Hell on Wheels Season 1, Ep. 7 ‘Revelations’
Written by: Tony and Joe Gayton, and Bruce Marshall Romans
Directed by: Michelle Maclaren
Airs Sunday 10 pm Est. on AMC
Was I the only one that watched this week’s episode, and immediately wished the show centered around the outlaws Elam and Bohannan? At any rate, that is an unfair indictment on a show that has shown some promise in it’s first season. And that promise is found in both action, and tightly wound character interactions. The interactions can use a great deal of polish, but it would seem each character is finding his or her footing. With each episode we are gaining a better understanding of each character, something that wasn’t evidently true early in the season.
However, despite the praise I’ve been giving Hell on Wheels lately, tonight’s episode suffered from a few drawbacks that earlier episodes struggled with, most notably, the trite monologue.
We saw two different types of monologues tonight, the first a visual look at the childhood of Elam. We discover that he was taught how to read at an early age, and unfortunately, very little else. The second type was the verbal monologue we heard from Bohannan, and Durrant. Bohannan tells the story of how he discovered his wife, son, and closest slave after they had been slain, and it comes off as incredibly stilted and forced. Durrant’s story of when he was a poor child, has a bit more color (mainly due to Colm Meaney’s acting ability) but, feels unnecessary nonetheless.
These monologues present holes in what was otherwise another strong episode in the series. What was particularly interesting was finally getting to know Elam a little more. As alluded too before, the flashback of him as a child gives very little insight, but, the scene when he speaks of the hypocrisy of slavery is his best scene yet. It isn’t the subject matter that is insightful, he more or less presents moral certainties, it is the way he presents them. There is a wisdom, and intellect revealed that was previously hidden. We already knew Elam was smart, but now he is more of a thinking man.
The show still needs a great deal of smoothing out, but the characters are beginning to flourish a bit more. The biggest drawback is the apparent lack of self-awareness the show has. For example, rather than embrace the inherent silliness of a character like The Swede, who very much is the typical villain cloaked in black, the show tries to shy away from it, and present him as a more grounded character. Though many characters are beginning to flourish, the show could use a little more…camp, if you will.