Friday, November 2, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Childish Things” (S2E8)

The dropping: Al starts grinding his political manipulation gears. Bullock can’t win no matter what he does. Wolcott says not tonight, dear, I have a headache. Tom Nuttal rides in the first annual Tour de Deadwood.

Al and Bullock are having a sit-down at the Gem. Al wants to know what it was about him that Bullock knew when first he saw Al. “That you’re a killer,” says Bullock, amiably. Al agrees, saying there are certain things readily apparent in peoples’ faces. He goes on that Bullock is a closed book, however, giving nothing away with his visage other than how pretty he is. Before Bullock can really wonder where Al is going with this, Al comes out and says that he wants to use Bullock’s Montana connections to keep from being annexed by Yankton and/or Hearst’s interests. Bullock’s not interested in taking active part in Al’s machinations but doesn’t flat out deny Al the use of his name. “Huzzah then,” toasts Al.

Wolcott is writing an update to Hearst: they’re expanding the mining operations, now that Hearst owns all of the considerable gold claims (“save the Garrett property”), but are having difficulty with the labor force. Wolcott is dealing with it. After giving the Bella Union whores their regularly scheduled check-ups, Doc offers to see to the new Chinese whores, rightly assuming that Cy is their overseer. Cy says the Chinese don’t need any medical attention and Doc, appalled, says he’ll withdraw his care from Cy’s white whores then too. Unkempt prostitutes are just going to be icky in not too long.

From his usual perch on his balcony, Al observes Tom Nuttal taking possession of his brand new bicycle – the latest thing called “the Boneshaker.” It’s all very exciting. Al then asks Johnny, with no little patience, to fetch E.B. As Johnny runs off, Al remarks to his new best friend, the decapitated Indian head, “Dead, without a body, you still outstrip him for intelligence.” It’s not clear if the “him” is in reference to E.B. or Johnny. The stagecoach that brought Tom’s bicycle has also brought the telegraph operator, Blazenoff. Merrick picks him up and takes him to his telegraph equipment, which is being housed in the newspaper office.

Ellsworth (yay!) is working out his worth as Mrs. Garrett’s potential husband to his dog. The dog is paying at least a little attention. Speaking of Mrs. Garrett, Martha and William Bullock are paying her a visit since Martha wants to be the camp’s schoolteacher and has come to get Alma’s support. The encounter starts civilly enough but quickly takes a turn for the awkward, and then practically hostile. Faced with the rightful wife of her presumptive bedmate, Alma is guarded, then defensive and then close to nasty, and Martha takes her leave soon enough.

Miss Isringhausen pays another call to Al to hammer out the terms of their arrangement. His offer is this: her employers pay Al $50,000 now; Dan will sign a paper saying he killed Brom Garrett under Al’s orders on commission from Alma Garrett; Miss Isringhausen then signs a second statement saying that as she brought Dan and Alma back to New York, Dan escaped from custody; and finally, an additional $10,000 each to Dan and Silas Adams. I’ve watched this scene four times now and I still am not quite clear on Miss Isringhausen’s amendments to his offer: Al gets $25,000 with the signatures, but the second $25,000 will not be handed over until the second statement is in the hands of a Pinkerton agent or has been burned in front of said agent. (Anyone else get a better idea what’s going on here?) Al admires her moxie and says it’s a deal. He’ll get right to work drafting the statements.

Everyone in Tom’s bar gawks at the new bicycle and soon enough bets are being made that Tom can’t ride down the boardwalk or across the thoroughfare without a crash. Bullock goes home for lunch but Martha has not had time to make anything hot since her errand to Alma’s took too long. She’s a little upset - with Alma, with Bullock - and seems to have figured out that there was something between the two of them. Oh dear and, um, ICK: Jane is vomiting in front of the freight office. “That’s good for business,” snarks Charlie. He suggests that Jane might want to pay a visit to Joanie Stubbs, thinking they might find common ground together, both of them having lost friends recently. Bullock returns to the hardware store after his (probably inhospitable) lunch and Sol suggests a certain nearby lot as a possible location for the new bank. Bullock quickly builds up a head of steam, saying – in not so many words – that the proposed lot might be too close to the hardware store for Alma’s comfort. Sol didn’t realize that the matter between them continued on “so tender.” Bullock snarls that it’s not “tender,” he’s just trying to avoid provocation and it’s only common courtesy. Trixie, struggling with her accounting homework, says that neither of the men is showing her much of that right now – shut up and let her work!

Over at the Bella Union, a fat miner named Mose Manuel (the guy with the back-and-forth eyes from that X-Files episode) comes to meet with Wolcott and Cy. Wolcott convinces Mose to sell his claim (which is key for some reason), but Mose owns it jointly with his brother who therefore has to sign off on the deal. Mose goes off to present the deal to his brother, with whom he doesn’t really get along. Alma has worked herself up into a tizzy after Martha’s visit and decides that she needs to piss off yet another woman in camp. She barges into Miss Isringhausen’s room and pretty much tells Miss Isringhausen that she knows who she is and what she’s up to. To my great joy, Miss Isringhausen stands up to her because she’s much more of a badass than Alma thinks: “All right, Mrs. Garrett. You’ve had your fit of temper – get the fuck back to your room.” I bet they kill Miss Isringhausen off before season’s end, which is too bad because she’s much more fun than Alma Garrett.

The crowd gathers for the impending bicycle event – seems like the whole camp has turned out for it. Dan overhears Al talking out loud when there’s no one else in the room and worries that Al may be losing it a little. Al says that sometimes he just talks to himself and sometimes he talks to the decapitated head. Dan’s not sure what to think about that, then boldly asks, “The Indian got an opinion?” Al glares him out of the room and takes the head out on to the balcony to watch the bicycling. I’m not sure where they’re going with this decapitated head business – it certainly does make Al seem a bit less altogether there post-stroke. Mose Manuel goes to see his brother and, when the brother refuses to sell, Mose just shoots him dead. That’s a surprise. Amazingly, Tom Nuttal rides his bike all around the camp to many huzzahs. Wolcott is even outside, enjoying the event. Mose finds him and reports that his brother is dead. Ah, says Wolcott, was it an accident while cleaning his weapon? Yup. And will Mose sell the claim? Wolcott prompts, “$200,000 cash upon execution.” “It’s already executed,” mutters Mose.

Jane makes her way to the Chez Amie and introduces herself to a somber, disengaged Joanie: “You and me got a pain in the balls mutual acquaintance, Charlie fuckin’ Utter.” A gracious hostess even in her despair, Joanie says how do you do and offers Jane a drink. “Yes [to the offer of a bourbon], but my opening position is no,” says Jane, showing great restraint until Joanie says she’ll be having one too. I would love to reproduce verbatim their whole scene together because these two are just great – but you should just watch it instead. Charlie was absolutely right that these women would connect with each other: Jane empathizes with how wounded Joanie is and Joanie’s good heart goes out to the struggling Jane.

Alma is having a busy day: Ellsworth stops by and wonderfully offers himself up as a husband, even getting down on one knee for his proposal. She is shocked but recovers more graciously than I would have expected given her behavior lately, and gently asks him for some time to consider. He leaves and she drops into her chair, stunned. Over at the Bullocks’ house, Martha has made a decision. She thanks Bullock for all he’s done for her and William, and then determinedly tells him to make no more efforts on her part (i.e., Bullock will be sleeping on the couch tonight and pretty much hereafter). Al drops off an article for Merrick to print: Bullock will not confirm that he’s been in touch with Montana regarding the camp’s annexation. Merrick is concerned with the factuality of the “article” but Al is more interested in the fact that a telegraph operator arrived in camp without his knowing about it. Too bad E.B. has been laid up with a toothache and unable to provide all the gossip! Blazenoff shows up and Al turns the old Swearengen charm up to 11, going so far as to offer blowjobs on the house at the Gem, should the telegraph operator so desire.

Oh, Wild Bill’s gravesite – we haven’t been here for a while. Charlie has come to talk to Bill, letting him know that Jane’s not with him tonight because “she’s a drunken fucking mess and [he doesn’t] know what to do about it.” He says he’s not optimistic about Jane’s long-term prospects but promises to keep trying to help her. Charlie also tells his dead friend that he is in possession of Bill’s last letter to his wife and that he is going to try to get it to her.

At the freight office, Jane has rifle in hand, muttering to herself that she’s supposed to take care of Joanie. She heads across camp back to the Chez Amie. Joanie is still sitting there, passively waiting for Wolcott to come for her. She is so sad. The psycho does finally show up, professing he doesn’t know why he’s there. He notices the bourbon bottle out on the table and gets slightly more sinister, “You were waiting for me.” Joanie muses, “No, my friend Jane left that,” then suddenly snaps out of her stupor and breaks the bottle over Wolcott’s head, staggering him. “You leave me alone!” she shouts and barricades herself in one of the bedrooms. Wolcott, blood covering his face, picks up his hat and leaves. Having women stand up to him is apparently more than he can handle right now – he’s had a tough couple of days. And then he meets Jane outside. “You the fucking cocksucker?” she shouts, gun pointed right at him. “I may well be,” Wolcott admits, making me giggle. Jane asks if he killed Joanie and whose blood is that all over him. He replies that no, Joanie is still well and that it’s his own blood. Satisfied for now, Jane lets him go and heads into the Chez Amie to check on her new friend.

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