Thursday, July 5, 2007

Deadwood – “Bullock Returns to Camp” (S1E7)

The dropping: Al’s patience is fast running out with regard to buying the widow’s gold claim. Bullock has had most of his sense of self-preservation beaten out of him in his fight with the Sioux warrior. Charlie is mourning his friend as best he can. Over in the smallpox tent, Jane and Doc win some and lose some. Alma finds herself getting all heated up with her husband scarcely cold in his grave. And grifters have targeted both the Gem and the Bella Union ... I’ve seen a couple episodes of this show now, and I’m predicting that Al is not going to take this sort of thing lying down.

Bullock and Charlie ride into a fort; Jack’s paint horse is tied up there so they’re obviously in the right place. They find Jack, drunk and apparently not that popular with the locals: “You can find the fuckin’ jerk in that bunkhouse.” They introduce themselves as Bill Hickok’s friends (which clears the room), knock Jack unconscious, tie him to his horse, and take him to Yankton for trial. Back in Deadwood, two teenagers are canvassing the camp, looking after their missing father. The girl is Veronica Mars – or will be in a couple months - here they call her "Flora." Dan is quite taken with her. No one has seen their father and so they look for some work: Al hires the boy, Miles, to sweep up around the Gem; Flora turns down an offer to turn tricks with the Gem whores. Doc, Jane and the preacher are some wicked busy tending to all the smallpox sufferers. Incredibly, Andy has risen from the almost-dead, and he credits Jane with saving him. “Them as heals under my care stay fuckin’ healed,” crows Jane triumphantly. For some reason, she is cleaner than she’s been in all the previous six episodes. Doc gives Andy some hand-me-down clothes and sends him on his way.

Sol takes Trixie, Sophia and Alma in his wagon to Garrett’s funeral and Trixie reminds Alma to pretend to be stoned as she leaves the hotel since Al will be watching. He is watching, and Alma’s not as good an actress as she thinks she is, because he growls, “That widow ain’t fucking high.” Al is displeased with Trixie and E.B. for assuring him otherwise. E.B. retorts that he thinks Al wants to buy the claim for himself, not to keep the Pinkertons off his back. Al sends him off to the funeral with instructions to get the purchase done. Flora has found her way to at the Bella Union and is showing her father’s picture to Cy. Neither he nor Eddie can help her, but Joanie manages to talk her into whoring for them. Flora says she wasn’t virgin like her brother thinks, and she seems realistic about never finding their father. She also seems to take quite quickly to the whoring.

The preacher is much more restrained at Garrett’s funeral than he was at Wild Bill’s. Trixie and Sophia stand off to the side a little, and Sophia names her dead sisters while picking flowers. Soon they’ll be able to call her by name, I just know it! As the funeral party sings their hymn, E.B. sidles greasily up and unsuccessfully renews his bid for Alma’s claim: “Please stop talking to me, Mr. Farnum!” Just then, Bullock and Charlie arrive back at camp; Bullock joins the funeral party but Charlie can't bring himself to go near Bill’s grave yet. Dan lets on to Al that he rather fancies little Flora. E.B. scuttles back to the Gem to inform Al that Bullock has returned and may attempt to put a kibosh on their plans. Alma and Bullock flirt a little as she tells him that she doesn’t require him to assist her in her affairs. He asks if she’s firing him and when she says no, he insists that he will continue on her behalf. She then proceeds to make him uncomfortable by confessing her former opium habit and then blushes, “I had better manners before I was abstaining.” I think the widow’s got an itch she wants to scratch. Don’t do it, Bullock! Bring your wife out from Michigan!

Trixie stops by the hardware store and Sol tries to flirt with her a little. She doesn’t encourage him, but she doesn’t shoot him down either. Jeesh, everyone’s making eyes at each other these days. Charlie brings Sol some supplies to restock the store; he doesn’t want to talk about Bill or acknowledge saving Bullock’s life, even when Sol wants to thank him for it. Poor Charlie. E.B., being a “stickler for self-delivered messages,” pops in to tell Trixie that Al wants to see her. Now. Andy goes back to the Bella Union and is a little cranky with Cy for having thrown out his belongings …and also for having been thrown out to die himself. I can see where he’d be a little testy about that. As bidden, Trixie goes to Al’s office – could he actually be more sarcastic? After some manhandling (nothing more than bruises, I’m sure) he sends her back to the hotel to spy on Alma and Bullock, warning her not to forget her place. Charlie stops by Nuttal’s saloon to ask the saloonkeeper about Bill’s murder. The cards Bill was allegedly holding were aces over eights, now and forever known as the “dead man’s hand.”

In the pest tent, that whippersnapper Joey has died and Jane cries a little to see it. Maybe that’s why her face is so clean: all the tears of late. The preacher reports to Jane and Doc that Bullock and Charlie are back, and then pitches into another one of his fits. This one is not so bad. The doctor sits him down and tells him that he’s got a brain lesion, and his current state of exhaustion is probably not helping things. The preacher hopes that his brain tumor might be the hand of God working through him; Doc says, well maybe, but go lie down anyway. Jane’s face is a study in sadness and sympathy. After her shift ends, Flora walks from the Bella Union to the Gem, trailed by one of her new johns who is extremely smitten with her. Dan greets her and finds her a table off to the side, away from the scuzzier clientele. At the hardware store, Sol brings Bullock up to speed on the camp happenings. Bullock struggles to speak about his battle with the Sioux warrior, clearly disturbed by the experience.

He is not, however, so shaken that he doesn’t to ask Al to recommend someone to assay the widow’s claim, so she gets a “fair shake.” This way, if the assayer’s work is in error, Bullock figures he will be able to hold Al accountable. The two square off against each other, no love lost, and Al pretty much tells Bullock that he’d better sleep with one eye open. Miles and Flora confer briefly and lo and behold, they are con artists, looking to score on both saloons. One of the drunks makes a move on Flora and Dan kills him. Al gives a big old eye roll and shakes his head at the folly of young lust. Out at the graveyard, Jane is talking to Bill’s grave when Charlie tentatively approaches her. He asks her if Bill was dead by the time she saw him, and then asks why Bill would have let McCall get to him. Jane has no answers and grouches that he’s interrupting her giving Bill the news. She lets him talk until he starts to cry, and then Charlie asks if he can talk to Bill some more tomorrow. “Sure, what the fuck you askin me for? I don’t make the rules.” Jane totally makes me laugh. Trixie tells Alma that she has to go back to Al, that Al has seen through their deception. She recommends that Alma sell and get the hell out of Deadwood – to screw Bullock if that’s what she wants, but to get out and go home. Alma is shocked, but it’s is not clear whether it's at the tone Trixie takes with her or at what is being said. I knew she wanted to jump Bullock’s bones and Trixie knows it too!

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