“Hell on Wheels” has spent the past two episodes setting up more and more of what the world is like for the Chinese workers in Truckee. On tonight’s episode, the struggle escalated to new heights courtesy of one of the biggest hate crimes we have witnessed on the show today.
Angry over the low wages offered to them, some of the employees working under Strobridge decided that they would fight back against the Chinese, attacking some of his men at his establishment and hanging them to die. Were it not for Cullen and Tao coming in at the last minute, Chang would now be dead. As a result of the incident, of course he is seeking justice … but unfortunately in a world where racial issues and the times make it almost impossible to get it.
While some in Truckee were hesitant to do anything about the crime, Cullen is clearly a man who has been through enough to make the bold decision. In this particular instance, the bold move was to make an arrest, even if this angered even more of Strobridge’s men. There may have been an element of doing the right though in this particular move, but at the same time it was also a smart political move: Making the arrest takes this man off the street, and potentially could help to lessen some of the conflict there. The sad thing is that there was no way to have a trial, since California law prohibited the Chinese from testifying against the white men.
For your weekly Fong update, Cullen has decided to allow her to return to work, mostly so that it is easier to keep her cover this way and spare her from future torment. We’re not sure how much more story there is to tell with this character, but we appreciate the relationship that she and Cullen have. It allows the two to show a very human side to one another.
Tonight’s episode was a strong one, but unfortunately a very depressing one given how little there was that Chang could do to get justice other than take less-than-legal measures. We’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop here in regards to The Swede, who is spending most of his time now proving that his words are just as powerful a weapon as a gun within this world. Episode Grade: A-.
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