First, he survives. No surprise - Common is too excellent an actor and Elam too important and powerful a character to die. In many ways, he's been the soul of the show.
But the way in which Elam survives was a sight and a story to behold. Taken in, nearly dead, by the Comanches, a powerful Southern Plains tribe, Elam is nursed back to physical but not quite mental health by people who see his killing of the bear as endowing him with the bear's powers. The presentation of this part of the story was an anthropological tour-de-force, with the only language being spoken throughout most of it being Comanche, giving us the same total immersion in this situation as Elam.
His lack of touch with reality soon becomes clear. He kills the kindly old trapper who tries to tell Elam who he really is. He joins the Comanches in a raid on an advance U.S. cavalry party, only to kill one of the main Comanche warriors when they return to their main camp.
Elam's motive represents his one beacon of sanity - getting back to Eva. He first sees a white woman captive of the Comanches as his - in effect, his new Eva - but concludes that her suggestion that he take her back to civilization as the best way of re-uniting with Eva makes sense. And so the episode ends with Elam, the white woman, and two Indian women Elam has also taken along with him looking at the train tracks.
Next week, we should be in for another superb episode as Elam finally gets back into contact with Cullen and all of our people in Cheyenne. How long it will take them to be his people again should be another story to behold. In the meantime, we were treated to one of the best Native American hours of television to come down the track in quite some time.
See also Hell on Wheels 4.1-2: Rolling Again ... Hell on Wheels 2.5: New Blood
And see also Hell on Wheels 3.1-2: Bohannan in Command ... Hell on Wheels 3.3: Talking and Walking ... Hell on Wheels 3.4: Extreme Lacrosse ... Hell on Wheels 3.5: The Glove ... Hell on Wheels 3.6: The Man in Charge ...Hell on Wheels 3.7: Water, Water ... Hell on Wheels 3.8: Canterbury Tales ...Hell on Wheels 3.9: Shoot-Out and Truths ... Hell on Wheels Season 3 finale: Train Calling in the Distance
And 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 ... Hell on Wheels Season One Finale: Greek Tragedy, Western Style