Did Syd Snow have the greatest introduction ever on “Hell on Wheels“? For the first few minutes, we started to think so. We almost wondered whether or not we were even watching the right show, given that we were seeing so many images from classic Westerns in here.
Then, it only took a few more minutes for us to realize that we didn’t like the guy. He was dropping the n-word around Cullen’s bosses in the railroad, talking up the war like it was this great thing and not some terrible event, and then totally messing up Bohannon’s relationship with his wife. After all of this, it was only a matter of time before Anson Mount’s character gave Syd a big, fat “no” to the idea of this guy staying with him. What this moment of turning Syd away really did was allow for a moment of bonding between Cullen and Naomi, where he opened up about his past transgressions and murders.
Syd eventually found himself back in danger, as those responsible for his previous attempt at hanging up came back for revenge. This led to the biggest shootout of the season (and wonderfully-constructed one), and eventually Syd’s capture at the hands of Cullen himself. Maybe this story isn’t over, but it almost felt like a TV movie, or one of those great story-of-the-week plots that you’ll remember. We almost wish that this would be it for Syd completely, since we feel like he fulfilled his purpose already.
While all of this was going on, Mickey was dealing with the fact that he was completely free of ties to Durant or John Campbell, which meant that he could get revenge and also go back to being his old, somewhat-sociopathic self all over again. Jessup is gone, and Heckard is not too pleased about it. More on that in a minute.
Finally, we return to The Swede, who has somehow been trying to find a way to weasel his way out of his current situation. It was up to Brigham Young to determine his fate, and while he was very convinced that “Father Joseph” was a phony, it seems as though there is going to be another use for him coming up … involving Thomas Durant. There may not even be that much of Durant left, though, by the time he sees him: Thanks to Mickey’s actions, the railroad guru found himself beaten on the floor at the hands of Heckard, and this is where we were left off.
There were some unnerving parts of the episode, and also some parts that felt disjointed. (How much was Eva in this story?) But when “Hell on Wheels” was on this week, including all the Cullen / Syd storyline, it was great. Grade: B+.
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