Dependency was the name of the game in “The Lord’s Day” an episode short on action but big on changing up Hell’s dynamics. Beneath the surface of any community is a pecking order, and the return of Thomas Durant reminded everyone of the railroad baron’s rightful place at the top of the food chain, just when it seemed the whole symbiotic affair would devolve into selfish cannibalism. Durant’s homecoming did not mean business as usual, though, as he came back from Chicago joined by wife/seasoned ball-buster Hannah (Virginia Madsen—seriously, she defeated Candyman this one time). Having pledged a few episodes ago to beg her forgiveness, Durant’s newfound dependency on his wife (both in recovery and business matters) had a domino effect on everyone in town, examining the fleeting nature of “home” and leaving more than a few in the lurch.
For the previous two episodes, I’ve cut the vulnerable, doe-eyed Lily Bell a lot of slack. I thought perhaps the writers were doing something interesting, even unusual. But did I think that, or merely hope it? This week, I’m afraid I have to draw the line, and I know exactly where my patience ended. When Lily asked Durant to recall what they had meant to each other, my jaw just plain dropped. WHAT? Lily Bell, who sadly accepted a move to Thomas Durant’s bed as the price of her escape from England and from her late husband’s family? Lily Bell, who stabbed an Indian to death with his own arrow? That Lily Bell? Why is she whining and doe-eyed and lost without the tenderness of a good man, or barring that, a rich man?
Episode director Rod Lurie ratchets up the tension in anticipation of Durant’s return, and the ominous musical score suggests nothing less than an invading army is about to storm the camp. Once Durant arrives, his cane-assisted walk from the train to his office is treated as a Herculean struggle, and he stops midway to issue a barely veiled threat to the clearly scheming Sean McGinnes. The scene simultaneously depicts Durant as a weakened, possibly delirious victim and, as he implicitly suggests, a tiger about to devour anyone foolish enough to approach him. The show’s craftsmanship has progressed enough in the last couple weeks that this reads as ambiguous, rather than just muddled. As in previous episodes, Durant is never as fully villainous as he seems to think himself to be. But this time, the villainous side is still clearly on display.
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