Within just a few short minutes of Saturday night’s “Hell on Wheels” episode, there was cause for celebration: Some old favorites are back! We got a sense for the first time of Mickey and Eva’s new saloon / brothel operation in Laramie, and some of their immediate difficulties getting their business of the ground. Namely, Mickey’s cousin had a habit for costing them money, and sleeping with one of Eva’s most valuable women in Josie.
Eventually, these two found a perfect way to in part resolve their problem, while at the same time help to fill a need: Creating a new force of intimidation for Durant on the Union Pacific. The guy really cannot afford many more brawls, or firing people who step out of line.
In Truckee, what we had was a delicate, powerful story tonight about the struggles for the Chinese workers in the face of the “White Justice” story, which saw white murderers shipped out of town rather than getting proper justice. Chang saw this as an opportunity to seek vengeance in a way that mostly benefited himself. In negotiations, he demanded more time off for the workers and a raise … but also a stake in the Central Pacific.
When Cullen and the others heading the railroad refused, Chang then wanted to go to war over it, something that brought an objection from Tao. Tzi Ma is probably our favorite new addition to the show this season; he wants what is best for his people without bloodshed, and is a proper bridge between the workers and Cullen rather than the power-hungry, opportunistic Chang. Tao’s speech to Cullen near the episode’s end on the brink of a battle between the two sides of Truckee was a thing of beauty. He was integral in allowing the Chinese to regain access to food and supplies, which was almost the last straw that led to war.
Eventually, Cullen showed off his executive side as he managed to help negotiate a way for the Chinese to get back to work, one that made sure that they would at least be remembered in some way after death.
In going back to Laramie one more time, we loved the bookends of Stagecoach Mary a.k.a. Mary Fields on the episode. The story beginning with her proving to be very much perceptive and unafraid of those who stood in her way. Meanwhile, the story ended with her making a rather grisly discovery. Grade: A-.
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