Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER

Wilowy

Al Swearengen: Not Brooding On The Right And Wrong Of Things

Recommended Posts


I think Al is the best, most complex, most interesting character in all of today's Golden Age of television. You go from wanting to kill him, to wanting to hug him in a single episode. Depending on who he is dealing with, he's either the most reprehensible, most vile, or the wisest and most compassionate man you've ever seen. All in the span of ten minutes. 

He's incredible, though he actually lived. What I wouldn't give to have met the real deal.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

There's a question over on The Walking Dead thread about which 5 fictional TV characters you'd want with you in the ZA.  My first thought was Al Swearengen.    Then I couldn't think of anyone else!

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

And the way they all just lie there on top of him after. The gleet's requiem, indeed. ;)

QuB54Y1.jpg

 

My favorite line comes from Doc when Al won't let anyone in: "AL! DON'T BE A BABY!"

Share this post


Link to post

The only thing I didn't like about Al was Chief Head In A Box. It was a big contrivance that they just keep going back to and Al seemed, otherwise, to be a man of practicality.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

Agreed. Though it was obvious they were shooting for a 'Hamlet' vibe, it didn't really work, did it? 

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

Over in the Trixie thread, Willowy said:

They were both such damaged people. In a way, though, before everyone else got there... Al was like the head figure of the men in the camp, and Trixie was in charge of the whores, so they had kind of a king/queen dynamic going on.

Al was like the patron saint of damaged people - he collected them and looked after them in his own irascible fashion.  For a man who at first glance seemed to be a villain, he engendered their utter devotion; not surprising considering his own horrific past.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

Right. For instance, Jewel. He abused her verbally, but so nobody else would dare. He protected her, gave her a job, made sure she had food, and didn't stop her from working with Doc on her boot. He never made her do anything beyond her capabilities, and she knew he trusted her. 

He'd also take sass from her, and she was blunt with him about everything. Great dynamic, they had.

  • Love 3

Share this post


Link to post

They dropped a bundle on that one. The likeness is startling.

I don't have any, but sometimes I get hypnotized by that reality show the tattooers compete on and watch like ten episodes in a row. Some talented people there but I'd be afraid of getting the one guy who sucked. There's always that one

Share this post


Link to post

Doesn't matter how good your tattoo is, it is going to look awful if you live long enough (I've seen a lot of old tattoos).

Thanks for that article, Willowy - it was a great read.  I'm glad McShane is as bitter as I am.  :-)

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

At the town meeting to set up the government, to Dan: "You want me to abandon the fucking meeting to bring in a new piano?"

Something I've realized about Al in rewatching the series: Words such as "fucking" and "cocksucker" aren't obscenities to him, they're just everyday language. "Yankton cocksuckers" is much as if we'd say "Washington jerks, idiots, sell-outs, etc."

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

Exactly. The profanity is woven into the tapestry of the vernacular so it just becomes... normal for these people. And for us. 

Share this post


Link to post

Another absolutely gobsmacking scene was when Al took yet another burden upon himself by doing for the Reverend.  The heart-wrenching tenderness Al took with whispering "brother" to him, and gently crossing his hands, then tenderly laying his head down ever so slowly.  I fucking LOST it.  One of the most poignant and beautiful "murders" I've ever seen.  You just knew Al was saying goodbye to his brother all over again.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

I KNOW! It was so incredibly touching. 

There was a mixing of feelings for me, in that the Reverend had become irritating. I liked him, so much, but his obvious decline was horrible and unjust and made me uncomfortable every time he lurched into frame. 

I did love how everyone in the camp sensed his imminent demise and treated him with the utmost kindness. The ultimate kindness being what you described above. 

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

David Milch's wonderful dialogue, an overall standard of excellence, and the sheer, compelling brilliance of Ian McShane (who should have had a much bigger career, IMHO) combined with a bit of the historical record to create one of the most compelling, fascinating, obscene, and capable characters on television. But he's had such a bad effect on my language!

 

The gradual, sometimes prickly partnership that formed between Swearingen and Bullock (the also wonderful Timothy Olyphant) formed the core of the show for me, far more than Bullock's affair with Alma.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

Agreed, Tudor Queen.  Ian McShane's performance elevated Milch's brilliant dialogue to something approaching perfection for me.

  • Love 1

Share this post


Link to post

I just caught an old movie on TCM, "if this is Tuesday it must be Belgium", staring a very young and almost unrecognizable Ian Mcshane. It's from 1969 and he plays a tour guide for a whirlwind nine countries 18 day Americans see Europe type of tour. At. 27 he was very handsome but didn't have the mesmerizing intensity he gained when he got older. But he still had more than enough charisma to get me to enjoy the whole movie.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post

I think Al is the best, most complex, most interesting character in all of today's Golden Age of television. You go from wanting to kill him, to wanting to hug him in a single episode. Depending on who he is dealing with, he's either the most reprehensible, most vile, or the wisest and most compassionate man you've ever seen. All in the span of ten minutes. 

He's incredible, though he actually lived. What I wouldn't give to have met the real deal.

I have been watching the first few episodes again and what is amazing about Al (and actually McShane) is that he seems to have like 20 different jobs going on in his head at one time and he is trying to see like 5 steps ahead on all of them. But he is working with idiots who generally have 1 job to do, and many of them are too stupid to do that right. Guys like Tim Driscoll or the road agents are also so stupid that you can't explain the whole cause and effect thing about why they have to do their job right because. The road agents are too dumb to grasp the concept that if white people are massacred then business at the Gem slows down (so there is no point trying to explain, same with Tim Driscoll not understanding about the Pinkertons). 

The way McShane plays it where you can tell he is super frustrated but is actually managing to keep it together, so that his people don't really pick up on it is very impressive. And the bit where he punches Johnny in the face because he is pissed off about the road agents (and then Johnny apologizes to him) is hilarious.

  • Love 2

Share this post


Link to post
×
×
  • Create New...

Customize font-size