Remember those two guys who rode up on horseback at the end of the last episode? They tell Cullen that the boss wants to give him Johnson's job. They bring him to Doc's head of security, a Norwegian called "the Swede," who starts questioning him about Johnson's murder. Cullen soon realizes that the job offer was a ruse and he's actually being interrogated. When he refuses to cooperate, the Swede locks him up with a promise to hang him for the murder as soon as the gallows is free. (It's been a busy season for hanging.)
Along the way, we learn that, like everyone else we've met thus far, the Swede isn't proud of some things he did in the past. He was a bookkeeper who figured out he could control people like he once did numbers. He's got a little mafia-style business on the side, extorting the entrepreneurs of Hell on Wheels for protection money. Cullen escapes from his prison, thanks to assistance from Elam and the Reverend, but instead of going on the run he pops by Doc Durant's office for a job interview. He confesses that he doesn't know about building railroads and reveals that he blew up one of Doc's bridges during the war. Miraculously, this adds up to a big job promotion for Cullen.
The subplots: Doc meets up with a newspaper reporter who's covering the survey team's massacre. Doc embellishes the story with sensational details in order to sway public opinion. He implies that Lily Bell was kidnapped and "sullied" by the Cheyennes. In reality, Lily is still on the run with those survey maps. She not only hides from a Cheyenne search party but sews up her own wounds using a bit of whalebone from her corset. Just when the Cheyenne finally catch up to her, she's saved by the recently baptized Joseph. Continuing the theme, we learn that Joseph also isn't proud of his past. Jesus may forgive, but Joseph is worried his new white friends won't.
The episode is about math and balancing the numbers and guilt and job interviews, but somehow manages to be much better than the premier. Stay tuned for the full recap.
Previously: Cullen Bohannon had a silly name. He also asked a Union soldier about Meridian and then shot him before he could answer. He headed west to look for work on the railroad that Doc Durant was building with big government money. An optimistic reverend decided to build a church among the prostitutes and lawless men of Hell on Wheels. Cheyenne Indians killed everyone on Doc's advance survey team except badass Lily Bell, who escaped with the team's precious maps. Cullen ran afoul of his new boss, Mr. Johnson, who was actually one of the Union men who killed his wife. Former slave Elam killed Johnson before he could give up the name of the sergeant who gave the order to hang Mrs. Bohannon.
Currently: We start off with a cloudy Nebraska morning, where flies are buzzing around the corpses of the departed survey team. Some of the campsite's fires are still smoldering, so not much time has passed, but a cleanup crew has already arrived. Dead bodies are stacked onto wagons. The flies are like, "Hey, we weren't done with those yet!" A man in spectacles photographs the scene. He holds up a pan of flash powder and ignites it, startling a nearby horse. As cumbersome as this seems to us now, this was probably, like, the iPod of the day. He's just glad he only got one hernia carrying that thing around.
Three men ride toward the campsite on horseback. The photographer looks nervous as they approach. Two other men ready their rifles. The newcomers draw closer. "It's Durant!" says the photographer to his armed associates. He doesn't look any less nervous, though. Doc's suede duster and white horse are both impeccably clean, although it's a bit disappointing he doesn't ride something like a gold-encrusted lion. "Are you the Chicago Tribune reporter?" Doc asks, dismounting. The multi-talented photographer confirms that he is. Doc is disappointed -- nay, disgusted -- to learn that the reporter has photographed one of the bodies. The reporter tries to stammer out an explanation, but Doc cuts him off: "Just the one won't do!" He orders the corpses taken off the wagon and returned to the crime scene. "I want this scene photographed exactly as you found it," he says. "I want an unblinking look at the horror perpetrated here!" Doc looks around at the carnage and doesn't find it quite horrible enough. He gathers up some stray arrows and proceeds to chunk them into the corpses. Most of the arrows go in without much difficulty, but one corpse proves a bit more resistant than the others. So Doc widens his stance, grips an arrow with both hands and augers that sucker on in there. There is much squelching and scraping. The reporter looks on with horror and confusion. Doc looks up, sees the man's expression and rolls his eyes. "He can't feel anything -- he's dead, for God's sake!"