Less than an hour into the three-day miniseries, a scene ripped from Hollywood's racist gallows was revisited to arouse our brutish impulses. Call and McCrae come upon a gruesome discovery of a white settler family; the males murdered while the women, including the young daughters, kidnapped by the plundering Natives. Fortunately, or maybe not so fortunately, the Rangers swoop in to save the terrorized captives. But too late. A brutal rape has the hysterical missus pleading for a kinder fate—death—deemed far preferable than reentering civilized society a befouled, repugnant wretch.
Speaking of dense, depraved and diabolical—enter Adam Beach as Blue Duck, the half-breed son of real-life Comanche chief Buffalo Hump. He’s so freakin’ mean he hates his daddy (played by Wes Studi, who quite frankly, phoned in his performance), tortures bears and torches settlers, and delights in defiling white women. And that’s just a typical day.
Perhaps aware of her stereotype-riddled writing, Larry McMurtry's partner Diana Ossana tried to justify it in advance:
Totally on script and utterly misguided.
Whenever writers say they want to portray both good and bad in Native characters, you can bet they're rationalizing portrayals that are mostly bad, stereotypical, even racist. See SCALPED and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for examples.
P.S. How could Studi have phoned in his performance when they didn't have phones back then?! (Just kidding.)