If only Cullen Bohannon had Rosetta Stone.
Building a railroad has continued to reveal the various difficulties involved, and Cullen was struck with a language battle on Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 2.
Granted he’s faced countless obstacles before, so it wasn’t a surprise that he was doing whatever he could to push forward on the project. Railroad completion by the end of Hell on Wheels Season 5, right?
I enjoyed seeing an episode that put a heavy focus on the arduous task put before the Central Pacific Railroad, all while giving a chance to further explore the character of Fong and his relationship to Cullen, especially in helping as his new translator.
Or, maybe I should say her relationship to Cullen.
The reveal that Fong was actually a girl named Mei was a huge one, and one I didn’t see coming. I felt as wide-eyed as Cullen during the tent scene as he was trying to help with the injury and learned the truth.
That secret coming out could very well mean her death, but I love that Cullen keeps her real identity a secret, even when getting her back to her father at the very end of the hour. The reveal is so much more than her being a girl, because the hour really gets at her being hard-working, and hard-headed and determined to do whatever it takes. And it sort of reminded me of Cullen.
I’m sure Chang will find out soon enough and that’s going to cause even more problems between him and Cullen, but I have no doubt Cullen will be up to take him on.
What’s more, the discovery that Fong is really Mei allows that intro scene of Cullen flying down the mountainside through the snow and then trying to rescue her to be seen in a different way the second time. Because the first time we don’t get the subtitles, just Cullen yelling out orders, and we think it’s just a boy.
Yet the second time we get to learn what Mei is angrily shouting back at Cullen, about being a soldier, about not being just some girl. It made the repeat scene have a far greater impact, and her cutting the rope was an even bigger moment. as well.
I actually wondered if she was truly dead in a sacrifice for Cullen. Thankfully, she survived the fall (good thing there was snow). I can’t wait to see more from her character and her further interactions with Cullen, because she did have some solid ideas in moving that train on the mountain and using the chains to tie it to the trees.
It was a beautifully shot sequence of going through all the snow and moving all that equipment, which eventually led to a dangerous slide down the mountain. It’s hard to believe that something like that more than likely took place during the construction of the railroad, and the episode really captured the moment.
I also am really enjoying the new setting for the series in the freezing cold and snow. The Swede and his Mormon crew certainly got to feel the brunt of that during when Cullen sent them out to shovel snow.
It was such a great stare down between Cullen and the Swede in the office as the Swede was getting his new orders, that it just further reiterated what makes their confrontation so exciting to watch. It builds that tension making you excited to see them really go at in the future (and that time is certainly coming after all these seasons).
Still, the Swede continues to find ways to make a situation work to his advantage, even striking a deal to get boots for the men. It’ll only be a matter of time before he starts building followers as the “true” prophet.
This was a well-done episode with a nice combo of action and drama, and I’m enjoying Cullen’s new journey in a new land.
Let's just hope that Mei can keep her secret just a little bit longer.
Were you surprised by Fong's secret? What's next for Cullen? Sound off below, and catch the snow-filled episode again when you watch Hell on Wheels online.
NOTE: Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 3, "White Justice," will air Aug. 1 at 9 p.m.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.