Deadwood “Advances, None Miraculous”

It would appear there are a lot less dead people than I thought after the previous episode.

Though neither of those two temporary survivors seem to make it out of this episode alive.

And who says Deadwood can’t be a bit funny?  Watching Tolliver’s two idiots try to pull a sled with a wounded fat man on it was a bit of slapstick goodness.

That makes a nice moment in an otherwise sad episode.  William Bullock is ailing and probably dead by episode’s end (the show doesn’t explicitly say so but hints strongly), and that means Seth and Martha will have to do…something.  The only reason Seth married his brother’s widow was to be a father to her son.  Now that William is at death’s door, what do these two have?  She was already fairly furious at him for impregnating Alma before she got to town, though Alma and Ellsworth seem to be on their way to an agreement to make sure that unborn child also has a father.  Alma just needs to get past the idea of a (second) loveless marriage.

But there are two departures and two arrivals.  The two departures are the black men from the livery who accidentally let that wild horse out.  Knowing that townsfolk are probably far less forgiving of them than they are of their white neighbors who more intentionally killed other human beings, they take off to at least find that horse themselves.

Returning in Andy Cramed.  Who’s he?  He’s the guy Jane nursed back to health after the smallpox scare had him dumped in the woods to die.  He’s a reverend now.  Good for him.

And then there’s Commissioner Jarry.  He’s clearly looking to upset the balance of power in favor of George Hearst with help from Tolliver and Wolcott.  The thing for Swearengen to do is make it look like there’s a competition as to what territory will get Deadwood camp.  To do that, Swearengen needs to make it look like rich and powerful men from Montana are also working on acquiring the place.  He had Merrick put some fake bits in the newspaper to start that rumor, now he needs Sol and Silas Adams to pull off the next step.  Adams can pretend to represent the Montana people at a sit-down as long as Sol fills the other guys in on who the important power players in Montana are.  As he came from there, he even knows about the dining habits of one of those men, and getting the local politics right is important.  And though Jarry doesn’t quite fall for it, he’s uncertain if he should.

You know, I will also add that Deadwood effectively humanizes the characters very well, even the “bad guys”.  When the show ends without dialogue and the implication that William Bullock may have breathed his last, the people in the camp react with different levels of grief, including Swearengen, whose eyes clearly tear up.  Good touches like that make Deadwood less a traditional Western and more something with real people in it, even if many of them do awful things.

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