SPOILERS ABOUNDSeason 2
Following his mistaken retribution and exile from the camp, Bohannon takes up with a band rebel outlaws and begins targeting Durant's payroll loads. Lilly and Elam both show tenacity in their own respective fields, and a deadly army of Sioux warriors gradually begins to form, led by the chaotic being known as the white spirit. "Hell on Wheels" hits its stride in its sophomore season where, compounded with its always astounding visuals, it beings to sink its teeth into the character development of three of its prominent stars (Mount, Common, McElligott). Some storylines still prove to be unworthy (the Irish brothers & the Pentecostal preacher lady come to mind), while other happenings seem unneeded or only existing for the sake of modern television convention (Lily's ultimate fate), but all in all, series founding brothers Joe and Tony Grayton continue to improve upon their flawed, but promising first season
Following the close of the war between the states an ex-Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) seeks to eradicate the Union officers who murdered his wife and son in his absence. His quest of vengeance leads to the Nebraskan plains where one of the targeted is employed building the First Transcontinental Railroad, which will link the Union Pacific in the east to the Central Pacific in the West, uniting the country in a monumental and incredibly arduous task. Here the stranger becomes rooted, and encounters a bull-headed ex-slave (Common), an equally bull-headed and recently widowed beauty (Dominique McElligott), a ruthless Nordic security boss (Christopher Heyerdahl), a crazed preacher (Tom Noonan), his Indian charge (Eddie Spears), and the tyrannical railroad magnate Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) who oversees all. "Hell on Wheels" is a fairly entertaining, competently photographed series from brothers Joe and Tony Grayton which will always be overshadowed the far superior and less limited series "Deadwood.", and does itself a disservice the more it beckons the memory of that show (a particular moment where Meaney allows the settlement's whores to attend a festivity is particularly cringe inducing - there's an even worse one in the new season regarding body disposal). However, I was still drawn in somewhat by the show and moved by some, if not all of its story lines. Mount has a certain quality about him and feels of the era, as does Common whose earnestness shines through. Meaney's over-the-top snarling also contains a particular appeal. If I were at the helm of this show, I might have steered it in a different direction than that of the gritty and violent world of David Milch's landmark series, but for what it is "Hell on Wheels" does contain an undeniable entertainment value.