Saturday, July 28, 2007

Deadwood recap - “No Other Sons or Daughters” (S1E9)

The dropping: Charlie has a new coat. Everybody who thinks they are anybody has new jobs. Jane has had enough. Sol hasn’t got a chance with Trixie (although she kind of wishes he did). And this episode proves that small town politics is boring even in Deadwood.

Ah, morning at the Swearengen household: Al ponders the gold nugget Trixie brought him, then wakes her up by slamming it down on the dresser. He rambles on and on about annexation and the legislature in Yankton and bribes and how Deadwood will change and I’m already bored. But then I realize that aside from all the “fucks” and “cocksuckers,” he’s acting like a husband complaining about his job to his wife as he gets ready for work in the morning. He finishes dressing and, staring out the window at the street below, asks her how her arm is. She murmurs that it’s fine. After giving her some sidelong glances, Al quietly tells her not to try to do away with herself again as he heads downstairs. Ian McShane is just great here: he won’t look right at her but concern and worry flit across his face in profile. Trixie picks up her head and stares after him, pondering the softer side of Al.

Bullock brings Ellsworth to the hotel restaurant to tell Alma about her gold claim. I love Ellsworth! Sophia likes him too because he makes funny faces at her. Bullock and Alma flirt a bit and then he leaves. A hotel employee (with a much better Irish accent than good ol’ dead Tim Driscoll) brings Wild Bill Hickok’s last letter to his wife to E.B., having found it in a spare pair of pants. E.B. takes the letter and tries to figure out what to do with it but is interrupted by Charlie, all decked out in his new “I’m running a mail and freight bidness” duds. Charlie is worried that the frock coat is too over the top, but E.B. likes it. That’s who I’d take fashion advice from, yup. Ellsworth agrees to keep Alma’s claim live by working the creeks for her, but he earnestly tells her that she needs some serious prospecting to see how deep the vein goes.

Al is annoyed that Charlie was able to get in on the mail/freight business, chiding himself for not grabbing up such industry himself. The magistrate from Jack McCall’s trial comes into the Gem to talk with Al about the upcoming annexation. Al listens for a while and, when he’s about as bored as I am, cuts through it and asks who needs to get bribed in the legislature to allow Deadwood to function as an entity. As the judge starts writing down names and figures (with Al giving him the stink-eye), he mentions that a warrant has come to Yankton charging Al with a Chicago murder. The judge offers to take care of it for a mere $5,000. Al is not happy but has an it’s-got-to-be-done look of resignation on his face.

The Reverend comes to the pestilence tent to relieve Jane from her shift. She cheerfully announces that no one croaked today, then notes that “[his] fuckin’ eyes are still playing tug-o-war.” The reverend’s health is rapidly deteriorating: his eyes are wonky (as Jane just noted), his left arm is useless, he thinks he smells like rotten flesh and he gets no comfort from reading the Scriptures any longer. Jane, exasperatedly but with concern, tells him to talk to the doc – she won’t be around camp much longer for people to be disgusted by so they don’t pay attention to the sickening reverend. Or something like that - she speaks in amazingly run-on sentences. Anyway, he’s sick and she’s leaving. I still don’t care much for the reverend, but he’s becoming so sad and pathetic that my response to him is segueing from annoyance into heartbreak. Having recently professed her sobriety, Jane takes a long pull off her flask as she leaves the tent.

Al, coffee mug in hand, stomps around the camp, telling all the BMOCs to “be in [his] joint in two hours, we’re forming a fucking government.” E.B., Merrick, Cy, Bullock, Sol, Tom the bartender and Doc all get invited. Joanie and Eddie talk a little at the Bella Union. Eddie is quite distraught by Cy’s brutality towards Flora and Miles. Joanie tells him that she’s going to start her own place, out from under Cy’s thumb. Eddie is supportive but skeptical, seeming to understand that Cy is bribing her in order to get her past the malevolence of the last episode. Joanie wanders through the camp (taking note of the remnants of Flora’s dress in Wu’s pigpen), searching for a place for the best little whorehouse in Deadwood. I’m surprised she wore those white boots out in all that muck. She meets Charlie in front of his new freight office; they introduce themselves and he asks her opinion of his new frock coat. They keep talking, Charlie fairly shyly – I think he misses Bill and having someone to talk to. Joanie tells him what she’s out doing and he gives her a little pep-talk. Then, because she’s a smart cookie, she lets him know about the “town meeting” over at Al’s place, thinking that he might be a good one to have involved.

On his way to the Gem, Doc finds a drunk Jane leaning her head against a barn. He speaks to her, a couple tears running down his face, and asks her to stop drinking. Poor Doc – he’s such a sweetheart. She rounds on him, telling him to mind his own business but also to pay closer attention to what is happening to the Reverend. As the doc heads off, Charlie walks up, having witnessed the argument, and asks Jane what she’s being paid to hold that building up. He offers her a position with his new freight business, but she retorts that she’s already in a position. “Leaning forward, shitfaced drunk?” Charlie quizzes. She means her nursing job. He is persistent but she keeps turning him down, dissing his outfit to boot. Charlie gives up. [Mr. Mouse doesn’t like Charlie because he can only envision Dayton Callie in his twisted role on CSI, but I think Charlie is a great character and played really well.]

Doc tends to the Gem’s whores. He and Trixie have a nice little moment when he squeezes her hand and she fights back some tears. The menfolk assemble for Al’s meeting, eyeing each other suspiciously. “I’m declaring myself conductor of this fucking meeting as I have the bribe sheet,” announces Al. Then they talk about forming an informal municipal government to protect their camp interests and I’m bored again. Town meetings always bore me. Blah blah blah: they nominate themselves into various positions and E.B. ends up being mayor (“temporary appointees,” snits Bullock).

Later that night, the Gem is jumping. The new mayor is getting a vigorous handjob from one of the whores and Al, with an eyeroll, says he’s “going to find early occasion to push the mayor off his pedestal.” “Don’t do it with no nudge,” says Dan agreeably. Al has a headache and Dan asks if it was because of all the organizing. “Aah – twenty-five cups of coffee and too much circulating in the fresh air,” grunts his boss.

Bullock and Sol are enjoying the evening on their front porch. They’re cute and funny together when Bullock’s not being uptight and angry. Sol thinks that the doc perhaps didn’t need to mention that he’d been arrested for grave-robbing seven times just to get out of being Camp Health Commissioner; Bullock magnanimously points out that doctors do need cadavers for research purposes. Turns out Bullock volunteered for the Health Commissioner post as a way to not be nominated as sheriff … but then the camp decided to not appoint a sheriff and now he’s stuck. Charlie comes up as Sol wanders off to call on Trixie: “How ‘bout that doc?” he grins, “Grave-robbin’!”

Sol is very cute as he tries to talk with Trixie. She is uncomfortable having him at the workplace– “you don’t belong here” – and he suggests that she come see him at the store sometime and “buy a broom.” She replies that if she buys anything, it’ll be “an axe, a hammer and a saw.” With a straight face, Sol tells her that such things are “all fully stocked. And we never ask the purpose of a customer’s purchase.” They grin at each other and he leaves. Doc goes to the reverend’s tent and insists on examining him. He reassures the reverend that it’s the tumor making him feel the way he does. The poor reverend is so sad, saying that it is God’s purpose to test him with such suffering. Doc tries to be gentle with him but says that God is a sonofabitch to treat the reverend so. I’m not sure that was as reassuring as the doc intended it to be.

Joanie comes back to the Bella Union, having found herself a hotel room so she won’t have to stay in the room where Flora and Miles were killed. She checks in with Cy, who is pleasant enough (for him) to her. He’s been drinking, however, and decides it’s time for Eddie and him to have a little chat. Joanie wants no part of that and watches from the safety of the balcony. Cy finds Eddie moping at the bar and proceeds to menace the smaller man: I did what I did to those kids – get over it. Cy is just pure evil.

Charlie, making the rounds as fire marshal, finds Jane sitting on a bench in front of his freight office. She tells him that she is leaving: the direction the camp is headed makes her sick, plus “bores the living shit out of [her.]” She insists that she will not be drunk where Bill is buried and she cannot stay sober. She asks Charlie to explain to Bill her reasons for leaving, and walks off into the night, promising to send money via “Utter Mail and Charlie Freight.” “All right, Jane,” Charlie croaks hoarsely as his last living connection to Wild Bill staggers out of sight.

Bullock goes to Alma’s hotel room to check in with her about the claim. She says she liked Ellsworth and wants him to pan the creek on her claim. They sit and chat a bit, a little awkward with each other. It’s like a first date until he baldly tells her that he’s going to bring his wife and son out to Deadwood since the camp seems to be getting safer. Ha ha – that’s funny! After a pause, she asks him if he has any other sons or daughters and he says no, and then non sequiturs that his brother was killed a couple years ago. Alma’s like, um, okay, sorry about that? As Bullock says goodnight, she asks him why he mentioned his brother. He tells her: “My wife is his widow, my boy is his child” and I really wish I’d met you before I got married. Oh – that part was just implied, my bad. Bullock leaves; she closes the door and there would have been some heaving bosoms had she not been wearing such a major corset. Just wait ‘til you see him with his shirt off, Alma!

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