Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What I’m Watching: Hell on Wheels (Season Premiere)

Hell on Wheels: Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2 “Big Bad Wolf” and “Eminent Domain” (B+)

It’s hard to reboot a show after killing off your two best characters and putting the other one in prison. This show did, however, find the perfect way to start, by having Cullen emerge from a hypothermia-induced hallucination and prove triumphant by getting the train started and returning to Hell on Wheels. It was terrific to see him in action in New York, insulting the hired son-in-law and explaining just how useful his services would be. He and Elam make a great duo, and it’s no surprise that they physically came to blows. I loved the conversation about Mormons between Cullen and the appropriately-named Psalms, and that whole new area of the plotline is extremely fascinating. Cullen sitting down to talk with the father to tell him he would try not to build through their land seemed sincere, and to have Elam’s new boss so brutally killed when the evictors came was alarming. The father offering up his son for execution was even more unsettling, and I can tell that this won’t be the last of this kind of attitude or behavior that we’ll see related to the expansion of the railroad. The arrival of Jennifer Ferrin’s reporter is welcome because she presents a new style of narration for the show, summarizing the mood in each episode and even encountering some unfortunate realities for herself. Durant isn’t going down without a fight, and to see him realized from prison so fast is worrisome, considering just how vehemently he plans to fight for the destruction of Cullen and his railroad.

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