Hell on Wheels
Pride, Pomp and Circumstance

Episode Report Card
Tippi Blevins: C+ | 2 USERS: D+
YOU GRADE IT
Plains, Trains and Credit Mobilier

Senator Crane has gone out behind Doc's train car to have a smoke and empty his bladder. He's in mid-pee when the Swede moseys into the scene and just... stands there. "Would you like to hold it for me?" Crane asks. "Or do you have some information?" Does it have to be one or the other? "Mr. Durant has taken private funds from the railroad for his personal use," says the Swede. Good Lord, Crane is still peeing. Did he drink one of the Great Lakes before getting on the train? The Swede tells him about the $147,000 he overheard Doc using to speculate on railroad stock. Crane finally packs away the garden hose. He reaches into his vest pocket for a wad money. "Money's not necessary this time," the Swede says. Yeah, he knows where your hands have just been, bud. Instead, the Swede asks for information. He tells Crane about Sergeant Harper, but leaves out the Cullen parts of the story. He just says Harper was someone who worked for the railroad and ran off. Now he wants to know where Harper is. Crane is confused as to how he's supposed to help, so the Swede explains Harper is from the Senator's home state of Illinois and has family in Chicago. Crane thinks about it and says, "I'll have my people --" The Swede cuts him off. "Yes, you will." If the Senator hadn't already drained himself dry, he'd probably wet his pants a little at the tone of the Swede's voice.

Toward sunset, three Cheyenne ride on horseback across the plain. They stop at the railroad tracks. One guy gets off his horse and approaches the tracks. He's the one who did the Sun Dance ritual last week. I thought at the time that that was the first we'd seen of this guy, but it turns out he's also the one who was doing such a bad job of tracking Lily. He looked different and younger when covered in white paint. I can find no name listed for the character, so I'm calling him Terrible Tracker -- Tracker for short. He touches his hand to the metal rail and draws it back in a flash. He gives his traveling companions a worried look. A few moments later, they hear a train approaching. Tracker watches it as it appears on the horizon belching black smoke and holds his ground as it races past him.

The next morning, the men are back at work laying railroad ties. Why they're doing so in a muddy ditch instead of on the miles and miles of raised ground surrounding them is a mystery. Maybe it's part of why Doc's having such a hard time making that forty-mile mark. Toole spies the Cheyenne negotiating party in the distance. The sight of them sets his britches afire. He tells his men to leave the work. "It's our turn for collecting some scalps," he says. The freedmen start to follow, too, until Elam stops them. "Y'all Negroes get back in that cut. We ain't got no fight with them Injuns." Toole sneers at Elam, accusing them of being afraid for their scalps. Except he calls it "nappy fuzz," like he and the lice condo he calls hair have any room to slight anyone's 'do. Also: Elam is bald. Cullen sees this from a distance and shouts for Toole to get his men back to work. "I don't take orders from any man walloped by a nigger," Toole says. Cullen rides on over to Toole, who takes a step back like the chicken shit that he is. "You're fired," Cullen says. Toole was not expecting that. "I'll fix your flint for this, Bohannon," he says. "You have my word on that!" Cullen is unmoved by the little twit's threat. Toole turns to his men: "Come on, lads, let's go." His former underlings shuffle their feet and avoid looking at him. He doesn't have the pull he thought he did. In the background, Cullen's horse is nodding his head repeatedly and nickering softly. Is that the equine equivalent of a laugh? Can we pretend that it is? Toole stomps off in an impotent rage as Cullen orders the rest of the men back to work.

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Hell on Wheels

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