Fans who spent the last season of Deadwood wondering whether Yankton was a person or place or type of inland fish will be pleased to hear that the aggravating word is uttered but once in the first three episodes of season 3, which debuts June 11 and may be the final season of the filthy, hilarious, complicated, poignant David Milch Western, with characters straight from Twain, lit like portraits by Caravaggio. That was a long sentence, but if you’re a Deadwood fan, you can take it.
Like last season, the plots are thick and quick-flying. (Also like last season, the abstruseness can sometimes feel showy.) Gerald McRaney is still growling around town as mining magnate George Hearst, his greed directing him toward a tussle of mythic proportions with the town’s weakening despot, sardonic Al Swearengen (Golden Globe winner Ian McShane). McRaney was a great addition to the already stunning cast (as is Brian Cox, who appears as an old thespian crony of Swearengen’s). With so many Deadwood denizens adopting a cold and calculating whisper, it is the bawdy Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) who has become the audience’s frankest voice, just as Swearengen’s idiot lackey Johnny Burns (Sean Bridgers) subs as the viewer surrogate to whom exposition is directed. That the audience stand-ins are drunks and fools is less a token of low regard and more a message that no one mucking about on Deadwood should think themselves above the fray?although it’s highly unlikely this demanding, unique series would foster a superiority complex in anyone.