Hell on Wheels Review: Changing Lanes

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I knew there was no way the Swede was the reformed good guy on a mission from God. His wild hair alone should have been an indicator that the creepy character was up to no good.

Turning a baptism into a murderous move that violently killed the Mormon husband and wife was a brilliant way to start "One Less Mule." I was glued immediately to the episode, watching the Swede thrash his way through the water like a manipulative predator while calling out to Ezra that he would find him.

I'm curious how he will link back up to Cullen Bohannon and the railroad, but I've got a feeling that he's going to be trying to take the Mormon's position of power and take over his identity as well.

But the rest of the episode centered on the trial of Bohannon with mixed results.

Out of Position

Now, I've definitely gotten more on board with Bohannon leading the railroad building, and it was good to see some consequences for the actions he's made.

Similarly, it was an interesting move to bring Ulysses S. Grant onto the show to not only interact with the Southern outlaw, but slowly build something of a friendship (or at least understanding). The guy really knows how to chew a cigar, right?

And, of course, Durant would scheme and plot like he always does (where is his maniacal laugh?), so I wasn't surprised he basically put Bohannon on trial.

But all because of Louise Ellison's articles? (Okay, there was a little more to it, but the articles really were the things that set everything in motion). Bohannon had been pardoned for his previous actions, so why put him on blast for his more recent ones?

I get that with the "witness" testimony of Bohannon's character referencing the boy being hanged in the Hell on Wheels season three premiere - along with the fact that he would be willing to kill if forced to - were meant to put him in a bad light. But this is Bohannon, and the only person really questioning his ability to run the railroad was Durant, the guy with a personal agenda.

That said, I was glad that they brought up him refusing to move town until they found Elam Ferguson and Eva's baby in "Searchers." There were actual repercussions from that.

And it was good to see the normally resolute Bohannon question whether he was right for the role he had recently taken up. But, like Ruth said, "to put the past behind you, you must move beyond it."

Can he get over the past? Over the revenge he had taken up?

So, I was happy he didn't sign the paper and content to see him have a little alcohol fueled fun. He embraced who he was.

But boy was I shocked when he killed the man seeking revenge on Bohannon. It was such a sudden blast, but to him, it was the only move he had.

My real problem with the episode lies in Louise Ellison and her role on the show. She still feels like an attempt (and unfortunately a poor one) to replace Lily Bell.  It's as if the series isn't quite sure what to do with her and when they reveal a little back story it feels like a forced one.

So she's at Hell on Wheels (apparently the most read journalist in the country) because she had a "unrequited indiscretion" with... wait for it... a woman named Ida Greely. Wait, what?

As much as it was fun to see Durant play a real snake and hold the knowledge and assistance over her, the whole thing just felt thrown in there. I have no idea where her character is headed next and it's hard for me to even care anyway.

Still, I was pleased to see Ferguson propose to his woman and thank Bohannon for giving him the contract to remain sheriff. At the same time, he tried to avoid problems by running the revenge seeking brother out of town. He really stepped it up this episode.

I also enjoyed Bohannon and Grant chatting it up, but it was Bohannon's happiness that Durant's town name was changed ("Can I tell him?") that helped sell it. Bohannon definitely has a renewed vigor in the job, and he finally got rid of Sean McGinnes from that task of anymore "helping."

Looks like everybody has been shifted to new paths. The real question will be, what will they do now that they've been placed in the new positions. And can Bohannon really keep Durant (and possibly the Swede) from getting his job done.

This was definitely a transitional episode that had very solid beginning and endings, even if the middle felt more mixed in its approach. Still, Bohannon with a glare and a beard can command Hell on Wheels like he always does.

Outlaw. Killer. Leader.

One Less Mule Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (48 Votes)

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

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