Spoilers ahead for target The Ballad of Buster Scruggs .
As I said in my review, The Buster Scruggs Ballad may not be the best Coen Brothers movie, but it is one that crystallizes their themes by using the western as a canvas for an exploration of morality and death. Buster Scruggs never tries to play it real like a historical western with real people, but rather presentst the western as it has been seen in film, with outsized characters against even bigger views. Through all six of Buster Scruggs' shorts, we can see the randomness of death and the iniquity of life, but in the final episode, "The Mortal Remains ", the Coens pull their way to the camera. to see a journey to the afterlife as if it were a western.
"Mortal Remains " is incredibly playful as it starts to look like a stagecoach ride that slowly turns out to be a journey into the afterlife for the Frenchman ( Saul Rubinek ), Lady ( Tyne Daly ) and Trapper ( Chelcie Ross ), whose souls are harvested by the Englishman ( Jonjo O ' Neill ) and the Irishman ( Brendan Gleeson ). It's a satellite dish that wants you to know it's a dish, and as people die in all the other short filmsages of Buster Scruggs, "Mortal Remains " is the only one where the characters are already dead.
It 's pretty clear that this ' s what the Coens want. They start off with a normal Western setup - a stagecoach ride - and then slowly reveal what's really going on. The driver of Stagecoach, clad in black, is Death ("He won't stop it," the Englishman says), the Englishman and Irishman admit to being "Harvesters of Souls", and the English is offended when they are called "Bounty Hunters" as the Trapper tries to put them in a context he can understand. Additionally, as the segment progresses, the lighting changes from a warm (life) to cold and blue (dead) glow as the souls of the French, the Lady, and the Trapper intersect. Mr. Thorpe, the body above the stagecoach, crosses too, but he lacks the smoothness of the journey. Finally, when they arrive at the hotel, theThe French, the Lady and the Trapper are nervous about entering (because it is the crossing point in the beyond and not a normal hotel as they had assumed in the 'origin) and inside there is a staircase leading to a bright and invisible light.