The dropping: We bid farewell to Reverend Smith; Bullock gets up close and personal, first with the father, then with the daughter; Sol, Charlie, Joanie, Eddie and E.B. have scarcely anything to do; and Al actually gets to tie up some loose ends for once.
Al is back on the balcony, staring into space as Dan brings him a cup of joe. I bet he’s thinking about Reverend Smith. And like magic, we cut immediately to the doctor’s hovel where an oddly clean Doc is tending to the poor reverend. His body is twisted and he’s raving blindly. Taking a break in his doorway, Doc observes the cavalry riding into camp. Al sees the same thing: “Tell Johnny to brew some coffee and open some peaches.” Magistrate Claggett is accompanying the soldiers and he brings General Crook to meet with Al. The general, played by gravelly voiced Peter Coyote, has brought his troops into camp for some R&R. He seems like an upright guy and wearily acquiesces when Al says the camp will want a parade from the cavalry. Al then asks Claggett to pause a while, wondering if he’s spoken to Adams. The purported answer is no. Al tells Claggett to screw off with respect to the extra extortion money he’s demanded; Claggett thinks Al is being imprudent.
Doc comes into the Gem, grumbling “fuck the cavalry.” When Trixie appears to greet the doctor, Ian McShane, standing with his back to them and facing the camera, has a lovely little moment. He refuses to look at Trixie as he heads upstairs - he's in such a pout! Doc has brought a homemade brace for Jewel but he insists that she must immediately report to him any discomfort, numbness, pain or pressure in her leg. He is adamant about it and she eagerly agrees, asking him to help her put it on. Doc is so good to her and the reverend - it must be so hard on him to have to see good folk suffer when so many bad people thrive. Later, Doc comes to see Al, saying the reverend is “past my arts, if I have any.” Al assumes that the doc is asking him to put the reverend out of his misery, but Doc wants one of the Gem whores to look after the reverend until he dies, taking her fees out of the Doc’s pay. When Al grumbles about having to hold the bag of shit, the doc completely loses his composure, vehemently shouting “fuck you, Al!”, and Al turns back to him, surprised. But he gets it and says he’ll send someone to pick up the reverend. Hilariously, Al is continuing to refuse to call Trixie by name, referring to her instead as “that other one.”
Over in Chinatown, Leon is stirring up trouble with a Celestial under Cy’s urging and that doofus Con, in his capacity as sheriff, goes to calm things down. At the hotel, Alma, Otis and Sophia are in Alma’s room, Otis rather strangely touching his daughter’s shoulder and hair. She is clearly uncomfortable with his proximity. As they talk, she learns that he owes another $47,000 (!) after she cleared his old debts with Garrett money. Alma reluctantly agrees to bail her father out but says that he has to go back to New York and agree in writing to stay out of her affairs. Otis cavalierly says he’ll do no such thing and starts to play with Sophia. Alma becomes agitated – “Get away from her!” - and snatches up the little girl, rushing downstairs with her, scarcely able to breathe. She runs to the hardware store where she breathily asks for Bullock’s help, saying that no matter what view he formed of Otis, she knows her father better. Bullock gallantly promises to help her. We never know what exactly she says next, but soon an enraged Bullock is stomping towards to hotel, barking at Sol to get away from him. He catches up to Otis on the street; the older man glibly talks his way out of a street-beating, leading Bullock into the Bella Union.
All the characters not really given storylines in this episode contrivedly follow them into the saloon: Charlie, Joanie, E.B.; Alma comes into the saloon as well. Starting to play craps at Eddie’s table, Otis asks if Bullock was bullied as a youth, if that’s why he defends the weak in the camp. [Historical note: Bullock’s father beat him regularly and Bullock had run away from home twice by the time he was 16.] Finally, Bullock can’t take all the yap anymore (right around the time when Otis insinuates that he’ll implicate his daughter in Brom’s murder) and starts beating the shit out of Otis. Eddie makes me giggle when he says, “Gentlemen, watch the felt.” Bullock leaves off when Otis spits out some teeth and walks outside, dazed and horrified at what he’s done. Fairly calmly, all things considerined, Alma asks a Bella Union whore to “see to my father” and runs out.
The cavalry parade has started but a gunshot is heard over the racket. It’s Con, having shot the Chinese man that Leon had been goading. Mr. Wu is livid but Con claims jurisdiction as sheriff. As Bullock walks by, he notices Cy observing the situation. Bullock then pauses as General Crook speechifies but is distracted by a disturbed soldier ranting and mumbling next to him. I think the soldier reminds Bullock of his dead brother. Con sidles up to Bullock who is so not interested in listening to his bullshit: “Next murder you do on an errand, better take off the fuckin’ badge.” Con is too dumb to get it so Bullock yanks off his sheriff’s star and throws it into the mud. Tom Nuttal, standing nearby, grows a pair and spits that Con should just leave it there. Bullock picks the badge back up – Cy, Sol and Al are all watching him, he meets Al’s gaze steadily.
Bullock stomps into the Gem and gets up in Dan’s face. The gist of it is, if the man I just beat doesn’t die, he’s going to go to New York City and send people back here who will know that you killed his son-in-law. Dan is good at reading between the lines and asks if he should just take care of it. Bullock won’t condone that: “I don’t swim in that shit.” Dan skeptically looks at Bullock who is clutching at the sheriff’s badge and says, “You ought to just pin that on your chest - you’re a hypocrite not to wear it.” In the back of the Gem, Johnny drags Reverend Smith into the whores’ room where Trixie is standing by to take care of him. Al watches her then goes back into his office, slamming the door.
Bullock is beating himself up at the hardware store: “What kind of man have I become, Sol?” Sol replies, “I don’t know, the day ain’t fucking over.” After more brooding, Bullock shakes Sol’s hand and heads out. Al is regrouping with Dan, E.B. and Johnny, asking about the Chinatown scene. They determine that Con was put up to murdering the Chinese man. Al says, “That fucknut Tolliver is moving on Chinatown.” “Devious fucknut,” amends E.B. Hee. Dan says he can take care of Claggett, Tolliver and Otis Russell; Al urges him to moderation in all things, however. At the Bella Union: blah blah blah, Cy, Claggett and the general are having dinner; the general is proving incorruptible, to Cy’s dismay. Bullock barges in and asks the general to protect Otis; after hearing about Bullock’s deceased soldier brother, the general agrees. He also suggests that perhaps a former marshal should step up in a camp “where the sheriff can be bought for bacon grease.” Peter Coyote’s voice is great. An officer informs the general that the soldiers are cutting too loose in this Sodom of a camp, and the general gives the order to depart.
Joanie has brought Alma her father’s teeth. That’s funny. Alma admits that she asked Bullock to help her against her father. She’s preaching to the choir as Joanie then offers up her own history: her own father raped her, then pimped her and her sisters out to other men before finally selling her to Cy. They bond over their mutual abuse until Bullock comes pounding on the door. Joanie reads the situation correctly and skedaddles downstairs with Sophia. Bullock comes in, pausing at the threshhold. Oh, man, I don’t want this to happen. Alma is all breathy and annoying – speak up! I grouse just as Mr. Mouse complains that she’s too melodramatic. This show does not need Romance. But it’s too late: they smooch and Alma starts ripping open her own bodice. I’ll give her credit for pointing out that he’s being a prude. Bullock snaps to and they get down to it. Oh well.
Silas tells Al he didn’t get a chance at Claggett in Yankton but thought he’d catch up with him in Deadwood. Pondering this, Al excuses himself to go check on the reverend. He sends Trixie away; she touches his hand briefly as she leaves, taking in his hollow expression. Al calls Johnny into the room. Doc, kneeling in his hovel, has reached the end of his rope and is praying and screaming at God for making the reverend – and all the Civil War soldiers – suffer so much. It’s a little over the top and out of character, but I guess it’s to show how he copes. Back at the Gem, Al cradles the reverend gently in his arms, laying a cloth over the dying man’s face. He suffocates him, matter of factly explaining to a shocked Johnny how to do it - “like packing a snowball.” It’s over quickly, and Al murmurs “You can go now, brother,” as he embraces the reverend. Johnny has tears in his eyes. Al is gentle as he closes the reverend’s eyelids and lays him back on the bed. He has tears in his eyes too.
Al pulls himself together and brings Claggett upstairs to his office where Dan, Silas and the silent sidekick are waiting. Al questions Silas’s allegiance then asks Claggett what’s going on. Claggett says he has Al’s warrant in his coat pocket and suddenly Silas springs forward, cutting his former boss’s throat. After requesting that Dan stop pointing his two hidden guns at him, Silas hands the warrant over to Al. Looks like Silas has a new boss. At the sound of the cavalry mustering, Bullock rouses himself from Alma’s bed – gosh, that’s a long supper Sophia and Joanie must be having. Al brings the dead reverend back to Doc’s hovel and asks if the doc will “probe in his noggin now to see what went amiss?” Not tonight, says Doc, as he’s planning to get hammered. “Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh,” states Al, not unkindly. He takes Doc back to the Gem, seats him in the barber chair and tells Dan to see that this man gets a shine. Dan hands over a huge cup of whiskey: “This’ll give you a shine.”
Bullock has come in to the saloon and he and Al go upstairs to talk. Jewel comes out and tells the doc she has no stiffness in her leg. “Give me a whirl,” she says. “No, no, no, no … “ mutters Doc, staring drunkenly at the floor. Upstairs, Bullock notices the bloodstain on Al’s floor. “Yeah, I’m gonna get to that,” says Al unconcernedly. I very much like how the two of them have switched from scarcely-contained mutual animosity to a guarded and grudging mutual admiration. Bullock says that Alma’s father is headed out of camp and, if he ever comes back, he’ll be Bullock’s problem: “I’ll be the fucking sheriff.” Al doesn’t believe him and wants to see the badge, which Bullock produces from his pocket with a glare. “On the tit,” requests Al. “I know where it goes,” sneers Bullock, but he puts it on and Al toasts him, “Huzzah.” Mr. Mouse pointed out that this was nice reversal to Bullock not wanting to be sheriff in the first episode; I’d add that it’s also a nice touch that Al is [currently and for who knows how long] in full support of Bullock, as a complete reversal from their first meeting when he worried about Bullock bringing the law to Deadwood.
In the final moments of the episode/season, Bullock and Alma stare longingly at each other from across the street. Jewel gets Doc to dance with her to the Gem’s damn new piano. Watching his joint, Al sees everything from the balcony, and when Trixie looks up at him and gives him a smile, he doesn’t look away.
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