Hell On Wheels “Revelations” Review

This last episode of Hell On Wheels (not forever, alas, it’s just going on hiatus) ended with Cullen and Elam riding off into the sunset. I think that’s all I have to say about it, because I can’t imagine there’s a single being with a beating heart who cares about Durant’s weird proposal to Lily Bell or his business ventures or the Irish guys who half-hanged Elam or anything, for that matter, which happened in this episode.

I did not have to review this show. I wanted to because I was desperately looking forward to it. I love Deadwood but Deadwood was not so much about expansionism and industrialized world conquering the pastoral, or about two cultures clashing. It was more about corrupt civilizations within an insular society. It was a David Milch show and therefore it was very much about human society destroying itself from the inside out. While I love Deadwood, I was hoping that Hell On Wheels could be something more similar to Battlestar Galactica except with gunfights and horses instead of Cylons and battleships.

This was nothing like Deadwood or Battlestar Galactica. The main problem with Hell On Wheels is that it assumes its characters are fascinating and assumes that because these characters are so fascinating that the audience would love nothing more than to hear them blather on through faux poetic exposition. Everything about these characters are told to us, not show, and in the grimmest, most serious way ever. It’s impossible not to laugh at the show. Laugh, or be lulled to sleep by its dullness.

Consider the introduction of the villain in Pan’s Labyrinth, one of my all time favorite films. He meets his stepdaughter for the first time, a girl of about eight or ten. He’s wearing one of Franco’s uniforms. It’s 1940s Spain, and he’s an officer in the fascist regime. No one needs to tell us: we’re smart enough to put together that if it’s 1940s Spain and the guy’s wearing a uniform, he’s a fascist. He pulls on a pair of leather gloves. You can hear them crack as he wriggles his fingers into them. She holds up her hand to shake, and he snatches it, encasing her fingers and her knuckles in his. It’s not even a proper handshake. It’s more of a grip. It’s as if he’s saying “hello, and yes, if I so please I can easily crush every bone in your hand. And I will. So don’t cross me.” There’s no dialogue. No need to say that this is not a nice man. No need for him to go off on a lengthy speech on the glories of fascism and how human beings are insignificant bugs to be squashed. He’s much too cool for that.

This series is lacking quite a bit of cool. Hopefully they can adjust it over the hiatus.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments bellow.