Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 1 Review: Chinatown

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Perhaps the final episode of Hell on Wheels Season 5 will involve the characters placing that last piece of railroad down.

Yup, it’s still not done, and this time, Cullen Bohannon has found himself aligned with the Central Pacific Railroad.

But he’s just as determined to complete the job (going from California to Utah) and hopefully find his family, too. Well, if he manages not to get killed or cross the wrong people in the process.

Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 1 put the hour on Cullen’s shoulders, leaving many of the characters from last season either missing or as brief teases.

Thomas Durant gets a chance to call Cullen out for switching sides, but the Swede has a more notable scene in arriving on Cullen’s doorsteps to call him the devil.

Cullen and the Swede have had a long and violent history (miss you Lily Bell), and I look forward to finally seeing that come to a major close. I enjoyed their interaction during the episode, with the Swede being as creepy as ever, convincing himself he’s the true prophet, and his evil adversary is Cullen.

I know Cullen is determined to get that railroad done, but he will need to deal with the Swede (and his new dog companion) before he winds up causing even more problems… and perhaps even more deaths.

The most notable new character for the hour was Chang, and there’s no doubt that confrontations aplenty are on the horizon involving him and Cullen.

There’s definitely a sinister edge to his character (and what's with all those scars?), and his involvement with the Chinese workers also adds a completely new story that Hell on Wheels has yet to tell.

I enjoyed seeing Cullen get his hands dirty, going deep into the mountain in order to get the job done rather than just sit behind the desk. Cullen may be a stakeholder, but he hasn’t changed in wanting to be involved right up front.

It will certainly make him one of the people rather than some vicious boss spouting out orders and slurs, and that will be interesting to watch with respect to Chang.

Cullen demanding the workers get fair compensation was just the tip of the iceberg for that battle, and the gambling scene was made even more tense as Chang talked and Cullen pulled his gun.

The world that Cullen has entered may feel different from the workers to his employer to the lack of endless stretches of mud, but there’s still plenty of egos, fights, characters and more as there were when he was working with Durant.

Some things change…

But even as Cullen continues to try and settle in, that introduction to the episode, with Cullen dreaming of his family in a peaceful and serene setting (though the shot of Cullen on the mountains was beautiful as well), it makes me wonder if the series will give Cullen a happy ending or not.

This episode was almost a reboot in a way, but I’m intrigued to see how Cullen taking on these new challenges will play out, especially when Durant and that side eventually return.

Will Cullen find his family? Will the Swede battle find an epic conclusion? Will that railroad ever be completed? Sound off below and be sure to watch Hell on Wheels online.


NOTE: Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 2, "Mei Mei," will air July 25 at 9 p.m.

Chinatown Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (10 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 5 Episode 1 Quotes

Damn turncoat. Never trust a rebel.

Durant

I’ve got a race to win.

Cullen