greenvale, Nathan goes to pay Symone another visit at the brothel, but she ignores him and doesn’t even let her inside. McCoy and Kurt kill Butler and save Red Bill.
Episode 3: McCoy and Kurt are on their way back to Greenvale with Red Bill to bring him to justice. Boss Bronson listens to one of his men Trainor’s tale of fooling death and escaping the clutches of the Sheriff of Greenvale. He is the guy who we thought was dead inside the federal coach in Episode 2. Trainor was supposed to bring the money, but he failed. Bronson kills him then and there and sends another of his men, Blaine, to Greenvale to bring back the money and kill the Sheriff. McCoy and Kurt, accompanied by Red Bill, find that the bridge they crossed (in Episode 2) is destroyed. Now they have to find some other way to get back to Greenvale. In the city, Nathan mentions his doubts about Sheriff McCoy’s return to co-officer Henry, as it has been two days since they left. With McCoy gone, Eve will be in charge, something that Nathan doesn’t want at all. At the Red Lantern, Eve imagines her past with Steve and how happy she was. She decides to confront Steve for leaving her and rides to his home. Steve isn’t happy about her visit and tells her that God has given him the responsibility to guard the gold, and she was his greatest sin. And even though it breaks his heart, it is the choice he has made. On the other hand, Nathan arrives at the Red Lantern, Eve not being there to stop him, and confronts Symone regarding her decision to not marry him, something she had told his brother Henry earlier. She says that she doesn’t want to be a mother to Mary. Nathan beats her up, completely mutilating her face. Steve receives a grave warning from Thompson. Bronson meets Hellen, and they both discuss some kind of deal that involves Bronson’s candidacy. Bronson shows her his collection of artifacts and mementos. Hellen notices a knife and is horrified. She tells Bronson to get rid of it unless he wants to “bring down everything we’ve built.” The knife has a symbol of an eye, which seems to be a holy symbol. It is the same symbol that Butler created using his collection of skulls, as we saw at the end of Episode 2. Blaine and his men are almost at Greenvale. After finding out what Nathan did to Symone, Eve kills him at his house.
Episode 4: This episode is set 15 years back. Marco and his brother Bronson, with assistance from some more fellows, steal a golden cross from their mother’s grave. On the other hand, we see a young Red Bill growing up with a woman and her daughter, with Bill being the younger one. He still has nightmares of his mother’s death and decides to look for a bounty hunter named Anderson. Meanwhile, Bronson and Marco lose their carriage that they were returning to the city in with the golden cross. They had no other option but to walk back in the heat of the desert. One by one, Bronson starts killing his teammates, all but his brother McCoy. It is clear that he is doing it in order to not slow down on the journey. But McCoy is totally against it and ultimately leaves him when he gets the chance and escapes, leaving Bronson all alone. Bill finds Anderson and trains under him despite doubting his intentions until Anderson makes a group of bandits leave the land of Bill’s mother. Bill tells Anderson about the man who killed his mother and wants him to find that man and kill him. After much hesitation, he agrees and leaves on his search. Bill decides to travel with him and learn his skills.
Episode 5: Episode 5 is set in the present and continues after Eve kills Nathan. Henry arrives at Nathan’s house and discovers his dead body. Eve is arrested by Nathan and receives death as her punishment. Bill, McCoy, and Kurt reach the entrance of a mine that they have to cross in order to avoid the heat, but they also risk getting lost inside it. Steve offers Henry a piece of gold in return for Eve’s life. But it is not Henry, but Eve who disagrees with Steve and tells him that she deserves it. Thompson comes to know about Eve’s hanging and rushes to Steve’s place to make the most of this opportunity and influence Michelle to change her mind. Meanwhile, Bronson’s men reach Greenvale just in time to see Eve’s hanging and decide to use it to execute Bronson’s orders to kill the Sheriff. But he isn’t there. Eve is hanged. It finally rains in Greenvale. Red, McCoy, and Hurt make it out of the mine.
Episode 6: Bill finds out from McCoy that it is Bronson, the same guy who killed his mother and who gave him the marks on his back as well. They are about to reach Condor. On the other hand, Bronson’s men also find out from the police before killing them all, including Henry, that the Sheriff, in all possibility, is near the mine in Condor. Thus, they also reach there, and what follows is a gunfight between McCoy, Red, Kurt, and Bronson’s men. Kurt dies, and Bill escapes. But to McCoy’s surprise, one of the people shooting at them is his former teammate Blaine. After Blaine tells McCoy that Bronson has sent them for the federal coach money, McCoy decides to ride with him to the spot where he hid it. Meanwhile, Symone brings Eve’s lifeless body to Red Lantern, where she will be buried properly. One of Bronson’s men wires Bronson and informs him that the Sheriff of Greenvale is none other than his brother Marco, aka McCoy. Bill comes to the Greenvale police station to find any information on Bronson but doesn’t find anything. A kid named Tod directs him towards the train station, where Billy will get a train to another place where he can look for Bronson. On the other hand, Bronson leaves for Greenvale to look for his brother. Bill gets a ticket but, before leaving, decides to enter Red Lantern, where he takes a bath. McCoy reaches the location where he hid the money but finds that a flood has washed away all the cash.
Episode 7: Steve finds a sapling on his farm, which is a sign that his farm has turned fertile. Bill saves Tod’s mother from a group of men, and in return, gives his gun to Tod to protect his mother. Unfortunately, sometime later, Bill discovers Tod dead with his mother weeping. A man shot Tod who drew his new gun at the man probably out of excitement. Realizing that he cannot leave the city without a sheriff at all, he changes his mind to leave the place and rides out to look for McCoy. McCoy is walking back to Greenvale, weathered by the heat and thirst. He reaches a house with a man and a woman and decides to take a rest there. Sometime later, Bill arrives there too. Symone decides to take charge of Greenvale after the death of Eve. McCoy makes a deal with Bill in which he will take Bill to Bronson, but only if Bill protects him against Bronson’s men. Thompson gets his hands on a piece of gold. Bronson and his men reach Greenvale.
Episode 8: We go back to the past where Anderson is killed while riding. Bill survives and takes the oath to never stop looking for his mother’s murderer. And that’s the beginning of his journey, one that leads him to his present journey with McCoy to Greenvale. Thompson arrives at Steve’s home and forces him to sell his land of gold. Bronson and his men arrive at a bar looking for someone who will take them to Condor, the very place where McCoy probably is. In the same bar, we have Symone, who agrees to take them. Steve takes Thompson to the cave of gold and kills him. Meanwhile, McCoy returns with Bill to the spot from where he left for the federal money and finds two of Bronson’s men waiting for them. McCoy and Bill kill the two men, following which McCoy challenges Bill to a standoff. If he wins, he will have Bill’s bag of bounty heads, but if Bill is the last man standing, he will have to promise McCoy to add Bronson’s head to his bag. Both take a hit, and McCoy dies. Bill is saved by Steve’s son, who stumbled upon him. Steve takes him to his house. Meanwhile, Bronson and his men arrive at Condor and find his brother dead on the ground. Back at his mansion, Hellen is about to sacrifice a girl child in the same manner as Butler tried to sacrifice Bill. At Steve’s home, Steve’s son shows Bill a symbol of an eye in a book, one that resembles the one that he remembers from the knife that was used to kill his mother, the same symbol that was on the knife in Bronson’s museum as well as the one at Butler’s house.
The Characters Driven By Revenge
“That Dirty Black Bag” is about revenge. Be it Bill’s revenge for his mother’s killer, be it Eve’s revenge for Symone, be it Steve’s revenge for his land, “The Dirty Black Bag” has masterfully connected all of these plots and woven a brilliant story. It is commendable how the feeling of revenge encapsulates love in numerous forms; a mother and her child, siblings, two lovers, a husband and a wife, and friends. Bill Red’s mother was killed by Bronson. Bronson’s brother McCoy liked Eve. Eve and Steve loved each other. Eve killed Nathan after he hurt Symone. However, the story has two epicenters; one is Red Bill, and the other is McCoy. And it is interesting how two people of absolutely opposite ideologies have been brought together using the motif of their pasts. McCoy is the Sheriff. He stands for law, order, and justice. On the other hand, Red Bill is a bounty hunter and is all about killing people. However, their past brings them face to face with each other, and that too, via a person who has played a crucial role in their lives, i.e., Bronson. Bronson is McCoy’s elder brother and the one who killed Red’s mother.
The Consistent Theme Of Greed
“That Dirty Black Bag” also carries the message of greed and how it can turn a person into his or her worst version. Thompson’s craving for gold ended up with him threatening Steve’s little kid. Bronson’s craving for riches cost him his brother. And not just that, in the process, they also ended up killing people, something that was not necessary at all. However, the way greed is portrayed makes us judge ourselves when we consider Bronson and Thompson doing the right thing. Bronson kills his friends so that he and his brother can survive. Thompson wanted the gold because he wanted to bring back the “golden days” to the city of Greenvale. But we are not given the time to consider and are brought straight to the moment of truth. Bronson’s brother dies, and so does Thompson.
The Clause Of Sacrifice
If we talk about sacrifice, we have two characters, McCoy and Eve. What’s worth noticing is that McCoy sacrificed himself for his hatred, while Eve sacrificed her life for her love. McCoy made Bill promise to kill Bronson, his brother, before their standoff. Eve, on the other hand, didn’t want Steve to be treated wrongly, so she decided to accept her punishment, i.e., hanging. It is not just the sacrifice of the body but the sacrifice of the emotion as well. There is no doubt about the fact that somewhere deep down, McCoy loves his brother, even though not as much as his brother loves him. And as for Eve, she just lets her love for Steve go, not just because she doesn’t want Steve to be a part of her life that will turn it into one of a fugitive, but also because he had a wife and a child to look after. The present matters more than the past. And it is the past that leads to the present. And only if we decide on a just present can we expect a just future.
The Hint Of The Occult
“The Dirty Black Bag” also uses the motif of the occult, which adds to the overall effect of the show. There is a certain thrill in following a plot that uses occult practices to boost the plot, which, in this case, will lead to the showdown. In Episode 8, we see Hellen, along with many others, about to sacrifice the child. Clearly, Season 2 will begin with a showdown between Bronson and Red. However, it remains to be seen what happens to the girl child and what the significance of the eye symbol is.
‘That Dirty Black Bag’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Does Bill Meet Bronson?
Bronson will look for his brother’s killer while Bill already knows that Bronson is McCoy’s brother. This will certainly bring them both face-to-face. On the other hand, we are yet to learn about the significance of the eye and how it relates to the occult practices being carried out at Bronson’s mansion. However, we do not know what happened to Symone.
“That Dirty Black Bag” Season 2 will explore all this and might just bring Bill and Symone face-to-face with each other. Bill might become the new Sheriff of Greenvale and Symone, the new Eve. But with Bronson’s strength in numbers and his influence, Bill will have to pull a lot of strings to bring him to his knees.
“That Dirty Black Bag” is a 2022 Drama Western series streaming on AMC+.