Lawmen: Bass Reeves ends its run this week by having its titular hero confront his greatest nemesis one last time. And when the deputy U.S. marshal uncovers what’s actually going on at the Texas ranger’s compound, all of that Mr. Sundown talk makes sudden, sickening sense.
Then, back at the homestead, Jennie has a run-in with Rachel Reeves that leaves her shaken. Keep scrolling for the highlights of the season finale, “Part VIII.” (Plus, read our interview with the series creator about a major scene we didn’t get to see.)
SHERRILL GOES ROGUE | Bass, Billy and Sherrill stake out a busy city street until one of Esau Pierce’s colleagues stumbles out of a saloon. They stalk the drunken man into the alley where he’s peeing and throw a bag over his head, but Bass gets mad when Sherrill impulsively hits the man over the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking him out. “We need him talking!” Bass reminds him. They load their unconscious quarry into a wagon and take off.
The group winds up at an empty house in the middle of nowhere, where Sherrill delights in beating the man to try to get info on Pierce’s whereabouts. But he won’t talk… until Bass cocks his pistol and holds it at the man’s crotch at point-blank range. With Pierce’s whereabouts ascertained, Reeves shuts down Sherrill’s desire to scalp the man, instructing him instead to take his boots. They’re so far away from the nearest towns that Bass doesn’t think the man will make it there, especially because he’s hurt. “You sure about that?” Sherrill asks mockingly. “Sure you don’t get a vote,” Bass replies. But none of it matters, because Sherrill goes inside and shoots their prisoner, anyway.
THE FINAL FACE-OFF | Bass eventually arrives at Esau’s compound, where some other Texas Rangers inform him that he needs to surrender his weapons if he wants to see Pierce, “badge or no badge.” When he comes face to face with the man, Reeves says Pierce owes him $50, aka the difference between rounding up a live outlaw vs. a dead one.
Pierce pays Bass double what he owes him, then Bass doesn’t waste any time asking him about Mr. Sundown. “I was wondering when the foreplay would end and the rutting would begin,” Pierce says. (Side note: Gross.) Then he abruptly asks Bass to stay for dinner, seating him at the table in the perfect place for him to see Jackson Cole — alive — lashed to a post in the yard outside. The whole encounter is so creepy and horrible. Then Bass demands to know what Pierce’s grift is.
Pierce says he takes outlaws no one will miss — all Black, of course — and turns in their boots because their bodies are worth more than the $50 extra he’d get for turning them in. “I’ll be the biggest supplier of beef from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” he boasts as he walks Bass through his operation, the labor of which is provided by these men everyone thinks are dead. The lawmen go out into the yard and Pierce has Bass unshackle Cole from the post, then has his men train their guns on him while he informs Bass that he’ll be joining the property as one of his slaves now.
Bass calmly removes his hat… which is a pre-worked-out signal. All of a sudden, a shot comes from out of nowhere, taking down one of the gunmen: Billy and Sherrill have been watching from the woods, and they run in to help. Pierce takes off, but his other guard goes after Bass. Only Cole’s help — he grabs a chain and strangles the guy — saves Reeves’ life.
SHERILL LYNN’S LAST STAND | Soon, Bass, Billy and Sherrill are engaged in a gunfight with one of Pierce’s men in the woods. Sherrill takes out the shooter, but accidentally steps in a bear trap. Billy tries to help him, but Sherrill knows he’s either going to die of blood loss or the subsequent fever. So he stops Billy from trying to extricate him from the iron, deputizes the younger man and then tells him to go save Bass. After Billy leaves, Sherrill kills himself.
Billy finds Bass and reports that Pierce has taken off on Pistol, Reeve’s horse. The marshal instructs Billy to “free those men,” then rides off on his horse. It’s not long before he’s shot Pierce down, then shot him once more, killing him. He then returns to Pierce’s house, learns of Sherrill’s death and fills his saddlebags with money from Pierce’s coffers.
JUSTICE IS SERVED | The next morning, Pierce’s lavish home is burning to the ground as Bass leads Cole and the rest of Pierce’s prisoners away. At a river, he hands Cole the money — as well as a gun — and tells him to take the men somewhere safe and free. “I hear Kansas is good,” he says. “No one’s gonna ever know,” Cole responds, “but you made history today, Deputy Reeves.”
As the freed men get underway, Billy tries to give Bass Sherrill’s star, but Bass says he’ll tell Judge Parker that he earned it. And on the way home, he adds, Billy should stop in Checotah and marry his lady. He hands him a giant gem he lifted from Pierce’s place to help with the proceedings.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT HOME… | Esme speaks at church, saying that instead of trying to build a paradise elsewhere, they should try to build a community of Black influence and power in Fort Smith. Her words get a lot of people excited, but Jennie looks worried.
When she gets home, that concerned look increases: Rachel Reeves is waiting for her, rocking next to a wary-faced Sally, on her porch. Seeing her former mistress makes Jennie flash back to when her water broke while she was serving the Reeves’ tea; Esme helped her deliver Sally in the kitchen. The cord had barely been cut when Rachel came in and scooped the baby up, acting all gracious by giving Jennie the rest of the day off work.
In the present day, Jennie sends the other kids off to the water hole, has Sally go inside and spares no niceties for Rachel, wondering why she’s there. She takes her sweet time getting to the point: There’s whisperings about laws that would reinstate slavery, and she wants Jennie and her kids to come back to the plantation and work. When she drops the n-word, Jennie slaps her right in her stupid face and orders her to leave. Rachel clutches her face and runs, whimpering. When she’s gone, Jennie cries and looks like she’s going to be sick.
The encounter seems to change Jennie’s mind about Eden Township, though. She later finds Esme and tells her that they have to fight, because “they’ll take it if you let ‘em.”
‘I’M HOME’ | Bass returns home near the end of the episode and nearly falls into Jennie’s arms. “I’m home. Every part of me,” he tells her. “And me,” she answers. The season ends with Bass walking out into the front yard to join Jennie and the kids as they play.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of Lawmen: Bass Reeves‘ finale? Grade the episode, as well as the season as a whole, via the polls below. Then hit the comments with your thoughts!