Thursday, June 28, 2007

Deadwood – “Reconnoitering the Rim” (S1E3)

Dead Tim’s dog is trying to dig up a woodchuck. Ellsworth (yay!) gives us the play-by-play – apparently the dog has been hanging out with him ever since Tim’s demise. When Dan walks up, the dog whimpers and runs off. Pretty smart dog! Ellsworth notes that Garrett is a no-show and Dan makes a big fuss about having waited around for him. Ellsworth gives the dog a holler after Dan leaves and it rejoins him. I guess it's Ellsworth's dog now. The preacher is holding forth over Tom Mason’s funeral. Principal Rooney is in attendance this time, having a sneezing fit, and attempting to interview Bullock about the shooting. Bullock is all “no comment” as he notices Jane and Charlie bringing the little girl back to camp. I wish they’d give her a name so I can stop calling her “the little girl.” In camp, a rival outfit has just arrived: “Bella Union” complete with whiskey, whores and craps. Al of course prefers to be the only game in town and is furious that a former Deadwood hotel owner, now hurrying out of camp, sold his place on the sly to the new competition. Wild Bill is playing in the never-ending poker game. That young slimy weasel, Jack, is on a streak and he is getting off on pushing Bill’s buttons. The actor who plays Jack looks really familiar. Bill puts his fancy ivory-handled revolvers up as his wager since he’s out of money. He finally wins a hand and when Jack then tries to leave the game, Bill does his damnedest to provoke him, calling him a c--t in some very imaginative ways. Jane and Charlie have brought the little girl back for the doctor to examine because she’s got a slight fever. Doc says she’d do better indoors and Jane and Charlie hatch a plan to get her into the hotel. Jane also takes the opportunity to dig at Charlie’s snoring but he remains unperturbed.

Bullock and the preacher arrive at the hardware tent, ready to start building. Sol tells him that he didn’t feel it was the right time to press Al what with the new gambling outfit just arriving in camp. Bullock is annoyed because he’s already cut all the lumber; Sol reminds him that he told Bullock such a thing might be premature. At the hotel, E.B. is trying to keep Jane out but Bill intercedes and she takes Charlie’s room. Al is getting decked out in his fancy clothes for a visit to the Bella Union. He is cranky because he helped build Deadwood from the ground up and he feels they’re just waltzing into a ready-made situation. Actually, maybe I should just point out when he is NOT cranky. He meets the new management, Cy, Joanie and Eddie, and turns on some of that Swearengen charm, eventually speechifying about Custer’s last stand. Al feels very strongly about Custer’s defeat and I zone out a little. When he apologizes to Joanie for swearing – “Pardon my French” – she gives him a level look and replies, “Oh, I speak French.” Al eyes her speculatively. I like her - she’s sassy. Cy, the giant-headed boss, doesn’t think there will be any problem with overlap between the two establishments, insinuating that their outfit is more high-class while Al’s is more of a “pioneer”-type place. Al bristles at this but can’t legitimately dispute it. Elsewhere, Garrett explains his being swindled to Bill and Charlie but they pretty much tell him that he’s stuck with what he’s got. Charlie also warns him about the imminent danger in crossing the people he’s about to cross (i.e. Al). Garrett brushes aside the warning and sniffs that he’ll just seek a remedy elsewhere. Dryly, Bill says, “I don’t think he took your point, quite.” Charlie sips his coffee, “I think he quite missed it.” Bill: “I believe I’ll pass out, Charlie.” They’re very comfortable together, obviously old friends. As Bill heads out, Charlie suggests that they dine with Bullock and Sol sometime as it might be nice to sit with folks who are neither out to take your money nor shoot you in the head. After solemn consideration, Bill agrees. Al, E.B., Johnny and the dope-head informant are discussing the new competition in Al’s office. Someone squeaks a cheek and Al threatens that their next meeting will be out on the balcony. He then goes on to berate E.B. for parroting back what he says using different words, and then sends the dope-head off to do some reconnaissance at the Bella Union. Garrett tells Alma he is determined to confront Al about the swindle; she gently and easily manipulates him into cooling off a bit before doing so. As she sees him out, she catches Jane peeking at her from another room.

Jack the weasel is badmouthing Wild Bill at the hardware tent. Bullock tells him to can it. Charlie walks up and Jack starts in on him, but before he can get too insulting, Bullock has pitched him headfirst into a mud puddle. “This tent is closed to you,” Bullock glowers. Charlie watches, straight-faced, then remarks to Sol, “I’d be lousy at retail.” Sol looks wryly at his partner, “I’m not sure how much future he has in it.” Charlie offers to fetch back some wares for them when he goes on his next supply run, then invites them to dinner with him and Bill. When Bullock eagerly suggests that very night, Charlie doffs his hat and says he feels like he should have brought flowers. He’s so cute.

Johnny fetches Sol and Bullock to meet again with Al. Al outlines his latest terms, Bullock heroically keeps a tight rein on his temper and they manage to make a deal. Hooray! Unfortunately, Bullock and Sol then take a raincheck on dinner with Charlie and Bill because they want to start building. Charlie’s disappointment is palpable. E.B. wanders into the new saloon: it turns out that he was the one who did all the advance work that allowed Cy, Eddie and Joanie to sneak into camp under Al’s nose. E.B. tells Eddie that he thinks Al is onto him but Eddie doesn’t really care. Garrett starts making a big stink at the Gem about calling in the Pinkertons to investigate the claim he bought: he demands his $20,000 back from Al or else. “I don’t collude and I don’t cohoot,” protests Al. Hee hee. Al then suggests that Garrett go back and “reconnoiter the rim” of his property - if Garrett doesn’t find the source of the gold, Al promises to make full restitution. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn Anyhow, Garrett excitedly wonders if he should bring climbing gear as he rushes off to change his clothes. Al looks at Dan: make it look like an accident. Back at the hotel, Jane and Charlie are bickering about Bill who is passed out in the hallway. “You’re not gonna let me sleep, are you?” says Bill, then suggests that he and Charlie go help the hardware boys with their construction project. Alma thinks Garrett’s reconnoitering is a bad idea – she wants to leave Deadwood and just call it an adventure - but Garrett refuses to leave without his money. He asks his wife about her laudanum habit, actually exhibiting more awareness than he’s shown to date, but she brushes him off.

The Bella Union is about to open, to a waiting crowd, and Al glowers at it from across the street. By the way, the whores at the Bella Union are quite a bit prettier than the Gem girls – cleaner-looking too. Wild Bill has to deal with celebrity-struck passersby while working on the hardware store; he asks Bullock if his patience comes naturally or is consciously cultivated. Bill’s own patience doesn’t hold up well, however, and he eventually heads back to his poker game. Al is incredulous that the hardware boys have no prior connection to Hickock or the new saloon people. E.B. confesses to being the go-between for the Bella Union folks, knees knocking all the while. Surprisingly, Al does not lose his temper but instructs E.B. to stay friendly with them. Out on the claim, Ellsworth greets Dan and Garrett who start climbing up the cliff. At the top, Dan turns on a winded Garrett who, realizing what’s about to transpire, pleads for his life. Dan is unmoved and tosses him off the cliff. When he goes down to check on the crushed and dying man, he finds a huge vein of gold hidden in the rock. After camouflaging the vein, Dan goes back and finishes Garrett off. Ellsworth watches from the underbrush.

The Bella Union is hoppin’ – Wild Bill has even moved his poker game there. Now, here’s an interesting scene: Al is allowing Trixie to shave the calluses off his feet with a straight razor. “Not too fucking deep!” he growls. He goes on to tell her that he doesn’t trust people easily [naw – really?], having had the trust beat out of him young. Dan bursts in to tell his boss that Garrett is now out of the way and that there was, in fact, gold in them thar hills. Al sends Dan back out to retrieve the body, then calls for Trixie again. “You want the other foot?” she asks. “Yes,” Al says, “… please.” Trixie manages to not look too startled at that but I think my chin may have hit the floor.

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  1. The little square-head girl is named Sophia....not too much of a spoiler I hope.

  2. I think I'll be able to get over it. Do you know where "square-head" comes from? I'm not intuitively picking up on a Scandinavian connection ...