While there have been some times over the five-year run on “Hell on Wheels” where we have seen the elements play an extreme role, we’re not quite sure that on paper, any compare to what we are seeing on Saturday’s “Mei Mei.” In terms of sheer brutality, not much is going to top Cullen Bohannon trying to make it through a snowy passage as the construction of the railroad continues through the mountains.
As executive producer John Wirth told us before the season premiered, the challenge for this episode (really for the characters and those behind-the-scenes at the same time) is going to be about moving a steam engine from the town of Truckee to a high point on a mountain, and the array of struggles that go along with that. The sneak peek below gives you a perfect window into just how dangerous this is, especially since the snow serves as a disguise for precarious cliffs and difficult terrain.
Obviously, we hope that Cullen manages to make it through this alive given that the upcoming 12 episodes of the series would be somewhat depressing without him, but we don’t really see this scene as being about his own life-or-death circumstances. Instead, it is more a window into his complicated role as hero, which he has accepted almost as a formality based on the immorality of some of those around him. Take, for example, when he learned about Chang’s shady business dealings in the premiere.
If the rest of “Mei Mei” is similar to this sneak peek, we anticipate it being a visual marvel and also one of Cullen’s greatest challenges yet in the construction of the railroad. The hope is to make it to the golden spike at series’ end, but there is no guarantee that every character will be joining us for that moment.