Saturday, June 18, 2016

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

Hell on Wheels: Season 5, Episode 8 “Two Soldiers” (C+)

I would have missed the mid-season premiere of this show entirely if I hadn’t happened to see an ad. I don’t usually check Saturday listings since so few shows air then, and I had honestly forgotten that this show was still airing. This second half of the fifth season should really be considered its own standalone sixth cycle, and I certainly hope that the remaining episodes are more engaging than this one. While the quality of this episode may not have been all that bad, its pacing was torturous. I don’t really understand why it was so necessary, since Cullen had two opportunities to kill the Swede and opted not to take either of them and instead to nearly lose a leg and almost his life transporting him back to face justice, which of course meant execution. Cullen has been transformed from someone who had questionable views on ethics and their importance to someone who holds them dear and needs to see them upheld by others. However boring and pointless this episode may have been, there’s no denying its strong stylization of the Civil War-era western, best illustrated by Naomi’s lonely run for her life and the flashbacks to the Swede’s experiences as a soldier. I’m not sure what the point of all it was, however, if the Swede was just going to die in the end anyway, since it nearly happened so many times before and now is a closed-loop plotline. I recognized Jeff Fahey from “Lost” as the man who patched Cullen up in a quiet but memorable role.

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