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Seth Bullock: Canadian Born Frontier Badass


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No shit, right? Seth was instrumental in helping to set up the National Parks deal, and in implementing it as well, They were both nature buffs, and really great friends!

Roosevelt happens to be one of my favorite historical figures, and despite being a man of his time, I consider him a humanist. Seth Bullock found someone kindred in the Old Lion, and that's good enough for me. 

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I don't remember where, if ever, Bullock and Alma agreed to end their affair. It seems to me that they simply didn't show up in each other's company again to leave town, and that was that. And Bullock says to Martha that there's been no contact since she came to town, so that seems pretty concrete.

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I have to say on my first watch through Seth was kind of a meh character to me, probably because Al out shone him and I was invested in Sol/Trixie. But on second watch he came to life for me and now is my favorite character. I know a lot of people thought he was stiff and strange, but there's so many layers hidden underneath that demeanor it's pretty amazing. This is a guy who could have easily put a bullet in Hearst's head except something held him back, the same thing that made him marry his brother's widow, discontinue his affair with Alma, and broker a deal between Hochstetler and drunk Steve. I like how he paired up with Al, too. They don't care for each other but have mutual respect, even when their goals are different. One of the many things I lament is not knowing what happened to Seth after the elections--surely Harry wouldn't have lasted long as sheriff.

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Mizkat, lament indeed. I want to know what kind of marriage Seth and Martha had, and if they had children. I want to know if Trixie ever got free of Al and made a life with Sol (doubtful, I think). I miss not knowing if Hearst ever got his (again, doubtful). I long to know what became of Jane and Joanie, and hope they are together somewhere. So much wish unfulfillment, just so fucking much.

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I think I prefer me some Timothy Olyphant over the moustache that will take over the world real Seth Bullock.


He was also one of my favourites from the beginning. I loved how he seethed under it all and, were it not for Sol, might have done some additional damage.

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Such great posts- too bad they are 2 years old now, because I'd love to hear more.

I came to the show because of Timothy Olyphant, so it was in the cards I would be focusing on  him, and as expected, he knocked it out of the park. As a friend of mine would say, he is the poster child of a massive out-of-control superego- needing a ridiculously demanding code of honor  to find himself worthy of love. It makes sense that he would want to marry his brother's widow (as opposed to simply support her, in the way he plans to with Sol's help when he's contemplating ditching her for Alma). So he goes and marries her, while harboring very mixed up and strange notions of marriage and of sex with his wife (more on that below) and then having made his grand sacrifice he sits there chafing because he misses "living his own life" (to quote him loosely). There was nothing saying he couldn't support his SIL and nephew financially and leave it to her to find a good man to marry. That way both Martha and he had a shot at living their own lives. If he knew her even minimally, or had any respect at all for his brother's choice, he would have seen that she was a good, kind, decent, loving and beautiful woman. And she is young. Why should she not have her shot at marriage with someone who loved her for herself? Did he stop to think what he was doing to her marrying her without love or real commitment?

I think he married her intending to force himself to love her, then subconsciously resented the marriage for what it made him give up, and letting that resentment fester to the point that he sabotages any chance of love in his marriage by falling for the first willing non-prostitute he finds in Deadwood. (And btw can't he see that if hyperfeminine and fluttering Alma can stick it out in Deadwood more or less on her own, or with the help of the many men she recruits for that role, won't Martha- much more independent and strong- can do so as well? aaargh. If he'd let himself see this he would have sent for Martha before he's given in to temptation with Alma.)  But Alma is now a damsel in distress, and he has a KISA complex, and both made it easier to tell himself he was simply looking out for her while actually feeding his repressed sexual desire. He flagellates himself with his rigid code of honor, thinks he's putting it in the service of others, and then causes wreckage all around with said stupid repressed desires erupting all over the place.

I'm so curious about what the hell he expected from his marriage to Martha even before he sabotaged it with the affair. That house he built for her and William to me is a perfect symbol of his ability to displace emotion. He will kill himself making externals as solid thoughtful and beautifully engineered as possible, but also use that effort to avoid true commitment to a person- which at the minimum involves getting to know and start appreciating all that makes her who she is. That letter he writes to Martha ends with a couple of sentences about his hope of being a good father and good husband, but absolutely no expression of curiosity or interest about them. So while it is lovely how he went about building that house, he could have put a little more thought into how he would build the relationship with Martha.

Even without Alma in the picture, what kind of marriage did he expect? Of many fascinating clues, I'm most obsessed with the bundling board he has put into the bed- & that Martha later asks if she can remove (S2E01).  Now he must have put it in before Martha's arrival and before giving Alma the ultimatum/choice of leaving or staying in Deadwood. He hasn't entered the house since Martha's surprise arrival, so it's not as though he rushed upstairs to slide it into the bed once Martha's actual presence forced his hand (and made him see that literally at a nod or word from Alma, he was prepared to drop Martha and William- ass). He must have had it delivered and mounted ahead of time. AFAIK, bundling boards are used in courting so that a couple can build intimacy without sex by just snogging and cuddling. They serve as a reminder to the not-yet-married couple to avoid sex. And it's an honor system. Given that Martha and Seth are married, a bundling board makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Even if their marriage has been sexless to date (which is what the  bundling board suggests), they certainly don't need a bundling board to show the world (or themselves) they are not rushing into sex.

And as to why his marriage has been sexless before Deadwood- the only explanation is if he left before they'd  had time to consummate it, or if either were seriously squigged out at the thought of boinking the brother's wife/husband's brother. The fact that Martha initiates sex later suggests she's not the one wanting to take it slow. The fact that in the course of a pretty detailed description of his marriage, he says nothing to Charlie about some crazy rush suggests a lack of time is not why that marriage wasn't consummated.

Moreover, bundling boards exist to ward off temptation between as yet unmarried couples. He knew he wasn't sexually attracted to Martha- presumably he knew that even more certainly after he starting fucking Alma- so why did he think he would even be tempted by Martha? He was prepared to throw her over at a nod from Alma after all- so wtf is that (goddam cocksucking ) bundling board doing in that cocksucker episode? Unless it was meant to protect himself from Martha? blech

Or it is to persuade Martha he finds her terribly tempting but he can't have sex with her because he doesn't want to scare her off by rushing her. Which would be pretty darned manipulative. Maybe he (or most likely the writers) are just as confused as I am- or maybe the writers were just using the bb as a crude indication that the marriage has been sexless to date.  Why did our dear insanely- confused & frustratingly- hopelessly- emotionally-blocked Seth come up with the genius idea of the bb.

Seth is the most interesting and complicated character for me. Far more so than Al. I can imagine Al giving us a whole monologue on "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself" and letting it go. Seth has no clue he's contradicting himself. In fact he has no clue whatsoever about what really drives him. He's far too busy repressing all his desires under mountains of superego and leaving everyone ducking for cover when his shyte explodes in their face.

Btw one of the things I absolutely loved in his portrayal are when three women- Martha, Trixie, and Alma- lose patience with him and call him out: Martha when she tells him he needn't make grand sacrifices in her name (I loved her SO much in that moment). Trixie when she grumbles and mutters at him for being "self-deluded" and selfish and risking the safety of others in his great battle with Al to defend Alma's honor. Alma when she refuses to make the choice for him yet again when he's contemplating leaving Deadwood while she's pregnant with his baby (in case his presence causes her too much pain). In all three instances he sees himself as fighting for the honor or protection of someone else.

Sorry to have gone on at such length about this. And I have so many more questions about Seth! Will save it for now.

Edited by nyxy
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