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S01.E12: Sold Under Sin

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The U.S. Army--under General Crook a.k.a. "Custer's Avengers"--rolls into Deadwood, prompting a parade...and business solicitations from Farnum and Tolliver. Swearengen delivers a tortured soul from suffering; Bullock reacts decisively to Russell's intentions regarding Alma; Con Stapleton's new commission proves short-lived; Adams shows Clagett where his loyalties lie; and Bullock and Alma have a late-night meeting.

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I could have been perfectly happy with this episode as a series finale.  I kind of feel like I should just stop watching if the next 2 seasons won't tie up as nicely as this one did. 

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I agree. 1.12 was a wonderful end to the season & would have been a fine series finale. But there was an even better option in Season Two and I'm glad the show didn't end with 1.12.

IMO Season Two is even better: not just in itself, amazing episode after amazing episode, but because also because each arc unfolds organically and  wraps up beautifully.I felt I could totally sit back and trust the teller.

FWIW Season Two episode 12 was the best season finale I've seen for any show in a long time- and it would have made a wonderful wonderful series finale as well. Just brilliant.

Since so much depends on the whims and caprices of people doing the financing, I wish each season of a series ended like Season 2- with enough seeds for new storylines but also a satisfying wrap for what came before. Cliffhangers allowed only if they have hard money sitting in the bank for the next season.

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  • 2 weeks later...

MAN, this was a great episode! The pacing, the suspense, the tension - just one thing after another happening, and then a hugely satisfying ending. I've got a lot to say about this one. tl;dr

Loved the opening shots of Al on his balcony, and Doc weeping outside his surgery (about the reverend's condition), in the very early morning. The weather has clearly grown colder since the first few episodes (when it was high summer). I especially enjoyed the shot of Al's baleful look down at Magistrate Claggett, followed immediately by a shot of Al sipping tea from a delicate patterned-china cup. Just gorgeous.

The whole storyline about Jewel's boot was delightful, and gave much-needed lightness to a pretty heavy episode. She was so excited and happy when Doc showed her the boot, and then of course the final scene of the two of them waltzing, and Jewel's line: 'Say you're as nimble as a forest creature.' A very drunk Doc replies: 'You're as nimble as a forest creature' and she says, 'No, say it about yourself!' so he says 'I'm as nimble as a forest creature.' Hee!

That was a huge contrast with Doc's other storyline in this episode, which was about the poor sick reverend. I liked this exchange between him and Al when he asked Al to care for the reverend at the Gem:

Al: [So] I get the bag of shit.

Doc: You get to care for a human being in his last extremity.

Al: A human being in his last extremity IS a bag of shit.

Doc (angrily): OH FUCK YOU, AL!

Al (quietly): I'll send someone over to pick him up.

No one but Doc could get away with shouting at Al like that. The scenes of Al's tender yet clinical mercy killing of the reverend, intercut with Doc's incredible, wrenching prayer to end the rev's suffering (including Doc's tortured memories of tending to the wounded in the Civil War) took my breath away AND made me weep.

I guess Al's words to the rev 'You can go now, brother' as he gently cradled the rev's head and laid him down, were a reference to Al's own brother? We heard Al say in episode 9, when the rev had that seizure at the Gem after the first 'town meeting', that his brother had suffered similarly. If he had to mercy-kill his own brother after watching him suffer like the rev did, that explains why Al was so moved by the rev's illness, especially in episode 11. Trixie's wordless acceptance and understanding of Al's actions all through the episode were brilliantly placed and acted. And immediately after the mercy killing, Al was off upstairs to deal with Claggett! What a man.

It became clear in this episode (after a few hints in episode 11) that Otis Russell bad-touched Alma. When she told him to get away from Sophia she sounded terrified. Ugh, he had no shame at all about amassing huge new debts, and was so condescending and creepy to Alma about the business of mining and the part he intended to play in her business. It was very satisfying to see Seth beat him up. Alma and Joanie's bonding over their despicable fathers was also satisfying, although Joanie's back story made me very sad.

The sequence with everyone gradually catching on that a rumble was about to go down at the Bella Union between Seth and Otis was GREAT. The only thing I enjoyed seeing Otis do was flipping off EB when Otis said, as he was coming down the stairs of the hotel, 'It must cost you sleep - the guests you drive off, the chances of thieving and bilking you lose, the needing to rub against your betters.' EB's stupid grin at Richardson and Richardson's oblivious grin back were just fantastic and hilarious. Otis was pretty perceptive in among all his character flaws. I guess he was also right on about Seth having been bullied by his father. That scene in the Bella Union leading up to the beatdown was incredibly tense. Alma was clearly turned on by the beatdown itself - those brief shots of her face during and after the beating were excellent.

And this was when the pace of the episode, which had already been brisk, really ramped up. Seth walked out of the Bella Union right into the parade - the fife-and-drums playing the military march was perfect at that moment - then he hears a gunshot and hot-foots it to the Chinese quarter, where stupid Con Stapleton has been paid by Cy to kill that poor Chinese laundry guy. (By the look on Cy's face, he knew that Seth knew exactly what was going on.) In the middle of this, we saw Johnny dragging the reverend to the Gem on the sled.

Huzzah for the incorruptible General Crook, who was completely unimpressed by Cy's offer of a bribe to leave some soldiers behind: 'If I were sheriff, I'd have you hanged.' The general's advice to Seth was great, too, and I'm sure played a part in Seth's final acceptance that he really had to be sheriff. After Al made him put the badge on, the sequence of shots showing all the main players out on the thoroughfare watching the soldiers leave - or, alternatively, gazing at each other (Seth and Alma) - and then Al watching from the inside balcony as Jewel and the doc waltzed, and Trixie smiled up at him - was a stunning way to end.

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  • 10 months later...

I just finished watching the first season.  Any idea what was wrong with the Reverend, or will I find out in the second season?  My heart was breaking for him.  He cared so much about everyone and it really seemed very few cared about him in return.  His growing desperation as he realized his body and mind were failing was so real and horrible.  I will miss his character as I believe he was the heart of the show.

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4 hours ago, seacliffsal said:

I just finished watching the first season.  Any idea what was wrong with the Reverend, or will I find out in the second season?  My heart was breaking for him.  He cared so much about everyone and it really seemed very few cared about him in return.  His growing desperation as he realized his body and mind were failing was so real and horrible.  I will miss his character as I believe he was the heart of the show.

I don't remember where Season 1 left off, and how bad the Reverend was when you last saw him.  But it is, indeed, a most tragic story, and you may be surprised at who finally shows him true mercy.

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  • 6 months later...

Wow. What a conclusion to a brilliant first season. I thank my friend who told me about this series @walnutqueen  It is everything you said and so much more. 

I'm not one to usually root for a beating but Alma's Dad had it coming. You could see the steam coming out of Seth's ears as he locomotions down the street to get to her father. Six teeth later, I liked that Joanie brought them to Alma in the lacy handkerchief. 

I too will miss the character of the Reverend. He always tried so hard and never gave up on being righteous. 

Off I go onto Season Two. It was a tease reading the comments up thread about how good and satisfying it will be but I'm off to see it for myself. 

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