‘Hell on Wheels’ season 5, episode 7 (midseason finale) review: Setting up The Swede, Cullen’s latest showdown

Hell on Wheels -We’ve spend several weeks now on “Hell on Wheels” season 5 exploring Cullen Bohannon and his efforts working with the Central Pacific, which in turn has been an interesting exploration in its own right into life for the Chinese workers who toiled for little pay and respect.

On tonight’s midseason finale, meanwhile, the show decided to change course to a certain extent by giving us perhaps the closest thing we’ve had all season to a meeting of the minds. Cullen was front and center at a summit with the Central and Union Pacific, where we had a wide array of perspectives, politics, and deception. It was a fascinating meeting, and perhaps one of the most complex ones we’ve seen on the show. President Grant was there for the first time this summer, and the goal of the discussions with Collis and Durant was simple: Figuring out a terminus, and not the one where there are cannibals a la “The Walking Dead.”

Through the discussions there were a variety of twists and turns, whether it be Durant trying to leverage Ogden and its resources to multiple people managing to trick Brigham Young in one form or another. Cullen specifically convinced him to tell him the location of his family in return for promising to promote Salt Lake City … which he did not do in the end.

It was Bohannon who managed to end the debate with a risky but fascinating proposition: Making it a race to join up the railroads, giving each company a chance to secure the coal fields along the way. Obviously, history managed to show that Salt Lake City will be okay … even with a great deal of turmoil in the Mormon church. Phineas attempted to kill Brigham, but upon his failure The Swede (who orchestrated the whole charade) retreated.

Tonight’s episode ended with Cullen chasing after where The Swede was headed, and for the first time we got a glimpse this season of Naomi. She’s alive! Unfortunately for her, there is a certain enemy coming right in her direction, and the sage is set for one of the biggest showdowns that we’ve seen on the show to date between these characters.

The other major focal point of tonight’s episode was the story of Eva, who made the decision to shoot one of her own employees in Josie after her frequent theft and constant threats to take over the brothel. This is clearly a hardened version of the character, and we’ll not sure what to make of her. This is Eva in survival mode, and she turns off many of her emotions in order to make sure that happens.

While there are clearly some unanswered questions coming out of the finale, it was probably meant this was. There are still seven more episodes, and in that time we should get all the answers we need and then some. Grade: A-.

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