'Hell on Wheels' 3.9: Shoot Out and Truths
Hell on Wheels 3.9 had one of the best old Western best shoot-outs I've seen on television in decades, as Cullen, Elam, Durant, and even that woman in town go to it with a bunch of men in long coats and guns on horses bent on getting Cullen.
Why? We learn at the end that the men are led by the Mormon who manipulated his own son into being hung by Bohannan. That hanging already almost resulted in Bohannan being deposed from the railroad, and it's now it's on the verge of costing him his life. We saw the father's face at the beginning of the episode. It looked familiar, but I didn't get it until Bohannan recognized him immediately at the end, and the two started talking. This is worse than no good deed goes unpunished because, as Bohannan himself realizes, his hanging the boy wasn't too good a deed in the first place.
This was also the episode in which Elam comes out of his stupor and plays a courageous supporting role for Bohannan, first in the shoot-out, and, in the end, keeping the construction of the railroad moving as Bohannan requested. Elam gives a pretty good inspiring speech to the workers - in fact, right up there with Bohannan's.
We also have an important scene with Ruth and Louise, in which Louise says and Ruth doesn't deny what we've already seen: Ruth likes Bohannan. Are his feelings reciprocal? Not entirely clear, because, in true old West fashion, he's not admitting it just yet. Meanwhile, there's also a good scene with Louise and Eva, in which Eva, correctly getting what's on Louise's mind when Louise looks at her, and happy for the help Louise is giving her, offers herself to Louise. But Louise says no - not wanting Eva to think Louise has been helping Eva in return for sexual access - and Eva, for her part, presses the matter because she doesn't want "charity". The upshot: sexual tension which will likely find expression if not in this season than the next, in a world in which codes are strong and prides run high though you can never figure just which way they'll come down.
Next week's the season 3 finale, and I sure hope there'll be a season 4, because season 3 has been the best season by far, with the show runner of the Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles series at the helm.