Based on the National Book Award-winning novel by bestselling author James McBride, The Good Lord Bird is told from the point of view of Onion, an enslaved teenager who becomes a member in Brown’s motley family during the time of Bleeding Kansas, eventually participating in the famous 1859 raid on the Army depot at Harpers Ferry. Brown’s raid failed to initiate the slave revolt he intended, but was the instigating event that started the Civil War.
Season 1, Episode 01 – “Meet the Lord”
Henry Shackleford, a young slave living in the Kansas territory in 1856, has a run-in with abolitionist John Brown, who mistakes him for a girl and promptly “frees” him. Believing Henry to be his good luck charm, Brown welcomes him into his ragtag army and nicknames him “Onion.” Donning a dress for the first time while dodging bullets, Onion quickly awakens to the life or death stakes in the battle over human bondage and witnesses Brown’s divinely inspired violent agenda: to free the land of slavery by any means necessary.
Season 1, Episode 02 – “A Wicked Plot”
Separated from Brown’s army, Onion and fellow slave Bob leave the fight in Kansas only to cross paths with pro-slavery “red shirts” who escort them to the slave-trading town of Pikesville, Missouri. Onion is taken under the wing of Pie, a mixed-race prostitute working out of the local hotel, who instructs him in the ways of the world despite her discovering his dangerous secret. Onion soon finds himself enmeshed in a mounting slave insurrection where he learns the consequences of his own actions.
Season 1, Episode 03 – “Mister Fred”
Following the battle in Pikesville, John Brown, now one of the most wanted men in America, travels north with Onion to raise funds for the abolitionist cause. They take refuge at the home of famed orator and “King of the Negroes” Frederick Douglass and his two wives. When Brown and Douglass clash over methodology, Onion discovers just how complex the fight for justice and human equality really is.