Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 Review – David Oyelowo thrives as Bass Reeves

By Ricky Valero
Published: November 5, 2023 (Last updated: November 8, 2023)
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Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 Review
Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 | Image via Paramount


David Oyelowo delivers a strong performance in Lawmen: Bass Reeves, the latest strong show from the Taylor Sheridan streaming universe.

The ever-growing Taylor Sheridan Universe continues with the Paramount+ original series Lawmen: Bass Reeves. The eight-episode series was created by showrunner, executive producer, and writer Chad Feehan. It sees David Oyelowo in the lead role of Bass Reeves, who stars alongside Lauren E. Banks and Dennis Quaid. It’s another strong Western for the streaming service after 1883 and 1923,

Bass Reeves wasn’t an ordinary man as he rose from enslavement to law enforcement and became the first Black U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi. The series is set to become a standalone anthology series to allow future versions of the show to follow lawmen and outlaws that have impacted history. 

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 review and plot summary

Lawmen: Bass Reeves follows the true story of Bass Reeves — with obvious creative license — and explores how he went from a slave to the first Black Deputy U.S. Marshal.

When we first meet Bass, it’s amid a war that’s happening between two armies that is interrupted by a third. After the war, he was promised his freedom by his master, but his master had other plans for Bass. He cheats Bass out of his freedom leading him to fight him and head out on the run.

As we shift throughout Season 1 we get several time jumps as Bass slowly works his way into becoming a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He quickly begins to realize the weight of the job is taking a massive toll on him.

Right out of the gate Lawmen: Bass Reeves starts fast, with a packed pilot that gives us almost too much to chew on. It doesn’t stop there either, with the second episode featuring a massive time jump, leading to Bass becoming a Deputy U.S. Marshal before we get any time to digest what’s happening. 

That said, the pace does slow down from there, which is where the series elevates itself by allowing you to invest in what Bass Reeves is doing and how he handles the pressure of becoming a Deputy.

Thankfully creator Chad Feehan understands that Bass Reeves is the star of the show and doesn’t allow any other components to overshadow the man he was and became. Reeves was an essential figure in our history, and the show explores that in a way that makes you want to learn more about his story. 

Oyelowo is a force to be reckoned with in LawmenBass Reeves.

The immensely talented David Oyelowo plays Bass Reeves. I have to give the casting team credit because Oyelowo perfectly fits the role of Reeves. As I mentioned, you have an important person in history coming to life here, and you can feel the weight of that importance in how Oyelowo handled his approach to Reeves.

I’d be crazy not to mention the fantastic work by the team behind the scenes with the world-building of this late 1800s era. From the moment the series starts, you feel firmly planted in this Western era, making it easy to fall into the story.

Lawman: Bass Reeves has many of the beats we’ve seen in other recent series from Sheridan, so if you are a fan of his work, this will be right up your alley. The healthy balance of excellent writing of the Bass Reeves character and Oyelowo’s strong performance make this one of the better shows in the Sheridan universe. It’s not a slam dunk, but it’s worth checking out weekly. 

What did you think of Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1? Comment below.


Paramount+, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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