Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Hell on Wheels-Season 1
You can imagine my excitement last summer when I read in TV Guide that the TV western was making a comeback. The success of movies such as the True Grit remake sparked the resurgence, and it looks like just about every broadcast and cable network has a western in the works.
The first to hit the small screen is Hell on Wheels, the story of Cullen Bohannon, former Confederate soldier who travels to the Union Pacific Railroad's westward construction in search of work, hell bent on avenging the murder of his wife and son at the hands of Union soldiers. Anson Mount has been perfectly brilliant in the role, but Cullen isn't the show's only compelling character. A motley crew of lost souls have made the Hell on Wheels camp their home: railroad man Thomas Durant (a real life character), the crazy preacher (beheading his favored means of murder LOL), the newly freed black slave Elam who finds himself falling in love with the tattooed prostitute Eva (can't wait to see the further development of their love story as she wants to get married and he's only out to make money by whatever means necessary.)
My favorite character is the lovely Lily Bell, "fair haired maiden of the west", a Brit who traveled west with her surveyor husband only to become a widow at the hands of Indians and be forced to make her way alone in the frontier. She partners with Durant to see through the completion of the railroad, and he has decided he wants her for his own. But Lily and Bohannon have been making eyes at each other all season, and they have become closer as they each share their heartbreaking losses.
This series drew me in from episode 1, and although I must admit through the middle it seemed to move rather slow for my taste, the last 4 episodes have been riveting, particularly Sunday night's season finale. *SPOILERS* The evil Swede (Durant's head of security) has figured out Bohannon's past and sought out the final Union soldier on Bohannon's list. However, this soldier had been discharged before the massacre, but Bohannon strangles him before discovering the discharge papers clutched in the dead soldier's hands. Now a man on the run with a bounty on his head, he and Lily share one last longing look from across a crowded dancefloor before he makes his getaway.
Hell on Wheels has without a doubt revived a genre that has been considered dead. With guns, knives, arrows, scalpings, it is a sometimes harsh and brutal depiction of the westward expansion. Season 2 will air in the fall, and I can't wait to go along for the ride.