Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn’t in the Yellowstone universe, but that’s okay

While Lawmen: Bass Reeves doesn’t technically form part of the Taylor Sheridan Yellowstone universe, we still think it’ll be the best drama series around.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn't in the Yellowstone universe, but that's okay

You’d be forgiven for being confused when it comes to matters surrounding Bass Reeves. For starters, everyone was under the impression it would form part of the wider Yellowstone universe. Why? Well… because we were told as much. It’s all about as confusing as a case of missing dinosaur fossils. (That’s one for the Yellowstoners out there.)

Initially, Lawmen: Bass Reeves was a standalone series created by its soon-to-be-star, David Oyelowo. Then, Taylor Sheridan got his dirt-covered, cowboy hands on it, and it was soon announced the historical drama series would be reworked to fit into the Yellowstone timeline, most possibly in the form of a spiritual sequel to 1883.

However, over the course of the series’ development, it’s now flipped back to being its own thing, and just a few weeks out from the Lawmen: Bass Reeves release date, we learned the show would form the first installment in an anthology series focusing on famous lawmen of the Old West. And yes, while we were a little disappointed to hear that we wouldn’t be getting another story set in the 1883 world, we decided to be adults about it and say, “Hey, any Taylor Sheridan TV series is better than nothing, right?”

Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn't part of Yellowstone, and that's okay: David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves

Time is a gift, and it’s the thing that’s allowed us to step back and realize that, actually, Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ reverted solo status is actually a blessing for several reasons. Let’s start with the most obvious: the historical value of the show. Diverting from the usual fictitious antics of the Dutton family, Bass Reeves is based on a very real historical figure. And not just any historical figure; Bass Reeves was the first Black U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi and was allegedly the inspiration for the ‘Lone Ranger.’

The various Yellowstone series might boast elaborate fictional plots with vicious villains, gunfights, and chases on horseback, but it’s easy to forget that the American West was actually like that. Violence and disorder were rampant, and U.S. marshals were the figures responsible for maintaining day-to-day law enforcement in areas that had no clear government.

Bass Reeves was a former slave who escaped and made his way to Arkansas, where he became a farmer. James F. Fagan, a U.S. marshal, was asked to appoint up to 200 deputy Marshals, and he’d heard of Reeves’ knowledge of the territory and ability to speak Native American languages. Because of this, the legend of Bass Reeves was born.

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Reeves was just that — a legend. His story is one so significant to this period of history that it couldn’t possibly be done justice through the limit of journalistic word count. But maybe, just maybe, a dedicated series could give audiences a decent understanding of this important figurehead of the American West. Frankly, his story sounds like one that could potentially lead to one of the best TV series to come from Paramount Plus in ages, and we’ve been seated for a while.

Balling Bass Reeves up into a smaller, less distinct package in order to shove it into the Yellowstone wheelhouse sounds like a bad idea in this instance. Although we love a good Easter egg or cameo around here, we’d hate to think of a series being downgraded simply to have James Dutton bump into Reeves on the street and have a quick conversation about the sinful nature of man or whatever Dutton nonsense they would have talked about.

Yes, 1883 might have been the best installment in the Yellowstone franchise, but it didn’t earn its merit by robbing a real person’s name and molding it into something that could be palatable for Dutton fans. It’s a Yellowstone prequel through and through and was designed as such to compliment Taylor Sheridan’s flagship show.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn't part of Yellowstone, and that's okay: David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves and Dennis Quaid as Sherrill Lynn

Speak of the ten-gallon-hat-wearing-Devil himself! Sheridan has become the golden boy of the small screen, churning out series after series, each one somehow more dramatic and gripping than the last. (And let’s not forget his genuinely impressive cinematic background with creations such as Sicario, Wind River, and Hell or High Water.)

Sheridan, while soaring high because of his Montana-based creation, has proven himself time and time again to be a capable producer outside of his Yellowstone legacy. The Mayor of Kingstown was reportedly one of the most-watched Paramount Plus shows, and his movies have earned Oscar nominations. The point is that Taylor Sheridan is talented, and not everything he does needs to be related to Yellowstone.

What’s more, Yellowstone is currently on dangerous ground. With the series seeing the exit of Kevin Costner and Yellowstone season 5 part 2 facing an unplanned early ending, that ranch’s ice is very thin. Even with potential in the air for its future (with the 6666 release date and Matthew McConaughey’s upcoming Yellowstone spin-off in the works), the fate of the franchise could be done away with at any moment if Sheridan so felt like it.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves isn't part of Yellowstone, and that's okay: David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves

Perhaps it’s best for us not to place any more pressure on Yellowstone to deliver than there already is. In this sense, Bass Reeves should tick all the boxes for fans of the best Westerns and satisfy the itch that the unlikely 1883 season 2 release date would have scratched. And it can do it all without even mentioning the word “Dutton.”

If you’re a fan of Taylor Sheridan’s flagship show, why not get to know the Yellowstone cast (even though they won’t be popping up in Bass Reeves)? You can also find out more when it comes to the 1923 season 2 release date.

Confused about the future of Yellowstone? Check here to see if Yellowstone has been canceled, and find out if there will be a Yellowstone season 6. Finally, find out why we think Dallas ran so Yellowstone could fly.