Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hell on Wheels 5.8: Letting Him Live?

The beginning of the concluding episodes of Hell on Wheels last night - 5.8 - featured the Swede ("I'm Norwegian!") versus Bohannon in an ultimate battle.

In many ways, the very start of the episode was the best, giving us a graphic, stomach-turning explanation of what made the Swede so demented and so filled with hatred for anyone Confederate. You could almost feel sorry for the Swede, even knowing he killed Lily and so many others, until-

Well, until he becomes the Swede with a vengeances, and goes after Bohannon's family.  And here I have trouble suspending my disbelief.   The Swede has killed Bohannon's father-in-law, and come within a hair's breath of killing his wife and little baby - not to mention Bohannon himself - so why does Bohannon not take his wife's good advice and kill the Swede right then and there?

The answer in a good narrative should never be that we needed the Swede alive to tell the rest of the story for the hour, but this is the only convincing explanation that comes to mind.   If you're willing to swallow that, the rest of the hour was as harrowing and riveting as it gets on this blood-and-guts series.  If not, well, then, there's always next week.

As a result of Bohannon taking the Swede to justice, with Bohannon on the very edge of his own life and death, we do get another powerful view of the inexplicability of this hero/anti-hero.  And I suppose that's good.  From the very first episode, Bohannon's motives have not been clear and his actions therefore not predictable, except that he's fundamentally a good man.  Because of that, I can sort of see why Bohannon would risk his life to bring the Swede to hanging justice - but I still don't get why he would allow his family to be at risk, which is what not a killing a psycho, persuasive killer such as the Swede inevitably does.   So far on the series, Bohannon has been nothing but devoted to his new family.

Whether or not Bohannon's motives will become more clear in the episodes ahead remains unclear.  I guess, in an odd way, that this lack of clarity makes the story that much more provocative and appealing.

See also Hell on Wheels 5.1: Rails and Truckee ... Hell on Wheels 5.2: Mei and Cullen ... Hell on Wheels 5.3: Prejudice

And see also Hell on Wheels 4.1-2: Rolling Again ... Hell on Wheels 4.5: New Blood ... Hell on Wheels 4.6: Bear and Sanity ... Hell on Wheels 4.7: Why? ... Hell on Wheels 4.8: Aftermath and Rebound ... Hell on Wheels 4.9: High Noon ... Hell on Wheels 4.10: A Tale of Two Sicko Killers ... Hell on Wheels 4.11: The Redemption of Ruth ... Hell on Wheels 4.12: Infuriating and Worthwhile ... Hell on Wheels Season 4 Finale: The Buffalo

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

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