Sure, Lonesome Dove is a critique brought to the myth of the Old West, a critique brought to the way people thought and looked at cowboys – they aren’t the supernatural-like heroes, they are men just like everybody else.
But that doesn’t mean at all that Lonesome Dove doesn’t include scenes just like one would see in any western, or that it doesn’t include lines (or, better yet, punchlines) like any other western. The miniseries works on these clichés and transforms them.
Of course, smart exchanges like What Indians is it we’re fighting now? followed by They didn’t introduce themselves don’t say much and they probably shouldn’t. After all, manly men will always be manly men, and that means that they wouldn’t put a great deal of interest in such words during a fight.
But a quote such as The best thing to do with death is ride off from it expresses, in a way, yet another perspective with which Lonesome Dove can be watched: the frontier was the one that kept the men in, while also being the one that kept them away from outside.
Running away and pushing the frontier back has now, in a way, another meaning – discovery is, in a way, a retreat from what is already known. It is a retreat from the face of inevitability.
Ultimately, this leads to yet another (and this time) central theme of Lonesome Dove: life doesn’t just end, like we see happening in the movies – when the curtain falls, the characters cease to exist. No, it is different in this miniseries.
Gus and Call are already old and they already had a full life. But they want more. The premise of the miniseries is simple, having these two driving some cattle. However, this is the constant becoming, this is the constant test of life: Well Woodrow, here’s where we find out if we was meant to be cowboys I reckon.
Of course, they proved that well before – however, it is never enough and each day a man must prove his worth. As another great movie says, there is no country for all men.