Hell on Wheels: Mei Mei review

Cullen found himself in peril on the latest episode of Hell on Wheels. Here's Kendall's review...

This Hell on Wheels review contains some spoilers.

The new and previous cast members on Hell on Wheels aren’t always who and what they seem to the naked eye. The situations, too, don’t readily reveal their importance during a first viewing. A second pass is recommended for diehard fans because most episodes are filled with subtle glances, reactions and overt gestures. Cullen’s still fighting for redemption, The Swede’s as patient as a hidden lion waiting to attack its prey, and everyone else is concerned with daily survival in the unfamiliar terrain and conditions.

I’m fond of Ah Fong, an intelligent and resourceful ally to Cullen if he allows it. Fong’s mechanical ingenuity elicits a “You think you’re smart, huh?” expression from Cullen. There can be several solutions to a single problem. Bohannon’s accustomed to elbow grease and brute force, whereas Fong calls upon computations and angles.

“Mei Mei” began in what we soon realize is a flash-forward to a later point in the episode. Cullen and Ah Fong tumble down a snowy mountain similar to an out of control wagon wheel. Strobridge and the nameless Chinese workers look on from a safe distance, never venturing to help. The possible death of yet another immigrant and a sometimes persnickety railroad boss flash across their resigned faces as they turn and walk away.

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There are no trees, bushes or random livestock to break their fall. Viewers roll alongside and just above them due to the great camerawork. We feel each thump as their bodies hurtle and bounce atop the slippery surface, heading towards an inevitable perilous cliff’s edge. We lie on our backs, too, feeling the great expanse of the open air.

There are few people I’d want to rescue me if I found myself in danger. I’d even stomach being chastised for perhaps not following Bohannon’s Law of the Land. The quiet of the mountaintop was soon replaced by howling winds and swirling snow. If one must perish, why not do so in such a serene setting? No sooner than Fong’s dangling off the side of the mountain, we loop to before, and the chronological progression of the episode.

The big picture of the last episodes of season four, and thus far two of the current, is Cullen’s need to rescue people from themselves, mend broken souls, and fix situations. Bohannon’s a complex character, however his raison d’être is to fill void in his own soul. Naomi and William are currently lost to him.

Cullen would be better off lowering his protective walls and allowing others access. The fireside tea and whiskey bonding with Fong is a step in the right direction. Cullen will always have unresolved issues. I’d rather see him ride off into the sunset after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, as opposed to having things neatly tied up at series’ end.


3.5 out of 5