A quick Googling tells me that "timshel" is Hebrew means "thou mayest," which I'm taking to mean "thou mayest enjoy this episode." Because it was pretty enjoyable. How very pleasantly surprising! Picking up where things left off last week, Bohannon and the gang kill the Cheyenne dog soldiers that derailed the train last week. Joseph takes down his brother, Pawnee Killer, which just about devastates him.
The survivors return to Hell on Wheels to find various surprises awaiting them. Elam's work has so impressed Doc that Doc decides to hire him to do some "work off the books." This will no doubt be dirty work, but Elam is eager to continue moving up the ladder. With things looking better for him, he asks Eva to be his. Whether this means marriage or some kind of personal prostitute thing is unclear as of yet. But here's the real surprise: Toole isn't dead. He comes staggering back into town, claiming an angel removed the bullet from the back of his neck. Wait, no, this is the real surprise: Toole begs Elam's forgiveness. Holy crap, right?
Cullen returns to find that Doc has hired Lily to do some survey work for him. So presumably she's still living on her own and being Miss Independent. Just when it looks like Cullen and Lily might be getting a little cozy, Doc barges in and tells Cullen that Federal Marshals are on their way to arrest him for all those murders back east.
Joseph returns to find Ruth waiting for him. In fact, she's been waiting every night since he left. When he breaks down crying over the death of his brother, she comforts him with kisses. He stops being sad long enough to make out with her. Lieutenant Griggs comes looking for Joseph, ready to kill him, but the Reverend stops him. And how does he stop him? By cutting off his head with a saber, that's how! Mind you, he might not be done with that saber once he finds Joseph canoodling with Ruth, but that's for later.
In other plots, Doc finally gets his forty miles of usable rail built and even after all the slow, slow dawdling, it's the least surprising thing that happens in the episode. Stay tuned for the full recap.
Previously: Elam got cozy with Eva the (white) tattooed prostitute and was momentarily hanged for it. Cullen rescued him and took him on a revelatory road trip. Elam killed Mr. Toole, the man responsible for leading the lynch mob against him. The Swede extorted protection money from Mickey and Sean, the hard-luck Irish brothers who ran a "magic lantern" show in Hell on Wheels. The brothers won a heap of cash by rigging that boxing match between Elam and Cullen. The Swede was obsessed with proving that Cullen is a murderer. Thomas "Doc" Durant sent Cullen and some cavalrymen after the Cheyenne renegades who sabotaged his railroad. Joseph went with them, partly to help them track down the renegades, but also to buy the rest of his father's people time to get to safety. They were ambushed at the Cheyenne's campsite.
Currently: We pick up where we left off last week, as the battle ensues between Cullen's gang and the Cheyenne dog soldiers. Everything happens in slow motion to the strains of "Timshel" by Mumford & Sons. There is no other sound. Cullen and Elam fire rifles and the braves circle them on horseback. Elam must have picked up a rifle lesson between the road trip and now, because it's a little bit different than shooting a pistol. Nonetheless, he seems to acquit himself admirably, or at least he doesn't get himself killed, which is more than most of the others can say. Griggs has an arrow in his chest. It makes me hopeful that he's done for, but he keeps on shooting and standing and living. One of the cavalrymen takes an arrow in the leg, then two more to the torso. He's down. Elam gets an arrow to the arm but manages to shoot a brave off his horse.
When Cullen runs out of ammunition, he uses his spent rifle to club a brave. Griggs wrestles with a Cheyenne. It's Joseph's brother, Pawnee Killer. Joseph tackles him and gets kicked in the head. Pawnee Killer runs into the trees and Joseph runs after him. Cullen knocks another brave off his horse with his rifle. He grabs the fallen man's ax and whacks another guy in the head. Blood and bits of bone go flying. Elam drowns a man in a mud puddle; distractingly, the mud splatters all over the camera lens. Cullen beats another guy to death with a moose antler. Pawnee Killer runs and runs, then stops and looks down at his chest. An arrow protrudes from his flesh. As Pawnee Killer falls into the river, Joseph comes into view behind him, bow still poised from the shot. Cue the opening credits.