When we last left the unfortunate citizens of the stinkiest town in the West, Wild Bill Hickok had finally turned his luck at the poker tables against Slimeball Jack McCall. In this episode, we open with Bill going yet another round over at Cy's place with his dirty little nemesis, and winning again. McCall is nonplussed. With Joanie as dealer, he sits amazed at his bad fortune, complaining that Bill is taking these hands through nothing but luck, rather than skill. Bill's nice about it, even sliding a bit of money over to Jack at the end, nicely telling him to get himself something eat. "All right," McCall says, with yet more surprise and even more stupidity, "I thank you for that kindness. You just bought yourself something with that." Every occupant of the joint is over ol' McCall at this point. Probably, they can no longer tolerate the odor, since the dirt on his face has reached Pigpen levels. Barely waiting for him to get out of earshot, Cy drones to Eddie that "some boys can't go near a cliff without jumping off."
Bill's still rolling his eyes when he slides Joanie a twenty-dollar tip, thanking her for her service. "Any idea for the rest?" she asks, suggesting service of a different kind. He says he believes he'll stay with cash, and heads out. Aw. It's heartwarming to think he's staying faithful to his new wife or something, until you see him wandering down the street to meet up with his man-crush, Seth Bullock. Too worn out to clench, Bullock is still working on the erection (oh...haaaa!) of his store, alone and in the cool of the evening. They exchange the pleasantries of two men who are clearly forming a mutual admiration society, and Bill asks if Bullock's all right with the nickname he's given him: "Montana." If that doesn't give y'all the gay vibe, I don't know what will. Anyway, Bullock says that he's fine with it, seeing as how the only other nickname he's ever had was "Sloth." (Except for "Clench," which he doesn't know that all of us have calling him behind his back. Shh!) Bill says "Sloth" doesn't quite seem to fit him, and as Bullock raises yet another beam in the store frame, it's difficult not to agree. "Choice was among the seven sins," Bullock explains. "Guess I got out before the others surfaced."
I like Timothy Olyphant and Keith Carradine together. Both of these roles are so macho-good-guy-misunderstood-hero...seeing them together somehow balances them both out to a manageable level.
Looking out over the main thoroughfare, Bill comments that the "camp looks like a good bet." Bullock says that his wife and son are in Michigan with family and that he hopes he can bring them out soon. Bill says that when peace is finally made with the Sioux, Deadwood will turn into a real town with laws and "every other damn thing." I have to wonder what other damn things he's talking about, considering the damnable things currently featured. Bullock says he'd settle for just getting property rights, and Bill smirks, doubtful that Bullock would ever settle for anything less than complete justice for everyone in town. They talk about Bill's own wife, who runs a circus, waiting for word of his prospecting success. Bullock tells him on that subject that he and Sol have put aside their last sifting cradle for his use: "Why don't you go ahead and use it, Bill?" Hickok sighs. "What slows me down is thinking about freezing my balls off in a creek," he says. "Or the cocksuckers I'd lose my gold to at poker." Wild Bill knows himself. He pauses again before saying he's flat-out tired. This is all laden with symbolism, of course, with Bullock clenching meaningfully at his shoot-'em-up hero before oh-so-seriously telling Bill to "turn in," glancing back at the thoroughfare to add, "I got 'er covered." What's awesome is you can SEE Olyphant trying desperately not to make it cheesy. This little scene of friendship blossoming is very sweet, but the cheddar in this dialogue is so ripe you can smell it, and yeomen's work though both actors are doing, they can't overcome it. Bill says he believes he will turn in, and heads out, saying, "Goodnight, Montana," and adding as he walks away that "my pop called me 'Kite.'" With this he tacks on a weird little wave to Bullock (who gives an unprecedented smile in response) and makes his way back to the hotel.