The dropping: Bullock gets mad at Al. Dan gets mad at Adams. Cy gets mad at Joanie. Al gets mad at the world.
REMINDER – Salty language in all Deadwood recaps. If you are easily offended, please read something else.
Since this is the first episode of the second season, there’s a lot of bouncing around to check in with all the characters – bear with me as I bounce around too. A stagecoach, full of whores and who I presume are Bullock’s wife and child, rumbles down the road to Deadwood. At the hotel, Alma Garrett boots Sophia and her tutor (who is this person and where did she come from?) out of her room so she can knock boots with Bullock. Adams is reporting to Al: the governor has appointed only Yankton men as the new territorial commissioners. No-one from the Hills, gripes Al, fretting. (Note: Titus Welliver has lost some weight since last season and is looking good!) Over at the Bella Union, Joanie is fidgety and excited about the coming stagecoach since the arriving whores are her new girls. Ellsworth (I love Ellsworth!) is getting impatient waiting for Bullock to give him the go-ahead to send Alma’s gold out of camp, plus he is agitated by the fact that the hotel’s thin floorboards do nothing to mask the bedstead-banging coming from upstairs. Al grabs his whiskey bottle and chugs straight from the bottle, a sure sign that he is getting frustrated. He feels cornered by the politicos, hates the new telegraph poles and feels Bullock may not be carrying his own weight with regard to protecting the camp. “Change is bad” is Al’s motto.
Alma and Bullock have some post-coital talk, both of them all a-glow, and I’m really ready for this storyline to move along. (Another note: Alma does not shave her armpits. I’m sure it’s historically accurate, but I don’t really want to look at it.) Finally putting his pants back on, Bullock emerges from the hotel just as someone is shot (off-screen) at Tom Nuttal’s bar. Perched on his balcony, Al decides that the sheriff is the best target for his rancor: “Good luck trouble didn’t jump out earlier … might have found find you mid-thrust in other business.” Bullock glares at him, infuriated, and the tension in the street increases ten-fold. There’s gonna be a fight, and Al is purposely starting it to get Bullock’s head back in the game.
Bullock and a now-deputized Charlie Utter quickly clear up the mistaken-identity shooting at Nuttal’s bar. Bullock heads back to the Gem to make Al pay for his insults, Charlie following to watch his back. Overseeing the thoroughfare from his own balcony, evil Cy Tolliver watches the coach come in, Joanie and Lila, Cy’s new favorite whore, flanking him. The stagecoach pounds down the road past a drunken Calamity Jane who rears up her head and shouts “Cocksucker!” Good girl, Jane! Trixie, having a cigarette at the door of the Gem, runs to get Sol when Bullock comes in. As Bullock heads upstairs, Charlie takes position at the bar, with Al’s flunkies taking their places there as well. Upstairs, Al is having difficulty taking a leak – my guess is either prostate trouble or kidney stones. After a couple minutes of chit chat in which Al brings the new political issues to Bullock’s attention, Al (who is an old hand at reading people) realizes that Bullock is actually in love (or thinks he is) with the widow. Bullock can’t handle the taunting and decides that fighting is better than more talking, even though Al tries to give him an out.
This is an ugly, violent fist fight, and they soon go over the balcony into the muddy street below. All the sidekicks in the bar rush out, Dan charging in to Al’s aid; he is about to kill Bullock until Adams restrains him, saying it isn’t Dan’s fight. Nervous Johnny has an itchy trigger finger and shoots Sol in the shoulder and Charlie along the side of the face. Al gets back on his feet before his opponent is able to and is poised to knife Bullock in the back when the stagecoach pulls up in front of them. The little boy stares wide-eyed at the combatants. Al sees the boy and stops cold. He snarls “Welcome to fucking Deadwood,” and staggers back to his saloon. Bullock picks himself up and greets his wife and stepson, first reassuring them that he’s all right, then falling flat on his face. Mrs. Bullock and Merrick take him to the hardware store where an impromptu triage station has been set up.
Joanie brings her “whore friend” Maddie to speak with Cy - who is completely out of his head with rage and hurt that his favorite girl is actually leaving him. Joanie stays calm, however, and he finally lets her go without any actual violence. At the Gem, Al is in rough shape, screaming in pain as he tries to put his shirt back on. Dan is furious with Adams for coming between him and Al, his jealousy papable. Doc Cochrane (yay! It’s Doc!) has got Sol good and drunk so he can dig out the bullet in his shoulder; Mrs. Bullock is tending to Charlie’s grazed face; Merrick is trying not to throw up at all the blood (his expressions are priceless); and that weasel E.B. Farnum takes it all in before scurrying out to make his report. Al, in great pain, doesn’t really want to deal with E.B.’s smarm and sends him off for more information, after doing a pretty good E.B. impersonation – hee hee! Adams tries to clear the air with Dan but Dan is not having any of it. Al looks really fracking bad.
An upset Alma is putting together a welcome basket for Bullock’s family, speaking rather snottily to Mrs. Isringhausen, Sophia’s tutor (seriously, where did she come from?). Apparently Alma thinks right now is the best time to deliver this basket, while everyone is still bleeding and in shock. Ellsworth tries to talk her out of it but it’s always all about Alma and, because he carries such a huge torch for her, he accompanies her. The scene in the hardware store when Alma meets Martha and William Bullock is incredibly awkward. Alma babbles; Martha knows something strange is going on but not to what extent; Bullock, still dazed, doesn’t know what to do with himself; and Charlie, Merrick and Ellsworth look like they’d rather be anywhere but here. Finally Alma leaves. Thank you.
I can’t even recap the scene with Cy, Joanie and the whores on the balcony. Cy is so scary and horrifying and I just know he’s going to do something awful some time soon.
Bullock walks his family to their new house. It’s a really nice house and I can’t figure how he had the time to build it in the last seven months (later, Alma will mention that Sophia has been with her for that length of time so that’s how I know how long it’s been) between establishing his hardware bidness and sheriffing the town. I know: willing suspension of disbelief. Bullock refuses to go into the house with his family, saying he has to go see to the camp. Martha softly and gratefully thanks him for taking care of them; her eyes ask him to choose them over Alma. Bullock can’t bear it and walks stiff armed back through camp. He looks like he’s about to lose his mind. Instead, he goes straight to Alma’s room and, without speaking, wraps her in his arms. This is a man with a conflict. Plus, he’s gone and left his gun and badge at Al’s.
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