On ''Deadwood,'' the townsmen and Hearst prepare for battle; meanwhile, two couples take their relationships to the next level

By Paul Katz
July 24, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”Deadwood”: The heat is on

”No one gets out alive,” bellowed Al Swearengen at the end of ”Unauthorized Cinnamon,” and the way things are shaping up, that just might be the case. As Hearst called in reinforcements to help tear Deadwood apart, the town elders met up to discuss actions to take against him. First off, the letter Bullock wrote to the dead Cornishman’s family was lovely. Seriously. If the whole sheriff or general-store owner thing doesn’t pan out, Seth should give some thought to becoming a greeting card writer. But (and this proves to me that Langrishe is a yutz) was publishing the letter in the town paper really the strongest course of action? Hearst has 25 thugs headed to town, and the men of Deadwood are hoping the pen is mightier then the sword? That went down like a plate of spoiled peach preserves for me.

Especially considering the pure determination Hearst expressed to Odell about wiping Deadwood off the map. A quick Emmy plea: Gerald McRaney is a doing a monster job as Hearst. Monster. He should get a nom just for his wickedly fluffy beard, but I actually felt bad for the filthy rich, murderous tycoon as he began to weep about never being liked… or picked for kickball… or whatever is the imagined slight Hearst feels when he comes marching into a new town. Now that’s acting.

Speaking of Odell: Yea to the plotline of his dealings with Hearst and finding gold in Liberia, only because they quickly dropped any pretense that Hearst was going to get hornswaggled. But nay to the mother-issue moments between Odell and Aunt Lou. Odell needs to have a quick chat with Al about abandonment issues — only then can he start griping. Till then, suck it up. It feels a bit too touchy-feely for a pre-therapy era.

And while I mention touchy-feely — and yes, I’m going there with this transition — Jane and Joanie finally had their Brokeback moment. It wasn’t icky (although did I hear right that Joanie slept with two of her sisters? That Flowers in the Attic-type mention was icky), and it didn’t seem forced, since their relationship has progressed all season. But the real reason the scene worked was thanks to that moment when Jane shuddered quietly. My interpretation wasn’t that Jane felt romantic passion or lust, but simply that she’s been starved for human contact for so long, a single kind touch was almost orgasmic. Perhaps the heat will turn up between the two women, but for now, they’re looking more like two very lonely people searching for comfort than a couple lusty chicks pulled from Real Sex 98.

And my favorite camp couple took their relationship up a notch (hmmm, with all these relationship stories and the lack of bloodshed in this episode, I hope no one will confuse this TV Watch with one for The Hills): Sol asked Trixie to marry him — or at least raised the possibility with his offer to take in the orphaned Sofia. Man, that kid has been bounced around more then a pinball. Still, it seems her current caretaker, Alma, is going to try to pull her act together and get back off the drugs. But what’s the goal of getting Ellsworth out of the picture, in terms of plot? If he and Alma are no longer a couple, does that leave her free to have a liaison with someone else? Who would that be? And were the whores correct in that Alma wasn’t invited to the big meeting because she’s a woman? Or was it because she’s doing dope? I think Al would have wanted her to attend if she’d been coherent, since he seems to favor brains over gender.

To bring things full circle, Al’s admonishment ”No one gets out alive” was directed toward Doc Cochran, who appeared to be a goner thanks to the onset of tuberculosis but seems willing to not go gently into that good night. After what appeared to be a small depression that settled over both Doc and Al, it was good to see they’re both ready to fight.

What should happen next? Might Al and Cy regret not hiring gunslingers? Is Odell going to get his chance at gold, or will Hearst back out? Will Joanie and Jane guest-star on The L Word? And does cinnamon really make peaches taste better?

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