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maraleia

S04.E07: Elam Ferguson

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Cullen attempts to reconnect with Elam upon his return. Durant takes matters into his own hands while putting an old problem to rest.

 

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Sounds interesting. Gee half way through the season already. Here where Im watching it theyre going to show 10 episodes then take a break then show the remaining episodes.

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The only time a felt  a little bad for Elam is when him and Psalms hug. Other than that, I was glad Cullen took him out. He was getting on my nerves. My heart broke for Cullen when he had to kill his friend. Elam was the first person he finally let his guard down for. I don't see him doing that with anyone else anytime soon. Eva had already accepted him being lost to her. That's why she didn't want to go to the grave. 

 

Pretty good episode. Cullen just makes the show for me.


I felt bad for Elam but I won't miss that damn eye.

 

ICAM! That eye was hard to look at.

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Glad THAT'S over! Eva was right. Elam never returned. And the looooooong drawn out stand off really could've been truncated. Felt bad for Cullen throuhout, and was annoyed at Psalms' reaction to what Elam clearly MADE Cullen do. I mean, it's not as if he heard about it second hand. He was there.

   I did like the bits we saw of the supporting players, except for Naomi, who just bugs still. I know it's a rough situation, but Cullen didn't force her to leave with him. Just maybe one scene without the neediness? Next week looks better. Perhaps we'll find out more about Canning's character. I felt bad for the two Indian women. Not only did they get absolutely nothing to do, but they were cut out of al the shots that focused on Canning. (The actresses didn't even attempt to photo bomb!)

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Felt bad for Cullen throuhout, and was annoyed at Psalms' reaction to what Elam clearly MADE Cullen do.

 

God yes! That was annoying. And I felt so bad for Cullen trying to defend himself about it. They were all witness to Cullen doing everything he could to get Elam out of that situation alive, and getting knifed for his trouble. Didn't see anybody else stepping up to take charge of the situation, or to help Cullen when Elam was trying to stab him in the head.  And don't forget Eva reminding Cullen one more time that this happened to Elam because he went looking for Cullen. Thanks for piling on, Eva. Can you not see he's already guilt-ridden about it?

 

I'm wondering about the behind the scenes of this. Did Common want out? Did they think his story was played out? I suspect they want to give Psalms more screen time, and build his relationship with Cullen. He is a better actor than Common. Or should I say he is an actor, and Common is not. But I agree with the earlier poster, it would have been more of a service to the show to have let Elam die searching for Cullen and let Cullen (and us) remember him that way. Instead they've heaped more guilt on Cullen. Are they trying to break him? His heartbroken crying at the end of the episode was so raw. Good job by Anson Mount.

 

Meawhile, I continue to dislike Cullen's nagging wife more each episode. Park her with that family she wants to visit so much, Cullen, and get the hell out of Cheyenne when her back is turned.

 

One nitpick about the acting and directing this episode of the B storyline. If you're going to have a man take a severe beating, could he please remember it once he wakes up? First of all it makes no sense Durant lay there all night out cold, and Cullen can wake him up with a shoulder shake. And he should not have been able to spring up and into a chair with hardly a wince, and the only visible signs of trauma are on one side of his face. He should have had broken ribs, internal bleeding and a concussion, just to name a few things. He certainly shouldn't have been in any condition to administer a beating back to the guy, again without any sign he's in pain. Took me right out of the episode.

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Should have just left Mr Ferguson for dead with the bear. Since Common was stunt casted they didn't move the train for two hours since they were stuck saying goodbye

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Maybe it's just me but I really loved this story arc. Elam was one of my favorite characters and I love how they 'turned' his character inside out right up to the very end. I really like how the newly freed African American men are portrayed in this show. It is not far from the truth because prior to Jim Crow laws and era, freed men and women had great hopes despite everything that they would have a decent chance at a decent life.

 

Someone mentioned the Native American women in this episode... but what I've noticed is that there are no black women in this show. At least one of the men would have brought his wife and family or at least a woman partner.

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I think Psalms and Eva were upset because Cullen shot Elam when he was already down. He didn't get up and come roaring after Cullen after the knifing. The way it looked (not how it played in Cullen's thoughts, obviously), he took out his gun and calmly shot an injured man. The stabbing was completely understandable given the danger in that moment, but I see where Eva and Psalms would find the shooting unnecessary because Elam was taken down already. In their minds, perhaps they could have sedated him, treated him, at least tried something. Maybe he would have died anyway, but Cullen took away any chance or hope of survival. I certainly don't blame Eva for what she said in that moment of pain.

 

I'm guessing that Common wanted off the show, but I appreciate that they/he did more than leave Elam with the non-ending of last season, especially considering the way everyone was shouting about how they couldn't end the character that way. -- I thought the shift from his raving to when he thought he recognized "Moses" was great. Seemingly lucid but clearly not -- well done. Elam was in so much pain that the killing was probably a mercy, but I do see why Eva and Psalms blame Cullen. That said, seeing him having to grieve alone for having to kill another friend (after Doc Whitehead), finally broken, was quite sad.

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Elam was in effect "gut shot" and given the medicine at the time thought to have a painful and unsurvivable wound. Since they did not believe in the strong medicine he had in surviving a bear attack Cullen and the legal system saw it as a mercy killing

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In their minds, perhaps they could have sedated him, treated him, at least tried something. Maybe he would have died anyway, but Cullen took away any chance or hope of survival.

IIRC Psalms knew (I'm not sure about Eva, which is why I didn't mention her) that the Government rifles were trained on Elam and that Cullen was keeping him from getting shot throughout the brawl by his proximity. Cullen made it a clean kill, rather than a bloodbath, which it likely would have been.

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That was a rough hour of television.  Between this show and Outlander, it was rough night for TV all around.

 

I understood where Psalms and Eva were coming from, as unfair as it felt after Cullen had gone so far above and beyond what anyone else was willing to do try to prevent it ending like that.  Because I felt it too.  Even though you know this show and know that there was almost no way Elam was going to be walking away from that, as long as Cullen kept talking and kept trying you wanted to hold onto that very slim hope that maybe he'd pull it off, that if anybody could pull off a way to keep Elam alive it would be Cullen.  So to see him gutted and then shot down like that was the dashing of all hope. 

 

Anson Mount feels like such a natural in this role that every once in awhile like in this episode, it's almost a shock to be reminded what a fine actor he really is.

 

On a slightly lighter note, I loved Cullen stitching up Durant and basically extorting his way back in.  I generally find Durant to be kind of a tiresome blowhard, but I really like the great adversarial relationship he has with Cullen.  They may not like each other very much, but they're both devoted to the idea of the railroad and know they need each other to make that happen.  Durant's payback for last week's beatdown was also nice if a bit unexpected for a man who usually seems to not want to dirty his own hands.

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I was wondering about the "white" eye. Does anyone know if that is actually something that can happen? In other words, damage to an eye can make it change color? Eye color is determined via genetics, NOT via an environmental event. Was it still operable? (I think they gave us perspective shots of him seeing out of both eyes). I would think, that really serious damage to an eye, would mean loss of the eye, but I could just be spit balling here. 

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 I think that when he was kneeling down in front of Cullen, gut-stabbed, Elam had a look in his eyes that seemed to me like he was imploring Cullen to shoot him to put him out of his misery.  Psalms and Eva weren't in a position to see that closely, so they just thought Cullen shot him unnecessarily.  I still think that they should have taken into account the fact that Cullen was the only one trying to keep him alive and keep the sharpshooters from killing him.  Everyone else was just standing around while Cullen was fighting for his life with a crazed man.  And Eva needs to STFU about Elam looking for Cullen and, therefore, it's all his fault.  Cullen already told her that he was kidnapped. 

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Someone mentioned the Native American women in this episode... but what I've noticed is that there are no black women in this show. At least one of the men would have brought his wife and family or at least a woman partner.

I've mentioned this before, but that's been one of my major gripes with Westerns in general.  It's as if we never existed back then.  We see White women, Indian women, Mexican women--but never black women.   The only western in recent memory where I've seen a black woman was on Deadwood.  Did all the freed black women back then  pick up and move to Canada?  Sheesh.

 

I had forgotten that in the beginning of last night's show Psalms came to warn Cullen about the unsafe mine and suggested that he and his family get out of Cheyenne.  Psalms likes and respects Cullen, and I believe the feeling is mutual.   So those two need to kiss and make up.

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One nitpick about the acting and directing this episode of the B storyline. If you're going to have a man take a severe beating, could he please remember it once he wakes up? First of all it makes no sense Durant lay there all night out cold, and Cullen can wake him up with a shoulder shake. And he should not have been able to spring up and into a chair with hardly a wince, and the only visible signs of trauma are on one side of his face. He should have had broken ribs, internal bleeding and a concussion, just to name a few things. He certainly shouldn't have been in any condition to administer a beating back to the guy, again without any sign he's in pain. Took me right out of the episode.

I agree with you in spirit, but in the show's defense (sort of), unrealistic portrayals of traumatic brain injury (or other injury as you mentioned) is the norm in TV and movies. It bugs me too. If you haven't seen it, David Tennant was in a really well done piece about a man with traumatic brain injury:

http://www.headwayessex.org.uk/Home/david-tenant-headway-essex-patron

 

And Anson Mount's last scene was heartbreaking! He is so good.

 

 

He is a better actor than Common. Or should I say he is an actor, and Common is not.

*snicker*

Edited by raspberry7

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I think that when he was kneeling down in front of Cullen, gut-stabbed, Elam had a look in his eyes that seemed to me like he was imploring Cullen to shoot him to put him out of his misery.

 

In the behind the scenes video on the AMC tv site, a producer says that's what they were going for.  That whatever was left of Elam wanted it to end.

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I'm not sure why I'm still watching this show.

I understand. Last night's episode was my last. I took it off the DVR. I haven't realy enjoyed this season. I liked seeing the railroad aspect of the show therefor I'm not interested in the current storylines, especially the Swede or Cullen's wife.

Elam's death & Cullen's grief are a good place for me to end.

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Like so many other shows, it has suffered due to its success. The first two seasons had a good narrative arc that made sense and felt right. Now it just feels like it's in a holding pattern of "more of the same with diff ppl" -- with a few exceptions.

 

I had really bought into the idea that Lily was Bohannon's one true love, a woman who gave him back his desire for love after being dead inside for years -- and that after losing her, he would hang up his romantic spurs. I was kind of horrified when they started making him hanker after the pathetic church lady. And now this dutiful marriage to the Mormon girl - whatevah.

 

After Lily died, I was skeptical that they could keep spinning out the story interestingly, but for a while, they did. I enjoyed seeing Elam and the other newly freed slaves get used to the idea of having some authority, some permanence, making decisions. A bitter ex-Confederate slaveowner becomes true friends with an ex-slave, that was interesting! The story of that railroad pushing west seemed to be an awesome allegory for the changing times after the Civil War. I loved Eva and Elam's storyline. They found hope for a new way of living in each other. Then it wandered off somewhere stupid, around the time she sent their baby back east. Just.... whatevah. The Swede's storyline really was kinda awesome too, until... I forget when, but now it's just stupid. I can't even begin to keep track of all the double-double-crossing with Durant and (whoever) and Bohannan. Whatevah. The Big Bad of each season, fill in the blank. It's carpetbaggers now. Next year it'll be something else. Church lady? zzzz The Irish brother murdering his brother? Meh. 

 

And then we get another strong independent female figure thrown in there -- hotel, wait, no, financier, no, East Coast wife, no, wait, it's a newspaper woman -- cuz the new West was absolutely littered with them, right. Really they are all the same character with a diff name and backstory. zzzzz.

 

It just feels random, making-it-up-as-we-go-along.

 

One of the things I loved about this show was the idea that they were pushing west into unknown country. They truly did not know what they might be up against from one day to the next. Like "Deadwood," this show got less interesting as it got more "civilized." I feel like the show made more of an effort to explore those things in the first couple season. 

 

But I guess mostly I'm just mad that Elam is dead. What was the point of killing him then bringing him back, then killing him again? To torture us viewers? Further torture Eva and Cullen? Are there any other indignities and emotional tortures we have missed for Eva? Shall we give her a dose of leprosy, for good measure? Oh right, she's already scarred for life. I think they don't know what to do with her character. Actually, I think that is true for all of them.  

 

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Glad THAT'S over! Eva was right. Elam never returned. And the looooooong drawn out stand off really could've been truncated. Felt bad for Cullen throuhout, and was annoyed at Psalms' reaction to what Elam clearly MADE Cullen do. I mean, it's not as if he heard about it second hand. He was there.

 

 

God yes! That was annoying. And I felt so bad for Cullen trying to defend himself about it. They were all witness to Cullen doing everything he could to get Elam out of that situation alive, and getting knifed for his trouble. Didn't see anybody else stepping up to take charge of the situation, or to help Cullen when Elam was trying to stab him in the head.  And don't forget Eva reminding Cullen one more time that this happened to Elam because he went looking for Cullen. Thanks for piling on, Eva. Can you not see he's already guilt-ridden about it?

 

 

At first I was annoyed with Psalms, but then I realized that it was just frustration at the entire situation speaking out.  He wanted someone to be angry at for an unfair situation that made no sense.  I think Psalms knew as well as anyone else that Elam was irreparably broken, and probably realized that he was going to have to die because he wasn't right.  But I think he was just mad at the world, at fate, at whatever for bringing back his friend, but bringing him back broken.  I think he was angry and frustrated and took it out on the easiest target, Cullen.  And I think he knew he was wrong which is why he gave Cullen his little bible, or why he didn't put up a fight when Cullen wanted to bury him (I don't think thats Cullen's job).

 

I think emotions aren't always logical, but I wouldn't expect them to be in that situation.  Its why i give Eva a pass for one again guilting Cullen by saying that Elam was going after him.  But after this, no more passes for her, I'm tired of hearing that line from her.  We get it, Elam went after Cullen, and somehow you think that makes everything Cullen's fault, you can keep it to yourself now.

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Maybe it's just me but I really loved this story arc. Elam was one of my favorite characters and I love how they 'turned' his character inside out right up to the very end. I really like how the newly freed African American men are portrayed in this show. It is not far from the truth because prior to Jim Crow laws and era, freed men and women had great hopes despite everything that they would have a decent chance at a decent life.

 

Someone mentioned the Native American women in this episode... but what I've noticed is that there are no black women in this show. At least one of the men would have brought his wife and family or at least a woman partner.

 

The only women on the show seem to be hookers, a hotel owner, the newspaper lady, the church lady and one wife.  Most of the women who aren't hookers seem to be on the show by accident.  Ruth came looking for her dad, who ended up dead and she took over the church, Cullen's wife and he left a Mormon settlement because he accidentally knocked her up when she was living with her family in the area, I got the impression that the hotel owner had been there long before the railroad, and may have inherited the hotel from her husband, and the newspaper lady didn't seem to plan on staying in Cheyenne either.

 

Besides Cullen, I can't think of anyone who brought a wife or significant other to live with them.  I think it would be great to have a black woman on the show, but it would seem strange to have a woman show up as someones wife or significant other since those are so few and far between in this show.  Maybe a black hooker, or a black madame/casino owner would be interesting.  Mickey seems so skeevy.

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I was wondering about the "white" eye. Does anyone know if that is actually something that can happen? In other words, damage to an eye can make it change color? Eye color is determined via genetics, NOT via an environmental event. Was it still operable? (I think they gave us perspective shots of him seeing out of both eyes). I would think, that really serious damage to an eye, would mean loss of the eye, but I could just be spit balling here. 

 

I think that kind of healing is well within the realm of possibilities - I almost googled it but realized that I would end up having to look at gruesome eye injuries so I chose not too.

 

There was one thing I didn't understand in the episode and it happened early. What was the reason that Psalms was warning Cullen to leave? i didn't catch that part.

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Cullen's broken crying at the end had me thankful the camera was backing away instead of giving us a closeup. Seeing his face would have tore me up. Horrible way to send Elam off, showrunners. 

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I think that kind of healing is well within the realm of possibilities - I almost googled it but realized that I would end up having to look at gruesome eye injuries so I chose not too.

 

There was one thing I didn't understand in the episode and it happened early. What was the reason that Psalms was warning Cullen to leave? i didn't catch that part.

 

He was saying something about "praying the blood of christ over you" and so I'm thinking he had an awful premonition about something happening.  I think Psalms is the sort of straight talking man to where if he knew there was a threat coming, and knew what it was, he would tell you what the threat was.  So, I think it must have been something of a premonition.  Or perhaps he just thought a woman, alone all day in a cabin without a lock might become an easy target, but it sounded like something much more specific than that.

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Besides Cullen, I can't think of anyone who brought a wife or significant other to live with them.

 

 

In the first season, the show spent a decent amount of time indicating how the society at that point was one where women were at home, and certainly not on the frontier. Lily was an anomaly, and was noted as such. There was lots of discussion about wives back in NY or wherever. I find nothing odd about how the show has handled this. It makes sense that the women who are on the frontier would be newspaper people or church leaders or hookers, roles where women were either driven by conviction or desperation. I would expect to see a black woman or two with the guys who work the cut. Haven't noticed if there have been any in the background at the camp. 

 

At first I was annoyed with Psalms, but then I realized that it was just frustration at the entire situation speaking out.

 

 

That's the way I read it as well, and IMO it was proved out when Psalm's gave Cullen Elam's body to bury. Psalm's knew Cullen tried, and Cullen loved and grieved Elam as much as any of them.

Edited by Ottis
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He was saying something about "praying the blood of christ over you" and so I'm thinking he had an awful premonition about something happening.

 

I rewatched the beginning, and it was hard to understand what Psalms was saying but I caught the "praying the blood of Christ over you" and something about they would "bury us in that blowed up mountiain," meaning him and the other guys.  There was some reference to "whatever's coming next."  I don't now about others, but I sometimes have a hard time understanding dialogue on these shows, especially the AMC ones.  I think Cullen talks too fast, Psalms mumbles sometimes, and I have to turn the volume up.  It's a shame to have to use close captioning on an English-speaking show.

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JEEBUS, I just assumed that Cullen's crying was recorded in the studio and it would be hard to lip synch.  That's why the camera was backing away.  OHWELL, I always have to turn on Closed Caption for this show, too.

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My little nitpick: when Elam and Cullen fought, they crashed into a wooden fence used to keep cattles in. They broke the fence and they entered the cattle enclosure. If that fence could not hold two men, what chance did it have with stampeding cows?

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My little nitpick: when Elam and Cullen fought, they crashed into a wooden fence used to keep cattles in. They broke the fence and they entered the cattle enclosure. If that fence could not hold two men, what chance did it have with stampeding cows?

 

I'm not a farmer, but I've seen cows on TV.  They never look like they are fighting to get out, and will only try some funny business if there is a commotion.

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RealityGal, I agree. I once spent a summer on a dairy farm. Cows will avoid barbed wired unless they are panicked and barbed wire is less substantial than the wooden fence. Panicced stock will break through alnost anything but normally rambunctious stock will not push hard against a hard or painful barrier.

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 I think that when he was kneeling down in front of Cullen, gut-stabbed, Elam had a look in his eyes that seemed to me like he was imploring Cullen to shoot him to put him out of his misery.  Psalms and Eva weren't in a position to see that closely, so they just thought Cullen shot him unnecessarily.  I still think that they should have taken into account the fact that Cullen was the only one trying to keep him alive and keep the sharpshooters from killing him.  Everyone else was just standing around while Cullen was fighting for his life with a crazed man.  And Eva needs to STFU about Elam looking for Cullen and, therefore, it's all his fault.  Cullen already told her that he was kidnapped. 

 

Okay, I signed in (lazy me) just to second this RE:  Not being able to hear the dialogue half the time.  I was just saying that to my mom last episode.  Psalms was mumbling, Cullen mumbling worse .... Uggh.  It's maddening.

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Okay, I signed in (lazy me) just to second this RE:  Not being able to hear the dialogue half the time.  I was just saying that to my mom last episode.  Psalms was mumbling, Cullen mumbling worse .... Uggh.  It's maddening.

 

I almost always watch this show with my earphones on.  And even then I miss things and I just think "oh well, I hope whatever was said wasn't that important, or maybe I'll be able to piece it together when something big happens"

 

This means not only do I get a show that is a great drama, but also a mystery.  Bonus!  Winning!

Edited by RealityGal
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It's a shame to have to use close captioning on an English-speaking show.

 

 

I do it all the time, because sometimes on shows captions pop up for lines you actually cannot hear at all (ghost lines!), because the way shows/networks/satellite companies deliver sound the levels can vary wildly show-to-show and even scene-to-scene, and because sometimes others are asleep when I watch. Sons of Anarchy is another show with a lot of mystery sound.

 

The more time that has passed, the more I find Elam's last scene touching. Not the craziness, but what Cullen did to try and save him, and that last, lost look by Elam at Cullen before Cullen shot him.

Edited by Ottis
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