Sunday, November 18, 2007

Deadwood recap – “Boy-the-Earth-Talks-To” (S2E12)

The dropping: Alma and Ellsworth get married, Jane gets a pair of clean drawers, George Hearst gets to town, Wu gets his revenge, Cy gets what's coming to him and Al gets in bed with Yankton.

As his hapless guard snoozes, Wu sneaks out of the Gem and back to Celestial Alley. He summons two henchmen who distract and kill one of Li’s men. As they try to run away, Li appears and shoots one of them. Wu confronts Li and, just as things are about to get really ugly, Johnny (who is in the area purchasing meat for the Gem) drags Wu back to the saloon. The morning stage arrives under Al’s watchful eye. Commissioner Jarry excitedly gets a telegraph, presumably from Yankton. Bullock and Martha have their morning coffee, strangely sitting side by each, staring at the wall. These two just need to get over it and act like normal people. Finally, she asks him if it would be okay with him if she continues with her plan to be the camp’s schoolteacher. She’s going to stay! He reaches out and grabs her hand. Cy gets word that Hearst has arrived in the morning’s coach and sends Con Stapleton to get more information.

Al is furious with his lackeys for allowing Wu to escape and possibly ruining his plan. He even hits poor Johnny (!) before sending E.B. to fetch Hearst for a meet and greet to discuss the potential Chinese conflagration. Hearst (Gerald McRaney) is breakfasting with Wolcott and catching up on the situation in camp. He seems a fairly decent man at first glance, his particular passion being getting the “color” out of the ground. E.B. eels up to their table and delivers Al’s invitation to Hearst. Muttering and swearing to himself, Ellsworth stomps into the hardware store and Sol shoos out a customer to deal with him: the wedding is today and the groom is all a-twitter about the lavender “mittens” (dress gloves) he has to wear.

Hearst arrives at the Gem and he and Al adjourn upstairs, far from E.B. Al has his roughshod charm cranked up to 11 and shouts to Dan to bring Wu up to the meeting. To sum up: Hearst really doesn’t care which Chinese man runs Celestial Alley just so long as he has Chinese labor for his mines. He gives Al the go-ahead for Wu to take control back from Li. As E.B. escorts Hearst back to the hotel, Hearst offers him $100,000 to buy the place, allowing E.B. to remain on premises as manager. E.B., who is getting increasingly crazy with every episode, thinks that will be a fine price. (Mr. Mouse points out that $100,000 would have been a ridiculously large amount of money for that piece of property back then.)

Jarry brings Yankton’s offer to Al; Al chases him out, needing time to review the document. He and Adams sit down to go over the proposal, “study[ing] for our fuckin’ lives,” sighs Al. At the Chez Amie, Joanie convinces Jane to wear a dress, and also underwear, to the wedding, saying that funeral clothing will doom the newlyweds. Cy, who has been feeling increasingly marginalized of late, finds Hearst and tells him that he expects some recompense for cleaning up after Wolcott’s murder spree at the Chez Amie. Hearst has a momentary pause when Cy tells him what happened, but covers and walks away with a nod.

Oh, whatever. Alma walks the thoroughfare, a worried look on her face, and voiceovers to her dead husband her concerns about her impending nuptials and her impending child. She says, “He is a good man - and he whom I love is here as well.” I will be very cross if she strands poor Ellsworth at the altar. Hearst and Wolcott reconvene in Hearst’s new hotel – he’s going to tear down some walls – and the boss man wastes no time demanding an explanation for his employee’s actions. Wolcott really has no explanation and Hearst, nicely enough given the situation, fires him. Wolcott is pretty upset about it.

Al and Adams make some amendments to Yankton’s proposal: the elections will be held in six weeks; voters must have lived in camp at least two weeks to vote; and, although it pains him to do so, Al refuses the $50,000 payment from Yankton to him, not wanting a record of the bribe. Their machinations complete, Al summons Jarry and sends Adams to fetch “his holiness the sheriff.” Sol and Trixie walk by, heading to the wedding, and Al tosses down an envelope with a gift for the bride. Trixie looks very pretty in her decent pink dress. Hearst’s lackey delivers the $100,000 to E.B. who is beside himself with giddiness. Tom Nuttal stops by the Gem to consult with Al about an offer he’s had on his saloon. Al tells him not to sell and reminds him that it wasn’t his fault William Bullock died, then they giggle over the afternoon’s nuptials. It’s a nice little scene.

The wedding takes place in the hotel foyer. It goes on way too long but thankfully we cut back and forth between the actual wedding and the symbolic wedding between Deadwood and Yankton as Al, Jarry and Bullock seal the deal. After the document is signed, Jarry shakes Bullock’s hand; the sheriff surreptitiously wipes his palm on his coat as the commissioner leaves. Then Al holds out his own hand and Bullock shakes it without hesitation. Alma does not back out of her new marriage at the last minute although she does look as though she might faint. And we get a quick glimpse of Wolcott in his hotel room writing a letter. There is a length of rope coiled on the bed next to him. I think he’s taking his firing very badly. Oh, look, Charlie is back – yay!

The ceremony over and it’s time for the party. Some hooplehead leers at Jane in her dress and she decks him for it. Charlie walks up and gives her a big old grin. “Welcome the fuck back,” she grunts. Dan, Adams and Johnny get dressed in Chinese clothing and masks; Wu puts on a mask too and they head out, hefting axes. In another scene that goes on way too long, Hearst summons Cy to pay him for taking care of Wolcott’s mess. There are two big bags of gold on the table but Cy, the greedy bastard, wants a percentage of Hearst’s gold claims. Hearst does not look as though he likes that idea very much.

The masked gang gets to Celestial Alley and begins systematically hacking Li’s people to bits. Wu himself slits Li’s throat as the “San Francisco cocksucker” is getting stoned on opium. Bullock leaves Al’s office but can’t bring himself to depart the Gem quite yet. He grabs himself a bottle of whiskey, not wanting to join the wedding celebration. Everyone really is having a good time at the party, except for Cy who confronts Andy the preacher, taunting him. Andy snarls, “God is not mocked, you sonofabitch.” He steps up close to Cy and sticks a knife in his gut. Bleeding badly, Cy staggers back to the Bella Union. Joanie, who watched the entire interaction between Andy and Cy, has a bemused expression on her face. Another person not having fun at the party is Wolcott who has just hung himself (unnoticed except by Hearst’s lackey) from a balcony near the Chez Amie.

Wu and the boys stagger back to the Gem, tired from their murder spree. Wu and Swedgen reconfirm their alliance and then Wu cuts off his pigtail, saying “Wu – America!” Al goes back inside and sees Bullock, still doing shots at the bar. “Don’t you have a fucking home to get to?” Bullock realizes that yes he does, and goes outside. He and Alma look at each other for a moment across the crowd. On his balcony, Al notices this, because he notices everything, and mutters, “I believe [your home] is to your fuckin’ right.” And Bullock turns away from Alma, to his right, and heads home.

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  1. I've been enjoying your summaries...and wit...thank you.

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting. Deadwood remains one of my all-time favorite shows; one of these days, I'm going to rewatch it.

  3. Thanks for your recap of this episode. I found the negotiations between Al and Yankton a lttle hard to follow because of all the fancy language in this show, which I enjoy, also. I don't think people spoke English that well in the Old West, did they?

  4. I can't imagine they spoke quite this well back then! The nearly-Shakespearean quality of the dialogue in Deadwood is just wonderful, I think.