Elementary, “Pilot,” S1E1, #Elementary

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. I’ve been very interested to see this show. Will they make it smart, or obvious? Will they dig into and use cool science, or gloss over anything too difficult? Will it be a faithful adaptation of Doyle’s books, or a Hollywood hackjob along the lines of procedural-with-an-edge?
  2. I’m a sucker for slow-mo, close-up shots of things breaking, exploding, falling, shrinking, expanding, etc. Chemistry, physics, and engineering at work in photography is great. One of my fave exhibits at the MIT museum was a series of old movies by Harold Edgerton, an MIT professor, inventor, and engineer. http://web.mit.edu/museum/exhibitions/edgertonexhibit/harolddocedgertonindex.html
  3. That was my way of saying I loved the opening sequence of glasses filled with water shattering upon hitting the floor.
  4. Watson’s face and inflection were perfect: “I’m sorry, did you say he escaped?”
  5. Probably the #1 sentence I did not expect to hear: “I’ve been hired by your father to be your Sober Companion.” LMAO.
  6. I don’t know what we were supposed to get out of the multiple TVs and Holmes’ recitation of a line that hadn’t yet been spoken on one of them. It looked like he paused all of them, and didn’t rewind them, so he said a line before it came on the TV. Was this a display of his memory mastery, implying he’d seen it before and memorized the lines, knowing they were about to be spoken? Or are we supposed to think he’s magical and knows lines before he’s ever heard them? If it was the former, so what? Lots of people, especially young people, memorize entire movies and quote them ad nauseum. If the latter, um, I’m not buying into magic. Seems like a sensational way to introduce him, with an auditory barrage of TV noise, and the visual surprise of multiple TVs surrounding him…but not much substance behind it all.
  7. Great t-shirt for him. Total disconnect. “I am not lucky. I am good.”
  8. “Look at this place. Yuck. I can’t wait for you to tidy it.” HA.
  9. “I was a consultant for Scotland Yard.” “You were a detective?” “I was a consultant.”
  10. “I decided to resume my work as a consultant here. In New York.” And it’s almost guaranteed that no one in the NYPD or any other law enforcement agency knows or approves of it. HA #2.
  11. Damn, NYPD knows.
  12. Personal valet. Ha.
  13. I so want the apartment from where the girl was kidnapped.
  14. Loving it so far. He channels everything I loved about Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayal of Holmes.
  15. The quick pace of his deductions, the storyline, and his manic speech patterns whip you right along. Very engaging.
  16. Can’t wait to find out what happened to cause his meltdown. Why Watson’s no longer a surgeon. How he knew her dad had an affair. Why he knew she was never an addict. How they both deal with living together 24/7 for 6 weeks.
  17. “I don’t guess. I observe. And once I observe, I deduce.”
  18. Practical. Handbook. Of. Bee. Culture. Oh, they’ve definitely brought the quirk. My kind of quirk.
  19. I never liked Lucy Liu because I hated her character on Ally McBeal so much. I could never get past that character. I wondered if she’d be a barrier to enjoying Elementary. I really like her thus far, so it’s looking good.
  20. Watson harshly banished Holmes from the room when he resorted to badgering a possible previous victim of the killer. Great confidence and determination by Watson, and fun interaction between the two. I’m 50/50 on whether Holmes planned for Watson to defend the girl, causing the girl to confess the guy’s name to Watson.
  21. Good basic intro to Holmes’ abilities in ep 1, demonstrating his usefulness to the NYPD: wasn’t a kidnap, but a murder. They had the wrong suspect. Eliminated another suspect. Determined it was probably a serial killer. With Watson’s help, figured out perpetrator of previous crime. Etc.
  22. “He mixed his colors with his whites. Guy was a nutbar.”
  23. “I don’t do what I do for credit.” “Then why do you do it?” Holmes quickly looked down and darted away without answering. Interesting.
  24. “It’s incredible how you can solve people just by looking at them. … I notice that you don’t have any mirrors around here.” OUCH. They should’ve left it right there. We’re smart enough to know exactly what that means and to appreciate the harsh assertion contained therein. But no, Holmes had to say, “What does that mean?” “It means you know a lost cause when you see one.” Also harsh, but totally unnecessary.
  25. I like that Watson is setting boundaries early and indicating what behavior isn’t socially acceptable.
  26. I was wondering about the plastic surgery angle, too.
  27. LMAO, I HATE people like him in the theater. I would’ve batted that phone right out of his hand.
  28. Holy impulse control. *crash* “Better.”
  29. Good colloquy between Watson and Holmes through the glass in jail.
  30. I liked the rice bit.
  31. The baseball bit was too over-the-top. But Watson’s frustration was great. I was waiting for her to tell Holmes that she hated him.
  32. Great first effort. Interesting characters; engaging interactions; lots of possibilities for character development; quick pace; snarky and unexpected in parts; interesting procedural storyline. Keep it up, and I’ll continue to watch.

Hell on Wheels, S2E6, “The White Spirit,” #HellOnWheels

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. Already, more nuttiness. The Rev had a batshit crazy meltdown in the last episode, and now we get The Swede. 
  2. I’ll be glad to have some of the backstory to the Swede’s escapades after being tarred and feathered, but I do think it’s late in the season to return us to last season.
  3. Bald, almost naked, and covered in white clay. It works for The Swede. Who knew?
  4. Realistic chaos back in town when Durant’s fate is unknown. Men nervous about work and pay.
  5. Interesting colloquy between Bohannon and Ruth. Have they spoken that many words to each other in the rest of the series?
  6. "The truth is, I believe some people are beyond redemption." Bohannon’s face fell.
  7. I’m surprised Bohannon is so torn up over the Rev. Although I’m not sure it’s the Rev specifically as much as the Rev as a stand-in for anyone who’s done wrong. Bohannon desperately wants confirmation that such souls can find peace, that they’re all redeemable.
  8. Apparently Lily doesn’t know about The Swede’s role in the Rev’s takeover of the train. She’s enlisted him to HELP her with “these books.” Don’t know if they’re financials, accounts, resources, diaries, etc., but it’s annoying to see her depicted as not able to decipher them herself.
  9. Bohannon needs some management skills courses. “Then shut up, and keep your eye on them hills. You’re neglecting your work.”
  10. Priceless look on Bohannon’s face when he walked in the office and saw The Swede there working.
  11. The Swede just grinned and said “good day,” which was probably the most disingenuous and menacing “good day” on TV.
  12. I’m on board with Bohannon’s disbelief. Lily must be smoking something if she thinks it’s a good idea to have The Swede helping her, whether or not he was Durant’s former bookkeeper.
  13. "Mr. Gunderson is helping me." "Like hell he is."
  14. Bohannon didn’t know that The Swede was Durant’s bookkeeper.
  15. "He ain’t talking to me, is he?" LOL.
  16. "This right here…this ain’t right."
  17. Bohannon’s figured out that The Swede likely had something to do with the Sioux obtaining rifles.
  18. The tables are turned. Bohannon visits The Swede as a prisoner in the boxcar.
  19. "I know it was you who armed the Indians. Then you took a harmless drunk, and you lit a fuse."
  20. Well that about sums up the entire last episode.
  21. "Mr. Swede…you out your damned mind." I think that was the biggest smile we’ve seen from Bohannon in the whole series.
  22. The Swede is oodles more batshit crazy than the Rev. "In that intimate moment when the person who is dying is not me, it is invigorating." Bohannon looked disgusted and confused at the same time.
  23. I think The Swede may be onto something in his assertion that Bohannon’s desire to kill or resort to violence brings a “familiar satisfaction.” I think the familiarity and safety of those actions, when he did it so frequently in the war, may be all the solace he’s had for a long time. And I think he recognizes that fact and doesn’t like it.
  24. Lily: due process, confessions, and evidence all the way! Bohannon: not so much.
  25. Famous last words? “He’s more valuable to me than dangerous to you.”
  26. Bohannon feels so strongly about not letting The Swede go that he hands over the keys to Lily to do it herself if she insists.
  27. You know you’re in for a doozy of a conversation when The Swede approaches you and says, “I would like to tell you about my imprisonment in Andersonville.”
  28. "When I see you, I see them. I hated you even before we met." That’s not gonna help make y’all BFFs.
  29. "You’re one insane, evil sonofabitch." "Nothing’s sane. One day very soon, you will understand that."
  30. "I am a constant reminder of the capacity for evil that resides…within you."
  31. Bohannon’s leaving. The Swede looked disappointed. Then infuriated.
  32. Good times. “My obligation’s to Durant. He’s probably dead by now.”
  33. OUCH. “You know I waited for you…? At the dahnce?” “Well…you sure as hell found quick comfort, didn’t you.” Cold, Bohannon. Cold. 
  34. "Judging my choices won’t change yours." She rightly calls him out for running whenever things get difficult. The Swede rightly called him out for his capacity for violence (and, impliedly, anger). This is a tough night for Bohannon, especially after hearing from Ruth that, you know, some people aren’t redeemable. HARSH.
  35. Thus far, this episode is much meatier and chewier than they’ve been lately.
  36. "Mr. Ferguson. I sent for you."
  37. Wow, Elam’s watching out for #1. Talking sass to Lily, bitching about being looked over for security, then quitting and refusing to negotiate with her because she has no power.
  38. Hmm. Maybe some of it was show, b/c Elam didn’t look too pleased with himself after Lily left.
  39. Wow.  Bohannon has a moment of self-reflection, admitting Lily was right. “I was gonna up and run. Just like I always do.” He looks like a befuddled, dripping puppy dog. It’s such a great shift! We NEVER get to see Bohannon like this!
  40. "I could leave, but…" Awww. Bohannon was nervous and speechless. And then a pleased little smile when he walked away! This was such an unexpected scene. I’m so glad they didn’t kiss.
  41. So The Swede “discovers” fraud. Really? Is he making this up, or cooking the books himself, to bring down the RR? I could see Durant or his hand in this. They’re both willing to take extreme measures to reach their goals.
  42. About building a house: “How hard can it be?” LMAO.
  43. Sean and Mickey are their own little brand of evil. It’s great.
  44. Bohannon looks like he doesn’t know what to do with female affection. How much of that is related to his wife’s death? The scene was beautifully shot. He was so vulnerable.
  45. Looks like Elam might finally be ready. Foreshadowing that he’ll return to help Bohannon in a fight against the Sioux at season end?
  46. Thanks for Bohannon’s ass shot!
  47. He was smiley when he left her.
  48. This feels like the episode I’ve been waiting for all season. Bohannon needed some sort of reckoning, some self-analysis of his actions and motivations. He’s been almost like a dog in his actions thus far this season, all instinct and reaction, and no thought. The past few episodes have built up some angst related to the Rev and doc, and he could’ve split and run again, or…do what we saw.  Think about his actions, about something aside from running that he might want, and what he has the power to do to get that. Own it. This was a great episode. I wish the season was tighter so it could’ve come earlier. 

Hell on Wheels, S2E6, “Purged Away With Blood,” #HellOnWheels

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. Oh, snap, The Swede was saved by the Sioux after he was tarred and feathered last season. I always wondered what happened to him after that. He landed a job as The White Spirit. Nice. Clearly not one of the 47%.
  2. This is already surreal. The music and setting, the odd alliance, The Swede’s Clan of the Cave Bear get-up, his demonic facial expressions, the Rev’s no-nonsense dispensation of rifles…
  3. How does the Rev know how to speak Sioux?
  4. Lily’s enigmatic reactions, ongoing: She looks and sounds distraught over Durant’s injury, she sits close to him and tenderly kisses his hand and forehead, and yet she telegraphed his wife to meet him in Chicago. She wanted that to be a comfort to him. WTF. He very pathetically asks her to stay with him. Yeah, that’d go over well with the wifey. Anyway, someone needs to run the RR, and of course the natural choice is…Lily.
  5. Elam needs to be slapped for his behavior with women. He acts lovey and possessive with Eva, but he’s given her no reason - none - to think he’s ready to step up and be supportive and reliable in a relationship with her. On the contrary, he’s fled every chance he’s had to commit himself to her. Your dick’s not that great, dude. It won’t erase your behavior. Leave her alone unless you’re ready to be a man.
  6. Bohannon plans to alert doc to flee before the train leaves. Otherwise, he’ll be on his way to Chicago to die. If he doesn’t get on the train, though, Durant could die en route without medical attention. Bohannon’s assessment: let Durant die.
  7. Ouch. “Look on the bright side. At least you won’t have to share his bed no more.”
  8. Doc’s not getting off that train before he gets to Chicago. Even though he promised.
  9. Oh, great. The return of Ruth.
  10. The Rev left a scavenger hunt clue for Joseph on his bed! Games! The treasure is a whole lotta death and scalping! Whee!
  11. DAYUM, the Rev is creepy spouting verse and wielding a sword! Creepy and hilarious.
  12. Can something be MORE surreal? Are there levels of surreality? Because the Rev is demanding Durant to have his manifesto published on the front page of a NY newspaper. W. T. F.
  13. This is a weird-ass, unexpected psychopathic shitstorm.
  14. Bohannon looks gobsmacked the entire time he’s on the train.
  15. "Blood is God here." *run through sword* This is dark. Levels below HoW’s previous darkness. They’ve slowly and surely built the Rev’s and The Swede’s psychotic breaks from as far back as last season, but this is Charles Manson-level crazy. I’m surprised. And maybe delighted.
  16. "Sober as a judge. Mad as a hatter."
  17. Fascinating convo b/t the Rev and Durant about having a mission, sacrifice, children, legacies.
  18. I thought the Rev was going to kill himself after Bohannon and Elam’s attack, and after he let Eva and the doc live. He heaved a big sigh and we got a distorted picture of his face from an upshot angle. Thought gun was going be low his chin, but…no. He wants to see his children.
  19. This is the craziest episode of HoW in either season, but you’ve got to give them credit for fully committing to the crazy.
  20. "Eva’s carrying my baby." "You sure it’s yours?" "It seems to be." "Well, where do you fit in?" "I reckon I don’t." Funny. And surprising self-awareness from Elam.
  21. Bohannon has a dim view of the world and the future of race relations. He says the child has no chance, impliedly because it’ll be half black. Very defeatist and resigned.
  22. What was it that caused Ruth to stop loving Joseph? I don’t remember. Oh yeah, because I don’t care.
  23. "He’s dying, you know." "Yeah, well. Who the hell isn’t?"
  24. The Rev’s smile after he tells Joseph, “I’m going to kill them all,” was lit by a band of crazy people inside his head. Tom Noonan’s performance this episode has been unbelievably good.
  25. JOSEPH STEPPED UP.
  26. Aw, Bohannon looked heartbroken when the Marshals took away the doc.
  27. I’m not really sure what this episode did for long-term storytelling other than close out the Rev’s arc. Durant still isn’t in Chicago. Lily hasn’t…done anything. Bohannon didn’t really…do anything. Gave Joseph a knife and pulled half his hair out, but nothing long-term. Some Indians have some guns. The Swede was thwarted again. Eva and Elam hugged. But that’s usually Elam’s precursor to fleeing. I’ve kind of forgotten the long story arcs at this point. Wasn’t Bohannon set on revenge at some point? This season has had some good story moments, but they’ve been interspersed in an overall miasma of nothing.
  28. Durant found a conscience. Kind of. He’s going to come clean with his wife in Chicago and be a non-cheatin’ man when he returns. Tears streaming down his cheeks told Lily it was over with her.
  29. Oh, shit. “Cullen, I would be truly honored if you would be the last one to see me out of this world.” Bohannon looked horrified. “Are you asking me to pull the trigger?”
  30. Oh, man, Bohannon did not want to do that. He rarely appears at a loss, and he absolutely was.
  31. Three episodes left in the season? That’s really surprising to me. There’ve not really been any cohesive story lines. There’s just a lot of background noise and occasional close-up snippets of characters, only to lose them for a few episodes when they reappear out of nowhere. I’m at the point where I don’t know what the HoW writers are trying to do. What’s the long game? What are they building to? What are they trying to show us? Last season was built around Bohannon getting revenge. I thought this season would be about his re-integration into HoW and the travails of the RR. But most episodes it seems we barely see Bohannon for more than a few seconds, and we learn almost nothing about him. And the RR travails are individually small things that occupy a whole episode (robbery, strike, crazy Reverend). Only three episodes remain, and I still don’t feel like we’ve really started this season.
  32. Anson Mount could do so much with Bohannon if given the chance. This show is really cemented in him, so why won’t the writers take advantage of it?

Hell on Wheels, S2E5, “The Railroad Job,” #HellOnWheels

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. Due to work and injuries, I am three episodes behind on HoW! Time for catch-up.
  2. You know the shit’s going to hit the fan in a Western when the first words spoken by a bartender are, “You new in town?”
  3. "I’m looking to do a job on the railroad." "On," not "for." Prepositions are everything, friends.
  4. Payroll heist in progress. *Shaft!*
  5. Was I alone in having trouble hearing and understanding the Robber Circle at the beginning? I replayed it several times and never caught everything they said.
  6. Ha, “Buffalo Bohannon.”
  7. Oh, yeah, the doc from Bohannon’s previous life doesn’t know Bohannon was freed. Couldn’t tell from his “Cullen’s alive?” comment whether he was pleased or pissed.
  8. Oh, FFS. I didn’t just throw up in my mouth a little bit, I spewed vomit across the room. Seeing Lily primp herself in the morning with Durant lounging suggestively in bed grossed me the hell out. Then it got worse as he said in a soft, intimate voice, “I wish you would tell me what’s on your mind.” ENOUGH PILLOW TALK FROM DURANT, THANK YOU VERY LITTLE.
  9. Lily: “I was just wondering…what will become of me.” I don’t understand Durant’s epic confusion at Lily’s comment. He looked hurt? confused? stunned? Durant’s married. He’s returning to NY when the railroad is complete. A few possibilities: (1) he thought Lily was going to NY with him as a mistress or new bride if he divorced his wife, so his confusion was over Lily not knowing she was welcome/expected to return to NY with him, or (2) he is really treating her like a prostitute and assumed he’d return to his wife in NY while Lily would move on to bigger and better things, so his confusion was over Lily’s helplessness, haplessness, and uncertainty about her fate post-railroad, or (3) he assumed he’d return to his wife in NY because he never thought once in a million years that Lily would want to go with him, and he is interpreting her statement as an indirect expression of interest in continuing their relationship, so his expression was due to flabbergasted surprise. As usual with Lily, it’s impossible to tell.
  10. The Reverend his hit what I call 20,000 Leagues Under Rock Bottom. On the ground, in his underwear, grasping and groping for a used bottle of liquor on a pile of refuse. Wow.
  11. I love it. The Swede lets go of the Reverend for 2 seconds and he’s running back to the trash pile.
  12. "You were finishing Point 5 of the White Man’s Predilection for Racial Eradication. Lovely writing, I must say." How do they come up with these great lines for The Swede? I mean, honestly.
  13. I laughed heartily seeing The Swede slap the Reverend into compliance. The Swede takes his AA Sponsor obligations seriously.
  14. It’s creepy to see HoW infiltrated by the strangers on horseback. I felt violated watching them ride in and take up position. Apparently I’m very proprietary about HoW.
  15. Elam warned Durant that something funny was up in town with newcomers, payroll arriving, and two white guys buying a drink for a black guy. Finally. Elam, meet Competence; Competence, meet Elam. Hopefully your acquaintance won’t be short, but I fear it will be. 
  16. "Nobody’s in town except shopkeepers and Sick List." "WELL, ARM THEM!"
  17. HA. Elam needs men who’ll kill, so he goes to the McGuinness brothers first. Love it. The brothers didn’t, though. Businessmen, not killers, my ass.
  18. Oh, shit, Elam armed one of the black guys.
  19. I did not expect Durant to be shot. There’s a twist.
  20. Anson Mount has given Bohannon such a consistent, distinctive way of holding his firearm. 
  21. Well, how about this. A good old-fashioned shoot-out. 
  22. I am floored. Lily seems genuinely grief-stricken by Durant’s shooting. 
  23. "Dammit, it’s Bohannon! Sonofabitch, grab that money!"
  24. "Ain’t much fun killing them, but they seem to need it." LMAO.
  25. Reverend and Swede are nuts. Thunder and trumpets? Wow.
  26. This is a long-ass, multi-layered shoot-out. I like it.
  27. How’s the ringleader still alive and functioning so well?
  28. Durant is being saved by the doctor in the robber posse who tried to steal his payroll, on the table on which he’s spread out his maps dozens of times and planned his strategy to dominate the railroad world.
  29. Colm Meaney did a great job showing the anguish of having a bullet dug out of you without anesthesia. It was difficult to watch.
  30. Lily: “I feel ashamed…For a moment, I felt…relief that he might not live.” That was probably the finest-acted sequence McElligott has uttered in this whole series.
  31. Bohannon looked lost when Lily suggested he might be free from his debt to the railroad if Durant died.
  32. I’m missing the significance of the gun that Elam found and Bohannon threw at the ringleader.
  33. I guess I’ve already forgotten so much of the first episode that I’m not remembering how well Bohannon knew this band. I’m confused about the ringleader commenting that Bohannon must’ve been with the railroad “that whole time,” and Bohannon’s anger with the doc over Mexico. I think Bohannon’s last robbery with the group was supposed to be their last robbery before they all headed to Mexico. But I guess they continued robbing sans Bohannon. Why was the ringleader so confused about Bohannon being there? Rather, why did the writers share that confusion with us?
  34. "Dammit, Elam, the man wasn’t done speaking his last words." lawlz
  35. I bet opium helps you sleep, doc.
  36. "He’s got a stout heart. I’d risk a train ride." Why don’t they bring a Chicago doctor to him?
  37. I barely recognize the Reverence without a beard. 
  38. WTF. OK, I’ve been wondering all along about The Swede’s “altruism” in helping Rev. Obviously there was an ulterior motive, a sinister angle. But a crate of rifles? Presumably for wiping out the village’s sinners? DAYUM. Couldn’t tell, but the previews of next episode suggest The Swede gives the guns to the Indians to do his dirty work for him?!
  39. Toole: “And to Mr. Bohannon! He may be a sonofabitch, but he’s OUR sonofabitch.”
  40. Why didn’t Elam protest that he was the one who rounded up everyone in the village and armed them? His quick actions had the town more ready than they’d have ever been otherwise, including warning Durant. Why didn’t Sean and Mickey say that they were only able to shoot because Elam had coerced them and given them weapons? Man, f’d up. It’s all because of race. They’ve all wanted a reason to kick Elam out of the white bar, and this was the perfect excuse.
  41. I don’t know whether I should be pleased or pissed that Elam crawls back to the other black guys to rejoin them and their camaraderie because he was shut out of white life. Definitely pissed by the bigotry, but glad for Elam that he feels more comfortable? I don’t know… He has such aggressive ambitions that I don’t think he’ll last long there b/c he’ll feel like he’s reduced his stature and authority, and dammit, he should be able to make it in the general population as a freedman now.
  42. What I’ve learned most from this show is that I don’t drink nearly enough whiskey.
  43. Ouch. Apparently Bohannon has to go after the doc now, even though doc likely saved Durant’s life. It was unclear whether he has to execute anyone aiding and abetting, or just arrest them for further processing. Sheesh.
  44. Lily is apparently grateful for and resentful of Durant. That’s some nice complexity to see fleshed out because she’s been annoyingly opaque. If Durant makes it, wonder what feelings will coalesce and actions she’ll take. If he dies,… same thing.
  45. Very little of Bohannon in this ep. Very gruff and tough, and nothing very elucidating. He’s taken to his boss role with gusto, and competently displays bad-assery on command. Other than that…?

Hell on Wheels, S2E4, “Scabs,” #HellOnWheels

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. Great opening shots this season. This time, we see a close-up of a dandelion with the orange sun hanging low in the background.
  2. Then we have a beautiful shot of a train rumbling to the right through green meadows, at the foot of green hills.
  3. The train smoke looked dark purple rather than grey/black.
  4. The scenery is ruined by Lily’s voice, sounding bossy and demanding.
  5. And the seated men, hovered over by a standing Lily, arms folded, must’ve loved that voice, too.
  6. Apparently Lily has one pants-n-jacket outfit. It’s cool, I guess. Easy for the costume designer, and efficient for Ms. Bell.
  7. "You need to do something." Bohannon says, "ok, I’m going to walk forward looking mean and determined. Because I GOT that."
  8. WHAT? Indians shooting at me! You know, that reminds me that I really just want to get a latte. See you all later.
  9. "Bring me the long rifle."
  10. So what happened? Did he shoot the crucified Indian? Oh, wait, that wasn’t an Indian? Did someone say “he shot Fleming”?! WTF. Lily looked like she was going to be sick. When will she learn to STFU? Her demands and actions thus far have gotten her into hot water. Her MO seems to be (1) see a situation she doesn’t like, and (2) demand that someone else, usually Bohannon, do something about it.
  11. Lily said “you have to do something” in the last episode to get Bohannon to protect the Irish brothers after they were set free. His response then? “Not my problem. Not my job.” But then he secretly threatened the butcher and convinced him to leave town. This time he responds to Lily’s exhortation by immediately acting, striding towards the Indians, demanding a long rifle, hesitating to take a shot, then taking it and possibly killing one of their own guys.
  12. The choice of music during Elam and Eva’s visceral rutting was quite a disconnect.
  13. Uh oh. Eva’s got a bun in the oven. Mr. Toole isn’t going to like a light brown baby.
  14. Elam just royally pissed me off. I don’t know the exact state of reproductive science post-Civil War, but I’m pretty f’g sure they knew sex led to babies. Was he living in la-la land, thinking he could cuckold Mr. Toole without consequences? 
  15. The Reverend continues his train wreck of a decline. Begging the saloon owner for more alcohol and climbing over the bar to steal it? Great stuff.
  16. "You’ll have to ask that harlot who threw me out." "You mean your daughter?" "Yeah. That sitting bitch stole my church."
  17. "I find the dead a comfort."
  18. Bohannon offers shelter to the Reverend until the latter gets back on his feet! Didn’t expect THAT. Gosh, what fun the boys can have round the campfire at night, singing ditties, playing cards and charades, and arguing over who was sexier in the South Park movie sex scene: the devil or Saddam. 
  19. Oh, snap. Toole and the men all stood up to Bohannon and refused to return to work, even after he threatened them.
  20. Clearly, then, Bohannon shot one of their own guys.
  21. A whole day wasted is not going to sit well w/Durant. He needs to be across that river yesterday.
  22. I am loving the argument b/t Lily and Bohannon!
  23. "What is your plan, Mr. Bohannon?" "Fight ‘em here, fight ‘em now." Short, sweet, and SO Bohannon.
  24. Did Bohannon kill Fleming on purpose to save him from suffering?
  25. Whoa. Ballsy to interrupt the wake when he did the killing.
  26. Now I’m mad at Bohannon. The ex-slaves said they’d be willing to patrol and protect the rail’s end so the white workers could continue building the railroad. They asked for guns, and said they’d get up early and patrol, ensuring there were no Sioux. Bohannon casually dismissed them, saying Durant wouldn’t arm them, and the white men wouldn’t stand for it (confirmed by the agreeing choruses from the white men). Was he really brushing them off so easily and quickly, or does he have a plan that somehow uses them or capitalizes on that idea?
  27. We return from our commercial break to absolute mayhem. Durant being burned in effigy, crowds yelling, furniture being ripped apart.
  28. Ah, Bohannon plays his hand. He’s had a plan all along, but he wanted to get Durant’s explicit approval for Bohannon to have complete authority in handling this.
  29. I like Mount’s acting and the scenes b/t Durant, Lily, and Bohannon. But I’m not seeing the logical heft behind Bohannon’s argument that going Lily’s route further south means the railroad is lost. Lily just suggested again to go south and win the men back by showing them they’re safe. Bohannon’s response? “You do that, you’ll lose this railroad.” Not clear why, unless he’s referring to being wiped out by the Sioux. The dialogue as written isn’t clear, though, because Bohannon keeps sounding like he thinks changing the route to make the men safe will lose Durant the RR.
  30. "Those Negroes are the property of this railroad, Mr. Bohannon."
  31. "This is yours to deal with." "Then, yeah, I’ve got a plan."
  32. I did not see THAT coming: “Mr. Toole, I’m with child. … And it ain’t yours.”
  33. "I ain’t cleaning up after your mess." "No. You’ll just do whatever Mr. Durant wants you to, won’t you." Which will be CLEANING UP BOHANNON’S MESS. Yet again Elam talks big, but it’s all about how he’s going to be aggressively ineffectual. Elam needs to read some Steven Covey, stat.
  34. More Swede + Reverend. The Swede doesn’t care about the impending slaughter because of humanitarian concerns; no, he’s pissed that he’s gonna be working overtime with all the extra bodies to clean up.
  35. Great scene with the two of them. Swede bogarting Rev’s corn likker, and the Rev looking more lost and deranged than ever. The Swede ominously declares that it’s time to take sides in the oncoming war. The BIG war. Cause that little Civil War was just a side skirmish anticipating the real showdown between linguists over the use of “likker” vs. “liquor.”
  36. Elam/Toole showdown: uh oh.
  37. I think Toole’s got it about right on Elam: “You’re no father. You’re just a coward.”Elam has always run from Eva, and it seems only a small part of it is to protect her from racist retaliations. He’s fine shacking up in a field, but any real obligations send him running. I think the race angle is very real, and if they’d written his part so that it was really his main concern, protecting her, then I’d buy it. But they haven’t written him that way. He’s pugnacious, sullen, and fleeing because of worries about being tied down rather than protecting her.
  38. Has Elam always had a gun, or was that in response to his convo w/the other freedman earlier about white men taking them seriously only when they’re armed the same?
  39. Toole’s got some balls taunting a man with a gun on his hip.
  40. I don’t know whether Bohannon is quietly brilliant and manipulative, scheming all the way from his entrance to Fleming’s wake to this inevitable conflagration, or whether he’s just bullheaded and full of thoughtless action.
  41. Ha, Reverend’s doing sock laundry. In what looks like chocolate milk.
  42. Bohannon’s reaction was priceless to Reverend’s query if he had any socks he wanted done.
  43. He’s babysitting the Reverend. That’s not choosing hate.
  44. A brawl isn’t particularly welcoming.
  45. Fuck, did Bohannon set up the innocent men coming for the jobs as sacrifices in order to bring the rest of the men together? That’s cold.
  46. He brought them in to be beaten. Knowingly. To accomplish his goal under Durant. Damn.
  47. Elam’s finally understanding his situation as an employee of Durant over the freedmen. “You work for Mr. Durant now. Same as me. That means we’re the ones doing the riding.”
  48. Oh, fuck, fighting dirty! Punching Elam repeatedly in the balls! That is fucked up.
  49. Really, Elam? Did you have to say “You’re still my nigger” at the end of it? You’d WON. 
  50. "It don’t work if there’s any question about that." Yes, sir, Mr. Bohannon, sir!
  51. Mr. Toole is surprisingly complex. I mostly hate him, and keep expecting to hate him more, but then he takes some surprising actions that evince a true reformed side, rather than what I keep assuming is a faux reformation.
  52. The Reverend leaves Bohannon’s car and says he thinks he played a part in bending the men to Bohannon’s will. Bohannon admits, “yeah.” I don’t understand this. I thought Bohannon sent Rev to get another bottle of likker because he was trying to protect him from the fighting. I saw Rev once during the fighting as he viewed it all coming out of the bar. But how did Rev affect the men or Bohannon’s behavior through it? Confusion.
  53. Bohannon’s at war w/the Sioux, and has an army. This can’t end well.
  54. Ha, Toole called Bohannon a necessary evil. Nice.
  55. "Anything moves, you shoot the shit out of it." That’s what I always say at Costco on Saturdays!
  56. Interesting episode. First barrier to completing the RR is overcome, and the men are working more cohesively together. Lily and Bohannon are on drastically different wavelengths. Elam’s got some issues with his men, and it’s not clear how that’s going to play. This was a fairly self-contained episode, without much movement on more long-term stories. Wonder where we’ll go next week.

Hell on Wheels, S2E3, “Slaughterhouse,” #HellOnWheels

Stream-of-Consciousness TV Review

Random thoughts as I watch. Ready, go!

  1. I don’t know how it’s possible to make a sledgehammer, mud, muck, boots, and pig snouts be beautiful, but the cinematographer did it. 
  2. It’s quite fitting to have the Swede’s narration accompany pig slaughter. 
  3. Guts! OMG, guts! Those were either real guts, or the prop person did a STELLAR job.
  4. So Clinique is modeled after the Old West. Come get yer pig, and we’ll throw in a free gift-with-purchase bucket o’parts!
  5. Mmmmmmbacon.
  6. "A good butcher does not waste lives." Said to The Swede, this can only be foreshadowing. And foreboding.
  7. Uh oh. The Swede is fomenting; oh yes, he is. “A tragedy surely befell your murdering buddy. And all because of a useless whore not worth, well, a bucket of pig parts. Your poor, poor friend. Well, have fun thinking about that, Mr. Butcher-with-a-Really-Sharp Knife!”
  8. The shadowed, silhouette shot of Bohannon at the end of the credits gets me every time. Such great art. His proportions, the clothing, his stance, the background…all so perfect.
  9. [Aside: We need to stop this nonsensical talk of having Russell Crowe play Roland Deschain, The Gunslinger, in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. If Timothy Olyphant can’t play him, then Anson Mount should. End of freaking story.]
  10. 0:07 - Lily is an enigma. It’s annoying. Upon seeing the whore’s murderer loaded in the back of The Swede’s cart, she has a look of - what? - grief, guilt, regret, dawning realization, hardening resolve…? Even after a season and two episodes, we know very little about her. She asked Elam to take care of the whore’s murderer, and it’s not totally clear why. Did she simply want justice served? Were her fine English sensibilities offended? Did she feel a bond as a woman with the deceased? Or, as another reviewer suggested, is she so full of self-loathing over her effective prostitution with Durant that she was simply looking out for another woman who did what was necessary to take care of herself? Who knows. Then we get angsty looks like the one here upon seeing the result of her machinations, and don’t really know why. And, unfortunately, at this point I don’t really care.
  11. OK, I know it sets the scene to have Lily visit Bohannon’s train car. But would Bohannon really be sitting by himself in there, doing nothing, staring at the wall? When there’s a hive of activity around him and he’s generally a man of action?
  12. "Our foreman’s been killed." "I saw him out in front of the whorehouse. He didn’t look too good." HA, great line and reading by @ansonmount.
  13. So that’s how it is. Men are waiting for orders, so…Bohannon’s your guy. Bohannon can give orders.
  14. "He’s been very kind to me. …Actually respects my opinion." "…sounds good." LMAO at Bohannon’s conciliatory terseness.
  15. "You know how people talk." "To hell with people….I’m glad for you, Lily." Lily slowly and genuinely smiles. I didn’t understand her smile at first because it looks touched and pleased. I re-watched the scene a few times. This was Lily’s sly way of telling Bohannon that she has in fact taken up with Durant, but that she’s doing it for business reasons and to take care of herself, not because she has any romantic feelings for him. Bohannon’s pause and statement that he’s glad for her is his kind way of saying he understands what she’s doing and doesn’t judge her for it. Her smile, then, IS genuine, but not because Bohannon’s happy for her and Durant; rather, she’s relieved and happy that Bohannon’s letting her off the hook, and viewing the relationship between Lily and Durant in the proper context. Awkward.
  16. "Corn Likker" again: so great.
  17. Elam becoming a drunk because of a woman: not so great.
  18. Durant asking Elam to keep an eye on Bohannon because of Lily: so great.
  19. A world in which a dude who looks like Durant competes with the fineness that is Bohannon: WTF.
  20. Yep, there it is. Elam’s a little feisty about Bohannon coming back in an enforcer role: “I coulda did his job, too.” I mentioned last week that I anticipate this being a problem.
  21. Lol, testosterone and wanting to look good in front of the ladies have landed too many guys in trouble. Now Mickey implies that he killed the foreman, and it seems like that might not be a great idea. Especially since The Swede, and maybe now the Butcher, are bent on avenging the murderer’s murder.
  22. Trains! I love seeing the faux construction sets. Especially set against the scenic backdrop we have today.
  23. Here we go: Bohannon’s on the job and looking slightly pissy.
  24. !!! It’s ON. “What’d you spend it on?”
  25. Oh, snap, throwdown #1. Bohannon admits to the crew guys that he stole their payroll. Now, was that really necessary? Couldn’t he have negotiated and worked to some sort of consensus without having to go that far? Surely he could’ve elicited some tips from an organizational psychologist and had a conciliation meeting with pizza? Maybe let the guys go early that day to beat the rush-hour traffic home? But, no; he went all the way. BAM. “I am Bohannon, and I’m such a badass that I can handle your response NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. My beard alone could kick y’all’s asses, not to mention my accurate quickdraw. BITCHES.”
  26. "No one’s ever gutted a man for me before." DAMMIT, I’m always saying this.
  27. It’s ok that he beat me twice because he was drunk, he used charitable words both times (wtf?), and I probably deserved it. There’s almost nothing I can say about this that won’t land me in PC Jail, so I’ll just let it stand alone.
  28. "It’s time we overturned the tables, Reverend." The Swede is spreading his unique brand of fun all through HoW this episode! Prime evidence that you can only keep a psychotic man down for so long. Eventually he’s gonna go full Buffalo Bill on you and tell you to PUT THE FUCKING LOTION IN THE BASKET.
  29. This season has had some great, epic panoramic shots. The pan to the right across the hills and river, with the sunlit sky and clouds in the background, to end on silhouettes of Durant and Bohannon on their horses, was grand and beautiful.
  30. Durant lays out the stakes: he must cross the river for a clear path to the Colorado territory. If he fails, he loses the race with the Central Pacific RR. Bohannon’s job is to get Durant and the railroad to the Rockies. Bohannon balks at making efforts to motivate the workers, convinced they won’t work hard because they don’t want him there. Durant points out that he bought Bohannon’s life (by obtaining him a pardon), and Bohannon retorts that Durant made a bad purchase. The meaning behind this exchange is important and clear, but the concluding dialog itself is fairly awful.
  31. Once Bohannon gets Durant to the Rockies, he’s free to leave. So not only do we have the goal for the season - get the railroad to the Rockies - but we also learn the extent of Bohannon’s obligation to Durant. These both open all kinds of interesting storytelling possibilities. 
  32. Possible barriers to getting the RR to the Rockies include Indians; other white settlers; weather; supply problems; worker morale and delays; train robberies (affecting, at least, supplies, payroll, and consumer/investor confidence); investor and financing issues; and insider betrayal to the other railroad. 
  33. Bohannon’s tenure will be made interesting because of the tension with Elam, The Swede, Lily, and Durant; possible conflict with Sean and Mickey’s new roles as “protection”; his possible disillusionment with the Reverend over last season’s exhortation to “choose hate”; his own drinking problems; his recent brush with death and eagerness he displayed in courting it; ongoing revenge fantasies for his wife and son; his fraught relationship with the men he’s supposed to oversee; the general lawlessness that’s overtaken HoW. 
  34. Once his obligation is fulfilled, as it must be at some point, a struggle will undoubtedly ensue between whatever remaining desire he has to leave, find a new life, and possibly avenge his family’s deaths, and whatever new relationships might make him want to stay (Lily, Elam, etc.). 
  35. It IS good to see Durant act like the confident, greedy businessman we saw in the first part of Season 1, before he devolved into a sappy, lovesick, ineffectual tool whose only concern seemed to be Lily.
  36. Ruth’s eulogy made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I was almost getting itchy listening to it and her ickily pious voice. BUT it was a perfect contrasting prelude to the Reverend’s interruption with, “FORNICATOR!”
  37. And here he comes a-fomenting, among the blood so red… Now, does The Swede really think the Mickey Mouse Enforcement Club killed the foreman? Or is he saying that to incite cultural rivalries (since the foreman and butcher are German)? For some reason, I thought he knew that Elam did it. What he wants is a mob, and he’ll say whatever is necessary to generate one.
  38. Hmmm, Lily thinks the river is too dangerous to cross, not only because the bridge would be bigger than any of their previous efforts, but because of the Sioux threat.
  39. SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND ONLY! BUY ONE ESTEE LAUDER SKINCARE PRODUCT, GET ONE FREE BUCKET OF MCGUINESS BROTHER PARTS! (*selection may vary. no representations are made about which brother you will receive.)
  40. This slaughterhouse scene is very reminiscent of Justified Season 3.
  41. Bohannon says he’s got the front, Elam’s got the back. They walk up to the slaughterhouse and Elam says, “uh uh, bitch, I’VE got the front.” Bohannon looks pissy again. This turf war either needs to get resolved, or needs to get more interesting than a few bitchy comments and sullen looks.
  42. "Congratulations, dumbass." Bohannon stole my line.
  43. "You proved you’re a man. Get your ass on out of here before I show them otherwise." YEAH. Really, there’s no response to that other than to ask if someone can ink "pwn" on his arm.
  44. "Surely Mr. Bohannon won’t let us…hang." The interesting thing is that I honestly don’t know if that’s true. Bohannon has been through so much that it’s not clear to me he won’t. My initial thought is that he won’t, but then…I think there’s a possibility for surprise here because he’s in a much darker place than he was last season. (Which is saying something.)
  45. What a mess. Lily hears Bohannon trying to convince Durant not to punish the brothers because Mickey didn’t really kill the foreman. Durant initially sentences the two brothers to hang, and then pardons Sean because he works for Durant and can be useful. In order to not appear weak, however, they’ll have to hang Mickey. Lily knows neither brother did it, and appears to hyperventilate herself into an English frenzy trying to convince them that an investigation is needed. Bohannon appears to wash his hands of the sentencing and leaves, willing to implement whatever they decide the next morning.
  46. Elam’s a contradiction. He keeps telling Durant that he should be given a chance to prove himself as a security enforcer. He can do what needs to be done. He’s fully capable of succeeding in the white man’s world. Then whenever he’s asked to actually DO something or step up, he shrugs and says “not my problem.” He’s consistently shown himself to be unworthy of receiving these chances. I know he’s cautious about asserting himself too flamboyantly or forcefully in this world, but if he’s gonna say he’s got the balls to DO stuff, then he needs to actually DO stuff. Stop shirking all the tough stuff, dude.
  47. Damn, I don’t know if I can watch this scene. Assholes want to beat down Joseph the Fornicating Indian. Nooooooo, I like Joseph, even though I highly question his choice in women.
  48. Reverend with a sword. Didn’t see that coming. Although clearly I should have because he’s tied with The Swede in the “Who has more checkboxes in the DSM IV?” contest.
  49. Now, I really didn’t expect Mickey’s stupidity about falsely claiming to kill the foreman to land both brothers in the Jail Car awaiting execution. Somehow Bohannon’s going to save the day, but based on the general lawlessness of HoW, I thought the killing would be shrugged off and everyone would move on fairly quickly. This extended storyline surprises me.
  50. I also didn’t expect Durant’s fury over Lily’s confession to paying someone to kill the foreman. I knew he’d be mad, but I figured he’d find a way to deal with it and gloss over it because Lily was involved. He’s furious that she put his railroad at risk, and killed one of his most valuable men. He returns yet again to the railroad, to his business interests, his greed and success. The idea of innocence or justice is irrelevant to him. We’re getting even more of the avaricious Durant, and it’s delightful.
  51. The Swede in a bathtub is a terrifying visual. The nakedness feeds into the depiction of him as an absolute nutjob, and is also starkly opposite in presenting him as very vulnerable.
  52. "I despise the Irish." "See, I got this idea, you hate pretty much everybody. … Especially yourself." "That is where we are similar, Mr. Bohannon. But I hate you more than you hate yourself." Awesome.
  53. So the chips are on the table. Bohannon threatens to take care of The Swede if Swede-y doesn’t stop agitating at the railroad. And Bohannon gives The Swede a thoughtful parting gift of a lovely water pistol. Awwww, BFFs.
  54. I’m surprisingly touched by Joseph’s story. He left his family and tribe to make a new life with Jesus among the white folk. He’s tried to assimilate and be as non-threatening as he can be. He took the assimilation a little too far, apparently, by starting a relationship with Ruth. Now his adopted home and family have turned against him. He has nowhere to go. And he blames the Reverend. “I love your daugher. I’m not going to abandon her. I’m not like you.”
  55. Really? Durant throwing the coffeecup in a non-fit of pique was so cliche and unnecessary. It either needed to be part of an epic, rageful blow-up, or not happen at all.
  56. Now Lily gets to see what she’s wrought. Durant ordered the brothers to be set free. Bohannon will do so. But he said hanging would be merciful compared to what the butchers will do to them. “But you’ll protect them, won’t you?” “It ain’t my job to protect them.” She worked her butt off to set them free, and now she has to accept that the other savior in her world, Bohannon, can’t be their bodyguards 24/7, and they might end up dead anyway. I guess this is the tragic and moving way to convince the Fair-Haired Maiden of the West to don her dresses again and sit quietly in the corner?
  57. "You need to leave town." "What was that?" That’s what I said.
  58. Bohannon punches - PUNCHES - a dude holding a freaking MEAT CLEAVER.
  59. Had to pause to truly laugh out loud at Bohannon’s reaction to the butcher’s indignant “This is a free country, by God!” *cackle* “That’s about the funniest damned thing I ever heard.” Great line reading by @ansonmount.
  60. Slick. Bohannon gets the order to release the brothers, and quickly confronts Elam about the killing, making it clear he knows Lily ordered it. Then he ensures the butcher - key threat to the brothers - leaves town. And now he’ll undoubtedly reap the wrath of The Swede because of these actions. The upshot of this episode is that The Swede reawakened his passions and actions, and is refusing to be a meek bystander any longer. He will incite action when he thinks it’s necessary, and the cesspool that is HoW ensures he’ll think it’s necessary quite frequently. But Bohannon’s quiet actions stopped his plans every step of the way. Great conflict being set up between these two.
  61. Dark. Mickey does what he bragged about earlier in the episode. With Sean’s help.
  62. HOLY SHIT DARK. They chopped him up and fed him to the pigs.
  63. This episode did a good job of setting up future episodes. We have railroad and business goals. We have character development (Lily, Durant, Joseph, The Swede, McGuiness brothers) and reintegration (Bohannon). We see potential for future conflicts and action, for the railroad, business, and characters. If the writers handle this well, and stop condescending to the audience as they sometimes do, this season could be strong.