The White Spirit
In the seventh episode of Hell on Wheels Season 2, Lily and Cullen struggle to maintain order in Hell on Wheels in the aftermath of tragedy while Elam makes plans for the future. You can learn more about what happened by checking out the online extras for Episode 7, “The White Spirit”:
One of the most striking scenes this show has ever had was in the Season 1 finale, when Cullen decided, at last, that redemption might be available to him, and went to see Reverend Cole. Unfortunately for him, Reverend Cole had just beheaded someone and hidden the body, and wasn’t in the mood to preach peace. “Choose hate,” he said, leaving Cullen alone in his longing to be a better man. Within hours, he’d taken the preacher’s advice and killed an innocent man. In exact parallel to that scene, in The White Spirit, Cullen goes to the preacher’s daughter, again hoping for redemption, and hearing that it may not exist for him.
A title like “The White Spirit” promises plenty of hot Swede action, and the opening scene, in which the Swede shaves his head, strips off his clothes, covers himself in war paint, and takes his place among the chanting Sioux delivers with lurid gusto. Admittedly, the next time we see him he’s acting altogether sane, at least by his standards, as Lily summons him to camp to make sense of the absent Durant’s finances. With Durant’s life still very much hanging in the balance, the camp is on the brink of anarchy, and only Lily’s unconvincing declaration that all is well and the gruff orders offered by a disinterested Bohannon are keeping things in order. The McGinnes brothers have resurfaced, this time wanting to buy Carl’s saloon. To help them in their takeover bid, Elam and Psalms engage in some seemingly ill-conceived sabotage of the latest whiskey shipment, but it becomes clear that Elam’s recklessness is really his way of severing ties with Lily, Durant, and the railroad once and for all—not to mention getting a cut of all the bar’s future profits now that the McGinnes brothers are in charge.
“You try to tell yourself that you don’t like the killing but you just can’t stop yourself because death is coming for all of us,” the Swede tells Cullen. As crazy as the Swede is, he does seem to have his finger on what makes Cullen tick. Very rarely does he say something that isn’t hauntingly true. You can see the guilt from last week’s murder of his close friend pushing Cullen towards a shaky future.
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