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Hanh Nguyen. People die — a lot, horribly, and sometimes, even their corpses are carted around and posed a la Christ on the cross. Brothers pull guns on each other because their mutual hatred runs as deep as the Grand Canyon. Checking a man for infections at a local brothel includes pouring Listerine over his crotch. Popular on IndieWire. She is the only black prostitute in the room and just so happens to be the only one who can read.
Despite that rather unsentimental start, Bessie and Creeley appear to have a burgeoning relationship that goes beyond the strict terms of their financial transaction. That said, her very presence in the brothel is a calculated risk that could pay off in unexpected ways. Taking up residence in Holden is a challenge to Sheriff Berryman, but she also takes every opportunity to remind him that his refusal to acknowledge her as his child has forced her to become a sex worker.
When he waits outside the private room in the brothel that Creeley has rented, she makes a very loud and dramatic production of having sex with Creeley even though they are doing nothing of the kind. She also very specifically uses racist, sexist language — reclaiming it for her own purposes — to describe her anatomy. For Tost, Bessie using the racist language to challenge a white man is deliberately subversive and shocking.
So [I was] thinking… one interesting way of approaching these characters is to have them almost use those prejudices, assumptions to their advantage, and using them as tools or shields, or as deflectors, or as weapons.
On a show where everyone is hiding a tarnished past or is morally charcoal, Bessie is one of the most upfront and innocent characters. As the season continues, Bessie will continue to stand her ground against all comers, including one white woman who challenges her loyalty to Creeley.