Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I’m Watching: Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels: Season 5, Episode 3 “White Justice” (B+)

It’s staggering just how similar what happens in this episode is to what happened just seasons earlier to the African-American workers. It’s obvious that the white people in this time, with Cullen proving to be one of the few exceptions, just can’t stand to see anyone else perceived at the same level as them, and insist on taking them down a peg as often as possible just to show it. Cullen telling Mei that “This is America, ain’t no one belongs to no one, we fought a war over it” is definitely true, but that doesn’t mean that his comrades have chosen to simply accept the situation as it is. Chang isn’t causing too many problems, but a simple attempt to defend his shop when a bunch of unruly Irishmen showed up resulted in him being shown the lynched body of a member of his people and then nearly suffer the same fate himself. Demanding a trial, even with Cullen’s support, didn’t do much, and what has happened already will only serve to anger the dominant class. Discovering a discrepancy in the books has made the Swede the number one ally for Phineas, who now despises his father. It’s hard to figure out if the Swede truly believes the religious fervor he is spewing or if he’s merely playing the long game and trying to influence Phineas and by extension the Mormon community as he climbs the ranks. Either way, he’s doing a magnificent job and succeeding quite well at placing himself exactly where he needs to be.

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