“Hell on Wheels” season 5 has spent almost the entirety of its story so far on the Central Pacific, and to at least a certain extent on next week’s “White Justice,” we are going to continue to see some of the different politics and situations that arise with the Chinese railroad workers. These are people who, before the age of unions, really have a reason to want to unionize. They are paid a minimal wage for an extreme amount of work, and continue to be disrespected and deal with racism almost every step of the way.
The synopsis for this episode (per TV Guide) suggests that Cullen Bohannon will find himself right in the middle of the labor crisis:
“Cullen contends with violence in Chinatown set off by disgruntled railroad workers. Meanwhile, the Swede manipulates Phineas in his plot against the Mormons.”
Is it possible that Anson Mount’s character will be thought of as a friend to the Chinese people? It is possible that he will have the respect of some of them, but with Chang lording over the community there is also a certain degree of fear. His presence is what adds to the complexity, since you have a man who is in many ways manipulating his own people for the sake of his own benefit.
The preview that aired after tonight’s episode showed off some of this conflict pretty perfectly, in addition to the fact that some former allies in Truckee could be starting to butt heads. Cullen is the hero of the tale, and while he is far from perfect, we of course do want him to be the voice of the underdogs.