May 26, 2024

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Deadwood “A Two-Headed Beast”

Season Three, Episode Five.

Last time around, I focused the Deadwood review around some buildings.

This time, let’s look at some corpses.

First off, before we get to the dead, Alma is back on drugs.  Sure, she was charming enough to fool Merrick when he was asking about the liquidity of the bank, but World’s Worst Bank Teller Trixie can see it, I think Ellsworth can since he moved out after she tried to seduce him (their marriage is not built on that), and Alma’s supplier Leon obviously knows…and he might tell Hearst toadie Tolliver.

Swearengen, meanwhile, is letting Adams be his go-between to Hearst, since he knows Adams may be viewed as a potential turncoat, and Adams has experience dealing with double-dealers and can maybe figure out Hearst’s intentions.  Besides, Hearst has angered so many people, even Farnum (who now works for Hearst), perennial kiss-ass that he is, will pass notes to help out Bullock, a man who not that long ago gave the hotel manager a savage beating.

But none of those people die.  Let’s get to some deaths.

The first death

An unnamed union organizer for Hearst’s mines is found stabbed to death.  Where?  Well, Merrick spotted two guys dumping the body in the middle of the camp for all to see.  That just inflames Bullock’s righteous indignation.  Swearengen wants Bullock to hold off before he does something rash.  The episode may end with the rash.

The second death

The sale of the livery seems to be going mostly OK.  Steve the drunk signs.  Hostetler signs.  Hostetler gets the gold and intends to move to Oregon, possibly taking Fields with him.  Problem:  Steve wants the chalkboard back that Hostetler and Fields forced him to sign stating he did nasty things to Bullock’s horse before Hostetler leaves.  Second problem:  Fields was not drunk enough before the two temporarily left camp to know he needed to hide the board, but too drunk to remember where.  As such, all three of those guys plus Bullock search the livery from top to bottom.  Bullock seems to find it wrapped in a cloth, and when the cloth is removed, it looks like the chalk markings are long gone.  That should settle it, right?  Nope.  Steve demands the real thing, insisting Hostetler still has it and will send it off in the future to embarrass Steve.  Hostetler is tired of being called names, and this time he’s being called a liar, so he goes off in a huff.

Then Hostetler blows his own brains out.


Say, did Bullock know what was written on the board as they were searching for it?

The third death

Here’s the big one:  Hearst’s bodyguard and muscle Captain Turner challenges Dan, Swearengen’s muscle, to a fight.  Turner is a larger man, and the fight is to be unarmed.  Dan has been chomping at the bit to do so since he first laid eyes on Turner, especially after Turner assisted in chopping off Al’s finger.  Dan is really devoted to Al.

The fight is long and brutal, and Dan is often on the losing side as Turner, among other things, tries to drown him in a puddle and slams his head against some rocks.  Then Dan gorges one of Turner’s eyes out of its socket, gains the upper hand, and (with a nod from Swearengen) beats the other man to death with a log.

This has two immediate effects.

First, Dan is rather devastated by this.  Swearengen believes that despite this hardly being the first time Dan has killed anyone, it was the first time it happened during a fair fight, and, let’s face it, Dan almost got killed himself this time around.

Second, it upsets Hearst, and while he is pouring out his sorrows at Tolliver’s, in walks a still-angry Bullock.  And Hearst doesn’t exactly watch his mouth since he doesn’t see the need.  A guy with his kind of fortune can do whatever he wants, right?

Well, maybe not, as Bullock ends the episode by dragging Hearst at gunpoint and by the ear off to the town jail for threatening a peace officer.

I am sure that will not make anything worse.