Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hell On Wheels s4e1 liveblog reactions -- and discussion

I never know what to expect from this show, and coming into the fourth season knowing that the plot took a serious left turn right at the end of season three when there was a new showrunner sort of made me...hesitant. So here's the evolution of how I felt as I watched it, spur-of-the-moment-typing-on-my-phone typos and all:

  • Hell on Wheels, aka Let's see how many interpersonal power struggles we can cram into every scene.
  • Come on beautiful establishing shots in the new season!
  • Yeah, but, the commercial totally showed that train caning through the ice at some point, so...
  • Why the flip, Durant? You can't put the rails right on the ice like that!
  • He has someone smuggling him a newspaper! Ha!
  • "so pick yourself up". Thanks, dude, but how about, I dont know, offering a new our better job instead of unhelpful words?
  • Did they recast his wife? Ugh.
  • You'd better take New-omi with you when you go, Bohannon.
  • Was Swede hoping Bohannon would go all Stockholm Syndrome and give up trying to go??
  • I could live in one of these fancy train cars.
  • I feel like if this show stays in Cheyanne, it's not really HoW, since that is meant to be the very front line of the rails...
  • I like this lady.
  • Swede, dude, trapping someone down a well will eventually poison the while towns water, one way our another.
  • "god has spoken to me that it's a boy"-- so I really hope it's a girl. Our twin girls, a double take-that!
  • Oh, don't you even keep him from his baby's birth. How will posing him off and putting a wedge between him and his wife keep your peace or brainwash him to your side?
  • Twins! Is it going to be twins? Even tho it's the mother that twin-ness gets passed down from, so...
  • Nope. Giant dude grabbing on my Eva, nope, nope, nope!
  • Not even yours, Swede.
  • I'm kind of loving how this overseer is totally not having any of durant's bs.
  • Seriously, tho, why does the Swede have to be right about how it was a boy?
  • I hope this new-omi can get the wryness the other one had; so far, she's too...passive?
  • Now her mom's in on it? But in a stupid and frustrating way? This whole storyline ned's to move on soon and get everyone back to the railroad.
  • Hey, remember when this show was sort of clever & subversive?
  • Ugh, Eva's whole storyline.
  • "all women are whores, by nature"-- I'm getting real uncomfortable about how he's saying all this stuff like it's a comfort... But hell yes her fighting back, even a little!
  • "oh, you still like me, you just don't trust me! It's perfectly normal!" -- Ha! Durant.

Okay. That was a lot of me sitting in my seat being alternately frustrated, annoyed, and really uncomfortable.

Things I liked:
  • They remember that Durant is sort of gruffly nice to Eva.
  • That cattle baroness is SO AWESOME and is having none of all this male bullshit all around her. She knows exactly what's going on.
  • Not everyone in the Mormon camp is against Bohannon.
And things I very much didn't like:
  • Eva's entire storyline. She "felt his spirit pass" and no one went out to see what's up? So she spends four months lost and lonely and no one does anything to help her, even though at the end of the last season there was at least a little solidarity among the women? And now those women are nowhere to be seen? And then she gets beat up and most likely molested by some giant weirdo, left in the mud, brought inside by Mickey--who then tells her that all women are whores like it's a good and soothing truth, and then he tries to molest her, too???? I am so not here for this if the show keeps going down the road of making EVERY WOMAN A BEATEN VICTIM.
  • Bohannon in the Mormon camp. I hate it all. I hate the delusional dad, and him being nice to him like they've come to some unspoken agreement. I hate the Swede not making any sense at all, as a villain or as someone who claims to be redeemed. I hate that they recast Naomi with someone who so far doesn't have the wryness or the feeling that she's got her own plans and reasons, thereby making her basically a pawn clinging to the husband she barely knows for no good reason. I hate that the Swede was right about the baby being a boy, and that he was all busting into the room and talking in tongues in what looked like a pretty ordinary birth to me--like, if it was a dangerous one, they did a really bad job of conveying that. And I hate that now the mom is all "you're going to give me that baby to replace the baby you killed" as if she doesn't know that her husband is a creep and an asshole. The whole thing had better end quickly and get Bohannon back on the rails, with that kid who can identify the Swede and has no other reason to be there, otherwise.
    • Also? I still can't shake the feeling that Bohannon and Naomi didn't actually finish anything when they met, that him getting her into that barn was out of character anyway, and that the baby is probably not his. I'm betting on the original idea being that it was incest or something--but it seems like the entire idea of what happened between Bohannon and her family has been retconned without being explained away, so that the story we saw is clashing with the story they're talking about.
  • I feel like the show is getting bogged down in the new city of Cheyenne. It's supposed to be about the front end of the rails, and trying to beat the other company to get across the continent, but now they're miles ahead of the city and we're still at the city. And now Mickey's ruling everything and in a battle of greaseball-ness with Durant, and if that gets important, we'll be there even more.
  • They're holding out on us on whether or not Elam is actually dead. I'm betting he's not, that he was rescued by those braves after they saw him take out a bear with his bare hands, and that he's been cared for by them, giving him something in common with Eva again. If not? Then they totally missed a really good storyline that could have done away with some of the idea that the Indians are only savages out to kill everyone, and they've removed the best friendship Bohannon and Eva both had--leaving them with what?
Basically, I have a lot of concerns about the story this season. And I might wind up hating it. But what I'm more concerned about is whether or not they'll manage to maintain the characters--Bohannon was interesting in the beginning because he was a closed door with a purpose; now he's opened, but he's feeling more and more like he's just getting dragged around. The women who survived were all strong women--and now they're either beaten down, simplified, or notably absent. And being on the railline seems to be turning everyone shitty in not-pleasant or fun-to-watch ways, and it's making me uncomfortable.

How about you? What did you think?
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