Friday, August 3, 2007

Deadwood recap - “Jewel’s Boot Is Made for Walking” (S1E11)

The dropping: Alma's good-for-nothing father arrives in camp unexpectedly. Trixie takes a busman's holiday with Sol. Deadwood gets a no-account for a sheriff, compliments of Tom Nuttal. Al - in a shocking turn of events - thinks Bullock should wear the badge but Bullock doesn't want to because, in case you hadn't heard , he's sent for his wife and child. [This episode was written by Ricky Jay (a/k/a “Eddie” from the Bella Union) – I’m not convinced he should write more.]

It’s morning and Al is chatting with his wife … I mean monologuing to Trixie. Trixie, who is staring out the window during his speech, tells him the comings and goings of campfolk down in the street. Oh, look – Jewel is heading out! They both pause to consider how that’s unusual. Then, Al, with a half-tender look he tries to hide, gives Trixie half a day off to go visit with Sophia. She’s surprised and says she will. Good, Al grunts, “Now, come back to bed.”

Jewel – in a scene that goes on way too long [she’s crippled; walking is difficult for her; we get it] - makes her way down the main street to Doc’s. She has brought him a book with a picture of a leg brace in it and wants him to make one for her. He’s skeptical that such a thing will be able to help her, but he keeps the book, since he’s such a good guy, and promises to take a look at it. Over in E.B.’s restaurant, it is super-crowded. Charlie and Joanie are breakfasting together; Ellsworth, Alma and Sophia are at another table. Joanie says that the backing for her brothel seems to be coming through; Charlie admits that he’s not making any friends in his role as fire marshal.

Ellsworth reiterates that Alma needs to start digging down into her claim as there is nothing left for him to find in the creeks. She insists that he stay on in a supervisory capacity, and she tells him that she enjoys his company. Cutely, he says he does too and when he admits “I’ll just say this once: I know I’m too old for you,” she has the decency to blush. Suddenly, her dandified (but not as dandified as Brom) father, Otis Russell, shows up. I distrust him immediately – he’s a snake, I can tell. Not wanting to intrude on the family reunion, Ellsworth takes his leave, and his plate, and his coffee, and his hat, and sticks his tongue out at Sophia in farewell. She returns the favor. I love Ellsworth. Andy Cramed stops by the pest tent as it is being dismantled and finds the preacher, who is much deteriorated. Andy feels lost – after surviving the pox he seems to be adrift – and is concerned that he’s backsliding into his former gambling ways. He asks the reverend if he will help him pray. The pathetic reverend is so pleased to help. He begins well but cuts the prayer short, forgetting his words. He staggers off.

At the Gem, Dan, Johnny and E.B. discuss how Al has warmed to Silas so quickly: Dan and Johnny are jealous, but E.B. (in his continuing role as Greek chorus) says that the warmth is counterfeit – Al is merely trying to figure out how he can use the magistrate’s bagman. Al and Silas talk about Silas’s prospects and Silas ends up agreeing to kill the magistrate (for $1000) and quash the outstanding warrant (for another $1000). He initially thinks such tasks are worth more money, but Al sweet-talks him. Jewel brings them coffee and Al asks her where she went (“Doc’s”) – and why she went: “I’m knocked up.” Hee hee!

Alma and her dad chat in her room. She brings him up to speed; he tells her that Brom’s family is saying that she had a hand in Brom’s death; he wants to see the actual gold from her claim; she shows him a chunk of quartz with gold in it. When he goes to wash up, Otis tries to make off with the gold but Alma calls him on it and he gives it back to her. [Remember: she married Brom for his money, to help her father pay his debts.] Otis says he wants to meet the people she’s trusting to help with her claim: he’s already met Ellsworth, so that just leaves Bullock. I think this actor looks a little young to be playing her father.

Fire Marshal Charlie is inspecting Tom Nuttal’s bar and finding the stovepipe in violation. Tom is quite discomfited by this, and feels like he doesn’t fit in the camp anymore: “That’s the kind of shit that ran me out of Wilkes-Barre.” Con Stapleton, one of Wild Bill’s poker buddies there in the bar, has a brilliant idea: Tom should suggest him to Al as candidate for sheriff! That way, the camp (and Al) gets a sheriff that isn’t too concerned with the law, and Tom gets a friend in high places. Dumb ol’ Tom agrees. This guy Con is a joke – just look at his hat!

At the Bella Union, Leon relates the plot of “Mister Wu” to Cy. Seeing an opportunity against Al, Cy tells Leon to start speaking out about the injustice of handing over a white guy to the Chinese. It’s good to know that Cy is a racist in addition to his regular general evilness. Tom meets with Al and stutters his way into suggesting Con Stapleton as sheriff. “I wouldn’t appoint that cocksucker to empty my spittoons,” scoffs Al. He is resistant and even offers Dan’s services to get rid of Con for Tom. The other saloonkeeper, nervous and jerky as he is, continues to plead his case until Al, who doesn’t really care, says it’s fine, “but no fucking paperwork!” “Well, I don’t even know if he can write,” replies Tom. It’s funny that Tom wears his apron everywhere he goes.

Trixie goes to visit Sol at the hardware store. She gets right to the point: “Would you want a free fuck?” Astonished but interested, Sol asks, “Why would you say that?” “To know the answer,” is her reply. At first I didn’t think that Sol would go for it, but he sure does, closing the shop doors and leading her to the back of the store. There’s not much getting-to-know you in Deadwood - they get right to it … until Bullock walks in. Sol: “Seth, you remember Trixie?” Bullock is appalled and leaves at once, locking the doors behind him. They pick right up where they left off. Trixie, who looks like she’s actually enjoying sex for once, tells him to “kiss my neck or tits if you have to kiss something.” “I’m going to kiss you,” Sol says, and does.

At the Gem, E.B. swears Con in as sheriff. Bullock stomps up to the bar and grunts “whiskey.” When the assembled crew introduces Con as the new sheriff, Bullock notes that “we weren’t to have a sheriff … my wife and child are coming from Michigan.” He asks if Al is in. He is, but out on the balcony, drinking straight out of the bottle (which he doesn’t usually do) and watching the reverend ranting about circumcision to two oxen in the street. He lets Bullock in, who demands to know why Stapleton is sheriff. Al says it’s a ceremonial position to comfort Tom. “That job shouldn’t go to a shitheel,” snarls Bullock. Al thinks it’s a perfect job for a shitheel: he has little use for the law and relates as evidence the story of how the magistrate is shaking him down for extra money to get rid of the warrant. Then, lo and behold, he suggests that Bullock should be the law! “I think you’d be all right as sheriff,” drawls Al. Bullock doesn’t want the job because – for crying out loud, we know this already! – his wife and child are coming to the camp. “Listen,” snits Bullock as he leaves, “I’m only talking to you because my partner’s fucking that whore.” Ooh, you shouldn’t have said that. Even tenser than he was before, Al returns to the balcony and watches the reverend who is now preaching to random passersby, barely able to stand upright. Ian McShane is brilliant. He watches the reverend, his body tightening, and then he turns away, drinking and drinking. When he turns back, his eyes are shiny with tears even as his face is frozen.

Back at the hardware store, Bullock reminds a post-coital Sol of their agreement with Al that the hardware store is only for selling hardware. Sol promises that no more hookups will happen on premises. Alma’s dad stops by and invites Bullock to dinner. Doc goes to see Jewel and says that he won’t make that brace for her because he’s concerned it will impede what little mobility she already has. He will, however, try to make a different kind of brace for her. Doc is such a nice guy.

Al catches Trixie as she’s just coming to work, noting in a scathing tone that she looks "relaxed." He is still drinking straight from the bottle and starting to look a little drunk – Al is having a bad day. He tells Johnny “get that Jew over here” and when Sol arrives, Al says Sol owes him $5. Sol refuses to pay, saying the sex wasn’t for business. Al calls Trixie over and, after some rambling, points out that Trixie will pay if Sol won’t. Sol pays. Al snarls to Trixie to get back to work, and that she won’t be sharing his bed that night. He hands some of Sol’s cash to the bartender, getting another bottle. Oh dear, it’s a really bad day.

Dinner with Alma, Bullock and Otis at the hotel is a little tense as well. E.B. spies on them from the back and demonstrates himself as an accurate judge of character, noting that Alma’s dad is a charlatan, and is quite probably duping his daughter along with everyone else. After dinner, Bullock and Otis take a walk. Bullock does not like Otis either, especially when he insults Bullock’s integrity. Alma watches them from her hotel room, musing about women’s traditional roles indoors and away from the world. Apparently she likes being in charge of her own destiny out here in Deadwood. At the Bella Union, Cy and Eddie make up. On the other side of the room Leon is holding forth about how Al is siding with the Chinese and murdering white men; Cy coaches him a little. Joanie checks in with Eddie who reports that he’s already palmed a bunch of chips right under Cy’s nose. A little later, Cy draws Joanie aside and insinuates that some real estate in Chinatown might be opening up soon.

Bullock tells Sol that he thinks Otis is not here to help his daughter: he’s here to help himself to the gold. Sol has his own issues to stew over, bitterly saying that Trixie must have told Al about their rendezvous. Abashed, Bullock cowboys up and says he’s the one who told Al, so Sol shouldn’t be mad at the whore. “I used poor fuckin’ judgment,” he admits.

Now here’s the last scene, a bookend to the opening scene between Al and Trixie, and I have no idea how to recap it. It’s a four-minute drunken speech by Al to the replacement whore cowering on his bed. He starts on how sad and pathetic the reverend has become, and then segues into the story of his own life (abandoned by his mother at a Chicago orphanage) as the whore fellates him. By the end of it, we've gained a fair bit of insight into the root of Al’s control issues, his abandonment issues (oh, Trixie), his misogyny, his determination to never go hungry again, but it’s still not clear why the reverend’s decline disturbs him so.

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