Hell on Wheels Review: Fight Club

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What's the best way to distract men from not getting paid? Free alcohol and a boxing match, of course.

Thomas Durant was up to his old manipulative tricks again on "Bread and Circuses," drawing away from money problems and focusing on the more enticing fight between Cullen Bohannon and Elam Ferguson. It's a surprise that not many people can see through his methods, but it makes sense that live entertainment manages to divert attention when each day consists of extremely muddy and tiresome work.

Perhaps that's why Lily Bell can go toe-to-toe with Durant. She gets to wear pretty dresses, goes on picnics and spend time forming her own ways to play her smart cards. And boy, did she play them.

Durant and Lily

It may have been a brash move to tell Durant that she had the maps the whole time, but it was worth it just to see his frustrated face. Lily remained perfectly calm because she knew she had the upper hand in the situation. I love how she's holding her own and essentially calling the shots without being abrasive. Her cool demeanor and quick wit with the men make her more likable by the episode.

It's clearly enough to make a bloody and beaten Bohannon attempt to flirt with her, even when he's lying on the ground defeated. I think his charm was working, especially when she walked off with that little smirk.

The fight took center stage for the episode, and while it kept the story from advancing, it did prove to be an entertaining bout of blood, sweat and pepper-laced tears. Instead of producing peak performers and the feeling of a choreographed fight, Bohannon and Ferguson threw a lot of punches that landed but exhausted them to where they could barely stand. It allowed for the grit and rawness to come out, all while using bare (wrapped) knuckles.

And as a viewer, you want Bohannon to win. You expect Bohannon to win. And then... he loses? Mr. Straight shooting, bad ass, take everyone down... loses?

Clearly it was a huge victory for Ferguson because he felt like he was able to back up his beliefs. He stood up not only for the oppression of black people, but for himself as well. It nearly took the life from him, but he did it and to him it was worth it.

I wonder how he would feel if he knew his win was really rigged? Not only would it taint his victory, but it would taint his own feelings because now he has no idea if he would have won fair and square. Knowing Ferguson, it would definitely not sit well with him.

It's funny that Bohannon was able to figure it out and simply laugh about it. To him the fight wasn't about holding a grudge, but the way he held onto the money when Ferguson picked it up almost implied that Bohannon was confident he could have won. Or at the very least is prepared to fight again anytime, anywhere.

There's no way their altercation and disagreements are done.

As for the McGinnes brothers? I wouldn't doubt it, if the two end up separating from each other in the future. Not only was there a lack of trust and communication, but Sean failed to rely on his only other friend in the camp. Money really makes people do crazy things when they are desperate for it.

Reverend Cole and Joseph Black Moon did further delve into their characters and the potential confrontation between the Cheyenne and soldiers. Joseph may have asked his father to come negotiate peace, but can anyone believe that that is actually going to work out?

It's interesting that Cole has a daughter but he treats her more like a stranger than anything. The way he couldn't look at her was a huge departure from his vocal and direct approach when it comes to his scripture. Is he ashamed? Of leaving her? Or is it something more? This man of "good" has a lot of hidden background waiting to be revealed.

I'm growing more and more attached to these characters as Hell on Wheels moves along, with the combination of action and drama keeping the show from turning into a history lesson snooze fest. Now, let's hope that the seeds that have been planted for a majority of the characters begin to bloom and spread to more entertaining drama, betrayals, revelations and dilemmas as the show progresses its story forward.

Bread and Circuses Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (29 Votes)

Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.

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Hell on Wheels Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Mickey McGinnes: What if, God forbid, you were to lose?
Cullen Bohannon: That ain't going to happen.

Get down off that horse and put me in the cut.

Elam Ferguson