Is Braxton Sawyer Inspired by a Real Texas Ranger?

In the sixth episode of Paramount+’s Western series ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves meets a Texas Ranger named Braxton Sawyer at a bar in Checotah. Bass meets Sawyer when he reconsiders his decision to become a lawman. The weight of capturing and handing over black individuals like himself unsettles the deputy marshal. When Bass realizes that Sawyer is a lawman as well, he opens up about his struggles to the latter. Before parting ways, Sawyer reaffirms to his fellow officer that God is seeing his good work. Although Bass is based on a real deputy marshal, Sawyer is a fictional character with significance! SPOILERS AHEAD.

A Friendly Fellow Lawman

When Bass meets Braxton Sawyer for the first time, the deputy marshal thinks that the latter is a troublemaker. Before he starts a fight, Sawyer reveals that he is a Texas Ranger and an admirer of the lawman. Upon realizing that Sawyer is also someone who is carrying the weight of his badge, Bass talks to him about his conflicts. The deputy marshal reveals that he is feeling distanced from God because his life is getting miserable every time he has to arrest and lead someone to the gallows despite his heart asking him not to. Bass feels pressured to execute the law in his jurisdiction, which affects him psychologically.

Sawyer can be a character conceived to explore the darker sides of law enforcement. Through Bass and the Texas Ranger’s conversation, the Western drama succeeds in depicting how tiring it is to blindly follow the books of law, at times standing against one’s own notions of justice. For example, in the case of Jackson Cole, Bass knows that the captive only retaliated against a plantation owner who burnt down several black people to stop them from cherishing freedom. Still, he gets forced to hand Cole over to Esau Pierce, who eventually kills him.

Although Sawyer and Bass’ conversation doesn’t last long, the former reassures the deputy marshal that he is doing important work irrespective of the exhaustion the same causes. In addition, through Sawyer, the show establishes Bass’ reputation that has been crossing state borders. The Texas Ranger recognizing the deputy marshal makes it clear that the tales of the latter lawman have been reaching the ears of Texans.

A Friend in Texas

The seventh episode of the show ends with Bass Reeves leaving for Texas to likely arrest Esau Pierce for killing Curtis. When Bass gets saved by Sara, a Native American woman who provides him food, water, and shelter after he runs away from his master George Reeves, she lets him know that her son is her world. Bass fails to protect Curtis from Pierce, who kills the child believing that the boy is going to shoot him. The deputy marshal is haunted by the guilt of not safeguarding Curtis and repaying Sara’s kindness with the death of her son. Thus, he may try his best to see Pierce as a captive of the law.

When Bass emerges in Texas, he may meet Sawyer again. Although a Texas Ranger may not want to wage a war against one of his colleagues, he may direct the deputy marshal from Arkansas to the former Confederate soldier. As someone who admires the work Bass does, Sawyer may understand why the lawman wants Pierce brought to justice. Having someone who knows the customs of the land on his group may help Bass as well, especially considering how potent and cold-blooded Pierce is. In the season finale, we can expect a showdown between Bass and Pierce with Sawyer as a witness.

Read More: Jim Webb Was a Real Outlaw; Bass Reeves Killed Him During a Shootout