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Episode Review - Hell On Wheels 3.3 "Range War"

Hell On Wheels Season 3
Hell On Wheels Season 3
AMC, my edit

Hell On Wheels "Range War"


Hell On Wheels airs Saturday nights at 10pm on AMC.

This episode was one of those ones that's important for the story, but mostly is setting things up. It feels like watching someone construct an elaborate dominoes design; this part is a little dull, but it needs to be done and it's tense because it could all go wrong at any moment.

Here's this week's dominos:

  • The Swede survived, and is helping a family of settlers travel across the country somewhere away from the town and the rest of the show. He's claiming to have been left for dead by the Indians, and it's entirely unclear whether he's nuts and believes it, or up to something, or something else all together. Either that, or he's his own character's twin.
  • Mr Toole's brother has tracked down Eva and wants to do "according to custom" and marry his brother's widow and be a father to his child. Except that Eva wants nothing to do with him and Elam isn't at all happy that he's around. He also isn't good at taking 'no' for an answer and is good at taking people down quickly and with very little fuss.
  • Someone impersonated Indians and took out all their cattle, which led Bohannon and Elam to kill all of them in punishment, and because of a misinformed wire to the creepy soldier, basically started a revenge-war with the actual local Indians, who had previously left them alone. Bohannon isn't happy with all the death and drama; Ruth says he can be saved, and he returns the heads and scalps to the graves they belong to.
  • This also led to Bohannon making a deal with a local rancher for their cattle to get around the mess Durant put them in, but she happens to be in business with Durant already, building the new capital of the traintracks on her land.
  • The newspaper lady is not pleased with how the hookers get treated, no how their lives are lived. She bonds with Eva while helping a nineteen year old girl who is sick and bleeding from "the old whore's disease".
  • The leader of the cavalry is totally nuts, and racist in that chilly way that makes it worse; he honestly believes that the North is physically and mentally better than the South, and that Indians are "barely human" and therefore totally fine to kill.

Which way will all these things fall? Who knows! But it's been fun watching everything continue to go to pot while the railroad continues to get built, and I don't think that'll change yet.

It's interesting, this change Bohannon is going through. If this season is going to be him repenting and taking care of Ruth and redeeming himself, I have to wonder who's going to do the dirty work that a totally good man can't do to get the road built? Who's going to defend everyone from the dangers they keep both generating and walking right into?

If it's not the season where he makes good, what worse fate than what he's already faced is waiting from the midpoint of the season down that other side? Because right now, he's pretty upset about the killing, the necessities of his work, the criminality of everyone he has to deal with, the unfairness of how everyone treats everyone. And he's still got that temper. So what sort of man is going to be there at the end of the season?

Questions I still have:

  • If it wasn't Indians who took the cattle, how did that survivor get scalped? Who scalped him? Did he scalp himself? How long can a guy with an exposed skull live?
  • What happened with the Mormon guy and his family? Will we see them again?
  • How long before Bohannon has to take that soldier out?

What do you think?

Samantha Tweets, Tumbles, Blogs and is glad that she's never survived a scalping.

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