Here's my review of Geronimo, the fourth episode of the PBS series We Shall Remain. In this part I'll concentrate on the storytelling aspects.
Geronimo was co-written and co-directed by Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), an independent filmmaker, and non-Native Sarah Colt, a seasoned PBS producer. No real complaints about their work.
As usual for the series, the quality was good throughout this episode. Since there were few recreations, an authentic look and feel and good acting weren't issues.
With the new directors, the style changed a little. Instead of narration over recreations, the episode was mainly narration over archival photos and live-action landscapes. Since the photos were well-chosen--I didn't realize there were so many images of Geronimo--and the landscapes were dramatic, there was no loss of quality.
Critics have questioned the recreations, and directors Eyre and Burns disagreed over them, but they aren't a significant issue. With the strong writing and narration, every visual approach has worked well. Ultimately the word is what matters, and We Shall Remain's word is good.
More regular (non-academic) Natives got to speak in this episode. Since some were relatives of Geronimo or Cochise, or had grandparents who knew these leaders, this was quite fitting.
Geronimo uses three brief animations to show Native myths or concepts. These worked well enough, but I think the narration would've succeeded with or without them.
Although this episode was primarily about the Chiricahua Apache, it did mention the end of the Indian Wars, the fate of several tribes (especially the Navajo), and the boarding-school era. So it gave some context to Geronimo's story.
The producers promoted this episode as a reevaluation of Geronimo, with some Natives casting him as a villain. Yes, there were a few lines to that effect, but nothing significant. It was much more of a straight biography than a reassessment of his legacy. The most interesting point was about the shifting non-Native views of Geronimo, not the Native views.
With strong work throughout We Shall Remain's episodes, the rating comes down to how intriguing the history is. Geronimo's story was well done, but I can't say his life was that thought-provoking. Basically he escaped the white man, resumed his martial ways, and was recaptured several times. He comes across as a warrior who was good at hitting and running but not a leader with a plan or a vision. That isn't exactly the stuff of greatness.