Lawmen Bass Reeves: Is Garrett Montgomery Inspired by a Real Cowboy?

In the third episode of Paramount+’s Western series ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ the newly appointed deputy marshal Bass Reeves chooses Garrett Montgomery as his partner or posse man. Since arresting Billy Crow is Bass’ first-ever assignment as a lawman, he wants someone to guide him through the Old West to capture the robber/outlaw. For six dollars, Garrett agrees to help Bass, who offers the former permanent employment if he works or helps the latter satisfactorily. Garrett, however, doesn’t consider the offer as he turns against the lawman before the next morning. Although the period drama is based on a true story, Garrett Hedlund’s character is fictional. Still, he is an integral part of the show’s narrative!

The Unavoidable Greed

Garrett Montgomery is not based on a real person, cowboy, or a posse man who accompanied Bass Reeves in real life. Jacob Forman and Ning Zhou, the writers of the episode, conceived the character as a personification of greed. When Garrett learns that Billy Crow knows the location of the money and jewelry stolen by the Underwood gang, he considers freeing the robber in return for the materials. The cowboy is dealing with poverty with a large family, that too without any permanent employment. When Billy talks about the jewelry and money that can make him rich overnight, Garrett gets captivated by the idea of providing his family with fortunes.

Even though Bass reminds Garrett that the stolen goods belong to the law, the latter has suffered enough to listen to the same. His longing to secure his family’s future makes him a greedy and courageous man. He decides to stand against Bass if it is required to lay his hands on the goods stolen from a German family. The Old West is a region where the most fundamental human desires and emotions are exposed. The residents of the region are trying their best to survive while dreaming of attaining more than what they already have. While suffering, these aspirations and greed keep them alive and motivate them to do better in life.

Although some of them choose the right way to survive like Bass, several others choose the wrong way like Garrett, only to end up dead. Due to the misfortunes Garrett deals with, he cannot stop himself from becoming greedy.

The White Posse Man

‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves’ can be seen as a multidimensional exploration of race. Through several plot developments, which range from Bass’ desire to become a free black man to Esau Pierce treating black men as slaves even after the abolition of slavery, the show depicts how racial discrimination and atrocities likely existed at the time. As far as Garrett is concerned, he doesn’t outright accept a black man becoming a deputy marshal. Although he may not be an explicit racist, he thinks that he is doing Bass a favor by becoming the latter’s white posse man while he is nothing more than an employee.

When Bass insists on following the law without any adjustments as a responsible lawman, Garrett asks him how he could stand against a white posse man. Garrett’s belief that Bass is inferior to him despite the latter’s superiority as a deputy marshal displays a nuanced kind of race relation. The white man’s expectation that the black person should follow his words irrespective of the latter’s rank can be something the real Bass confronted while serving as one of the few black deputy marshals in the country in the late nineteenth century.

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