Hell On Wheels: Escape From the Garden review

Cullen and the Swede are getting ready to boil over in this week's episode of Hell on Wheels. Here's Kendall's review...

Cullen and the Swede aren’t likely to have tea and salmon croquets anytime soon. He’s beyond fed up with his fellow Fort Smith inhabitants, and has never shied away from an opinion on the Swede. Bohannon has simmered and stewed far too long, and it’s now time to return to Cheyenne and resume building The Union Pacific Railroad. Is there a better taskmaster than Cullen to get the railroad built and operational?

Who else has handled the various personalities and conflicts with aplomb like him? Bohannon as an unlikely middleweight boxer has toppled Durant and Mickey in previous seasons. The Swede’s thinly-veiled religious fervor is no match for Cullen’s cunning ways of getting the job done. Will the Swede soon be defrocked? If only he weren’t deaf to the slowly beating drums viewers have heard since he murdered the real bishop en route to Fort Smith. Father Hatch and the Swede deserve each other, perhaps for no other reason than they’re united in the murder of an innocent. They’re joined at the hip and oftentimes meet each other at the crossroads of misinformed religious dogma, hypocrisy and the lies that lull them to sleep at night.

A fool and his money are soon parted. A man without strong faith and grasp of the bible will be revealed as a false prophet. The Swede has been the puppet master meets shepherd for the Mormon sheep in the compound, but hopefully they’ll soon remove the wool from their eyes, rise up and take the shears to the Swede’s faux heavenly coating. The Swede is one of the Hell on Wheels villains viewers love to hate. Bohannon’s “oh, you’re fixin’ to get it” expression as the Swede pursues him after Bendix’s impromptu visit is priceless. As Cullen regains his confidence and cements his exit strategy, the Swede falters and viewers await his comeuppance. 

Meet your enemy where he rests and plays, and he won’t suspect you’re there to reveal his forked tongue, horns, and tail. Cullen took the Swede to a Southern-style tent revival, the smoke evaporated and the mirrors were no longer able to disguise his foul countenance. The snake was cornered, unable to wiggle away yet again as Cullen exits whistling Dixie on his way back to a new Cheyenne. We know Bohannon is a creature of habit. Watch out John Campbell.

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The provisional governor and his posse arrive in Cheyenne with the directive of establishing order in the heretofore lawless city. Durant hasn’t taken too kindly to having an overseer with bestowed power invading his backyard. I don’t foresee the provisional governor and his motley crew being of any good in Cheyenne, and especially to its people. John Campbell won’t stand a chance against the combined forces of Durant, Cullen, Mickey, and Eva. They’ve arrived with the wrong intent of alienating the locals, striking the fear of God, and thinking themselves superior. This might become their fatal flaw. 

I don’t know how I feel about these characters drawn larger than the rest of the cast. It would make sense that they’re outsized just so that they can be taken down a few notches as future order is restored. I’m confident these outsiders will unite and rally the locals against them. Elam’s not around. No one knows if he’s dead or alive. The history of Cullen and Elam’s rivalry and eventual bond plays across Cullen’s face in a fitting end to episode two.

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3.5 out of 5