Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What I’m Watching: Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels: Season 5, Episode 12 “Any Sum Within Reason” (C+)

I’ll be very honest – I’ve been having a tough time getting through the final episodes of this show. It’s hard to believe that it’s been on for five years and that I’ve stayed it with it through that entire time even though I have yet to find a single living person who knows this show exists. I’m noticing here more than I have with any other show that only actors who appeared in the episode are listed in the opening credits, which I think is very unusual since most other shows cite a “credit only” appearance for such occasions. Segmented storytelling like this has worked on shows like “Lost” and “The Walking Dead” and also proven frustrating, and here I think it just feels disjointed. I’m not convinced that Chang or even Mei was deserving of a sendoff episode focused solely on the two of them that just ended up with Chang dead, Mei headed home, and Cullen alone again. There were some intense action moments with Chang utilizing some martial arts skills and then Cullen walking around with his stick and shooting people, and I don’t know that such scenes have ever really felt right on this show. This series has always functioned best as an old-fashioned Western, and though it does have some interesting things to say about Reconstruction and the building of the railroad, I’m hoping it will choose the right topics to focus on for its final two installments and end on a memorable and meaningful note.

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