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Hell-on-wheels

Hell on Wheels Review: The Waterboy

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It always takes just one rodent to ruin the party, or the drink for that matter. Bet Cullen Bohannon wishes he'd been giving his crew Gatorade this whole time.

The aptly named "Cholera," revealed just another problem on the railroad, the hour-long process to figure out how to fix it, and the revelatory, just in time victory at the end. But I'm still feeling a little parched from it all.

Searching For Water

It was another interesting quandary for Bohannon to deal with (and he's dealt with a lot this Hell on Wheels Season 3), especially because of the added heat. Once again, he puts himself on the line to try and solve the problem rather than sending someone else to do it.

And it's obvious from watching three seasons that Anson Mount continues to be the star of the show as Bohannon whether he's ready to draw on an uprising worker, barfing and walking weary trying to find just some hint of water, or playing cards with a boy.

My favorite scene of his had to be speaking with the boy, Ezra who escaped the villainous Swede, and showing a far softer side. It's not hard of a stretch to believe either, especially because Bohannon did have a wife and a child before, but it was nice to see him smile and goof off a little.

Ezra may be his good luck charm for now, but he, and talk of the Mormon riders will definitely lead Bohannon back to the worst problem of all: The Swede.

The Swede may have had a very short scene, but even with his new voice, new role taking the place of the Mormon family, he's still a commanding presence. Just putting a hand to his weapon was tense for the moment. I'm just hoping that when he finally runs back into Bohannon, it isn't the season finale.

That will hopefully be an entertaining reunion for them.

But as it is, viewers were left mostly looking for water and the scare of the cholera. And it's not that the cholera scare wasn't scary. The working conditions on the railroad aren't like living at the Hilton or on beautiful beaches. It's mud, grime, sweat, sickness and every other issue.

The problem is the stakes for the characters weren't there. Sure, a variety of background characters died, but was there ever any doubt that Bohannon, Ferguson, or any of the other main players at the railroad might not make it?

I guess Eva didn't share the same sentiment as she worriedly agreed to hand over her baby, Rose, to Declan Toole for safekeeping in New York. That was a huge move on her part, especially in her love and safety for the child, but Ferguson isn't going to be happy with that choice.

Wonder if he'll take out his frustration on somebody next episode? Good thing he finished his windmill/water contraption beforehand.

The other aspect of the episode focused on Durant killing his former "pal," the Massachusetts senator that he had been conspiring with.

I wasn't surprised he tried to pin it on Sean McGinnes, but I was surprised that Sean didn't quit working for the man that moment.

Rather he called his brother, Mickey, to help him clean up the bloody mess. And I love that Mickey didn't turn his back on his brother, even portraying an attitude about getting Durant and Sean out of trouble like when he and his brother went and fed their enemies to the pigs back in Hell on Wheels Season 2 episode, "Slaughterhouse."

I wish we would get more moments with the Irish brothers, but Mickey's adamant demand about never seeing his brother again makes that opportunity seem rather low. There's just something about watching the way they conduct themselves in the town and the actions that have propelled them in separate directions that still often allow them to cross paths that proves intriguing.

While the scenery and shots remain sweeping, the feeling of a hot and grimy town pours off the screen, and the characters deal with the never-ending struggles like they should, I still can't help but know that everything will work out in the end leaving moments lacking in tension. And I'm worried that the show is saving that for a big bang at the very end, rather than winding up with a culmination of a continuous journey allowing every person, not just Bohannon, to be that compelling character that makes them stand out beyond simply riding a horse or working on the railroad.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.6 / 5.0
  • 3.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (57 Votes)

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

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You write very well!

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George, I agree, look nobody even posts on the comments anymore. There are so many areas they could develop the story further. I really am in fear that there will not be a Season 4. I loved Seasons 1 and 2 and Season 3 is OK but I was a big Lilly fan and she is certainly not coming back. Seeing the Swede was Great but that story line is very slow to develop. I guess my favorite story line this season is EVA. The last 2 weeks she brought me to tears. Please writers pick up the pace and get some ongoing story lines going I know everyone is thinking of the journalist being a new romantic interest for Cullen but I am just not feeling that one at all. I am seeing some smoldering sparks between Cullen and Ruth. Now that would be an interesting story line and I am liking Ruth more and more although no one comes close to Lilly.

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Season 3: Seven episodes, seven different stories, the only entertaining one from start to finish was One Less Mule. If this series ran for say 20 episodes per season I could see going off into sub-plots but for a run of 10 the writers should be focused on completing or embellishing the relevant plots such as the Mormon land issue, the range war, and Grant's role in helping Bohannon retain control of the railroad. The toxic water problem, like the disappearance of Eva's baby (Ep5) and the wood shortage (Ep4)should not have dominated their respective episodes. I hope the writers can wind the season down by tying up some loose ends.

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In the "Cholera" episode, why didn't anyone think of boiling the water rather than dumping it out? Surely boiling water to disinfect it was known then.

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