Monday, January 16, 2012

Hell on Wheels Season One Finale: Greek Tragedy, Western-Style

Hell on Wheels pulled in to its first season finale last night with a Greek tragedy of a story, one that is as old and heart-rending as human story-telling itself ... killing the wrong the man.

The episode open with the scene that has motivated Bohannan's life since the scene and just about everything we've seen of his life this season - he comes home to find his wife in a noose.  He lovingly cradles her body, buries her and their son (also killed by the Union marauders), and rides off to begin his journey of revenge.

The only dent in his quest - the only time he even considers for a moment abandoning it, and moving on with life - is when Lily in a tender scene puts her hand on his chest and implores him not to destroy the man his wife and his son loved, not to consume that man in his hate.  Bohannan says nothing to Lily, walks out, but her words had enough impact on him that he goes to see Rev. Cole for advice.  Follow your hate, Cole advises, with the head of the Union guy he severed last week nearby, and an impromptu homily about God existing, but with arms and legs severed, and only able to hear us, and not able to do anything to help us.  Not, in other words, what Bohannan needed to hear.

So Bohannan goes after Harper, the Sgt who Bohannan believes joined in the rape and murder of his wife.  We already know Harper was not the man who did this - he shows his Army discharge paper to the Swede, which proves that Harper could not have been in Bohannan's home at the time of the murder.  Harper tries to tell this to Bohannan, tries to show him the paper,  but to no avail.  Bohannan kills Harper, only to find the discharge paper in Harper's dead hand.

Bohannan not only killed the wrong man, but if there is a Sgt out there who was part of the group who killed his wife, Bohannan now has to find him.   He looks at Lily, dancing perfunctorily with Durant.  She sees him and is glad.  But when she looks for him after the next spin in the dance, he's gone.

Gone with the wind, but now there are wanted posters out there with his name and likeness.  Bohannan's no longer under the radar, to throw in an anachronism.  But should I see one on some lamppost in 2012 New York City, it'll only remind me how much I'm looking forward to Season 2.

See also  Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on the Track, and the Telegraph ... Hell on Wheels 1.6: Horse vs. Rail ... Hell on Wheels 1.8: Multiple Tracks ... Hell on Wheels 1.9: Historical Inevitable and Unknown







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