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1-10: "God of Chaos" 2012.01.15


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#1

Tippi Blevins

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Posted Jan 15, 2012 @ 11:15 PM

There was a fancy party and we didn't get to see Cullen cleaned up and wearing a nice suit? I feel damned cheated.

#2

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 12:11 AM

I'm puzzled as to how they'll continue the story in season 2, assuming the rest of the series isn't Cullen on the run from the law. If the story is Cullen as a railroad man in Hell on Wheels, I don't see how he can be brought back into the fold. He doesn't even have a sort-of defense for this killing. I was willing him to stop strangling the man, and believed right up until the end that he would come to his senses before it was too late. Now he's ruined himself in so many ways with that one huge mistake. The man tried to tell him and he wouldn't listen. That's going to haunt him, as it should.

I can suspend my disbelief for certain aspects of the show, but the interracial couples cavorting openly just didn't ring true at all, not to mention Elam's woman thinking they would be getting married. Was that even legal at that time?

Poor Cullen--just when he needed to be pulled from the brink by a voice of reason he stumbles onto the preacher at his lowest moment, dealing with his own crime. His sermons should certainly be interesting from now on...

#3

PhPhan

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 12:30 AM

I was surprised that they went that far with Cullen killing the guy. It makes me think that they're going to have to hang him at the end of the series.

I can suspend my disbelief for certain aspects of the show, but the interracial couples cavorting openly just didn't ring true at all, not to mention Elam's woman thinking they would be getting married. Was that even legal at that time?


Pretty much what I was thinking. A white man and a black woman trying to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. I doubt they would ever have any peace. I also thought Joseph dancing with the preacher's daughter would cause a fight.

#4

Theoldworldflag

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:11 AM

I can't help thinking harper would have found it easier to flee if he hadn't insisted on continuing to wear his uniform even after leaving the army. frankly he's lucky cullen didn't track him down first.

Edited by Theoldworldflag, Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:13 AM.


#5

taiko

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:48 AM

I can suspend my disbelief for certain aspects of the show, but the interracial couples cavorting openly just didn't ring true at all, not to mention Elam's woman thinking they would be getting married. Was that even legal at that time?

The anti-miscegenation laws were generally repelled or unenforced during the Reconstruction era. It would be decades before the KKK and the like got them back on the books and officially enforced.

Edited by taiko, Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:49 AM.


#6

Dowel Jones

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 2:12 AM

I got the impression that they're going down the "Fugitive" storyline. Bohannen hunting the real killer, the Swede hunting Bohannen. The railroad is almost a sidestory now, if that's the case. Maybe we're back to the preacher being the "real" killer after all.

I kind of liked the use of Lily's point of view to express what was happening in and out of the dance near the end. Also the Preacher channeling Darth Vader (can you channel from the future?) in his sermon to Bohannen.
However, when the train stopped that night, and the final death match began, wouldn't it make sense that at least one of the two people in the cab would have noticed what was going on in front of their train?

#7

kathyjo27

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 8:09 AM

Pretty much what I was thinking. A white man and a black woman trying to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. I doubt they would ever have any peace. I also thought Joseph dancing with the preacher's daughter would cause a fight.


I agree with you.

No way would she think she and Elam would, or even could, settle down and live happily ever after. She never struck me as the naive type.

Just like Patrick dancing with the preachers daughter at the dance. Huh? There would have been a pretty big uproar over that.

Interracial marriage/dating may not have bee an official law back then. Of course maybe that was because nobody ever expected to actualy need a law like that. But no way would it have been tolerated. Hell, Reconstruction was one of the worst times for blacks. Whites especially closed in ranks and no outsiders were tolerated. Elam would have gotten his ass kicked for even THINKING about laying down with a white woman. Even if she is a prostitute. It's one thing to do it on the downlow. But to be right out in the open like that? No way.

I still think that Lily and Cullen will be HOT. I am loving their chemistry more then any other on the show. Lily and Cullen getting together eventually is predictable. But it's the one predictable thing on this show that could work for me.

The Swede remains my favorite on the show.

#8

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 9:04 AM

They're in the middle of no where. Unless Durant steps in, I can see Elam and Eva staying together safely in the camps. But I also think her dreams to live in the railroad town with him is a pipe dream. She knows that no other man will see her as anything but a prostitute. I feel bad for her but at least she's trying for a better life.

The romantic in me watching Bohannan ride away at the end from Lily was crying in my beer. I've never watched an AMC show before. I guess this isn't going to be like watching every network show where one knows for certain the couple will end up happy together eventually.

I was so glad an episode focused on Bohannan. I think his storyline and character is the least developed. But I hate that he seems to be on his own now, separate from the railroad and the rest of the characters.

#9

scout56

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 9:08 AM

I havn't watched it yet, I agree about the hotness when Lily and Cullen predictibly get together, but from what I am reading here, how will they get together if he's on the run? I love this show for these two and their great chemistry. Anson Mount is so HOT!

#10

SnowFox

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 9:12 AM

How are they going to get Cullen, Elam and the Swede back with the railroad group? It looked like all three were heading off on their own.

#11

taiko

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 9:25 AM

I need to rewatch, did Elam leave after his fight with Eva?. At the moment he is just an armed Black man his reputation is local to Hell On Wheels and he has a patron with Doc.

With The Swede tarred and feathered and a bounty on Cullen for the Sergeant I am guessing Cullen will be found but since the towns folk destroyed The Swede's evidence a jury will find that the Sergeant fired first, self defense, and Cullen gets away with murder

#12

nodorothyparker

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:29 AM

I wanted to like this episode. I really did. And parts of it were fine, like Lily's POV at the dance. Also loved the reverend's complete meltdown and Cullen's "OK, bye then" look when he realized just how far gone he was. But I'm having the same problems a lot of other posters are having. It would have been one thing for Ruth-Joseph to be happening on the down low, but to be dancing openly in front of white men at an event that was supposed to symbolize coming civilization? Not likely without a serious reaction. Joseph might have been allowed to attend to showcase the white man and Christianity's civilizing influence, but he would have been expected to stand quietly on the edges and maybe help do menial jobs as needed. It's particularly frustrating to see them going this route after they got it right early on when Joseph first found Lily and Cullen rightly pointed out that he couldn't show up back in town with an injured white woman and not expect repercussions.

I've always liked Eva a lot because she seemed to have a fairly no nonsense attitude about the world and her place in it but it does seem she's completely lost her head. As long as they wanted to live a quiet, fairly isolated life on the edge of civilization, she and Elam might be able to get away with it. But it's obvious now that Elam has aspirations of something bigger as Doc's next right-hand man and isn't going anywhere. As unrealistic as her whole scenario may have been, my heart still broke for her a little when she said she didn't want to be a whore any more. It will be interesting to see how the recently resurrected Toole will figure into it.

Oh Cullen why? Until the last possible moment, I was hoping he would either come to his senses or something would stop him from actually killing the sergeant. Everything else up to this point is mostly suspicion or idle hearsay, but it's pretty hard to ignore the dead man on the tracks with obvious ties to both Cullen and everyone who's turned up dead. I'm afraid it's going to take a fair bit of convoluted storytelling to get him back into the railroad camp.

Edited by nodorothyparker, Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:33 AM.


#13

dietcoker

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 11:23 AM

I'm going to try to defend the show with regards to Joseph dancing with the reverand's daughter. The reason why I find it reasonable is because when Durant gave that big speech to get the men to get them behind killing the Indian raiders who derailed the train, he accepted and welcomed Joseph as part of the community. I see the big boss as the law and example in that town. All he cares about is his railroad and making money and he puts the dollar above racism and social norms of that day.

I rewatched the ep this morning and now I think I was wrong about Eva on first watch. I think she may really love Elam. Also, it seems the miracle man sincerely wants her as well. I guess time will tell.

#14

Vanilla Siren

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 11:49 AM

Okay, so maybe it's a tad unrealistic to have to interracial couples openly together on this show. Meh, I'll suspend my disbelief, because I still like it.

I enjoyed this episode for the most part. Lots of things going on, good set-up for next season. Though I can't see how they're gonna get Bohannon back to the railroad work.

Eva may have come off a bit more naive than she should be, but I was thinking that underneath that tough exterior she wanted what a lot of women wanted back then (heck, what women still want): marriage, family, roots, love. I liked that she told Elam what she felt and where she stood. They both want to be more than what they've been, but they're still going in different directions. It's kind of sad.

UO: I don't think Cullen and Lily are that hot. Sure, they have some chemistry, but they don't make me swoon. I just find them ... meh.

Joseph and Ruth, on the other hand ... well, they're not hot, but I think they're freakin' adorable! They have that whole sweet first love thing going on. There brief scene in this episode made me squee at the cuteness. Despite all the heavy, dark stuff they've both had to deal with, there's a lightness to the couple that's a nice counterpoint to Cullen/Lily's UST and Elam/Eva's angst. When she said she didn't want any of the other fellows, the way they smiled at each other ... awww ... what can I say? I'm a suck for that stuff.

I'm glad the Swede instead dead. He needs to stick around to be wonderfully creepy.

As for Bohannon ... well, Loki indeed.

#15

Gen7

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 12:58 PM

Joseph and Ruth, on the other hand ... well, they're not hot, but I think they're freakin' adorable! They have that whole sweet first love thing going on. There brief scene in this episode made me squee at the cuteness. Despite all the heavy, dark stuff they've both had to deal with, there's a lightness to the couple that's a nice counterpoint to Cullen/Lily's UST and Elam/Eva's angst. When she said she didn't want any of the other fellows, the way they smiled at each other ... awww ... what can I say? I'm a suck for that stuff.


I agree. They are very sweet. Then again I seem to have a propensity for somehow being more interested in minor characters' stories. I'd actually hoped to see more of them this episode, especially after what happened between them in the previous one.

#16

runningwithmace

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:03 PM

For the entire time that I was watching the opening scene flashback to when Bohannon found his wife, I kept thinking why are they putting us through this exposition yet again? We found out his motives for hunting down and killing those men in the first episode. In almost every episode it has been mentioned that he found his wife hanging. The audience already knows that he found his wife hung on the porch and that he found his son burned to death in a barn.

For a show with some pretty good writing, I'm disappointed that the writers feel the need to hammer this point home again and again and again. We get it-- his family died horribly and he's on a quest for vengeance and we've been filled in on all of the details already. Guess what? Every psuedo-antihero protagonist in every genre that involves weapons being waved has the same exact backstory. And Gladiator did a much better job at using the "finding my dead wife hung on my house" scene, because it wasn't exposition in its lamest form (the flashback). It was the second turning point of the movie's plot.

#17

electricfish

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:19 PM

The Swede and his cuckoo clock just killed me! The rest of it I was very meh on. The racial and gender equality storylines are straining all credibility. I can't lose myself in the story because it's just not plausible. Maybe if this was set in the Firefly universe, and not the American west...

#18

ChipBach

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:34 PM

The only way they can save Sullen, opps, I mean "Cullen" is to show that the strangled trooper DID participate in his wife's killing, and the paperwork was fake, or someone else's that was taken, etc. Still, AMC writers do like to push the limits of what they wish their viewers to believe (e.g., The Walking Dead, The Killing, etc.). Seems like a pattern...

Edited by ChipBach, Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:35 PM.


#19

taiko

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:35 PM

For the entire time that I was watching the opening scene flashback to when Bohannon found his wife, I kept thinking why are they putting us through this exposition yet again? We found out his motives for hunting down and killing those men in the first episode. In almost every episode it has been mentioned that he found his wife hanging. The audience already knows that he found his wife hung on the porch and that he found his son burned to death in a barn.

For a show with some pretty good writing, I'm disappointed that the writers feel the need to hammer this point home again and again and again. We get it-- his family died horribly and he's on a quest for vengeance and we've been filled in on all of the details already. Guess what? Every psuedo-antihero protagonist in every genre that involves weapons being waved has the same exact backstory. And Gladiator did a much better job at using the "finding my dead wife hung on my house" scene, because it wasn't exposition in its lamest form (the flashback). It was the second turning point of the movie's plot.

I think it is a generational issue of TV producers. Once upon a time you could not go to your cable system's on demand, iTunes, Hulu, net recaps etc to get the entire story. A TV show was contained to that single episode for the casual viewer the onscreen justification is for the person who has only seen episode 10 because CSI Miami was a repeat and they took a friend's suggestion to give HoWs a chance.

#20

runningwithmace

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 1:49 PM

I think it is a generational issue of TV producers. Once upon a time you could not go to your cable system's on demand, iTunes, Hulu, net recaps etc to get the entire story


Yes, but they solved this issue across the board with the ubiquitous "Previously" that precedes almost every episode of almost every show. Also, anyone who's taken an Intro to Writing class knows that exposition is not to be overdone. It's a fatal flaw on the part of the writers, and if their generational gap is making them that incapable of adjusting to the times, perhaps they ought to consider retirement.

#21

Tippi Blevins

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 2:52 PM

Recaplet is up.

#22

Bob1965

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 3:20 PM

Yes, but they solved this issue across the board with the ubiquitous "Previously" that precedes almost every episode of almost every show.


They should of shown us Cullen finding his dead wife in the first episode, and then they could of used a short clip of that in each "previously". Then they wouldn't of had to tell us every episode what happened to his family.

#23

vadafaith

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 3:46 PM

I thought this was one of the strongest episodes. I have some of the reservations that critics of the show have, but I still end up being highly entertained.

Hell on Wheels is like a Gothic Western graphic novel. The visuals are often stunning. Especially in the past two episodes. The sets and the photography bring me into the story. I can look I past the continuity missteps and possible anachronisms because there's so much here to delight someone like me who grew up reading Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, who were not exactly bastions of Frontier realism.

I found the scene between Bohannon and the Rev. Cole (as in "black as"?) hilarious. Very, very dark humor. Bohannon finally seeks spiritual advice and is dragged deeper into Hell. So in the show's cosmology, the pristine unspoiled West is Heaven; the dirty realities of expansion and human endeavor make up a rolling Hell; the Christian God is legless, armless, sightless, and speechless; and the immoral mathematics of manifest destiny evoke an older, wilder, pre-Christian god. "Choose hate."

The flashback did bother me, mostly because the farmhouse and landscape were all wrong. Mississippi doesnt look like that. However, we did learn that Bohannon was a captain (three bars on his coat collar -- although I know some of the Civil War experts out there will tell me what was wrong with the insignia). I reckon the idea was to show us Mrs B's death instead of just telling us. But that should have come earlier in the series.

I wonder if Durant assumed hanky-panky when he saw Bohannon coming out of Liliy's tent buttoning up his vest? She doesn't seem to be worried at all about her reputation. Maybe that's deliberate? She's the "sullied" Fair-haired maiden of the West. If she was going to be overly proper, she would have left HoW. And now her floor is fixed. It seems like she's willing to do what she has to to survive. Short of outright prostitution. The deal she struck with Durant is pecuniary enough.

I think Elam is just as naive as Eva about the potential to reinvent himself. Duran will use him as needed, just as he used the Swede and Bohannon. Judging from how well that's worked out for them, I'd say Elam has a reckoning in store. As do others here, I wonder about the acceptance of the mixed-race couples by the populace at large. I don't know. It's possible but not likely.

Liked the exchange between Bohannon and Elam in his tent when B was cleaning his weapon. Bohannon asked why he cared, and Elam said he didn't. It echoed the exchange between B and Lily when she realized Joseph's people had been involved in the massacre of the survey party. Bohannon warned her of the price to pay if she told Durant, and she listened. He should listen to his own advice.

The Swede continues to amaze. What a great portrayal of a character. His exchange with Durant outside his caboose was choice Swede weirdness. Just his grunts of dismay and satisfaction. And the loss of his coo coo clock hurt more than the loss of the wife. Loved Durant's line that Bohannon is his Gypsy.

The Swede finally got some of his mojo back by the time Bohannon made it to the caboose. He thought Durant was behind him again. He stared down Bohannon's pistol with courage, talking about Loki, the "slippery little devil." The shot of Bohannon walking towards him out of the darkness was great, and it's one of the reasons I love the show.

Also the shots of Bohannon stalking Harper throughout the camp, intercut with the Swede's tarring and feathering and the swirl and color of the dance. The horrible torture of the Swede backlit by a golden setting sun and glorious clouds. Bohannon, pistol in hand, sillhoutted against the boiling clouds. They are like panels from a graphic novel. All very Gothic.

The chase at the end around and over the train was well done, too. I was really, really hoping that Bohannon wouldn't do what he did. Couldn't he have listened for once? More right than he knew when he told Durant no one had ever accused him of being wise.

I really hope the second season doesn't try to redeem Bohannon with some dumb reveal about Harper having lied about hanging his wife. The guy didn't seem much like a cold-blooded murderer. Unlike some people. Cough. It did occur to me that perhaps Harper wasn't dead. Takes a while to strangle someone to death.

Maybe he can frame the Rev Cole for it!

Edited by vadafaith, Jan 16, 2012 @ 9:59 PM.


#24

scout56

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 4:45 PM

Damn Vadafaith, I havn't seen the season finale yet, but after reading your recap and what you take from it, well, I just can't wait! I do love this show and glad it came along. To me it dosn't matter how right or wrong the writers are about the history, it's entertainment that I have been waiting for in a series for a long time. I believe if all the wonderful detail you describe (darkness, goth, Heaven & Hell etc), that you see in this, then WOW! The writers have done their job!

Edited by scout56, Jan 16, 2012 @ 8:52 PM.


#25

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 5:28 PM

During their discussion, Eva mentions something to Elam to the effect that she is "staying behind". At first I thought this meant that HoW was moving, as construction camps often do. But, the day after the fight, it's clear that they are actually at the end of the road (physically and metaphorically I suppose). They are currently 40 miles from somewhere civilized. So, is Elam going somewheres, or is Eva, or did I misinterpret that line?

#26

vadafaith

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 5:31 PM

Damn Vadafaith, I havn't seen the season finale yet, but after reading your recap and want you take from it, well, I just can't wait!

Awww, shucks.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I want to add here how good I think Anson Mount is in this role. He is a subtle actor, channeling Gary Cooper by way of Clint Eastwood. He's funny, too, using his eyes to great WTF effect during his scenes with the Reverend and the Swede.

#27

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Posted Jan 16, 2012 @ 5:37 PM

I didn't think it was quite as good as "Timshel" last week, but I thought it did a good job setting up the future season and making me want to tune back in. A few issues I'll address later, but overall, a good show. And I'm surprised that none of the main cast got killed off. I figured someone might bite it, at the very least one of the "guest stars" like The Swede, Eva, or Ruth, but nope, everyone is still around!

I was really hoping this would be the end of Cullen's revenge plot, but I do like the twist of him killing an innocent man and knowing it. Pretty dark thing for our "hero" to do. Not sure how they will handle him being on the run, because it would be kind of silly to call this Hell on Wheels, but have the lead never be there, but I'll be patient. And I'm pretty sure Elam is going to stick with his current gig, but I do wonder how bad the fallout will be with Eva, and what part Toole will play.

I am very relieved the Swede is still alive. I thought they handle his story the best; he's still here, but he had the entire group turn on him and humiliate him, so all his power is gone now, and karma officially kicked his ass. But the actor is just amazing in this role, and I'm glad he'll be back. Loved his line about how his wife didn't break his heart but she did take his "cuckoo clock." He really seemed hurt by that. Maybe Cullen will bump into his wife, and the Swede can have two motivations: get revenge and get his clock back! Or Cullen might just merely shoot it, and make the Swede even angrier.

Looking forward to seeing Lily's new role next season. Poor pathetic Doc. If he wasn't such a douche, I would almost feel bad for how desperate he is to want her to like him, which is clearly never going to happen. Then again, he could be the nicest guy on the planet, but I doubt anything is going to stop the Cullen/Lily hook-up, which will happen and will probably be epic!

Joseph and Ruth dancing was a little hard for me to buy and close to being just cheesy, but the actors sold it. I really like them since they're basically the nice guys in a dark world. Which is why I'm worried; with the Reverend still around, I'm really afraid what will happen when he finds out. I have a feeling he is going to be one of the most dangerous characters on this show.

Actually looking forward to the next season. Biggest wishes are to find something to do with the underdeveloped Irish bros, make the Swede a regular, and I want more of Chief Wes Studi!

#28

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Posted Jan 17, 2012 @ 8:41 AM

During their discussion, Eva mentions something to Elam to the effect that she is "staying behind".


Eva said that they were building a "real town." I'm not sure what this means for the RR. They did the 40 miles ... is the Union Pacific close from the west? Are they done?

Maybe it just means that people periodically tire of the HoW life and build a town.

Later edit: I assume they do have miles to go to finish the railroad; I'm just not sure if, given events in the finale, our characters will be around for it. I still don't even understand how often HoW's moves. They can't take it down every mile. Every 5 miles? The logistics interest me.

Edited by Westy8283, Jan 17, 2012 @ 12:27 PM.


#29

electricfish

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Posted Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:29 AM

They needed 40 miles of track to qualify for government funding, they've probably got hundreds of miles to go to actually finish it.

#30

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Posted Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

I love this show probably more than I should. I am especially in love with the cinematography. Every shot is carefully crafted and really brings me into the story. I thought the shot of the coming storm was especially powerful, as the backdrop for Cullan's hunt through the camp for Harper.
I was so happy to see a little dirt on Lilly's face this week, as she tried to build her floor. The woman is seriously beautiful, and wow, what a knockout at the dance! No wonder Durant is in love with her.
Joseph and Ruth, what a lovely couple. The Rev is not going to be happy about it.
Speaking of the Rev, wouldn't it be a little hard to hide all the blood after a beheading? That's really the only complaint I have about this episode.
Great job, show!! Can't wait for Season 2!