Thursday, September 18, 2014

What I’m Watching: Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels: Season 4, Episode 6 and 7 “Bear Man” and “Elam Ferguson” (C-/C)

I was talking about this show to a few people recently, and not one of them had heard of it. I mentioned its ambitious period setting and its generally dependable quality. These two hours, however, do not recommend it very well at all. The first hour, which tracked Elam’s slow and difficult recovery from his confrontation with the bear, was completely unnecessary, mostly since it ignored the rest of the story and all of the strong characters in Cheyenne. The second hour wasn’t much better, since it sidelined most of those other characters to focus on Elam’s return as a slave-selling crazy man unable to recognize the friends from his former life. What’s most disappointing about the whole thing is that two episodes have been wasted on a character who’s now permanently deceased. I didn’t expect Elam to come back after he came face-to-face with the bear at the end of last season, and now I feel like this season has derailed (no pun intended) right at the peak of its most interesting events, and that while the impact of his death on Cullen, Eva, and Psalms seems intense now, I’m sure it will soon be forgotten in favor of more relevant plotlines. After suffering a violent beating, Durant got himself back on top pretty quickly, managing to squash a potentially damaging investigation and exact his revenge in a very fulfilling way. Now he just has to make sure Cullen stays on track and that they can manage to continue to coexist with Governor Campbell.

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