Monday, January 28, 2008

Deadwood recap - “A Two Headed Beast” (S3E5)

The dropping: Alma is not fooling anyone with her newly-resumed opium habit, least of all her husband who moves out of the house after she comes on to him in an altered state. Bullock finally manages to finalize the sale of the livery from Hostetler to that drunk Steve; Steve ends up pushing Hostetler past what the older man can bear, with tragic results. Dan Dority and Captain Turner (Hearst's right hand man) have a brutal battle in the thoroughfare which Dan just barely manages to win. Bullock arrests a drunken and belligerent Hearst and drags him into the jail, an action for which there will surely be serious repercussions.


Oh, yuck. Con Stapleton is playing with a naked Bella Union whore’s boobies. (The yuck is for Con, not the boobies.) I can’t even watch. Cy Tolliver comes in, ostensibly to ask Con to be his go-between for him and George Hearst. Con says he’s too het up sexually to focus on Cy’s schemings and Cy excuses him from service until his excitement passes. The disgust on Cy’s face pretty much equals mine. Gag. Also gag: stupid Steve is bathing (that’s actually a good thing), prior to the signing for the transfer of the livery from Hostetler to him, because Tom Nuttal dumped a spittoon onto him. I’m SO done with Steve and his boring-ass, noisy story line. At a simultaneous countdown, Hostetler and Steve each sign the paperwork and the deed is done. (That’s a little real estate humor for you there.)

Adams is meeting with Hearst. I’m not exactly clear on how the meeting ends up going – and Adams is a bit uneasy about the outcome as well – Hearst is skeptical and sarcastic. Captain Turner tells Adams to tell his [Adams’s] “friend” [Dan] that he [the Captain] knows he’s [Dan] afraid of him [the Captain]. Wanting to be clear about whom the message is to be delivered, Adams asks, “Dority? The big guy?” The Captain: “I guess he looks big to you.” Hee. When Adams reports back to Al et al., Dan is wild about the challenge. Al, on the other hand, doesn’t know what Hearst is up to, allowing the Captain to call Dan out.

At the bank, Alma is clearly high on opium, oddly trimming a houseplant and speaking breathily with Merrick. The newspaperman is not quite sure what’s going on with her but Trixie, keeping a watchful eye from the bank teller’s desk, knows exactly what’s up. Later, while out for their perambulation, Merrick and Blazenoff come across the dumped body of a murdered Cornish miner, knife still stuck in his chest. It’s the third fellow who had been trying to organize the workers. They go to fetch the sheriff who stomps off to tell Al that he doesn’t want to wait any longer to go after Hearst. Adams cautions Bullock to wait just a bit, “You know Al.” Bullock grunts that he has the briefest of other business to attend to (the finalization of the Hostetler/Steve transaction) and heads off to attend to it. Al, on the other hand, goes to his office and confers with the severed head of the Indian that he has stored in a cupboard.

Back at the Bella Union, Cy confronts Leon about the current status of his drug habit and Leon ‘fesses up about dealing to Alma. Cy finds this interesting. E.B. swings by the Gem to see Al – you know, why has E.B. been replaced by that asshole Steve this season? E.B. is hardly ever on this show anymore and while abhorrent, is a way more interesting character than fuckin’ Steve. Anyway, Al does meet with E.B. for a little bit and, while bringing E.B. up to speed as to Hearst’s machinations, reminds us viewers what all is going on. Al still can’t figure out why Hearst would want Dan and the Captain to fight – what’s in it for the big man? His job done, E.B. leaves, straightening his hideous gloves. Finally, Al comes out of his office, saying to Dan: “It’s past me. I cannot figure the fuckin’ angle. Go ahead and fight him.”

Oh crap: more new characters. Two additional actors have arrived in camp to join Jack Langrishe and company: a fat, dying old man and his foppish attendant. I like Jack Langrishe and all, but what the hell is the point of all of this? It’s taking time away from characters I know and love.

Dan is getting ready to battle the Captain, greasing himself so the other man can’t get a good grip. Johnny tells his friend to drop flat if he starts getting the worst of it and he [Johnny] will shoot him dead. Dan snaps at him to stay out of it: this is Dan’s fight and Dan’s fight alone. At Hearst’s place, the Captain is stretching (hee!), warming up for the battle to come. I have a baaaaaaaaaad feeling about this fight.

The two behemoths meet in the thoroughfare, dropping their weapons (knives and pistols) to the boardwalk. They run at each other and crash together. Al and Hearst each come out onto their respective balconies to watch. It is an ugly, brutal, realistic fight and the sound effects are horrific. At one point, the Captain bites into Dan’s face and Dan screams. As Dan tries to crawl away, the Captain shoves his face into a mud puddle and keeps it there, looking up to his boss for approbation. Dan erupts out of the puddle, throwing the Captain to the side. The Captain starts to slam Dan’s head into a rock; Dan reaches up and plucks out the Captain’s left eye. Seriously – it’s dangling there on his cheek. Now the screaming really kicks into high gear … until Dan beats in the Captain’s head with a chunk of stove wood, ending it. All around in the thoroughfare everyone goes on about their business and Dan, looking really bad (how’s that head wound?), staggers back to the Gem. Hearst heaves a sigh and goes back into his room, leaving his man shredded and bloody in the muck.

Blah blah blah – the actors again. I do like Brian Cox but this new old guy is gross and creepy. The fop actor played the adult Eddie Kaspbrak on the t.v. movie It.

Doc Cochran stops by to try to check on Dan but Dan won’t see anyone: he’s sitting in the back room, naked and crying. Doc instructs Johnny and Adams to listen for raspy breathing in the night and to come get him if it happens. Trixie joins Sol for a bit of one-on-one time, first ranting about Alma’s resumption of her dope habit, calling the bank’s owner the “chief officer of air-headed smugness.” Sol doesn’t really know what is going on and when Trixie rolls her eyes and says, “So, do you want to get fucked or not?” he just grins and says “Please!”

Alma dopes up at her house – this time it isn’t a clear liquid like the laudanum, but brown and cloudy. She fusses with the bedclothes and then goes to knock on Ellsworth’s door. He’s taking a bath and is startled at the interruption. When he nervously comes out, she advances on him, kissing him. It is so heart-breaking: he would love to love her but he can tell that she’s high and turns her down, saying he’ll move out of the house and live out at the mine. Poor Ellsworth. Alma sucks.

And where has Bullock been this whole time, especially during the Dan vs. the Captain fight? He’s been at the livery with Hostetler, N.G. and Steve, looking for that board on which Hostetler recorded Steve’s sex act with the horse oh so long ago. When they finally find the board, it’s been erased because it was written on with chalk, and Bullock is SO annoyed with this whole pointless thing. Stupid Steve accuses Hostetler of keeping the real board to use against him at a later date. Hostetler takes Steve's abuse for a while, then shouts that he won’t be called a liar and storms out of the barn. A shot is heard. When Bullock peeks around the corner, Hostetler has shot himself in the head rather than deal with Steve’s bullshit any longer. Fuckin’ Steve.

Johnny asks Al to look in on Dan but Al says “some shit’s better walked through alone.” Johnny doesn’t understand, saying that Dan’s killed people before – why is he taking this one so hard? Al gently explains that he and Dan usually try to avoid fair fights since fair fights are different: “You see the light go out of their eyes – it’s just you left, and death.”

Hearst walks into the Bella Union and gets a bottle of whiskey. He’s “just seen to the remains of a friend.” He looks a little shaky. Meanwhile, Bullock has just had enough, Hostetler’s awful suicide having pushed him past all patience, and he stalks into the hotel, demanding if Hearst is in. In a lovely little scene, E.B. frantically tells him out loud that he couldn’t possibly report on the whereabouts of the hotel’s owner, all the while writing “Bella Union” on a slip of paper and handing it to the sheriff. Bullock understands E.B.’s play and stalks back out.

Cy joins Hearst at the Bella Union bar. Hearst seems pretty drunk by now. Oops: now here’s Bullock. The sheriff orders a whiskey and knocks it back quickly, noting that Hearst sounds drunk. Hearst tells him to fuck himself. Gerald McRaney is very scary. Bullock asks, “Did you just tell me ‘fuck myself’?” Hearst answers in the affirmative, adding that if Bullock doesn’t shut up, he’ll quiet the sheriff himself. He says this several times to make sure Bullock gets it. Pulling his gun, Bullock announces that Hearst is under arrest for threatening a peace officer and drags the big man out BY HIS EAR! Outstanding.

Al watches the sheriff leading Hearst to the jail and notes to Johnny that Bullock has just eliminated some of Al’s options. Merrick, observing the sheriff and Hearst walking by, looks up at Al. Al tells him that not a word is to make it into the paper about this and Merrick just nods.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recap. I downloaded the "complete" season 3 bittorrent and it came without this episode. Enough detail to fill me in, concise enough that I can sneak in watching S03E06 before bedtime!