The dropping: Everyone is really sad as they wait for William to die. Al, who doesn't like down-time, amuses himself with manipulating the imaginary Montana and all-too-real Yankton interest in the camp. You know, it's heart-wrenching and all, but I'm ready for some action. Al hasn't killed or beaten anybody in AGES.
We pick up moments after the last episode left off. Bullock has William in his arms. He rushes towards Doc’s, calling for Martha to join him. Everyone looks on, shocked. Cy tells his henchmen to “get that tub of guts [Mose Manuel] to Joanie Stubbs.” Hostetler and N.G., hiding in the livery, are scared that the white folks will string them up for letting the horse break free, even though the white folks in the camp have done all sorts of violence to each other. Hostetler suddenly lunges for his rifle, saying that he won’t beg for mercy. I think he may be looking to off himself before any whites come for him. N.G. wrestles the gun away and suggests the two of them ride out of camp.
Johnny and Trixie are updating Al on William’s status – Trixie is taking it very hard, somewhat surprisingly but I guess we’ve established that she has a soft spot for children – while Miss Isringhausen looks on. She still hasn’t signed the documents and Al is getting tetchy about it. Merrick stops by next, letting Al know that Commissioner Jarry arriving back in camp shortly, Merrick having snuck a peak at Jarry’s recent telegrams to Wolcott and Cy. Realizing that Yankton has sent Jarry to put move on Deadwood in the face of his Montana scam, Al sends Dan to fetch Adams’s sidekick, Hawkeye, and also Sol. (Why Hawkeye?)
Jarry has arrived and wants to see Bullock immediately. In a surprising show of humanity, Wolcott and Cy think that he might want to wait a while, what with the dying child and all. Jarry is all in a tizzy even tho’ Cy says the article was a fake. As the commissioner storms out, Wolcott rolls his eyes, “I am a sinner and do not expect forgiveness. But I am not a government official!” (I think that’s the sum total of humor in this episode.) Dan finds Sol keeping a vigil outside of Doc Cochrane’s cabin. Sol doesn’t want to leave, but Dan threatens to pick him up and carry him back to the Gem. Dan also finds Adams - Hawkeye is nowhere to be found. Jane is wandering the thoroughfare, searching for a bottle she may have hidden some time previously. Instead she finds Tom Nuttal who is crouched under a stairway, sobbing. He asks her if she knows whose horse it was and she hunkers down next to him, sympathetic.
In Doc’s cabin, Bullock asks for a prognosis. It isn’t good, obviously. William’s brain has been injured such that his eyes don’t sync up any longer, not to mention all the crushed bones and internal injuries. Doc says they should talk to the boy, and that it won’t hurt him to wipe his face. Martha can scarcely bring herself to touch her broken child. Sol finds Trixie in the Gem saloon and they snipe nastily at each other, both upset and frustrated. Sol doesn’t want to have to wait for Al to become available. Dan marches in with Adams and tells Sol that Al has to see Hawkeye first. “But that’s Adams!” Sol protests. Dan snarls, “I know who the fuck it is!” Okay, that was funny.
Upstairs, Al and Miss Isringhausen are still at their battle of wills – she even goes so far as to suggest that he orchestrated the scene in the thoroughfare so as to draw the sheriff away from her signing. When Adams comes in, she makes as if to sign but fakes her signature until Adams shakes his head. Beaten but unbowed, she signs the paper and then Al hands her a stack of cash, saying, “I wish I had five like you.” She takes her money and leaves. Jane has found her way to Joanie’s and they are commiserating as to why they are not keeping watch over William: Jane is an unlubricated drunk, which is generally unwanted, according to her; Joanie doesn’t really like blood. Just then, with perfect timing, Cy’s lackeys show up with the wounded and bloody Mose on a sled. She’ll have to get over her phobia pretty quickly. At Tom Nuttal’s saloon, Steve and Tom are getting rather drunk, bemoaning their parts in the scene. Steve is casting the blame square on Hostetler and N.G. – no surprise there. Tom tells someone to drag that infernal bicycle outside where he can’t see it.
Sol has finally made it upstairs where Al is weaving his web: due to Bullock’s current unavailability, he wants Sol to tutor Adams in enough Montana politics and lore to convince Jarry that Montana’s interest in Deadwood is real. Sol’s face is drawn tight but he agrees. Trixie is working on her own web: she goes to see Alma and asks if she’s going to marry Ellsworth. “If it’s fuckin’ him gives you pause, he’d never make you,” she offers. Alma is offended (of course) and replies that what gives her pause is the prospect of marriage without love, seeing how she’s done that once already. Trixie says that Ellsworth is waiting for her answer, whatever it is Alma is waiting for before giving it.
I’m just going to skip over all the detailed Montana information Sol gives Adams and Al. It’s all talking and too tough to recap. Doc is at Joanie’s, first examining Con (who ruptured his groin pulling Mose on the sled), and then Mose who isn’t moving much. Jane brings in three pitchforks and suggesting using them as levers to get Mose up onto the couch. Doc thinks their effort might be better spent if they just ran across the room and stabbed him with the tines. He’s going back to see to William, not wanting to attempt hopeless surgery on the fat man, but when he gets to his cabin he doesn’t go in, not wanting to intrude on the sorrow within. He tells Jewel to come get him if there’s any change. He’ll be at the Chez Amie, “operating on a whale.”
William is still unconscious, making little coughs and gurgles. His mother, crying quietly, says she wishes she’d stayed in Michigan, that she wants to take him home. Bullock gently reminds her that Doc says it’s better he’s not moved and she responds, “There’s no better about it.” Jarry is wandering the camp, trying to get someone to talk to him; Merrick locks his door and pulls down his window shades, hoping to move Jarry along to Al’s. It works: Jarry sits down with Al and Adams, the latter playing his role a little over the top for Al’s taste (unless they planned it so, which is entirely possible). Again, it works and Jarry buys their charade. He suggests that if Deadwood would wait on responding to Montana’s offer of annexation (there’s mention of $50,000 floating about, I’m guessing headed towards Al’s pockets), he’ll go back to Yankton and see if they would consider a counteroffer (and more money to Al). Al doesn’t have a problem with that. After the commissioner leaves, Adams turns to Al and asks what just happened. Al looks like a cat after a bowl of cream, pleased with the performance.
Hostetler and N.G. are camping out. N.G. talks about heading to Oregon but Hostetler wants to catch the escaped horse and take it back to camp, surrendering the murdering horse and apologizing for his part in the tragedy. And then, if he makes it out alive, he might go to Oregon and opening a livery with N.G. “Then let’s find that fuckin’ horse,” agrees N.G. Jarry reconvenes with Cy and Wolcott and relates Al’s story. Cy is skeptical but Wolcott is willing to play along since Hearst is so interested in the camp.
At Doc’s cabin, William’s breathing is getting more and more labored. His folks struggle to find words to say to him.
In the camp, everyone waits for word about the boy. Richardson prays as best he can. Sol takes coffee with Merrick and Blazenoff. Al paces the Gem and sends a sorrowful Trixie to keep Jewel company outside doc’s cabin. Aw – so sweet! - Mr. Wu brings Jewel a cup of tea while she waits, although she can’t hold it because of her hands. Sol and then Trixie come up and wait with Jewel. Inside, William takes one big, hitching breath, and then another one. I think he may be done with this mortal coil.
Meanwhile, Doc has enlisted both Jane’s and Joanie’s help with the bullet removal surgery on Mose, Con and Leon looking on ghoulishly. E.B. is chopping onions at the hotel when Andy Cramed (remember him from last season? The gambler who Jane nursed back from the pox) wanders in. He’s found Jesus and, knowing the camp has no preacher, was thinking to offer his services. Alma Garrett can wait in her room no longer. She sets Richardson on guard, in case Sophia wakes up, and runs out. Ellsworth comes up to her as she pauses on the boardwalk, not really knowing where to go.
A dazed-looking Bullock comes out of Doc’s cabin. Andy Cramed goes to meet him. Sol, stone-faced, turns and walks back through camp to the hardware store. Al, Alma and Ellsworth all see him. They know that it would take William’s death to get him away from his vigil (or, I guess, a summons from Al).
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