Hell on Wheels Review: The Other Woman

at . Comments

Hell on Wheels is a heavily dominated male show.

Certainly, the era and the locale make it hard for any woman to find a sure footing or even a voice. It's pretty much an uphill battle. Just think about Lily's efforts to rally the men after Durant had left.

She was probably the only female there you could claim had some handle on power, but even she ultimately was able to gain/maintain it because of her relations with Durant. Which makes Lily's lack of control even more evident when she gets pushed out of her position.

As for Ruth and Eva, they've had certain moments where they've tried to shine, but ultimately, they are still at the whims of the men around them. Truthfully, I find their characters to be kind of annoying and have more or less become simply the objects of the men's desires. I wish the show would find a way to make them more than that.

But it was a pleasant, pleasant surprise to get a confident, memorable and commanding screen presence from Durant's wife, Hannah, played by the talented Virginia Madsen.

The New Arrival

She brought a great edge to the show, even overshadowing her husband's presence. Her first reveal behind the door said so much from her few words. So of course as the episode progressed, we dug deeper into her character, revealing someone as charming as she was cold.

Not only did she call out Lily for sleeping with Durant, but she kicked her out of her own place. And then when Lily said she had no place to go, Hannah responded, "You're a smart girl. You seem to know your way around. I'm sure you'll find something." Harsh!

Truly, Hannah's presence sent the town into a tailspin, which seriously affected the love triangles (if you can call them that).

Sean McGinnes is still vying for Ruth's love (I don't know why) and yet she wants nothing to do with him. I wasn't sure if he would hurt her at one point. But does she still loves Joseph? And has he moved on? What the heck happened to him out in the wilderness?

Mr. Toole is trying to maintain a relationship with Eva, even if there is that undeniable strain between them. I'm surprised he's stuck around so long. I just can't see them together.

Of course, Ferguson is trying to build his happy home for himself and Eva, but does she still want him? And now Durant seems to be standing in his way of that.

But it was the awkward dinner with Durant, Hannah, Lily and Bohannon that took the cake. Not only were there uncomfortable stares and comments, but we learned that Bohannon was from a more well to do background. When Hannah asked Bohannon to walk her back, I half expected her to make a move on him for some kind of payback to her husband.

Hannah is a force to be reckoned with and I wonder if she has more say over how the railroad goes than Durant himself. Did she ask the Swede to sabotage the construction?

As soon as I saw the Swede just watching and sitting, I knew something bad was going to happen. Good for Bohannon setting fire to his tent. These two really need to square off man to man soon.

But it seems more likely that Ferguson will face off with Bohannon.

The two have managed to have something of an amicable relationship, but it sounds like Durant made an offer against Bohannon. Does he want Ferguson to kill him? And will he, so he can have the chance to build his home? What is this new job?

Despite Bohannon's distaste for the Swede, things seemed to be running rather smoothly with Durant gone. And now that he and his wife are back, everything has been turned upside down. Is there a positive ending for these characters this season?

A nice change in complacency for the characters and a great introduction of Hannah highlighted "The Lord's Day." It was a decent episode, but nowhere as powerful as last week's episode, which I still think was one of the season's best. The series really does shine when Bohannon and the Swede are up against each other and I hope that the finale gives viewers a great showdown between the two.


Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
  • 4.2 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I happened across Hell on Wheels earlier this year and was hooked on it. Any documentary could be done by the History Channel or National Geographic, but this series had something extra, a strong but vulnerable beautiful lady that survived terrible events and became the MAIN CHARACTER in the series. The love story that was evolving was the glowing golden thread in the broad pattern of the series. It is a shame that some “smart� writer decided to destroy the series by eliminating this love story and returning it to just another documentary. I will watch the first episode in the new season just to see if Dominique McElligott returns (a twin sister searching for her, possibly revived from a coma (no doctors there to really assure she died) of by some other methodology. I was going to buy both DVDs but will now wait to see what happens to Mrs. Lilly Bell and, if she is no longer a part of the series I, along with I read in the comment blogs, will also stop watching Hell on Wheels: just another docu-western focused on revenge.


There was little to be joyous about, during that time, in that place, so the dismal atmosphere is appropriate. The writers are giving us a decent depiction of the rather scrappy lives that most people led, on that project. I got the impression that Durant wanted his wife dead, with Bohannon being blamed for it, in the preview. That would clear the way for him to be with Lily again. ( I think he'd take her back!) Elam is gonna get caught in the middle--again.


@Sean - No doubt you are right. Control freak Durant has to be half dead before he brings his wife into the picture. One of the things that I most like about this show is the potential of the Bohanon Lily relationship. I love westerns so having a western tv show is great but I dont like how the AMC shows are so dark with maybe a sliver of light in the big picture of what life is all about arena. This beautiful strong extraordinary woman in the often ugly west saving the soul of a potentially great man has lots of potential light coming out of it. I am not so sure the AMC bigwigs can handle that. I hope they can but that remains to be seen.

Sp mckenna

@tompapp - I'm not sure if Durant even wants her looking over his shoulder now, let alone later. I agree though that Hannah definitely helps push Lily and Bohannon closer together.


In spite of the fact that Virginia Madsen is a very good actress I am not so thrilled about her character playing such a pivotal role in running the town and railroad. I like that her presence pushes Lily and Bohanon closer together. I love when Lily smiles at Bohanon, what a lady. I suspect her entrance into the scene ultimately is to mainly give impetus into the relationship between Lily and Bohanon more than anything else. Once Durant is healthy he wont want her looking over his shoulder on every move he makes.


I like seeing Hannah come into the picture too. However, as far as the potential "cat fight" with Lily, Hannah is holding all the cards right now and she is enjoying making her husband's former lover suffer and feel humiliated. The only card that Lily seems to be holding right now is Bohannon. Hannah wants Bohannon to help finish the railroad (and maybe for something else. But hopefully his feelings for Lily are stronger than anything the Durants can offer him, and he will tell them he and Lily have to be a package deal. I really liked Bohannon letting Lily have hfis railroad car and declining her offer to stay with her. He had to be greatly tempted to accept her invitation to share the car - and the bed - with Lily but knew it would just make Durant madder and more vindicitve toward her (and probably him as well). Lord knows, that man has his faults, but I really hope things work out for him and Lilly. They both have suffered enough and deserve to find happiness with each other.


Loved the addition of Hannah! 2 strong willed women (Lily and Hannah)doing what they do best--use the men in their lives to gain power/status. No cat fights yet, just the beginnings of good old fashioned deviousness and wile. Who will get the upper hand? and for how long? I am looking forward to the season finale!


I love this show. I hope it is renewed. Has anyone heard if it will be?

Tags: ,