‘Hell on Wheels’ season 5: Boss on tying together story, character challenges

To a certain extent, things have been fairly quiet on the “Hell on Wheels” front as the AMC series prepares for its 14-episode final season. It is being split into halves, with the first part of it coming on Saturday, July 18. From here, we are going to have a variety of different opportunities to see how the story of Cullen Bohannon comes to a close. His journey has taken him already to the Central Pacific, where he is working to both find his wife Naomi and continue the journey of the railroad … just on a different side. With this new arrangement comes new partnerships and potential new adversaries.

Still, everyone knows how this story ends when it comes to the railroad’s construction. This is not going to take an alternate reality where for some reason it never connects. As showrunner John Wirth tells Entertainment Weekly (where you can also see the show’s first promo), the challenge for season 5 is to cultivate the right endings for many of their characters, given that so many of them do not have a narrative so set in stone:

“The end of the story is written down in history, so we know how the story would end for the railroad … What we didn’t know is how the story would end for each of our characters, especially the ones that we created. It’s been really challenging to wrap up people’s stories in a satisfying way… We’ve gone down a lot of blind alleys and we’ve taken a lot of wrong turns and we’ve lost our way. Now, we’ve kind of clawed our way back to what I think is going to be a pretty good wrap up for the series.”

What makes this path so curious here is that Wirth and company have done a very good job avoiding the standard definitions of good and evil. There is no one within the cast of the show we can say will probably die at series’ end, just as there is likely not anyone who we can guarantee will live or end up happy. They’ve been written through the lens of reality, where anything can happen and while we may have a vested interest in certain people, there is no guarantee all will work out.

Given that we are just under a month away from the premiere, we imagine that more “Hell on Wheels” news will begin to pour out more regularly the rest of the way. Stay tuned.

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