Connect with us
Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall

Deadwood

One Vile Rewatch: Deadwood Season One Episode 5 – “The Trial of Jack McCall”

Published

on

Wild Bill’s murder certainly wasn’t the first suspicious death in Deadwood – shit, it wasn’t even the first murder of the week in South Dakota’s renegade camp. But as a man of “reputation,” Bill’s death holds a different weight in the ramshackle camp – in a strange way, it brings the whole camp together at the beginning of “The Trial of Jack McCall”, if only to get a glimpse at a dead legend. And it was foretold by Bill himself just an episode ago, the forging of a community is a catalyst for all “that other damn stuff” that comes with a forming society, the other parts of the body the good Reverend makes so many bumbling references to in Deadwood‘s fifth episode.

“The Trial of Jack McCall” poetically observes an uncertain world on the precipice of change, an astute reflection on how the powerful, the meek, and the downtrodden alike respond to such uncertainties.

Deadwood’s identity is slowly shifting, and “The Trial of Jack McCall” is like a metaphorical dry run for Deadwood assuming the role of an annexed community; and also, a chance for so many other characters to try out different roles for themselves, to varying degrees of the effect. Some don’t work out so well: the Gem proves to be a poor location to hold a trial, and the population’s laughable lottery approach to assigning  judge and litigators certainly doesn’t seem a fair and just way to hold a murder trial (which again, is being staged in a brothel). But it also speaks to a number of characters on a personal level; “The Trial of Jack McCall” projects some of the show’s protagonists as a mirror image of themselves; Bullock the vengeful hunter, Trixie the mother, and Cy, a man suddenly in charge with the camp’s literal survival.

Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall

These mirror versions are layered and fascinating; Alma doesn’t want to be known as a drug-addled widow, walking back to her father an indignant failure. But that doesn’t mean she fancies herself an effective mother to the orphaned child left in her care (when Jane disappears on a depression bender), nor does it mean she’s ready to be the face and muscle of her own interests around town.

This creates a ripple effect; not only does Alma have to be sober and hyper attentive to the world around her, but she also must rely on other people, trying to fit into shoes they may not be comfortable in themselves. Bullock’s time as a marshal made him an effective proxy for the government in Montana, but in South Dakota, it remains to be seen whether he has the patience, or the foreknowledge, to manage the widow’s affairs regarding the gold claim.

Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall

The more fascinating transformation we see in Alma’s presence, however, is Trixie, who gets out of the muck and cum-littered halls of the Gem when she’s assigned to help Alma take care of the orphan. Though her face is still bruised (remainders of her old identity still hanging around), Trixie is a completely different looking and acting person when she’s outside Al’s influence, a woman who shows great empathy and care, when dealing with the two lost souls sitting in the fanciest room of Farnum’s shitty establishment. She’s also a former drug addict herself, drawing distinct parallels between herself and Trixie whenever they share a scene together in “The Trial”, a strong moment of shared strength found in an unexpected place (the upper class widow and the low class hooker; it’s a rom-com friendship made in heaven!).

But The Gem isn’t a courthouse, just like the Bella Union isn’t a hospital; Deadwood’s feral streak still runs strong as the through the creek behind the town (where bodies are kept cool for transport, a public health headache I can’t even begin to think about), and it shows in times of crisis. Deadwood’s so-called magistrate is a sucker for booze and women like any other, and Cy Tolliver is no doctor, unceremoniously throwing Andy Cramed out in the woods to die, when he realizes he’s brought a nasty epidemic to a town without advanced healthcare (Doc encourages Cy to send someone four hundred miles south to Nebraska, where the nearest vaccination exists).

Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall

“The Trial of Jack McCall” is focused on a particular miscarriage of justice, yes, but it is but a window into a world of half-measures and warped intentions that make up the establishments of Deadwood – and more presciently, its inhabitants. It raises a number of salient questions for the young town, none of which anyone is prepared to answer; except Al, who has already once had the government rip Deadwood from his grasp, and understands the political stakes of a murder trial being held in the camp. Once again, Al looks the future directly in the eyes, and is terrified by the prospect; as long as he can hold onto his little square of power in the world, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect it – even if that means a murderer walks free (after all, if there was an organized society in Deadwood, would he still be alive?).

After a number of moving, crowded opening hours, “The Trial of Jack McCall” slows Deadwood down to a crawl (an arguably necessary move), the events of the episode taking place over no more than half a day’s time, and focused on but a few central stories. The two biggest events, Jack’s acquittal and Wild Bill’s funeral, take place at the same time, the clearest marker of the episode’s place in Deadwood’s history and the crisis of identity the townsfolk find themselves in (not to mention small pox infiltrating on the fringes, as visceral a metaphor for the government’s potential influence on the area as you could imagine; in his eyes, Al is the Andy Cramed of this equation).

Deadwood The Trial of Jack McCall

It is a much-needed opportunity for the show to breathe, if only for a moment, while continuing to build on the overarching themes of identity and civilization. Using characters like Trixie, Alma, and Al as thematic anchors of the hour really help visualize these ruminations, turning “The Trial of Jack McCall” from one of the more superficially dramatic hours of Deadwood, into the kind of careful mediation the show’s already established quite a reputation for. Jury boxes and small pox are but signs of a larger shift, and “The Trial of Jack McCall” is a poetic observation of an uncertain world on the precipice of change, an astute reflection on how the powerful, the meek, and the downtrodden alike respond to such uncertainties by adopting new roles, new identities – and some, like the post-war Reverend, new views on the world and how it operates.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

  • legendary television director Ed Bianchi is behind the camera for “The Trial of Jack McCall,” and wastes no time putting his stamp on the episode, with an expert sequence moving from the furlough full of mourners, over to Al’s porch, then back across to Alma’s hotel room, across the street.
  • The great, passionate bromance between Bill and Seth is over, and boy, is Seth bummed throughout this episode. Jack even catches him with tears in his eyes when Al goes to visit him in his cell… which is just Wu’s slaughterhouse.
  • at the end of the episode, the poor Reverend has a violent seizure, while alone in his tent.
  • Al shouts to the prostitutes to “get fuckin’!” the minute the jury leaves for deliberation. Ahh, America.
  • Al wants Trixie to get Alma addicted to heroin, in the hopes she’ll just overdose and save everyone a series of headaches.
  • E.B. flips out to himself while cleaning the bloodstain off Tim Driscoll/Charlie Utter’s old room: “what has he done for me?” he yells, while angrily scrubbing the wood floor.
  • There was precisely one rule the judge established before Jack’s trial began: “no nonsense”.
  • Give me a ten-hour long loop of Ian McShane saying “hooves”, please.
  • yet another example of people stepping outside the boundaries of their identity: Seth trying to play vigilante, leaving town to hunt down and kill Jack McCall as vengeance.

A TV critic since the pre-Peak TV days of 2011, Randy is a critic and editor formerly of Sound on Sight, Processed Media, TVOvermind, Pop Optiq, and many, many others.

Deadwood

Deadwood: The Movie Is a Haunting, Beautiful Conclusion to HBO’s Iconic Western

Published

on

Deadwood: The Movie Review

What a grand surprise, after such a piece of time, to return to the damp streets of Deadwood; after thirteen years in purgatory, David Milch finally brings his Western masterpiece to a close with Deadwood: The Movie. Both a reunion special of epic proportions, and a poetic rumination on the Sisyphean journey of life, Deadwood: The Movie is more than a proper send off for the heartless cunts and conniving cocksuckers of South Dakota’s original social experiment; it is David Milch’s reflection on the power of time and memory, a series of beautiful observations on the fragility of human mortality filtered through the dusty, still-muddy lens of Deadwood.

As a dream might come alive to draw a breath, Deadwood: The Movie‘s unexpected existence offers the most satisfying conclusion imaginable for one of television’s greatest dramatic experiments.

Set on the weekend of South Dakota’s ascent to statehood in 1889, Deadwood: The Movie is, at heart, a remix of the original, unintended series finale from thirteen years ago: both are centered around the death of a beloved community member at (now Senator) George Hearst’s hired hands, the shocking reminders of mortality and power causing a rippling effect through town. There are moments of beauty, of heartbreak, of hilarity, and joy; despite its truncated length (and subsequently, plot – characters like Dan, Alma, and the Doc unfortunately don’t get a whole lot to do here), Deadwood: The Movie is an evocative and deeply moving piece of art, an emotional work beautifully directed by series stalwart Daniel Minahan, who indelible cinematic touches give great breadth to the powerful, poetic wordplay in Milch’s signature, bittersweet monologues (he also employed the help of Regina Corrado, one of the writers during the original run, and also serves as co-executive producer of the film).

Deadwood: The Movie

The birth of Deadwood as part of South Dakota marks the death of it as a camp, the inevitability of progress arriving in the form of telephone poles, trains, and corrupt federal officials making their way into the bustling mining camp. With it, the characters of Deadwood: The Movie bear the weight of time’s passage: from Joanie to Johnny, to Jewel and the Gem itself, everyone is a bit grayer around the edges ten years after the violent, abrupt events of ten years ago, the memories of their time as a burgeoning camp fading with the town’s time as an uncultured experiment in personal freedom (in all its communal glory and personal horror).

The return of Alma Ellsworth, Calamity Jane, and George Hearst to mark the occasion kick off the events of Deadwood: The Movie, which play out a season’s worth of story developments in rapid succession. A few of these beats – Trixie’s public admonition of Hearst, Harry’s strange arc through the film, Bullock’s accelerated explosion – are obvious byproducts of the film’s abbreviated running time, but still work in the context of giving the film dramatic propulsion, all centered around the unexpected reunion of Deadwood regulars when everyone arrives, popping the beautiful, quiet bubble of family life Bullock’s built with Martha (and away from Al) over the years.

As much as Deadwood was defined by its ability to meander through episodes, waxing philosophically in its singularly vulgar way, it still contained the ability to shock, sudden crescendos of violence accentuating the quieter reflections weaved into the show’s incredible storytelling – from Charlie’s death to the midday shootout in the thoroughfare, Deadwood: The Movie certainly doesn’t lack in these moments, either.

Deadwood: The Movie

Deadwood: The Movie’s ability to effortlessly navigate both halves of its dramatic identity, help drive the most central themes of the story: at its heart, Deadwood: The Movie is about the power of memory. Written in the wake of Milch’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the movie’s flashbacks and dominating focus on the past are symbolic of Milch’s the moments we carry with us through our lives, imperfect recordings of emotion that define us, even as the faces and events themselves inevitably fade from our minds.

Most sharply reflected in characters like Sol, Trixie, and Joanie, the town of Deadwood passing the torch to the next generation of hookers, saloon owners, and elected officials serves as perhaps the greatest embodiment of these ideas; even as it grows into something new and improved (“catching up with the future,” as it were), Deadwood is inevitably tied to its own past, doomed to repeat the cycle of Hearst’s corruption and contagious, pointless violence in some form or another until the end of time.

Deadwood: The Movie

All we can hope to do, is be a little better each time, carving out the best path we can, for as long as we can remember to: as faces, memories, and lives inevitably fade (“all bleeding stops eventually,” after all), the beautiful trappings of memory also leaves us, one of the most horrible gifts of life’s final act. Milch’s script, at its very best, is a poignant observation: our memories trap us, challenge us, and anchor us as human beings through life.

We remember the people we love, the people we hate, and the minutes of our lives defined by unexpected proclamations, arrivals, and farewells; and as time inevitably marches forward, we are shaped by the days behind us (look no further than Al’s whiskey drinking; lest we remit our inherent habit of repeating the choices of the past, we are doomed to be defeated by them), until we are slowly freed from them, as our minds and bodies slowly fade.

Deadwood: The Movie

Equally beautiful and disturbing, our memories are the most precious things we have, treasures of immeasurable personal wealth never to be taken lightly or willingly forgotten, no matter how painful they might be (Al’s constant massaging of his lost finger a beautifully bleak testament to this idea that even the most painful memories serve their purpose).  harness the power of memory is to learn to forgive, to remember how to love, and to ensure the peace of modernity’s advance, something we have more moral authority over than someone like Hearst would seem to believe.

As a dream might come alive to draw a breath, Deadwood: The Movie‘s unexpected existence offers the most satisfying conclusion imaginable for one of television’s greatest dramatic experiments. In what may be David Milch’s final major screenwriting credit, Deadwood: The Movie offers an incredibly poignant, measured reflection of life, viewed through the kaleidoscope of its many memorable characters, as perfect a farewell, as inglorious the dispatch may be, one could possibly imagine for HBO’s iconic, unforgettable series.

Safe passage to us all.

Other thoughts/observations:

  • this turned out to be a very brief review because I’m traveling this week, and I wasn’t able to watch the film in advance – but I’ll have more thoughts, plot-related and otherwise, on Deadwood: The Movie when One Vile Rewatch reaches its conclusion later this summer.
  • when Bullock discovers Charlie’s body, a rumble of thunder is heard in the distance, calling back to one of the show’s defining scenes in season one.
  • The only new character is a wannabe-whore Caroline Woolgarden, whose unassuming, quiet arc arguably reflects the whole “breaking the wheel” argument Game of Thrones stumbled in making during its final season.
  • I think I laughed the hardest when Johnny yelled out “Shot, I am” after the the shootout in the thoroughfare.
  • Garrett Dillahunt completes a trio of Deadwood characters with a cameo in the film, like a drunken ghost admonishing Bullock and Hearst, the men who sealed the fates of his two previous characters in the series.
  • A few favorite moments; Bullock’s “I’m home,” Al giving Trixie away at her wedding, Bullock sitting with Samuel (the man inadvertantly responsible for little William Bullock’s death in season three), Farnum sneaking through the hotel walls one last time, and Bullock and Alma’s first and last scenes together.
  • “Saloon is a sanctuary”… Al would’ve really loved Cheers.
  • just a fun fact: Al had the equivalent of roughly $320,000 (in 2019 dollars) hidden in his mattress. Never one to trust a bank, that one.
  • What an amazing final thirty minutes. Just an unbelievably breathtaking distillation of everything Deadwood. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect final scene, a wonderful, touching send off to this incredible film.

(note: this article was updated to reflect Regina Corrado, not Nic Pizzolatto as the original version stated, helped Milch refine his script)

 

Continue Reading

Deadwood

One Vile Rewatch: Deadwood Season One Episode 9 – “No Other Sons or Daughters”

Published

on

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

“No Other Sons or Daughters” is a big hour for Charlie Utter; he leases an office building, puts up a sign for Utter Freight, meets Joanie, and ends up getting named fire marshal for Deadwood’s ad-hoc government. With the seeming snap of fingers, Charlie’s completely changed his position in society; and with it, his very appearance. Charlie’s new frock coat isn’t just a self-conscious assertion of his new stature; it’s the thematic foundation of a seminal Deadwood episode, an hour full of characters trying on new identities, led by the camp itself, as it tries to half-establish itself as a self-governing entity, in the face of impending annexation.  “No Other Sons or Daughters” is a dry run for the future of Deadwood, a fascinating, subtle meditation on identity for the many constituents quickly trying to find their new place in the world.

“No Other Sons or Daughters” is a dry run for the future of Deadwood, a fascinating, subtle meditation on identity for the many constituents quickly trying to find their new place in the world.

As it often does in its best moments, “No Other Sons or Daughters” is a divinely interconnected series of negotiations; some external, some internal, keeping up the ever-present theories of compromise embedded in the show’s first episode. Charlie, with his adorable fancy suit, is the bedrock of both halves of these ideas; in the episode’s best scene, he goes through a whole litany of emotions while meeting Joanie for the first time. For Charlie, the new job means an elevated stature of sorts, one he’s not entirely confident he can personify; for the camp as a whole, it’s another step towards the dreaded “civilization” Al keeps stressing about, cursing out the magistrate of Yankton who arrives to tease the required bribes and actions it will take from the camp’s owners losing their land and gold claims.

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

Charlie and Al make for pretty interesting parallels in “No Other Sons or Daughters”; where Al’s survivalist tendencies shine through (“everything changes,” he tells Trixie, during the monologue that gave this column its title) in the face of change, characters like Charlie – and to some degree, Jane and Trixie – shy away from, afraid of their own potential as they get dragged into the future. Al may not like change, but there isn’t a fucking thing he can do to stop it; and if you can’t stop something, the next best step is to control it, which he immediately begins to do by organizing an “informal” government, the kind where city officials are randomly assigned, but no governing laws are written down, lest they become too official and appear “rebellious” in the eyes of the Union.

Deadwood dipping its toes into the waters of organized society makes for an exciting central event, the kind the two previous episodes lacked (to their detriment). And it is the first episode of the series without a death or murder of some sort, to boot: the Reverend is barely hanging on, but it’s a telling sign that “No Other Sons or Daughters” is the first hour of the series where someone doesn’t get shot, stabbed, beaten, or assaulted. The most violent things Dan and Johnny do in this episode are buy a piano and open a jar of peaches, respectively – not only does it present this strange, twisted aura of peace around the camp, but it proves Deadwood doesn’t need to rely on HBO’s signature Tits and Trauma formula to generate excitement.

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

More fascinating is how the town meeting turns out to be the least dramatic scene of a powerful, tense hour: perhaps the most exciting reveal is finding out Doc got caught robbing graves seven times, offering a wonderful macabre touch to one of Deadwood‘s most enigmatic, eccentric personalities (and that reveal comes off-screen). Deadwood’s dry run as an organized entity raises more questions than answers (like if you have no sheriff, do you have any laws?), but it’s by design: as Deadwood tries to change itself in fits and starts, it uses each individual camp member’s journey to give pathos to that struggle, rather than drag out the town meeting scene into something melodramatic and inert.

As often is the case, the smaller Deadwood is, the better it gets: Joanie’s walk through Celestial Alley to Charlie’s door embodies this idea perfectly, the many events and themes of Deadwood‘s early episodes coalescing into one silent scene. What begins in brazen confidence towards her new life quickly becomes a lot more stressful and anxious once she realizes she’s alone, in a strange world full of men trying to make it on her own; in many ways, her walk through the back alleys of the thoroughfare are reminiscent of Trixie, whose fear of change (combined with her self-loathing) plays out in a much more internal, heartbreaking fashion – while Joanie simply slinks back to the Bella Union feeling slightly overwhelmed and defeated, Trixie’s desperation at trying to escape the dangerous man who employs her leads her to nearly kill herself, which she’s still recovering from in “No Other Sons or Daughters”.

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

Other characters, like Johnny and Farnum, revel in the new prospects in front of them, when the former gets a promotion from Al, and the latter anoints himself the new mayor of Deadwood, as empty and self-serving a title you could possibly imagine. Both men still exist solely under the thumb of Al and the Gem, but they’re both striving to take their influence as far as they possibly can; look no farther than Johnny’s peach cans and Farnum’s curiosity about taxes for how similar these two characters feel in this hour, a perfect parallel to the town’s new stature, changing its name and title and offering up but a few sweet (and undoubtedly rotten at their core, like the peaches that make Merrick sick) ideas for the town as it heads towards a new, semi-official future in South Dakota’s soon-to-be-annexed Black Hills.

Everything comes at a cost, though: like the bribes Al knows he’s going to have to pay the territorial government, “No Other Sons or Daughters” observes the cost of transformation and evolution. Perhaps this is seen best with the poor Reverend, who thinks he smells of death due to the “organic changes” (Doc’s words, not mine) going on with the tumor in his brain. Sometimes, change isn’t always a good thing – for the Reverend, the tumor comes with the loss of his gift in sharing God’s voice with the world. Not only is his faith in God challenged, but his very faith in himself: the Reverend sees himself as an object failure in the face of God’s latest challenge, the word no longer “moving” through him as he once felt it.

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

Though the Reverend’s shift is not one made by choice, the ideas explored in his conversation with the Doc illuminate characters like Jane and Joanie, who seem almost adrift at sea in Deadwood as they realize their supposed “gifts” may not be as valuable as they think. Jane’s probably the most depressing of all these, returning to her drunken ways and vowing to leave the increasingly-civilized Deadwood behind now that the plague’s left town, and government is on its way to stay. “No Other Sons or Daughters” is forever fixated on the reverberations of change running through the camp – and with Jane and Eddie, it takes an important step back to observe those being left behind by the camp’s new direction.

The most fascinating of them all, though, are the characters trying to cling onto the version of the world they wish for themselves; loudly with Cy and the Reverend, and quietly with other characters like Seth and Eddie. Cy, already hurt by Joanie’s impending departure and his exclusion in the conversations with the magistrate, takes out all his frustrations on the disgruntled Eddie, who insists what they did to Flora and Miles took Cy’s brutal brand of cruelty to an irredeemable low. Cy, not one to be challenged on his own self perceptions, takes offense to this, and proceeds to dress down Eddie in front of everyone at the Bella Union, accusing him of being a pedophile (a particularly hurtful way to insult a gay man like Eddie, leaning into the worst of stereotypes) who is only sad because he didn’t get to fuck Miles, and instead had to watch him die.

Deadwood No Other Sons or Daughters

Cy can feel his grip on the Bella Union slipping, a precarious position to be in when in a new town full of dangerous, opportunistic rivals; and as we’ve seen in the past, his reactionary tendencies put him in a much more precarious, emotionally unpredictable state of mind than Al, the ultimate chameleon. The contrast between the two couldn’t be clearer in “No Other Sons or Daughters”; and while Al is strangely bringing the people in his orbit together, Cy’s threats and barely contained anger are pushing his business partners away, further isolating him in a strange land, where the terrain is constantly changing, and particularly hard to read (just ask Bullock or Alma, who let their sexual tension subside just long enough to let an expert, Ellsworth, take over the surface level panning on her claim; they can barely read each other, much less understand the functional topography of Alma’s inherited claim).

At first glance, “No Other Sons or Daughters” feels like a rather pointed episode of the series, relying on a stable of wonderful, complex performances to carry a rather perfunctory series of events in the camp. But make no mistake: “No Other Sons or Daughters” is one of the first season’s most layered episodes, a fun house of metaphorical anecdotes, visual alliteration, and – most importantly – a deep thematic symmetry between its many characters. Deadwood, as a town and a show, is rapidly changing as it begins building momentum to its first season finale; in this hour, it leads to some of the show’s most astute, moving ruminations on the struggles of personal evolution, framed around the fascinating transformation Deadwood as a town is beginning to experience.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

  • An important bit of Bullock’s back story is revealed at the close of the hour: his wife and children were originally his brother’s, whom he took under his care when his brother died in the cavalry. Have you ever seen a man so bound to the duties of others? Be it convicted criminals, frightened widows, or depressed celebrities, Bullock feels the burden of service to so many people in his orbit, it is no wonder he is a cranky cipher for so many of the camp’s frustrations.
  • Al suggests to Trixie that she doesn’t try to kill herself again, as affectionate a moment as he can probably muster.
  • a local drunk entrusted to deliver Bill Hickok’s last written letter (to his new wife) makes its way back to Deadwood, a plot point I felt like was left a bit under cooked, considering how little anyone besides Farnum seems to care about it.
  • “Blood don’t always prove loyalty.”
  • another new identity to try on: the government are now calling the Sioux “people,” rather than heathens or dirt worshippers… not exactly a harbinger of great things to come for them – but like the absence of murder in this episode, the new language surrounding the Native Americans is another push towards the camp’s reluctant evolution into something that might wear a fancy coat out on a Sunday morning.
  • Al has an outstanding murder warrant in Chicago? What now?
  • Eddie: “I could use a clean conscience.” It’s such a bummer this story would get cut off at the knees when Ricky Jay (rest in peace) left the show between seasons one and two (reportedly due to a feud with David Milch, though it was never confirmed).
  • Joanie sees Flora’s clothes in the corner of the pig pen, a cruel reminder that Deadwood’s violent tendencies might be sugar coated to appease the government, but still linger just outside the doors of the suddenly semi-civilized Gem.
  • Boy, Hickok’s “Can you hear the thunder?” quote takes on a whole new meaning in “No Other Sons or Daughters”.
  • What makes an organization real? When they start taking money, a salient point raised by Mayor-elect Farnum.
  • Deadwood reaches from 1878 to 2019 when Merrick drunkenly talks about his resistance to joint the burgeoning government; “the fourth estate is of the essence,” he proudly (and rightly) proclaims.
  • Bullock didn’t want to be sheriff, so he volunteered to be health commissioner (not knowing they wouldn’t be holding a vote to name a sheriff at all.)
  • “If this is His will, then he is a son of a bitch.” I don’t care how many dead people the Doc expunged; he is hands down one of the best characters on this show.

Deadwood Season 1, Episode 9 “No Other Sons or Daughters”‘
Directed by Ed Bianchi
Written by George Putnam
Original Air Date: May 16, 2004

Continue Reading

Deadwood

One Vile Rewatch: Deadwood Season One Episode 8 – “Suffer the Little Children”

Published

on

Deadwood Suffer the Little Children

The arrival of the smallpox vaccine at the outset of “Suffer the Little Children” brings another important development to the door steps of Deadwood: the Sioux are about to settle with the American government, effectively marking the end of the camp’s era of lawlessness. Predictably, the news causes Deadwood’s constituents to begin contemplating their own future in the camp, a shifting of priorities for both Deadwood‘s eclectic cast of characters, and the show as a whole. The whole affair makes for a fascinatingly busy hour, capped off by the show’s most brutal, terrifying scene to date – after dragging in its first few post-Wild Bill episodes, “Suffer the Little Children” shows signs of Deadwood regaining its footing as it heads into a critical juncture of its first season.

Civilization has set its course for Deadwood – but before one thing turns into that other thing, “Suffer the Little Children” shows just how stuck between the past and the future everything (and everyone) in Deadwood is.

As so many early episodes often are, “Suffer the Little Children” is most interested in exploring the parallels between Al and Cy, their dynamic taking on new levels of intrigue with the rumors of the impending treaty, and subsequent annexation of the camp. Their tactics in particular, take on a heightened importance; though Al is a vulgar man running a vulgar, uncultured saloon, Al seems much more prepared to enter the civilized world. He finds a way to negotiate with Bullock – letting the ever-so-valuable gold claim slip through his fingers – and begins to realize his treatment of Trixie has become barbaric, even by his own standards; though he’s still a violent, cantankerous asshole, Al’s willingness to mold himself ever so slightly to fit into a world of laws and government regulation is impressive, especially in contrast with Cy.

Deadwood Suffer the Little Children

Cy’s approach to business remains a primitive reminder of a world Deadwood’s leaving behind; even Al has the foreknowledge to murder people in his office, lest he be seen beating women in the thoroughfare (nobody needs bad press in Merrick’s newspaper, after all). In “Suffer the Little Children,” Cy represents the worst of what Deadwood currently is: violent, intimidating, abusive, and unmoving, justifying his brutal assaults and subsequent murders of Flora and Miles by his need to maintain appearances, lest everyone just think they can come and rob him at their leisure.

With the impending influence of an organized society, Cy’s ways aren’t going to work: and the more Cy sticks to his guns, the more his traditions and attitude alienate him from his business partners. Though he posits Eddie and Joanie on his shoulders as the two halves of his morality, Cy ruthlessly beating the already critically-injured siblings is brutalism on a level that won’t exist much longer, and proves to be more counter effective than he had hoped – especially when Joanie tries to turn the gun on herself after killing Flora on Cy’s orders.

Deadwood Suffer the Little Children

In isolation, the Flora/Miles arc feels cut off at the knees, like something the writers introduced and immediately lost interest in; but in conjunction with “Bullock Returns to the Camp,” their abrupt (and depressing) end serves a critical role in developing the larger themes of the season. Even as Deadwood forges forward into its uncertain future, it remains consumed by what lies behind it: Joanie seeing herself in Flora is but one of many examples of Deadwood’s population remaining obsessed with the past, from Trixie’s assumption that she’ll always be just a whore, right down to Farnum’s assumptions that killing everyone and feedin them to Wu’s pigs will solve the problem.

The contrast is most stark between Al and Cy through, drawing on their appearances to complicate the lights they’re cast in; it’s Al who feels more sophisticated in “Suffer the Little Children,” while Cy flails around, trying to work his old tricks on the crew to keep them loyal. It’s an interesting thread, and one “Suffer the Little Children” takes great care not pulling too hard on, letting the contrast between the two simmer before the episode’s explosive climactic moments.

Deadwood Suffer the Little Children

“Suffer the Little Children” isn’t just another hour-long dick measuring contest (though there are plenty of those yet to come in the series); it is also an hour that takes a long, hard look at the women of Deadwood, in an intriguing, but half-hearted attempt to give drive to their characters. On the surface, the events of “Suffer” feel distinctly feminist against the first seven hours of the show: Alma decides to stay in camp and get rich, Al softens up a bit to Trixie, and Joanie gets an opportunity to escape her hell and start her own business. Critically, their decisions are unfortunately by products of a man’s choice, which undercuts the very point of these intertwined narratives; Bullock’s influence on Alma and Cy’s emotionally abusive relationship with Joanie are ultimately the driving forces of those stories, which make their supposedly strong, independent choices feel a bit compromised in the process.

It does make them effective examples of how hard it was for women to exert their influence on the society around them in those times; but it seems to treat Bullock’s initial concern and Al’s revelation (“points taken, no grabbing at the cunt!”) as paragons of progress, when they’re a lot more patronizing and self-serving than that. Though Deadwood is the rare Western with multiple developed female characters, they’re often curtailed by the lack of organic expression built into their personalities; they are often left as reactive devices to the whimsies of the men in Deadwood, which is historically accurate, but limits the effectiveness of moments like Trixie slapping Al across the face, or Alma deciding to stay in camp and rake in the cash from her deceased husband’s gold claim.

Deadwood Suffer the Little ChildrenPoignancy comes in fits and starts for “Suffer the Little Children,” which loses interest in any number of plots (dangers to Alma and Sofia, Farnum’s frustrations with Al, Flora/Miles) in favor of newer and shinier ideas. That constant reshuffling of priorities and stories is one of Deadwood‘s more fascinating aspects, its short attention span a powerful double-edged sword for the short-lived series to wield. Sometimes, a swift ending is exactly what a story needs, as in the case of Wild Bill; in other examples, like Flora and Miles’ few short days in the camp, it feels like the show pushed forward too quickly, trampling over under cooked ideas and characters in pursuit of something richer. Like its characters, Deadwood was always panning for narrative gold – and though its ‘eye for the color’ wasn’t quite as consistent as Ellsworth’s, episodes like “Suffer the Little Children” show just how effective an unexpected ending can be, as an illuminative device.

Though memorable more for its brutal conclusion than its thematic depth, “Suffer the Little Children” is a much more effective table setting hour than its predecessor, able to avoid the narrative whiplash by focusing on tying up loose ends, and integrating its many stories and characters into a tighter, more focused narrative moving forward. Civilization has set its course for Deadwood – but before one thing turns into that other thing, “Suffer the Little Children” displays just how stuck between the past and the future everything (and everyone) in Deadwood is; it’s not exactly the most resonant hour, but is an effective litmus test for the tornado of change set to hit the camp in the near future.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Flora’s arc really suffers from two narrative conveniences; Cy immediately sniffing her out as a fake (perhaps with his own practice displaying a false self), which in turn rapidly accelerates their doomed plan to rip them off.
  • the Doc slapping Merrick, who bursts into his office when he thinks he has a smallpox outbreak, is a fantastic little moment.
  • this episode was directed by Dan Minahan, who is behind the camera for Deadwood: The Movie later this month.
  • Al, to Bullock: “I wouldn’t trust a man that didn’t try to steal a little.”
  • There’s a great, completely pointless little subplot of Johnny losing his voice for no particular reason.
  • “It’s a bonanza, Mr. Farnum.”
  • Andy giving side eye to Cy while he signs up people for the small pox vaccination is one of those wonderful, subtle moments of Deadwood characters eyeing each other from across the thoroughfare.

Deadwood Season 1, Episode 7 “Bullock Returns to the Camp”
Directed by Dan Minahan
Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff
Original air date: May 9, 2004

Continue Reading

Deadwood

One Vile Rewatch: Deadwood Season One Episode 7 – “Bullock Returns to the Camp”

Published

on

Deadwood Bullock Returns to Camp

(Deadwood: The Movie premieres on May 31st, nearly 13 years after the show’s original cancellation. In anticipation for the new film, Randy’s re-watching the entire series, in a new column titled One Vile Rewatch.)

With the return of Seth and Charlie – and the arrival of Flora and Miles – to the Deadwood camp, “Bullock Returns to the Camp” is stuck between two major arcs, capping off the Wild Bill era of Deadwood‘s early episodes, while building out arcs for future episodes to follow .Given this position, it is understandable “Bullock Returns” feels a bit lacking – most of what entails in the series’ shortest episode to date is perfunctory in nature, the space between larger exclamations in Deadwood‘s larger narratives. Thankfully, a lot of atmosphere and a bit of character work go a long way in keeping “Bullock Returns” afloat, with the introduction of the young grifters to town an interesting, if superficial, distraction.

“Bullock Returns to Camp” isn’t a particularly memorable episode of Deadwood – but it is a necessary one, a bridge between the show’s two larger, more distinct arcs of season one.

There is a bit of connective tissue binding the scenes of “Bullock Returns to Camp” to each other; be it small pox, Flora, or Andy Cramed, the traditional powers of Deadwood find themselves in the midst of new, mostly unpredictable conflicts. A virus, a couple of deceptions, and a con man struggling with his own conscience are the backbone of “Bullock Returns,” which give these smaller stories some much needed propulsion with a couple unexpected turns. After a half dozen hours depicting various external dramas of Deadwood, “Bullock Returns” looks inward as it looks forward, challenging the traditional powers of the fledgling camp in a number of intriguing ways.

Deadwood Bullock Returns to Camp

The story of Flora and Miles, while serving an important role in driving the drama of “Bullock Returns to Camp,” is unfortunately a sore spot in an otherwise entertaining episode. On her own, Flora’s character is fairly interesting; a young woman trying to take on the two most powerful men in camp, while wrapping their respective second-in-commands around her finger (with almost zero effort, no less), offers a new, enigmatic challenge for Al and Cy to face. Having a pre-Veronica Mars Kristen Bell in the role of the young grifter is a big help, too: she gives so much texture to what is mostly a superficial presence, giving breadth to a thin character in but a few powerful scenes.

It’s really the presence of Miles that sells their arrival in Deadwood short; from the get go, Miles never feels like anything but a proxy for Flora’s story, the rare example of a named entity in Deadwood feeling thin and perfunctory. His obvious insignificance limits the dramatic effect of Flora’s plan in the final minutes of the episode; without a single signature trait to his name, Miles almost immediately feels extraneous – and perhaps by design, this makes Flora’s ambitious plan to rob both Al and Cy blind feels immediately like a failed endeavor.

Deadwood Bullock Returns to Camp

That disconnect from Miles is a telling one; watching Flora figure out exactly what makes Joanie and Dan tick is fascinating, and her presence vastly overshadows her brother’s inherent dullness. Placed together, the tracks of their story are clear from a mile away; given what we’ve seen Al and Cy capable of already, it’s but a matter of time before they’re onto Flora and Miles, which cuts off oxygen to their story almost immediately. In a rare case of an unearned moment, Flora’s reckless ambitions rob their story of having the potential it could in later episodes; “Bullock Returns” puts a countdown timer above their heads in the final minutes, which removes much of the tension that could’ve been built out in their story.

Much of “Bullock Returns” feels underdeveloped in this way; though there’s still no small pox vaccine in town, the impact of the devastating virus is lacking in dramatic weight, dragging on the back of the rest of the episode as an ominous presence, more than a prescient threat. It is pretty clear the story’s purpose has already been served; once we saw the leaders of Deadwood come together and throw money at the problem, it felt like Deadwood lost interest in the potential of how a deadly outbreak could unravel the camp, its ultimate interests only in observing how the presence of small pox affects its characters.

Deadwood Bullock Returns to Camp

As a delivery for character moments, small pox does serve its purpose in “Bullock Returns”; whether Jane’s gift as a caregiver coming to life, or showing the contrast between Joey and Andy’s reactions to the disease, the small pox outbreak in camp does carry a lot of emotional water in the hour. But given its apocalyptic introduction a few episodes ago, the effect of the plague on the camp feels rather muted, almost completely isolated within the walls of the pest tent.

The lone moment of the story that does escape the tent – Andy’s miraculous recovery – does provide one interesting wrinkle, when he enters the Bella Union to remind Cy of how cruel he was, leaving him in the woods. It fuels the growing tension between Cy and his two disciples, Eddie and Joanie, even more than Flora’s employment or last episode’s con of Ellsworth. It’s clear Cy is just as ruthless and indulgently violent as Al; but Cy does it with a top hat and a well-manicured smile on his face, as deceptive as anything Flora tells Joanie in “Bullock Returns”.

But this moment is awash in a sea of less significant developments; “Bullock Returns to Camp” is full of small, furtive glances to the future, which makes much of the episode feel like an incomplete thought. Alma, in particular, feels like a character in flux in this episode: while Trixie and Seth both go to bat for her, she vascillates between flustered excitement and cunning match maker, two strange roles to see the show’s most measured character develop suddenly, even with her laudnum withdrawals behind her. Brom’s body is barely into the ground, and Alma is already a new woman, content to stay in a strange, dangerous place to see where her connection to Bullock may take her.

Deadwood Bullock Returns to Camp

Quietly, Bullock may be the single most engaging element of the episode: “Bullock Returns” is a bit of a grounding moment for Deadwood‘s cantankerous moral center. After all, he begins the hour making an illegal arrest of Jack McCall (dumping him in Yankton for them to take care of, inviting all sorts of potential pressure to follow him back to camp), and neglects to tell Alma that he’s a married man (a fact we learn in passing a few episodes earlier); it seems the supposed man of honor has his own complications, complexities a bit more ephemeral than shooting men guilty of murder or being cranky as fuck all the time.

That little note brings a lot of texture to Bullock’s character; as a whole, “Bullock Returns to Camp” lives and dies on these little textural moments, relying on them to fill in the gaps where the truncated story of the hour can’t. To the episode’s credit, they mostly work extremely well: Farnum’s frustration, Dan’s deadly obsession, and Trixie’s resignation are all powerful, revealing moments for central characters, critical presences in an hour lacking the kinetic sense of movement driving the show’s earliest hours. “Bullock Returns to Camp” isn’t a particularly memorable episode of the series – but it is a necessary one, a thematic bridge between the show’s two larger, more distinct arcs of season one.

 

other thoughts/observations:

  • invisible sources of conflict carry over to the episode’s most emotional scene, where Jane and Charlie have one-sided conversations at Bill’s grave. The weight of the unseen is heavy in “Bullock Returns,” and Charlie’s emotional reaction coming to terms with his friend’s death is a potent, heartbreaking moment.
  • the Sol/Trixie relationship is one Deadwood really wants to tease us with early on; given how little of a presence it serves the series as a larger whole in future seasons, these early hints feel a bit hollow.
  • in Charlie’s most adorable move, he brings items for his new friends Seth and Sol to sell at their hardware store.
  • Seth gives no fucks: he puts the reconnoitering of Alma’s claim on Al’s shoulders, promising to come for his head if the assayer he suggests tries to pull any funny business.
  • Andy returns to the Bella Union to see his belongings discarded, and Cy unconcerned for his well being, beyond what financial gain they might be able to make together. Andy, disgusted by how easily he was disposed, passes on the offer.
  • after another seizure, Doc is starting to think the Reverend may have a brain tumor; the Reverend believes it is the divine hand of God guiding him, yet another example of the invisible forces at play in this hour.
  • When Bullock arrives at the Gem to talk to Al, Al can’t help but poke him, greeting him by asking if he should be armed for their impending conversation.
  • Farnum’s ability to speak around his own point leads to some of the show’s finest writing; it’s always a pleasure to hear him manipulate language to serve his cowardly purposes.
  • Trixie is on fire this episode, basically challenging Al to kill her for lying to him, and calling Alma a “rich cunt” after she offers to set her up with a new life in New York. Trixie is determined to take over her own life in Deadwood, whether it kills her or not.
  • a note on One Vile Rewatch; due to personal reasons, there have been some delays in the publishing of these columns. With the movie scheduled to air 5/31, this means these reviews will be coming twice a day through the rest of the month. The best way to make sure you don’t miss any of those columns is to bookmark the category, follow TV Never Sleeps on Facebook, or me on Twitter for the latest updates.

 

Deadwood Season 1, Episode 7 “Bullock Returns to the Camp”
Directed by Michael Engler
Written by Jody Worth
Original air date: May 2, 2004

Continue Reading

Deadwood

One Vile Rewatch: Deadwood Season One Episode 6 – “Plague”

Published

on

Deadwood Plague

(Deadwood: The Movie premieres on May 31st, nearly 13 years after the show’s original cancellation. In anticipation for the new film, Randy’s re-watching the entire series, in a new column titled One Vile Rewatch.)

“The Trial of Jack McCall” was an interesting test run for Deadwood’s infantile civilization, though it proved ill equipped for the rigors and complexities of an advanced society. The town assessed an internal conflict, made a plan, got some jurors, and even a magistrate; but the corruption of a lawless land offered a particular type of democracy that left a bad taste in the mouth. Regardless of the outcome, Deadwood explored the possibilities of bringing Deadwood’s many fragmented entities together for a shared cause – a dry run that would prove to be of prescient importance in “Plague,” when it becomes clear to everyone outside the Bella Union that small pox has arrived to the South Dakotan camp.

“Plague” may not be the most dynamic, moving hour of Deadwood – but with so many threats lurking just on the fringes of the camp, it is able to conjure the same kind of kinetic tension seen in the series’ best episodes.

“Plague” doesn’t begin in Deadwood, though: it begins in the mountains, where Seth is quietly making his way back to the camp after his attempt to hunt down (and mostly likely kill) Jack McCall. But with the knowledge of the brewing smallpox situation back home, the opening shots of “Plague” feel much more sinister than reflective; the more air and land is visible in the frame, the more oppressive and frightening those opening shots feel: part of being a “free” land means it is free from the protections of society, and everything from the plants, to the native inhabitants, to the fucking air could kill you unexpectedly; there’s a certain fear (and in many ways, excitement) that comes from that knowledge; too bad Seth barely has time to reflect on it before my point is being proved, and a Sioux comes out of nowhere and nearly kills him.

Deadwood Plague

In one of the show’s more unsettling moments, the camera lingers on Seth as he bashes in the Sioux’s head with a rock, a rather disturbing release of the stress building up inside him since Bill’s death. Once again, Deadwood draws parallels between the Montana marshal and the English-bred saloon owner (two men willing to go to brutal lengths to survive), even though they aren’t even in the same zip code in “Plague”; Seth brute forces his way through a fight with another human, and Al carefully ballets around his unseen enemy, a fight more deadly than anything Seth might run across in the woods. We don’t spend a lot of time with Seth out in the woods (for good reason; he’s unconscious for most of it), but his scene opening the hour is quite important, because it posits a question Deadwood, as a town, is about to face: how does one survive a surprise onslaught, especially when its invisible and viral?

The more important parallel drawn in “Plague,” however, is the one drawn between Cy and Al, the two businessman who find themselves tasked (by the good Doc) to formulate a plan to deal with the impending smallpox outbreak, before it envelops the camp in fear, sweat, and painful, ugly sores. Their appearances beget their approaches to the situation; though Cy is purportedly more high fashion and high class than Al Swearengen, he is surprisingly hesitant to get involved in the relief efforts. Where Al sees the potential income lost as a byproduct of everyone being sick and dying, Cy’s seemingly content to let things wash out the way nature decides; being a variable that he can’t control with intimidation and slick talking, Cy’s noticeably shaken by the potential damage that could be done, if it were to be revealed he was the culprit behind the camp’s impending demise.

Deadwood Plague

The evolving dynamic between them is fascinating; Cy’s buttoned up approach to hustling everyone in Deadwood makes a wonderful companion to Al’s no bullshit, put the fucking cards down on the table approach to life. The meeting called in the Gem is the highlight of this in “Plague”; when Cy reluctantly mentions he has a lot in the Chinese neighborhood he’s sitting on, Al immediately calls him out for his savvy business ways. Al, never one to turn down a new stream of revenue, is almost impressed with how quietly Cy’s become a major force in this town – if he wasn’t so threatened by his presence, the kind of Euro-inspired business and fashion aesthetic Al’s so openly rejected since the earliest days of his life. Cy provides a strange mirror for Al to view himself through; and in “Plague,” he is clearly left wanting by what he sees in the reflection.

Al’s primary concern in the hour isn’t the threat of the Bella Union; it’s making sure the camp doesn’t empty out from the plague – even though it’s already there, and they are at least a week away from anyone even getting to a place where there might be a vaccine (poor virgin Joey didn’t even make it to Nebraska before the small pox hit him). The last thing anyone wants is a public panic; and so, they help Merrick craft the language of his article, massaging the truth of the situation to fit a specific narrative where smallpox was just a little nuisance, one already on the path to being extinguished.

Now, the quickly growing body count in the pest tent suggests otherwise; but “Plague” is less concerned with the human cost of small pox in Deadwood, than it is observing so many of its characters massaging the truth to fit their needs. Alma faking being high, Farnum showing concern, Jane screaming at everyone – all of these characters are acting in specific self-interest, taking convenient paths around the truth without straight-up lying in anyone’s face – in an episode where Al is acting less and less like himself, the rest of the camp is picking up the slack, the script for “Plague” an elaborate menagerie of characters obsessed with perception.

Deadwood Plague

The one person who is struggling to keep up this facade, however, are Cy’s business partners; in the wake of Andy’s unceremonious dumping in the woods (which he survives from, as we learn from Jane this episode), both Eddie and Joanie appear disillusioned with Cy’s brutal, uncompromising approach to his business. Joanie’s fumbled grift of Ellsworth is a new sticking point, too, a tough pill for both of Cy’s associates to swallow: after all, Ellsworth isn’t just another douchebag with some money and a penchant for being an asshole. For all intents and purposes, he’s about as close as Deadwood can get to a good, honorable person – and because of that, the manipulation we see in the episode’s opening moments is empty for both Joanie and Eddie.

Cy stepping in to try and patch things up is the bedrock of “Plague”; though the newest power player in town, Cy’s ruthless cunning has quickly turned him into the camp’s lightning rod. Ever an intimidating presence, Cy looms over everyone, his sharp skills of deduction only matched by the intoxicating (and misleading) gleam in his eye when he smiles. Powers Boothe does not get the credit he deserves for this performance; in every scene of “Plague,” Boothe is tasked with capturing Cy’s hardened personality from a different angle. When it comes to massaging the truth, Merrick’s Deadwood Pioneer has nothing on Cy Tolliver; unfortunately, both Eddie and Joanie are beginning to see through the facade, the only thing holding them back from revolting being the clearly vindictive, dangerously violent streak running through Cy’s core, which we’ve gotten but a few glimpses of early on.

Deadwood Plague

For both Joanie and Eddie, massaging away that truth gets harder every day; Joanie’s clearly struggling in her role at Cy’s side, the one plot point of “Plague” that feels a bit underdeveloped. Where we get the haunting image of Eddie practicing his dice rolls, clearly reflecting on his place in the world, all we get with Joanie is a scene of her lying in bed, depressed to the point she isn’t bring the atmosphere Cy so pointedly demands the Bella Union maintain. She’s starting to slip – and unlike the Pioneer, Cy doesn’t mince words when he tells Joanie to button her shit up.

Cy’s not a person to be fucked with; like Al, he understands the depths of his own evil, and is perfectly content with their existence. Where Cy gets more interesting as a character, though, is the conflict between his personality, and the appearance he projects on the world. Cy thinks himself better than Al, by the way he dresses and the way he goes about his business; where Al dresses like he talks (plainly and to the fucking point), Cy represents the more hypocritical, modern capitalistic sensibilities, the idea that you can sell someone on a lifestyle, even if it’s one they’ll never be able to actually afford.

Deadwood Plague

In a lot of ways, Cy is the evolution of Al, the embodiment of early capitalism come to life; but with that, comes internal conflicts and contradictions Al never has to face, being the simple, straightforward man that he is, Al still maintains the upper hand. It informs their very different approaches to the small pox problem; where Al never runs from a complication, Cy shies away from it, just wishing to mold the world to fit his needs. Al, lets the world dictate terms to him; and it’s there where “Plague” ultimately finds its footing, helping shape the many interpretations of truth the people of Deadwood constantly tell each other and themselves, using Al and Cy as its two philosophic pillars.

The one thing that unites us all is death, however – and it’s that unifying tension that gives “Plauge” some much-needed dramatic propulsion. The unseen enemy is the most dangerous, after all, and “Plague” plays with that in fascinating ways, from Seth’s sudden ambush in the woods, to the withdrawals Alma just can’t seem to shake (except just long enough to convince Al she’s still doped up), to whatever is causing the seizures afflicting the Reverend. “Plague” may not be the most dynamic, moving hour of Deadwood – but with so many threats lurking just on the fringes of the camp, it is able to conjure the same kind of kinetic tension seen in the series’ best episodes, the added dash of the show’s poetic scripting rounding out a rather impressive, if understated, hour.

 

Other thoughts/observations:

  • Sol and Trixie briefly chat in the thoroughfare, a wonderful little moment that continues to build out the layers of Deadwood’s many interwoven relationships.
  • “Declare or shut the fuck up” is another all-time great Deadwood quote.
  • When one of Al’s prostitutes begins feeling unwell (and paranoid that she’s going to catch smallpox), Al tells her to “stick to handjobs for a few days,” about as forgiving and empathetic as you’d expect from the old prick.
  • Charlie’s new job has bought him some new clothes, a touch of impressive costuming work that really helps inform how Charlie’s stature has changed in his short time away from the camp.
  • “You could’ve just said amen” Al says to the Reverend, after witnessing him have a seizure on the Gem floor.
  • Farnum is now renting Wild Bill’s room out for $2 extra a day. This is the same son of a bitch who tried to put in $2 for the smallpox efforts, until admonished severely by Al in front of everyone.
  • “Be brief.” “Be fucked.” Never change, Jane.
  • Dan wants to know why the Pioneer doesn’t “have news of the baseball.” After all, Chicago’s starting a team, and there’s this new baseball league everyone’s talking about.
  • Farnum curses himself as he walks through the thoroughfare, noting to himself that Al is a cue ball, while he is stuck as a regular billiard ball, bouncing around the town as Al sees fit.
  • “bill’s dead, Charlie.” is there ever a moment where Seth isn’t so… well, Seth?

Deadwood Season 1, Episode 6 “Plague”
Directed by David Guggenheim
Written by Malcolm MacRury
Original air date: April 25, 2004

Continue Reading
Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

Advertisement

Trending

34 Shares
Share
Tweet
Reddit
Pin