Monday, July 2, 2007

Deadwood – “The Trial of Jack McCall” (S1E5)

They’re changed the opening credits so there’s less of the horse. Wonder what that’s all about? Also, I find it simply incredible to realize that all this happened fewer than 150 years ago.

We open with Will Bill’s corpse in repose as folks file by to pay their respects and shoo off the flies. There are also two other queues of men: prospective jurors and potential officers of the court to be selected by lottery. Merrick the newspaperman is supervising things "‘til the shysters take over,” per Al. Over at the hotel, Jane has, in her grief over Bill’s death, seemingly abandoned little Sophia and Alma is a wee dite cranky about it. When she refuses Doc’s offer to refill her laudanum, he suggests that this might not be the best time to attempt to kick the habit. A seething Bullock is in line to see Bill; saloonkeeper Nuttal assures him that no money is being made by the display – too many people wanted to see the body. Cy and Al observe the goings-on from Al’s balcony. Jack's trial will take place in the Gem, loss of revenue to Al notwithstanding. Al thinks the “whole fucking trial concept” is about as good an idea as Custer’s last stand. He is not impressed with the "hoopleheads’" intelligence: “Sometime I wish we could just hit ‘em over the head, rob ‘em and throw ‘em in the creek.” Cy channels Faith-in-Buffy’s-body as he smirks, “But that would be wrong.”

At her drug-withdrawn wits’ end, Alma asks E.B. for assistance with the babysitting and he smarmily agrees to find someone to help her out. Bullock meets with Alma at the hotel and she signs her proxy over to him. I think Bullock thinks she’s pretty. E.B. hovers around on some flimsy pretext and then runs off to update Al. Cy tells Joanie that he wants Andy out of the Bella Union saloon and abandoned in the Hills to die. Joanie is disgusted at the thought, hopeful that Andy might get better. E.B. suggests to Al that Trixie stand in as Sophia’s nanny … and then perhaps multitask to get Alma rehooked on the dope. Al is impressed with E.B.’s conniving. The preacher corners Bullock to ask about Wild Bill’s funeral service. Again, Sol knows more about the hymns in question than does his Christian partner. The preacher is extra annoying today. Bullock soon has had enough and, when Sol asks if they are ready to open for business, Bullock stalks off down the street in slow motion and full glare mode. Where’s he going? Oh, off to beat on that schmuck Jack McCall a little bit. Jack’s lawyer shows up just in time to keep his client from being throttled. The counseling is impressive: the lawyer suggests that Jack killed Bill out of vengeance for the murder of Jack’s fictional brother in Abilene. Jack, weasel that he is, catches on quickly.

The Bella Union henchman drags a moaning and delirious Andy out to the Hills and leaves him there. Al sends Trixie over to Alma and “the orphan squarehead kid.” Doc stops by the Bella Union to check on Andy but Cy tells him to never mind – Andy checked out. Flustered, Doc is fairly explicit in admitting that he has no smallpox vaccine and that someone should fetch a vaccine and quick, before the epidemic spreads. Cy considers a moment, and sends some young whippersnapper off for the medicine. Al tells Johnny to hide the decapitated Sioux head until after the trial. I don’t really understand why he wants to keep it, although Johnny mentions that it does make a good conversation piece. Excellent point, Johnny. E.B. is trying to scrub blood off a hotel room floor and keeps himself company by ranting about how Al misuses him. His speech definitely has stage-play soliloquy-like qualities. And whose blood is that – Tim Driscoll’s? Hasn't he cleaned that up yet?

The trial begins. This is the most ridiculous trial I’ve ever seen. As Al gives the play by play from his balcony, the prosecution speaks for about two minutes; Jack flat-out lies about his murdered - ahem - brother; then, just as the prosecution is hitting its stride and confusing Jack with some questions, they “break for nature” (at Al’s suggestion). Meanwhile, Trixie pops over to the hotel and immediately takes little Sophia in hand. Alma is looking peaked but also grateful; she admits to Trixie that she’s trying to kick her laudanum habit. Trixie is sympathetic and I don't think she's playing Alma. The judge and Al conference: “Do you want a blow job while I talk to you?” asks Al. Um … “No,” says the judge uncomfortably. Al smiles tightly: “I wasn’t offering to do it personally.” Hee. Al explains his concerns about the government descending upon Deadwood. The judge wants to get back to the trial. Dan gives Al the good news that one of the jurors mentioned to him that Wild Bill needed killing. That bodes well for old Jack. The judge speaks to the jury: law will have nothing to do with the jurors’ decisions today – if they believe Jack was avenging his brother, custom demands they find him not guilty.

Jane, drunk and wandering in the Hills, comes across Andy. He keeps saying “I apologize” which pisses her off. It’s funny - and then I feel badly about laughing when he’s so sick. Bullock, Sol, the preacher and Nuttal put Wild Bill in his coffin. Trixie goes to see Doc for help in getting Alma off the laudanum and he gives her some herbs that will hopefully make the detox a little easier. At the Gem, the jury comes back with “Innocent.” Al looks satisfied with the outcome and all of a sudden Jack finds himself to be a celebrity. The preacher is on fire at Wild Bill’s funeral; I have no idea what he’s going on about, although I suppose I probably qualify as a godless heathen so I can't be expected to understand. The assembled sing “How Firm a Foundation” as Bill is buried. Jane watches from a distance. Merrick whispers to Bullock that the jury turned Jack McCall loose and somehow Bullock manages to keep his composure while shoveling dirt onto Bill's coffin.

Joanie, who was attending the funeral, returns to the Bella Union without saying a word to Cy. Bullock and Sol walk back to camp with the preacher, who continues to ramble until Bullock snaps at him. Finally - thank you! Al comes up to Jack in the Gem and tells him that there’s a horse waiting for him outside, and that Jack should run for his fucking life before someone in camp, possibly Al himself, decides to murder him. “Jack McCall runs from no man,” mumbles Jack as he stumbles out to the horse. Al raises an eyebrow at Dan, advising him that allowing that kind of person to hang around tends to get folk riled up. Al prefers everyone drunk, happy and spending their money. Bullock watches, panting, as Jack rides by on his way out of town; Sol watches Bullock.

Jane comes back with water for Andy who, amazingly, is not dead yet. She sits beside him, keeping him company. Back at camp, the preacher is having convulsions in his tent. People walk right by him without noticing. At the hardware store, Bullock is still snarling and ranting about the crazy preacher. Sol is calm in the face of his friend’s anguish and rage. Apparently Bullock has decided to go after Jack: “If I kill the droop-eyed sonofabitch and my part is getting hanged for it, good luck with the fucking store.” Sol promises to look after the widow, and also packs a bag for Bullock to narrow the lead Jack has. Cy pokes his head into the Bella Union whores’ washroom where Joanie is helping the girls bathe. She does not want to talk with him, however, and starts pointedly making out with one of the whores to make him go away. In a dialogue-free montage, Jane is still ministering to Andy out in the woods; Trixie stirs her herbs into a cup of tea for Alma; and a worried Sol bids his friend farewell.

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