Season 1, Episode 3
Blood & Gold
Allen Pinkerton is hired to bring Jesse James to justice. Settlers flock onto Sioux land to buy gold as Grant desperately tries to keep peace.
The American West is currently not in season.
With the country's economy in shambles thanks to the Panic of 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant is faced with a dilemma: Gold has been discovered in the Black Hills, but it’s located on sacred land that he promised to the Sioux in a treaty.
Grant proposes to buy back the land for $6 million. When word of the offer reaches Sitting Bull, he gathers a council of Lakota leaders, including Crazy Horse, who believes gold makes the Americans crazy. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse refuse to sell the Black Hills for any price.
Back in Washington, Grant issues a proclamation: “All the members of the Sioux tribe must report to appointed Indian reservations.” Those who don’t report will be considered “hostile.” He orders the army prepared, but wants George Custer, whose personal ambition to be President clouds his judgement, left out of the mission.
Meanwhile, spymaster Allan Pinkerton sends one of his best detectives James Witcher to put the Jesse James gang out of business. Witcher goes undercover to sniff out James’s trail. Posing as a Southern worker in a dirt-stained shirt and hat, he asks the locals for news and finally gains a lead when a woman points him to the farmhouse belonging to Jesse’s mother, Zerelda.
Still undercover, Witcher approaches Zerelda and asks if she needs help on her farm. She’s suspicious of the Northerner and lures him to the barn where Jesse and Frank are waiting. “I just want to talk,” says Witcher. “I don’t talk,” replies Jesse as his brother strangles Witcher to death from behind.
In the Plains, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse decide they’d rather “die like warriors” than submit to the U.S. Government.
When Allen Pinkerton learns of Witcher’s murder, he plans a retaliatory raid on the James farmhouse. The mission is to fire-bomb the farmhouse and “shoot to kill.”
In Clay County, the Pinkerton men wait until Jesse and Frank James are home. Under cover of darkness, they begin their assault. They launch a grenade into the living room, which the youngest James brother, 8-year old Archie, tries to pick up. The bomb explodes, leveling the house.
But Jesse and Frank are safe in a barn miles away. Jesse is planning a raid when Frank tells him their mother is hurt and their brother is dead. Jesse storms out in a rage.
In Washington, General Sherman tells Grant they should deploy Custer. Grant relents and Custer is dispatched to deal with the growing Indian threat.
Custer and his men ride through the Plains to the site of the Indian encampment, ahead of the full American force.
After hearing reports of the approaching army, Sitting Bull calls together Indian leaders and tells them of a vision he had of white soldiers in their camp falling like “insects dropping from the sky.” They ready for battle.
When Custer learns that nearly 4,000 Indian warriors have amassed but haven’t learned of his regiment’s arrival, he orders the men to ready for battle. Custer defies orders and marches out with only 500 men and no heavy artillery and heads to Little Bighorn.