For all the potential prosperity and new beginnings involved with the railroad construction, the characters on Hell on Wheels seem to be heading in a direction completely opposite of that.
What makes someone choose the darker path? Is it a situation? A location? Greed? Power? The list could probably go on and on, but it's funny thinking that all these characters that we watch and many that we root for have had their moral boundaries pretty much scratched out.
Sure, to each his own, and some still have certain levels of sensibility, but name me a character that has managed to avoid doing something wrong, whether it might seem justified or not.
The McGinnes brothers may exude a youthful charm and desire to succeed in their business, but clearly there are no problems in trying to get money from people who just lost everything.
Think about the Reverend's daughter who, rather than remain quiet and good, is getting down and dirty between the sheets.
And Elam might be closer to toeing the moral line is clearly ready to kill for love. I mean, how many times did he stab that one guy? Overkill? No remorse whatsoever from him. Does the eye for an eye concept really work?
It's even a bit shocking that Lily Bell, who would probably be the closet thing to a straight-laced good person, was willing to pay Elam to kill the murderer. She may have had trouble looking him in the eye, but she had the nerve to tell him what to do. And is she sleeping with Durant? C'mon, Lily. Really?
As for Bohannon, he remains one of the coolest characters and TV. He's perhaps the most haunted of them all, talking about feeling nothing for the man he killed. I want to believe he wants to start anew, despite trying to provoke the union soldiers into killing him. There seems like a lot of pain behind his cavalier attitude. Although, he does have some great one liners to dish out. I'm excited to see his journey unfold.
It was also nice to see Durant get a chance to shine without looking like a pompous cartoon character. I know that Durant's actions and demeanor can be a little over the top, but Colm Meaney was able to play him down a little bit and truly offer a hint of a real villain in Durant, if he ever really wanted to be.
It was a shocking reveal that Durant happened to be the one to save Bohannon. Similarly, it was a great upper hand scene for Durant, even if he knew that sometimes you have to make a deal with the devil. But truly, which one is the devil? It was a great couple of scenes between the two actors to lay out their new-found deal, but let's just hope that Bohannon doesn't underestimate Durant.
Similarly with the Swede, it was such a great little smirk at the very end of the episode. There's no way that he is going to let his little downfall stop him from causing problems for Bohannon and I can't wait for that showdown to take place.
If anything, the show really established all of the wary alliances made out of circumstance and what happens when people can be willing to do just about anything. Man, living life back in that time sounds rough.
This second episode really captured the whole atmosphere of the show and provided the perfect seeds for what is to come.
In a way, "Durant, Nebraska" felt something like part two to the premiere. Do we have any idea or goal in mind? No, but the truth is in the characters and the promising confrontations between them. There is no doubt that high stakes, and plenty of crossing paths, are going to encompass all as they continue to truck through life on Hell on Wheels. And really, just knowing that Bohannon is back in town means things are only just getting started.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.