On ''Deadwood,'' Hearst first makes nice with Swearengen, then gains the upper hand with a shocking act of violence

By Paul Katz
Updated June 19, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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  • HBO
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”Deadwood”: Hearst gets the upper hand

Oh, Milch, you crafty man. Why must you play with the emotions of your faithful Deadites? When Episode 2 kicks off, it seems that Sweargn (the fans of Wu — and my editor — rallied for this new Swearengen abbreviation, so I’ll give it a spin this week) and Hearst are headed toward war. Then it seems they’ve buried the hatchet. But by the closing credits, Hearst actually has buried a hatchet-like tool in Sweargn’s hand. It was an emotional roller coaster of an episode with an ending that was impossible to foresee. But Sweargn isn’t a man to bemoan his luck. Take his classic line from this ep: ”Change ain’t looking for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to.”

Looking at the sketch that the mute Captain delivers for Hearst to Sweargn in the hopes he’ll understand it’s a warning of an impending attack, I was with Sweargn’s Apple Dumpling Gang. I had no clue what Hearst meant to convey. The Gang’s lost and bewildered looks reminded me of a contestant on Win, Lose or Draw saddled with an artistically hopeless celebrity like Erik Estrada — a few scribbles on a piece of paper don’t mean much to anyone but the person who wrote it. So how did Sweargn understand that Hearst was making a peace offering from a few X’s and a line? I think it might have helped a few of us at home if they brought in John Madden for a Monday Night Football-type analysis. But the scene was a vivid reminder that Deadwood isn’t afraid to pump up the action, something The Sopranos was sorely missing this year.

In the past season of Deadwood, we heard quite a bit about Hearst’s ambition, but where was a tangible example of his willingness to personally get his hands dirty? At last, we see it. Hearst goes all Major Dad on Sweargn after Al refuses to provide insight on how to squeeze the Widow Garret out of her claim. The beast within emerges via a hammer to Al’s hand. Hearst has proven to be as merciless and devious as Sweargn — meaning this season is only going to get bloodier. Bullock is fine and all, but he wasn’t any match for Al. Finally, Sweargn has an enemy who can meet him in every ruthless, Machiavellian move as the two use the camp as their personal chessboard. And didn’t the final lingering shot of Hearst lording it over the entire street from his veranda say it all? Yes, kids, there’s a new boss in town.

So I was way off in thinking that the Widow Garret would be stuck lying down and kept away from the action this season after being forced into bed rest. Doc Cochrane says the baby has to go, and after a whiff of chloroform from Trixie, the deed is done. Seems the widow will be ready very soon to protect her turf and young Sofia from any assaults that Hearst has planned. Someone who probably won’t heal as quickly is Ellsworth, who looked like his dog died while telling Bullock (his wife’s former lover and the father of her doomed baby) that his presence was needed with the widow to make arrangements in case she didn’t make it. That’s gotta hurt a fellow whether he wants to admit it or not.

Another one not long for the sick bed was Cy. Was he just faking, or did the sight of the preacher man who stuck him with a knife inspire a major adrenaline rush? Either way, his newfound love of the Lord manifested itself via a derringer. In Cy’s mind the answer to ”What Would Jesus Do?” is to get armed and foam at the mouth until your attacker runs out the door. Hate to see what will happen if Cy gets really devout. At least Joanie appears to be on the mend mentally. She stood up to Cy (calling him a devil was probably not the best way to get on his good side) and told him she ”don’t want to run girls no more.” But a bullet in the brain was still looking likely until that heart to heart with Deputy Charlie helped her bounce back and go all Tony Robbins on us. That’s one resilient hooker. She affirms this by declaring, ”Nothing is over yet!” And that’s a mantra everyone in the camp could take as their own this season.

So, questions: Will Sweargn strike back at Hearst or has he been cowed? How is Hearst going to find the Widow Garret’s weakness? Will the Captain ever get a line of dialogue? Is Calamity Jane actually flirting with Mose? (That gives me the willies.) And where in the world has Wu been? We want Wu!

Deadwood

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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 3
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creator
  • David Milch
network
  • HBO

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