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Hell on Wheels, Ep. 1.06: “Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance” takes small steps in the right direction

Hell on Wheels, Ep. 1.06: “Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance” takes small steps in the right direction

Hell on Wheels, Season 1, Ep. 6 “Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance”

Written by: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton, and Bruce Romans

Directed by: Michael Slovis

Airs Sunday 10:00 PM Est. on AMC

Small increments, Hell on Wheels is getting better by small increments. The last two episodes feel like the calming breath that followed the fevered blur that was the previous episodes. It is because of this I am choosing to hold my breath and keep my review for this week short and sweet, just like the rest of them.

I am falling more and more in love with Lily Bell every episode. There is a beautiful strength to her in the games she plays with Doc Durant. It felt a bit disappointing that she relinquished the maps to him already, but one gets the feeling there are still many sparks and guile to be enjoyed in their budding relationship. I have said this in the last two reviews, but this relationship is very much at the heart of the show. Though it still lacks some finesse, and nuance, it is admirable, and, at least in the last two episodes, has the subtlety and charm that much of the rest of the show lacks.

Another small improvement this episode was getting to finally meet the Native Americans. In past episodes we would only see the Natives as people for fleeting moments, and everything was kept on the surface of the scene. In past instances they were shown mostly in the savage thralls of blood lust, which worked well to serve the plot, but left one wanting as far as characters. A not so subtle, but, nonetheless, great scene this week involved many of the tribe riding through the camp. The chief, stoic, and decorated brightly, rides at the forefront of his people, as they observe the muck and filth of the town. It was as if the Cheyenne was floating above it all, and of course, we are forced to ask who the savages really are? However, this is soured somewhat by the typical platitudes the chief only speaks in during his meeting with Doc Durant, and the visiting Senator Crane (James D. Hopkin). And it was further cheapened by the race staged (yes, another physical challenge) between a young “brave” and a locomotive. But, at least the Natives have been introduced more formally.

Bohannan, who is the star of the show, is becoming more of a footnote with each episode. However, it doesn’t seem as though he has much to do now that his quest for revenge has been put on hold. This  isn’t to fault the show. We know enough about Bohannan now, we know what drives him, and it is refreshing that nothing is really being forced down the viewer’s throat, and instead, other characters are being flushed out in the meantime.

No, I am not forgetting to mention the cliffhanger ending involving Elam. But, I prefer to talk more about his plight in next week’s review when hopefully the show will have given us a little more insight into his  character.

James Merolla