Lawmen: Bass Reeves Episode 3 review: It’s not getting better

Jasmine Valentine
The cast of Lawmen: Bass ReevesParamount+

What even happened during Episode 3 of Lawmen: Bass Reeves? It’s hard to say, and it’s even harder to remember.

So far, Bass Reeves (David Oyelowo) has had a personal journey ranging from full-throttle life endangerment to instantly forgettable. By the end of Episode 2, he’s quite literally handed the chance of a lifetime, with Sherrill Lynn (Dennis Quaid) stopping by to offer Bass the chance to be a Deputy US Marshal.

It’s an amazing 180 turnaround, given that the last time Bass saw Sherrill he decked him within an inch of his life. Still, that seems to be the case for our fictitious leading man, with this adaptation placing him somewhere between incredibly perseverant and coincidentally lucky.

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Where Episode 2 lacked charm, Episode 3 lacks even more of it. This time around, Lawmen: Bass Reeves feels neither like entertainment nor an educational interlude, but is merely a way to kill time and suggest that a narrative promise is still to be delivered. Warning – minor spoilers ahead!

As filler as filler gets

David Oyelowo in Lawmen: Bass Reeves... which isn't a Yellowstone spin-off.Paramount+

There’s no getting away from it – Episode 3 of Lawmen: Bass Reeves is pure filler. Viewers get to see how Bass gets on in his first days on the new job, getting to grips with both his colleagues and in ins and outs of enforcing the law on the daily. Much like we wouldn’t expect a camera following PC Plod around 24/7 to be overly exciting, Bass finding his feet misses the mark of anything that could be considered with merit.

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Somewhere in the blur of events that seem to merge into one, a potential key character is introduced in the form of Billy Crow (Forrest Goodluck). A kind of 1800s grifter, Billy is quick to get himself into the heart of the action – or become it if there isn’t anything much else going on (and there really isn’t). His background and intentions remain largely unknown, as do his prospects for the remainder of the limited series. Why is the focus staying on him? What makes him different? These are all questions that the show has not only yet to answer, but yet to generate appeal for finding out.

A crop of other new faces pass Bass by too, including an Irish woman who isn’t suffering fools gladly. As the regular Bobby on the beat, this is all just a day in the life of our wandering hero now, and it shows. Even wife Jennie (Lauren E. Banks) and the kids have become desensitized to Bass’ newfound fame, seeking new paths of fulfillment and connection elsewhere.

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Does Bass still show some promise?

The cast of Lawmen: Bass ReevesParamount+

Aside from the fact that Bass has clearly defied all the odds socially stacked against him and has notable ties to real-life legends, it’s difficult to see why fictional him is considered to be so exceptional. Many who enter Bass’ life allude to the notion that he has formidable skills, only for his gun-shooting to be few and far between in appearances. When viewers do see it, it’s nothing that would put the fear of God into an enemy, instead merely making those enemies seem more like idiots. The closest he gets to jaw-dropping death in Episode 3 is at the hands of someone else entirely, with Bass merely acting as an observer.

Considering that Lawmen: Bass Reeves is almost at the halfway point by Episode 3, there’s now no reason to suggest that things are going to suddenly change for the better. As explored in Episode 1, there’s still a real disconnect between the truth that needs to be publicly known and the levels of satisfaction that need to come with an 8-part drama series. At best guess, Bass will continue to trot on through life as a rightly revered figure, but fall short of anything that holds deeper weight to invest in.

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Lawmen: Bass Reeves Episode 3 review score: 2/5

So far, Lawmen: Bass Reeves is proving to be a historical slog, with Episode 3 getting viewers from A to B.

Is B a destination that’s actually worth getting to? As the episodes plow on, optimism for the show packing an actual punch is beginning to wane.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves streams on Paramount Plus from November 5. Check out our other coverage below:

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About The Author

Jasmine Valentine is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's written for the likes of Total Film, The Daily Beast, and Radio Times. Jasmine loves anime, dystopian thrillers, and anything starring Tilda Swinton. You can email her here: jasmine.waters@dexerto.com.