Deadwood season 2 – Episodes 1 & 2

Last year, I was midway through Season two of Deadwood when, for some reason, I stopped.  Wishing to return, I felt wrong about picking up where I left off.  So I started from the first two episode of that season.  And here comes some gubbins about them:

On my first watch of Deadwood, I never warmed to Powers Boothe’s portrayal of Sy.  The grand movements and over-sized gestures of a stage actor were at odds with the acting of the rest of the cast.  But, towards the end of the episode, he’s engaging.  Sy has to come to terms with Joannie, his long-term ho, finally flying the…whorehouse.  Sy unconvincingly acts as if he’s pleased for her, but by the end of the episode his anger and resentment have boiled over.  Boothe gives a great performance as a man who feels betrayed and jealous.

The Sy and Joannie relationship makes for great TV.  She has hoed herself for him since she was a teenager.  Now she has had enough of working for him, and is opening up her own house of ill-repute, just down the street no less.  Joannie could no longer take dealing with Sy everyday, and told him “Kill me or let me go”.  Though I can’t remember, I presume that Sy will become more and more resentful as the season progresses.

Timothy Olyphant’s Bullock remains my favourite character.  Despite being the most stereotypical of all the Deadwood characters, a man of both heroic virtues and darkness, he’s very engaging.

A brief comment on DVD boxsets.  I hate an unavoidable synopsis.  With Deadwood there’s no ‘play all’ function, so you have to select episodes individually (first world problems).  When you get to the episode screen there’s a synopsis to the side.  An absent-minded fella like myself could quite easily zone out waiting for the menu to load, and accidentally read some important plot point.  And that would be rubbish.

Deadwood sometimes catches me off-guard when it starts, as I’m conditioned now to expect every show to have a cold opening.

So much is made of Deadwood’s dialogue, and rightly so.  Many are quick to mention the cursing beauty of Al Swearingen, but E.B. Farnham might have even better dialogue.  At times he wanders off alone, talking to himself, and his words are wonderfully constructed.  In these scenes it’s almost like he’s narrating the show, and he does so with wonderful turns of phrase.

Now that Bullock’s ‘wife and son’ have arrived in Deadwood, things are getting complicated.  His family are actually that of his dead brother.  Bullock took them on after his brother’s death, because he’s just that nice a guy.  Of course, their presence makes him feel guilty about regularly banging the hell out of Mrs Garrett.  His scenes with his fam are wonderfully formal and awkward, even for someone as uptight as Bullock.

Dan is a great minor character.  He suffers from bouts of rage, maybe more so than any other character.  He’s also fiercely protective of Al, seeing him as a father figure.  He sometimes suffers for this in Al’s eyes, as Swearingen is calculating, and so has little respect for Dan’s irrational outbursts.

Comedy genius Jane makes an appearance.  She turns up outside the doctor’s office, on the ground, her feet caught in her horse’s reins.  Despite being upside down and trapped, she still threatens anyone who comes near.  As usual this includes the doctor.

It’s quite surprising how much funnier Jane became off the back of her friend being murdered.  Jane was funny anyway, but after Bill was killed she got all the more drunk and so much more amusing.  I wonder if the writers had planned this.  There can’t be a lot of shows where a character becomes much more comedic after something decidedly not so, such as a death.

Season two hasn’t been a great one for Dans.  Ignoring the previously mentioned one, both Bummer Dan and Slippery Dan have been killed in the first two episodes

Swearingen provides more hilarity.  Being of ill-health after fighting with Bullock in the previous episode, Al needs his prostate worked regularly.  You won’t see that in Game of Thrones.  A hoe works away behind him, prodding away in his brown cavern.  She gets a mite too eager, and Swearingen shuffles away from the pain.  Yet she follows, her digit working away vigorously.  Al gets mad, asking her why oh why did she keep chasing?  He announces “close the assflap”.  A high moment of bum-related comedy.

Bullock returns to Swearingen’s bar, The Gem, to reclaim his guns left there before the fight.  Bullock is backed up Jane, Sol, a guy who’s name escapes me, and from a distance, Trixie.  Al is protected by Dan and the Man In Black from Lost.  Tensions are high, but no drama unfolds.  The drama remains folded.

Trixie’s conflicted emotions show in these episodes.  She has feelings for Starr, but still has some attachment to Al, despite the way he treated her.  She tries to distance herself from Sol by offering to give someone else a quick toot on their meat trumpet, reclaiming her hoeish instincts to cover up her true feelings.


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