Posts Tagged ‘episode 2’

Alec Cuccia – Hell on Wheels 1.2

November 16, 2011

The narrative of the second episode of Hell on Wheels was much better than the first. It was more cohesive, though that partially could be just because all the characters were in closer proximity to each other than in the first episode where they had to physically come together in the town Hell on Wheels. Even still, I don’t particularly care about any of these characters. Their motivations are opaque at most and bland at the least. The protagonist is on a simple revenge mission. I’ve seen this before! He doesn’t pull me in in the way a main character should. O’Brien from Star Trek is greedy. Again, that’s almost all he is. Common is angry, and for good reason, but so what? What else is there? The only character that I felt was really well flesh out was the Swede. He was scary and funny and obviously very smart. All of the tension in this episode came from him when it should have come from his interactions with the main character.

I also want to comment on a few plot holes. How did the good Native American know where the white girl was? How did he know where the bad Native Americans were? How did he know about the killings at all? He was at the killing site at the end of the pilot, and yet by that time the only person who could have known about the killings was O’Brien from Star Trek, as O’Brien from Star Trek hadn’t reached Hell on Wheels yet to tell anyone else. Also, how did the protagonist know about O’Brien from Star Trek’s need to lay a certain amount of track before the federal government pays him? The protagonist says “Everybody knows…” but that doesn’t sound like common knowledge to me. Hell, if the federal government knew the practices that O’Brien from Star Trek was doing to get the amount of track he needs (at a cost to the government), wouldn’t the government step in and put a stop to everything? I don’t know. It’s silly. And what, exactly, is the importance of the white girl lost in the wilderness? She has maps or something, OK, but so what?  Oh and how silly is it that at the end of the episode the protagonist finds his wife’s stitching in the pocket of the man he killed last episode? OK yeah, that’s believeable…

When it comes down to it, Hell on Wheels is an show that desperately wants to be interesting and taken seriously but isn’t quite there yet. The characters are bland and uninteresting (I can’t even remember their names!), the plot is vague and full of small holes, and the dialogue is painfully bad. And yet, it is interesting enough to make me want to watch it again. Maybe to just see if they can salvage what they have.

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Hell on Wheels: Immoral Mathematics

November 15, 2011

I think “Immoral Mathematics” was a success. Hell on Wheels is about a period in time when America was beginning to embrace and cultivate upon Manifest Destiny and the classic capitalistic spirit. Needless to say, before divulging into more titillating hyper-focuses upon character relationships, plot twists, heroines, villains, etc., Hell on Wheels had an enormous stage to build. That said, I think the writers behind this show got a little overly zealous in the pilot and tried to jam a million different things down the viewers’ throats (and judging by the umbrella opinion of my classmates on the pilot, the viewers’ weren’t having it). Thankfully, this second episode didn’t spread itself so thin and, instead, focused mainly on one issue—the effects and aftermath of the murder of Daniel Johnson.

The episode begins with an interaction between the big-bellied Durant and a photographer who is covering the Native American attack on the railroad camp. As Durant stabs a few more arrows into a couple of cadavers in the surrounding area to amplify the brutality of the attack, he is further established as the stereotypical fat, greedy American who wants to capitalize on American expansion into the west by further villainizing the Native Americans. Do I think this character is necessary to capture the essence of the time period? Of course. However, did this cartoonish character evoke the same fear and creepiness that “The Swede” did? No way. If there is one thing that AMC is excellent at, it is developing a villain. Similar to Gus Fring in AMC’s Breaking Bad, the Swede is calm, collected yet sure to be ruthless and cold-blooded beneath his strategic guise.

Bohannon’s character as the protagonist among chaos evolved significantly throughout this episode. His tough demeanor and growing relationship with Elam (Common) make him a personable yet seemingly authentic character. His gambit to take a position of authority at the railroad camp has left him in a position to execute his personal vendettas and continue developing the substance of his character.

To sum it up, I think this episode was a strong signifier that Hell on Wheels is going places and taking a turn for the good and the better.