The American West – Ep 8 Sneak Peek

Spanning the years from 1865 to 1890, The American West, shows how, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the United States transformed into the “land of opportunity.”

The 8-episode series chronicles the personal, little-known stories of American Western legends such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.

The west was won in the 40 years between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century. From the Civil War veterans first heading out into the unknown, to the final gunshot that closed the Frontier, the west would come to define American identity. But the land didn’t come without a fight. As the borders expanded further and further, outlaws ruled the land, and in this lawless territory, the only justice was power.

Brutal gang wars raged, and by necessity, came the earliest form of law. But in the west, money and greed ruled everything, and having the law on your side meant nothing: the only thing that mattered was who could shoot the fastest.

The American West catapults you into a violent world of cowboys, Native Americans, outlaws and gunslingers. The ground runs red with the blood of their stories, from Jesse James to Billy the Kid. These men were the first to live the American dream, and the first to die for it.

Executive Producer Robert Redford’s knowledge and passion for this period is apparent in each of the eight episodes, as well as appearances from Ed Harris, James Caan, Kris Kristofferson, Mark Harmon, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and Kiefer Sutherland.

Episode 8

The Last Vendetta

As America continues its steady march of progress towards a new century, the final crackdown on the lawless West reaches its bloody climax.

After the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and its violent aftermath results in his brother’s death, Wyatt Earp takes the law into his own hands with his “Vendetta Ride,” leaving a trail of blood across Arizona and forcing him to flee the territory.

Billy the Kid escapes from prison, but lawman Pat Garrett tracks him down, and shoots and kills him; Billy dies at the tender age of 21. With a bounty on his head, Jesse James recruits brothers Charley and Robert Ford to protect him, but Robert betrays Jesse and puts a bullet in his head instead.

Sitting Bull returns to America and surrenders to a reservation, soon leaving to tour the country and become a spokesman for his people in an effort to preserve the Sioux way of life. When the ‘Ghost Dance’ causes fear of another Sioux uprising, Sitting Bull becomes its scapegoat, and is shot and killed; two weeks later, what remains of his people are massacred at Wounded Knee.

That same year, the American frontier is officially “closed,” but already, nostalgia begins for the days of the lawless west, and the lives of the men who defined it.