Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Deadwood – “Plague” (S1E6)

The dropping: Bullock is momentarily distracted from his quest to bring Wild Bill’s murderer to justice by a bad-ass Sioux warrior; he regains his focus after shedding some blood. Charlie proves he can read horse graffiti. Ellsworth learns to play craps – which will be yet another drain on his gold claim. Alma, Jane, Trixie and Sophia form the very first girl-group, paving the way for the Supremes, Josie and the Pussycats and the Spice Girls. On the testosterone side of things, Al brings the erstwhile camp leaders together to combat the smallpox threat. Plus there’s fruit.

High in the Hills, near a Native American burial ground, Bullock is attacked. His horse is killed and he is badly beaten. Fighting for his life, he finally knocks the Sioux warrior unconscious and then pulps the warrior’s head with a rock. It’s an ugly, violent and bloody fight – not your typical Hollywood fisticuffs at all. In camp, the doctor hustles through the Gem to examine a john who can’t get it up for one of Al’s whores. It’s that pesky smallpox epidemic Doc was so worried about. Over at the Bella Union, Joanie asks if Ellsworth (yay!) will keep her company. “I will, but I’m expensive,” quoth that worthy fellow. Joanie chuckles, “I knew that just lookin’ at you.” Ellsworth is a great character. Joey, the whippersnapper Cy sent off to Nebraska after the vaccine, returns to the saloon, sick as a smallpox-ridden dog. Cy tells him to keep his mouth shut and go lay up.

Al expresses his frustration that E.B. hasn’t pushed Alma into selling the gold claim. E.B. is reluctant, thinking “something strange is going on in that hotel room.” Doc stops by to tell Al that his saloon wasn’t the first place the pox showed up. Hmm, says Al. E.B. tries to gain admittance to Alma’s room but Trixie shuts him out. Alma is right full in the middle of detox-sickness and Trixie promises to take care of her, but first she has to go check in with her boss. Al and Doc storm Cy’s saloon demanding to know if Cy’s guy got the vaccine for the pox. As Doc treats Joey, Al and Cy decide to work together to put a spin on the epidemic.

Calamity Jane wanders back into town. She’s talking to herself but I can’t tell if she’s drunk or just being Jane. She goes into Doc’s cabin to wait for him. Al swoops back into his saloon and announces that there will be a get-together shortly – Dan and Johnny are to “buy some fruit.” Trixie is waiting for Al in his office: he asks if Alma is doping again (since E.B. didn’t think that the widow was taking the drugs); Trixie lies to him and says she thinks Alma is using but she can’t be sure. Al gives her another ball of dope, saying he wonders if Trixie is giving it to Alma at all. “Why wouldn’t I?” asks Trixie. “I’d rather try touching the moon than take on a whore’s thinking,” says he. Al tells E.B. to make sure that Trixie isn’t lying about doping the widow. Al and E.B. have this fantastic symbiotic relationship, 'though I'm not quite sure who is the parasite. Trixie goes back to Alma and tells her she has to fake being high in front of E.B. and Al.

Later, when Trixie takes some dirty sheets to the Chinese laundry, E.B. scoots up the stairs to check on Alma. Sol, in the meantime, chats Trixie up a bit on the street. He thinks she’s pretty – which she is. Doc gets back home and is startled to find Jane there, waiting for him. They are fantastic together: Jane is so funny and I really like the long-suffering doctor. Jane informs Doc that she found a smallpox victim in the woods; Doc wants to know how she feels. “I just lost my best friend!” she shouts. Doc points out that Jane has not contracted the pox; he enlists her to assist him in nursing the people who will be getting sick, telling her she can do her drinking “off work, like I do.” E.B. sneaks back into Alma’s room with clean linens and she puts on her sexy, vague, I’m-high face until he scurries back out, convinced.

Oh yay – it’s Charlie, on his way back to camp from Cheyenne! He comes across the Sioux’s painted-up horse, then Bullock’s dead horse, then the dead Sioux, and finally an almost dead Bullock. Charlie’ll make everything okay again. As he tends to Bullock, Charlie gives him him details about the “one bad hombre” Bullock managed to dispatch. Bullock then tells him that Bill is dead; Charlie says he’d heard tell of Bill’s death, but “often as he wasn’t before, I hoped he wasn’t again this time.” Charlie gets Bullock onto his feet. In Deadwood, Johnny comes by the preacher’s tent to invite him to Al’s get-together; the preacher is surprised by the inclusion, but agrees to come.

At the Gem, Dan, Johnny and Nuttal are opening cans of peaches and pears as E.B. reports that the widow is back on the dope for sure, all sexy-like. The get-together commences: Al, E.B., Cy, Doc, the preacher, Nuttal, Merrick and Sol – all the power-players in camp. They decide to (1) build a hospital tent to tend to the sick, (2) send riders to fetch vaccine and (3) write an article in the paper to keep the general populace informed and calm. Suddenly, the preacher pitches another fit. The assembled group – all of them! - is surprisingly empathetic and kindly towards the afflicted man. Later Doc speaks with the preacher privately; all the preacher wants is to be cleared to assist with the smallpox victims.

There’s some small trouble at the Bella Union: Cy is not happy with Joanie’s attitude of late. He also confesses to feeling “some fuckin’ affection” for her. Powers Booth’s head is HUGE! I’m completely distracted by it. At the printing press, Al, E.B., the doc and Cy are offering their editorial commentary (to Merrick’s dismay). It’s a pretty cute little scene. Jane goes to the hotel to check on Alma and Sophia; the little girl opens the door and says “hello, Jane” to her. Jane is floored; Trixie is very nice to her. This is a very curious group of females to be hanging out together. After taking her leave of the girls, Jane follows the latest stretcher to the “pest tent” where the preacher is already assisting Doc. Doc welcomes her. Bullock and Charlie place the Sioux warrior up on the burial platform and head off after Jack McCall. Al reads excerpts of the epidemic article to Dan, all the while bitching about Cy. He’s pretty satisfied with himself, however: “As a base of operations, you cannot beat a fucking saloon.”

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