Cullen does not seem to be lucky in love.
He’s lost his wife. He’s lost Lily Bell. He let go of Naomi. And now, Mei has let go of Cullen.
The budding romance built on the railroad of shared experiences came to a heartbreaking end on Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 12.
We all knew Chang eventually was going to find out “Fong” wasn’t a boy, but I wasn’t quite sure how everything after would play out.
Would Chang die? Would Mei?
Chang has been a fantastic addition to Hell on Wheels, proving to be a worthy antagonist to Cullen. The Swede has held that title for a while, but he also had multiple seasons to build up that bitter battle between them.
And that in some ways makes it disappointing that Chang was killed off.
The depth of Chang as a character was really kicking into gear, and the flashbacks to his past were a fantastic look at his journey. He’s been ruthless and calculating, working his way up the ladder in his quest for power and prestige.
The opening alone made you want to dislike his character. It’s just crazy to think of people being treated as property (something that even Cullen brings up later with regret), but watching Chang bargain for a bride was disgusting. And I know that that’s how things were back then, but seeing it play out was affecting.
On top of that was his brutal attack after she ran away from him (and stabbed him).
Actor Byron Mann has been standout, and it was great to see him have a lot to do during the episode (from the action to the sit-down between Chang and Cullen to those flashbacks). Clearly, his character was going to have to face off with Cullen, but it almost felt too soon.
It makes you wonder if this wasn’t the final season if he would have lasted longer…
Though it is interesting how Chang hunting for Mei paralleled the Swede hunting Naomi. Except where Cullen refused to kill the Swede, Cullen finally broke from his new ways to shoot dead Chang and his associates.
Cullen clearly wasn’t pleased at having to do so, even fearing Mei would recoil from “who he is,” but he did try alternative ways to save her from Chang before the shooting.
But rather than returning to his killing ways solely for revenge, he was doing it for his love and care for Mei.
Plus, what a cool shot of him as the doors opened after him having dispatched his enemies.
And Mei still chose to love him, but she also chose to move on knowing her staying would put Cullen in that neverending battle. They wouldn't stop looking for her.
I’m glad her character wasn’t killed off – and I guess there’s hope that maybe one day they can reunite – but it was a tragic twist nevertheless that left Cullen alone on the railroad.
If this was indeed Angela Zhou’s last episode, I’d be remiss in not pointing out how she also has been a solid addition to the show. She only got one season to make an impression, and she delivered. Mei’s journey has been an interesting one, including her relationship to the railroad, Cullen, and just trying to survive in the world where being a woman could get her killed.
Mei will definitely be a character remembered from the series, and there’s a sad note going forward knowing she won’t be with Cullen.
This was an engaging episode that refocused back on Cullen’s story. I cared about the characters involved, and though the relationship/breakup of Cullen and Mei felt somewhat quick, the twist of her leaving was one I didn’t see coming.
Aside from completing the railroad, it really makes me curious how Cullen’s journey will end.
Should Mei have stayed? What’s next for Cullen? Sound off below, and be sure to watch Hell on Wheels online before the final two episodes of the series!
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.