Hell on Wheels Review: Back on Track

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They say time heals all wounds, right?

Where I was unfortunately left disappointed and confused by the abrupt jumble of events in Hell on Wheels Season 3 Episode 10, the prospect that the series would at least return to get itself back on track and/or figure out its new direction by allowing many of the moments in Hell on Wheels Season 3 to have an impact, to have consequences and payoff down the road for the characters and the story was promising.

Because even if I disagreed with where aspects of the Hell on Wheels tale was headed, or couldn’t understand certain choices being made, what’s done was done. And now, Hell on Wheels Season 4 is something of a fresh start, ready to move the saga forward full steam ahead.

There was a lot of dialogue recapping events that happened previously, which was a bit helpful, but it also really pointed out key character and story points that will hopefully be further explored. Now’s the time to take those components and make something of them, not just dangling events never again touched upon.

Durant is still up to his old ways and schemes, and the recent murder he was involved with is touched upon. That’s going to come back on him for sure, but like he angrily said, he’s capable of anything.

But I bet the new governor of Wyoming (Where? Never heard of it.) will be a dangerous match for Durant. Just what is he capable of?

Plus, I like actor Jake Weber, who already seems to be making his stamp as the character in this world. John Campbell is not going to be any pushover.

Although, the same could be said for Mickey, who almost feels like he has split personalities. He can be charming and a helpful friend. And then there’s that darkness, which was touched upon last season, especially involving his brother and Boston.

Beyond that, he was especially creepy after finding Eva after her rape. He seemed like such a good guy, but then he started lecturing her about giving up the baby, then telling her she should be a whore and all women are whores, before getting a bit too handsy with her. If they were going for uncomfortable, they definitely nailed it with that scene.

But no Elam? I know it looked like he died and Eva stumbled around screaming he was dead, but was battling the grizzly in the Hell on Wheels Season 3 finale really his swan song? I know Common’s name doesn’t appear in the credits, but I’ve got a feeling we’ll see Elam reappear somewhere down the line. Right? Because while he was potentially killed trying to save his friend, that would be a disappointing end to his character.

I hope to see him back.

And that brings us directly to Cullen Bohannon, the clear lead of this series that truly is the driving force beyond the entire tale.

It’s hard to believe four months have passed (and how he hasn’t killed the Swede, excuse me, the Bishop, is even more incredible), but that desire to leave the prison town hasn’t disappeared.

His wife, who was recast with a new actress because of scheduling conflicts, continues to worry that he’ll leave her and the baby. By the way, it seems pretty clear that the baby is his. Although, if only we had Maury to really sort it all out.

But I love that even if he’s given up his gun (for now), he hasn’t lost his powerful presence, his ability to stand-up for the right thing, and his desire to end the Swede.

That final scene between the Swede and Cullen is so full with tension and presence from both actors that it really put a smile back on my face for the show. There’s a certain electricity when both face off, as Cullen steps up with his cocky grin and the Swede quietly (under that intense beard) almost questions Cullen’s ability to follow through.

It made me think that Cullen was willing to fight and kill for vengeance, but now, with his wife and child, he’ll be willing to fight and kill to protect his family. And he’s going to leave his “prison” and end the Swede once and for all.

My only hope, as much as I love the Swede, is that their final confrontation isn’t dragged out for the entire season until the very end. It’s Hell on Wheels Season 4, and it’s time for Cullen and the wonderfully villainous Swede’s story of confrontation to come to a close.

For the most part, Hell on Wheels Season 4 Episode 1 put me back on board its railroad saga. While there’s a lot to like, and remind me why I enjoyed the show in the first place, I’m still a bit wary. Its going to be as difficult a task as crossing a frozen river for the show. But I’ll be a gambling man and say Hell on Wheels finds a way to make it across season four successfully.

Is Elam really dead?

The Elusive Eden Review

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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 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Our father who art in heaven... Shit. I forgot the rest of it.


I walked right out those gates whistling Dixie.