Hell on Wheels, Ep. 1.10: “God of Chaos” elicits a plea for direction
Hell on Wheels, Ep.1.10: “God of Chaos”
Written by Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton and Bruce Marshall Romans
Directed by David Von Ancken
Airs Sunsays at 10 PM ET on AMC
Hell on Wheels has been picked up for a second season, and one hopes the writers give the show a badly needed reevaluation. Lucky for them, I took the liberty of listing a few ways the show can be improved for next season.
Let’s start with a character who early on gave the show an intriguing amount of perspective, but ended up being one of the more frustrating aspects of the show, Reverend Cole. This could be difficult considering his arc seemed to go past the point of no return, but he was hastily and sloppily transformed into a hate filled monster, so there is reason to believe a deft touch, and attention to detail could make him a more well rounded character. Like I’ve said before, it isn’t the fact that he has these demons, it is how they were presented, and subsequently handled that makes him so insufferable.
The forced and almost phantom romance between Bohannan and Lily Bell needs to be erased entirely. This storyline should have been put off until season two, but since they totally fumbled it in the latter stage of season one they should simply forget it for now. I get it, it is only natural to have the two most beautiful people in the show have a torrid love affair, but the fact that these two haven’t had any interaction to lead to this romance makes it a baffling choice. What is more difficult to believe is how Doc Durrant suddenly decided Bohannan was a real threat to his winning over Lily. To my recollection Durrant hasn’t even seen Bohannan and Bell in the same vicinity more than once before he came up with this idea, nor has Bell even mentioned any other man besides her late husband to him. It seems to me the writers are really trying to force a dynamic that does not exist for the sake of plot, rather than let it develop organically. The scene in the finale when Bohannan watches Lily dance with Durrant, before he disappears into the dark had no feeling at all, because nothing between the two was ever competently established. You can’t have a brief tender moment between the two in the finale and expect the audience to feel anything for them.
Give us more of the Native Americans, please. Though in a lot of ways they were clichéd and underwritten, the natives still give an interesting juxtaposition to the greed fueled squalor of the railroad camp.
Find something more interesting to fuel the main character outside of his revenge story. Bohannan isn’t necessarily a bad character, he is just a dull character with a great deal of potential. The problem with Bohannan has been that outside of his revenge for his family’s death, he hasn’t had much to do. In some ways he was like Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu. For many episodes, he seemed to move throughout the settings giving a degree of enlightenment to others, but there lacked a degree of human frailty due to nothing truly being fleshed out about him other than the death of his family, and even that seemed to be exploited simply for the sake of plot, rather than used to make him a fuller entity.
Visually speaking this show is, at times, fantastic, and much of the action is very entertaining, if not a little hollow, but let’s hope the writers and producers (Tony and Joe Gayton) take a deep breath and find a more patient approach to building these characters.