Saturday, June 30, 2007

Deadwood – “Here Was a Man” (S1E4)

Weaselly Jack McCall, looking dirtier than usual, is playing poker with Wild Bill, as is usual, although this time at the Bella Union saloon. Joanie is keeping the waters smooth but Jack is clearly in rough shape and Cy warns him against his bad behavior. I wouldn’t mess with a man with that large a head. Wild Bill gives Jack a dollar and suggests that he go get something to eat. Jack mumbles thanks for the kindness and leaves the table. Later, after the game, Bill stops by the hardware store-in-progress to say hello to the hardware boys. Bullock grins, hard at work in the rafters, “No rest for the wicked.” “So what are you doin’ up?” smiles Bill. Aw – they’re making friends. Bullock lets on that his wife and boy are back home with their people in Michigan; he’s hoping to get established in Deadwood soon so he can bring them out. They chat for a bit until Bill says he’s tired. I think he means more than just right now. Bullock tells him to turn in: “I’ve got it covered,” he says, turning to look out over the still-sleeping camp.

Charlie has been waiting and waiting for Bill to come back to the hotel room and has worked himself into a good lather. Again, Bill alludes to being so tired and asks if Charlie can’t “let [me] go to hell the way I want to?” Stung, Charlie heads off to Cheyenne on his supply run. In the morning, E.B. is with Al when Dan brings the dead Garrett back to town. Alma watches from her window as well, and chugs a big dose of laudanum before going out to the street to see her husband’s corpse. Al instructs E.B. to offer the new widow $20,000 for the gold claim; E.B. thinks it’s odd for Al to want to give up such a sum but he goes to see to “the grieving fucking widow” as directed. He offers to fetch the doctor for her and she takes him up on it, saying she wants Doc to examine the body. From his perch on his scaffolding, Bullock watches E.B. take Garrett’s body off to Doc Cochran. Dan tells Al that he thinks the widow suspects him of foul play but Al is not much worried.

Sol joins Bullock at the job site and is brought up to speed on the morning’s events. Bullock is shirtless. My-oh-my. Doc tells Alma that Garrett’s injuries appear to be the result of a fall, as reported. She asks him if he could discern how said fall came to happen but he says he has no opinion on that. Alma stalks up to Doc, noting that he had plenty of “comprehensive” opinions about giving her drugs earlier, but now he’s awfully quiet. She wonders if an outside influence has anything to do with his present reticence. Doc insists: I do not know how your husband’s skull got caved in. He tells her to go on back to New York and leaves her another full bottle of laudanum. Sobbing, she smashes the bottle against the wall. E.B. picks this fine moment to intrude and she tells him to get her a coffin. Not to be dissuaded, he then offers her $12,000 for the gold claim. Snake – Al told him to offer $20,000! Alma is a smart cookie, however, and her suspicions are immediately aroused; she goes to engage Wild Bill to “advise [her] on [her] current situation.” Jane, guarding the door for a sleeping Bill, is sympathetic and offers to send the ex-Marshal over as just as soon as he’s got his “phlegm situated.” Eew.

The Bella Union folks hire Doc to caretake their whores and offer to pay more than double what Al is paying him. He thinks that he can fit them into his schedule. Joanie looks at him: “Lubricants,” she non-sequiturs. Doc chuckles, “Armed and ready, ma’am.” Just then, Andy Crane waltzes in. The Bella Union management team knows him and scurries to set him up. Cy thinks something looks off with him but Joanie thinks Andy just looks like “he spent three weeks on a wagon.” I guess that would leave anybody looking a little rough. Over at the Gem, E.B. explains to Al how the widow turned him down. This puzzles Al. “You did offer her the whole $20,000?” he asks. “How can you even ask me that?” E.B. tries to look offended but Al didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and sees through him straightaway. Calling the little man “incorrigible,” Al promises E.B. a $2,000 commission if the widow accepts the $12,000 offer.

Alma expresses her concerns to Wild Bill and Jane, saying that she is an accomplice: a wife always feels like she’s responsible for what befalls her husband. Do you think Wild Bill’s circus-managing wife will make an appearance sometime? If so, boys and girls, this would be the technique known as “foreshadowing.” Alma thinks that Al is pulling the strings, prompting Jane to pipe up with “the slimy Limey cocksucker.” Bill is a consummate gentleman and says he’ll take the widow’s case. He strides right over to the Gem and orders himself a whiskey. E.B. slinks in after him. Al pours Bill’s whiskey himself, asking why the famous Wild Bill has not patronized his saloon before now. Bill says laconically, “No poker.” That’s all? Exclaims Al, “Dan, dismantle the titty corner and set up a poker table!” Bill is tired of the small talk and asks Al if he’s behind E.B.’s offer to buy Garrett’s gold claim. Al lays out his side of the story and asserts that he’s concerned about Alma bringing the Pinkertons to camp. Bill says he’ll take Al’s story back to the widow. Al says, “I only hope you’ll show it to her in a favorable fucking light.” Bill gives him a little look and asks what such a favorable light would be worth to Al. “Well, Wild Bill...” intones Al.

Alma is awaiting Bill’s return in Jane and Sophia’s room. When he returns with his report, Jane asks if he managed to put a bullet in between Al’s eyes. Alas, no. Bill offers to ask Bullock to reconnoiter the gold claim for Alma, see what he can dig up. “How’d you leave it with the cocksucker?” asks Jane. “On terms he’d understand,” and with a doff of his hat, Bill takes his leave of the ladies. Ellsworth stops by the saloon and insinuates to Dan that he saw Garrett’s murder, but that he would be happy to leave camp for a bit to prove he could mind his own business, not wanting to be thrown to the pigs and all. Dan takes his meaning. At the quieter saloon, Jack is running his mouth while wearing a fancy new suit. Bill confers with Bullock and Sol at the hardware store site; Bullock agrees to take it on but he’s got to call someone else in to assist since he doesn’t know much about gold claims himself. Sol thinks the widow ought to be looking for a homeward-bound wagon. Trixie advises Dan to do nothing about Ellsworth and let it sort itself out. Al is getting more and more paranoid and says that Hickok has to die even if Al has to do it himself. E.B. tries to calm him down, saying that he doesn’t think that Wild Bill is coming after Al personally. Al needs to blow off some steam – “I need to fuck something …Trixie!” She starts up the stairs towards him and he admonishes her: “hey, hey, hey – bring the bottle.”

Back at the Bella Union, Joanie checks on Andy who is looking rather poorly. Cy and Eddie are buttering up A.W. Merrick (f/k/a Principal Rooney), offering to pay big bucks to advertise in his paper. Joanie reports to Cy that Andy is unwell. Cy is upset, reminding her that he thought Andy didn’t look well in the first place. Bill tells Alma that Bullock will help her, but he too suggests rather strongly that she go back home. Alma, however, is resolute. Jane and Sophia stop by Bill’s room; he is so gentle with Jane, knowing just what to say to her. After they take their leave of him, he finishes writing a letter to his wife and, in a strangely ceremonial way, prepares to go out, wrapping a red sash around his waist. Trixie relieves Al’s stress for him. I like her stripy stockings. The doc checks out a raving Andy. Now he has an opinion: smallpox. Alma reveals to Jane that her marriage to Garrett was arranged in large part to help her father repay his debts. Out on the street, Jack is not having much luck with his lunch (it appears to be full of chicken feet). Bill rejoins his usual poker game and sits with his back to the door. At the poker game, Jack McCall comes up behind Wild Bill and, without hesitating, shoots him in the head. Curious behavior for someone who was previously prescient with regard to avoiding being shot: the fact that Wild Bill doesn’t turn around when he hears the footsteps behind him leads me to think that Bill was not only ready to die but welcomed it.

Joanie stands watch over Andy. Jack runs out of the saloon and is captured in the street. A Mexican rides into camp swinging a decapitated Sioux head, ready to collect the $50 bounty from Al. Bullock looks up at the commotion while Jane, also watching out the window from Alma’s hotel room, runs out. She and Bullock arrive at Bill’s corpse at nearly the same time. Jane’s coping mechanism is to grab a nearby bottle of whiskey and drain it. Bullock’s reaction, because he’s sensitive, is to cry. Manfully, though.

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