Oct 8, 201210:35 AMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
TV Recap: Top 5 Things To Know About The Season 2 Finale Of 'Hell On Wheels'
Death, duplicity and destruction abounded throughout the Season 2 finale of Hell on Wheels, a special 2-hour episode that may — repeat, may — serve as the series finale as well. If you missed all the action Sunday evening, here are the Top 5 things you need to know about what happened.
TESTIMONY: The episode begins on an ominous note, in the aftermath of a Sioux attack on the Hell on Wheels community. A stunned Cullen Bohannon is seated somewhere in the smoldering ruins of the railroad camp, offering an account of the calamity to government and military investigators. In flashbacks, we see Cullen and Joseph discovering an army of Sioux warriors camped near the newly completed railroad bridge, clearly preparing for an assault. Durant doesn’t deem the threat sufficiently dire to halt construction work. But the railroad boss does wire a request for military support. Cullen reminds the army officer questioning him what Durant received in response: “Five recruits and a small cannon. Much obliged.”
NO. 1 ON THE BODY COUNT: Blood starts to spill long before the Sioux attack begins. Eva decides to totally sever her ties to Elam, in order to remain securely (if not happily) married to Toole. But when Toole tracks Eva to Elam’s cabin — where she delivers the bad news to her ex-lover — Toole mistakenly assumes the worst, and fatally shoots himself on the spot. Later, another demise appears imminent when Elam pays a late-night visit to Lily’s railroad car, and tells her that Durant (despite some minor objections by Mrs. Durant) has ordered him to kill her, to keep her from revealing what she knows about Durant’s, ahem, imaginative bookkeeping. Lily makes a counter-proposal: After she mails evidence of Durant’s criminal activity to the proper authorities, the railroad boss will be dismissed — or imprisoned, or both — so she will be in a position to hire Elam as head of security. It’s an offer Elam can’t refuse, partly because Lily brandishes a weapon while describing the deal. Later, Cullen tells Elam, “Thanks for not killing my lady friend.” Elam admits that his motives weren’t entirely selfless: “Almost got my ass shot.”
LOSING HIS RELIGION: Sean has become so smitten with Ruth that’s he’s willing to overlook her past dalliance with Joseph — and to renounce his Catholicism in order to be baptized into her church. (In the context of the time — the late 1860s — this is a very big deal for an Irish-born Catholic, so it’s no surprise that Mickey, Sean’s brother, strongly disapproves of his sibling’s decision.) Trouble is, even that’s not nearly enough to convince Ruth that she should accept Sean’s marriage proposal. The good news: At the end of the Sioux attack, both of them (along with Mickey) are among the survivors. The bad news: It sure doesn’t look like there’ll be any happily-ever-aftering for the couple.
RETURN OF THE SWEDE: The Swede makes his way back to the camp, draped across his horse and seriously wounded. Evidently, he had a falling out with the Sioux — despite his continued willingness to paint himself as a “White Spirit” — and was sent back to rejoin the rest of the imperiled palefaces. Mrs. Durant is eager to nurse him back to health, if only so she and her husband can quiz him about incriminating info in the ledger book Lily has pilfered. (If you remember, The Swede was employed by Lily as a bookkeeper a while back.) But Cullen demands that The Swede be chained to his bed so that, after his recovery, he can be hanged for various crimes and misdemeanors. Unfortunately, The Swede breaks free of his restraints, and kills a railroad worker guarding him. Even more unfortunately, he makes his way to Lily’s railroad car during the chaos of the Sioux attack. When she returns there, he strangles her.
AFTERMATH: Cullen is devastated when he finds Lily’s body. And he is denied the satisfaction of revenge when, while attempting to hang The Swede from the railroad bridge, the erudite evildoer plunges into the water below before Cullen can secure the other end of the rope. (Mind you, The Swede’s hands are tied when he hits the water, but since we don’t actually see him die …) As the episode draws to a close, Eva and Elam seem reunited, Mrs. And Mrs. Durant are in custody, and Cullen is asked by his interrogators if he’d like to take over the job of overseeing the Transcontinental construction project. He doesn’t offer an immediate, on-screen reply. But the final moments strongly suggest that, if indeed there is a Season 3 for Hell on Wheels, Cullen will keep working on the railroad.