Lawmen Bass Reeves Finale Ending, Explained: Does Esau Pierce Die?

The eighth and final episode of Paramount+’s Western series ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ titled ‘Part VIII,’ ends with the showdown between Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves and Texas Ranger Esau Pierce. Esau sets out to “crucify” Bass just like Jackson Cole without realizing that the lawman crossed the state border with the company of two men. Sherrill Lynn and Billy Crow put their lives on the line to protect Bass. Although one of them dies amid the shootout that ensues, the other one gets fortunate enough to start a new chapter of his life. Bass punishes Esau with the punishment he deserves and sets free a group of black men from shackles! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Episode 8 Recap

‘Part VIII’ begins with Bass Reeves showing up in Fort Worth, Texas, with Sherrill Lynn and Billy Crow. He wants to confirm whether Esau Pierce is really Mr. Sundown upon meeting him for the balance of payment regarding the Jackson Cole assignment. The trio kidnaps a cowboy and learns Esau’s location from him. Sherrill kills him after finding out what they want to know despite Bass’ instruction to free the man. The veteran lawman also gets into a fight with Billy after taunting the Native American for a while. The next morning, Bass goes to the former Confederate soldier’s estate alone.

Jennie attends a sermon Esme arranges and listens to her friend talk about the need for their community’s betterment. Esme strikes a connection with Deputy Rogers as well. After the sermon, Jennie returns to her house, only to meet Mrs. George Reeves, the former’s master when she was a slave. The white woman “invites” Jennie and her kids back to her house for them to restart serving the Reeves family. Jennie slaps the woman and makes her leave the house. A shaken Jennie then goes to Esme for comfort as her husband Bass is far away from her.

Bass sees several black men working for Esau despite the abolition of slavery. The Texas Ranger welcomes Bass to his home and pays the balance the latter demands. Before meeting the Texas Ranger, Bass sees the “angel bones” the former talked about during their previous meeting. After getting the money Esau owes, Bass asks the fellow lawman about Mr. Sundown. Esau invites Bass to dinner and takes him to see his property afterward. Bass sees Jackson Cole tied with chains and he frees the prisoner with Esau’s permission.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves Ending: Why Does Bass Kill Esau Pierce?

Bass does kill Esau. Bass goes to Texas with Sherrill and Billy as a lawman and not as the Texas Ranger’s executioner. As someone who is committed to the rationale of the law, Bass doesn’t want to challenge it and punish Esau on his own. He must have planned to arrest the man for kidnapping and killing countless black people as “Mr. Sundown.” Esau even confesses to building his empire with the money he gained by submitting black people’s “shoes,” which makes it clear that Bass was right about his assumption. Still, the deputy marshal gets forced to kill the former Confederate soldier due to the latter’s actions.

After asking Bass to free Cole from the chains, Esau asks his fellow lawman to chain himself. Esau tells Bass that the latter is nothing but a slave despite the badge he carries. Esau is driven by pure hatred towards the black community and the hate he harbors inside him makes him blind to see Bass as a fellow lawman. When the deputy marshal stands in front of him and interrogates him about the crimes he committed, Esau gets offended because he cannot tolerate the fact that a former slave has become an equal. Thus, he wishes to see Bass back in chains as a slave to satisfy his racist impulses to torture any black man who cherishes their freedom.

Esau, however, doesn’t foresee that Bass has come with friends. While he threatens the deputy marshal, Sherrill and Billy show up out of nowhere and fight the Texas Ranger’s men. Cole joins the group and stops one of them to free Bass to go after Esau. Although Sherrill gets trapped, forcing him to kill himself, his intervention allows the fellow deputy to hunt down the racist man. When Bass confronts Esau’s vicious intentions to make him a slave again, the deputy marshal realizes that the latter doesn’t deserve to live anymore. He may know that it is pointless to drag a Texas Ranger to Fort Smith when he can use his influence to bend the law.

Bass kills Esau after getting convinced that the law cannot help him punish the latter for the crimes he had been committing against the black people. Although the Texas Ranger tries to run away, Bass follows the officer, and his bullets grant the former the punishment he deserves.

Does Bass Resign as a Deputy Marshal?

After killing Esau, Bass returns to his house and tells Jennie that he has returned with “all of his parts forever,” indicating that he may not leave his family to serve as a lawman again. Bass’ apparent decision to put an end to his career as a lawman isn’t surprising after he gets convinced that law doesn’t help him much. Ever since becoming a deputy marshal, Bass has been expected to blindly follow the books of rules irrespective of what his heart tells him. As a black man who has suffered a lot, Bass knows how much his community is ignored and tortured by the law written by white men.

After confronting the reality of “Mr. Sundown,” Bass gets convinced that the law that cannot punish such a killer is inadequate, which makes him an inadequate lawman as well. That’s when he becomes the law for Esau and executes him for justice to prevail. He knows that the black men who suffered in Esau’s estate won’t get justice if the Texas Ranger walks away from a court without losing anything. For those slaves to get what they deserve, Bass abandons the white men’s law and kills Esau. By murdering the Texas Ranger, Bass kills the blindly abiding lawman in himself, which seemingly leads him to put an end to his career as a deputy marshal.

When Bass accepts the deputy marshal’s badge, he swears an oath to execute the law without discriminating against the people in front of him based on their race. However, his experiences have taught him that the same law doesn’t do what he swore to do, which convinces him to abandon the badge for good.

Does Billy Crow Become a Deputy Marshal?

Yes, Billy does become a deputy marshal. Ever since the day Bass arrests him for robbery, Billy has been trying his best to prove to his master that he can be a lawman like him. The Native American joins Bass with the dream of becoming someone on his own. He doesn’t want to spend his life serving a group of robbers for good. After the deputy marshal gives him a chance, Billy tries his best to follow in the footsteps of the former. He accompanies Bass in several assignments/missions and even saves the latter’s life on several occasions. The shootout at Esau’s estate proves once again how Billy has evolved to become a lawman without a badge.

When Sherrill realizes that he will die sooner than later, he gives his badge to Billy. As a veteran lawman, Sherrill knows one of his lot when he sees a person. His judgment about Bass having the potential to become an exceptional deputy is enough to understand his words when he says Billy deserves to become a lawman as well. Along with Sherrill, Bass also identifies Billy’s capabilities, which explains why he wants to tell Judge Isaac Parker that the Native American deserves to be a deputy. In addition to the badge, Bass also gives him a piece of diamond for him to marry Calista.

Billy is set to start a new chapter of his life as a deputy with a beautiful wife beside him. He may sell the diamond to free Calista from the brothel and they may get married to form a family as he has always wanted.

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