Yellowstone fans finally have a new show to ease their cravings for a new season: the Paramount+ drama Lawmen: Bass Reeves.
The new series, which is executive produced by Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan, is inspired by the life of the real-life lawman Bass Reeves, who was the first Black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi River.
The series follows Reeves (played by the British actor David Oyelowo) as he hunts down fugitives in what was known as the ‘Indian Territory’ in Arkansas, land that was reserved for Native Americans who were forced off their tribal lands by the US government and pushed out west.
The Western crime series has plenty to appeal to Yellowstone fans, though that show’s mastermind Sheridan doesn’t write or direct any of Bass Reeves’ episodes, as he does with his Yellowstone shows.
Still, fans have been wondering if a connection to the ever-expanding Yellowstone universe before the show’s finale on November 19.
Unfortunately, fans may be disappointed to learn that Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn’t connected in any known way to Sheridan’s other series.
The format itself complicates matters, as the new show is only part of a Lawmen anthology series, and subsequent seasons will focus on other — presumably real — law enforcement officers.
However, it wasn’t always meant to be its own property.
In May of last year, MTV Entertainment Studios revealed that its previously announced Bass Reeves series had been retitled 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, and it was said to be connected to the earlier Yellowstone prequel 1883, which starred the married couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, along with Sam Elliott.
Sheridan’s earlier 1883 was always intended to be a one-season series, so Bass Reeves could have been a way to continue that story without the other leads carrying over, but at some point the decision was made to sever it from Yellowstone completely.
Trying to keep the shows connected might have created some logistical strains, as Reeves’ accomplishments as a Deputy US Marshal primarily relate to his time in Arkansas, but the 1883 characters originated in Tennessee and traveled toward Oregon before setting up the future Dutton homestead in Montana.
Their travels could have taken them through Arkansas, but it would have been a detour south and may not have fit in with the original spinoff’s story.
It’s unclear how Sheridan and Bass Reeves creator and showrunner Chad Feehan has originally attempted to connect the show to 1883, or if the connection was merely related to its themes and similar setting (though Arkansas is part of the South).
But another issue preventing Bass Reeves from being part of the Yellowstone Universe is Feehan’s commitment to making lawmen an anthology series.
The Bass Reeves season only features four episodes, the first two of which premiered back to back on November 5, and subsequent seasons will feature different iconic lawmen from the United States’ past.
So far, it’s not known which do-gooder the show’s second season will focus on, or what time periods the series might cover.
The real-life Reeves was born into slavery in Arkansas in 1838, and he was later forced to join his slaveholder when he joined the Confederate Army in the Civil War, before he was able to escape to freedom.
Once slavery was abolished in the US in 1865, Reeves was able to return to Arkansas and worked as a farmer for several years.
However, when a call was put out to hire new US Marshals, Reeves was sought out due to his reputation in the area and his ability to speak several Native American languages, which made him an ideal choice to help police the Indian Territory.
Reeves was one of the most most talent lawmen of his generation, and he is said to have made over 3,000 arrests during his career.
After spending 18 years as a Deputy Marshal in Arkansas, Reeves briefly transferred to Paris, Texas, and his final years were spent in Oklahoma after it became a state in 1907.
He retired due to illness in 1909 and died a year later at age 71.
Although Yellowstone fans may be disappointed that they’re not getting more of the show’s expanded universe, their long national nightmare will soon be over.
Earlier this month, Paramount announced that it had greenlit two new spinoffs, titled 1944 and 2024.
The latter show is believed to be a previously announced sequel to the flagship series starring Matthew McConaughey.
The actor has been cast to replace original Yellowstone lead Kevin Costner after he departed the show at the end of season 5A, with the second half of the season still left to be filmed.
Costner had reportedly butted heads with Sheridan and Paramount executives over his desire for more money to shoot the rest of the season, as well as his request to film for considerably less time to allow him to focus on shooting his own two-part epic Western film Horizon.
The other spinoff, 1944, will presumably be a sequel to the earlier 1923, which stars Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.
Although Sheridan seems to be doubling down on using years as titles, both 1944 and 2024 are only working titles that could change down the line.