Monday, August 27, 2012

They've Been Working on the Railroad, All the Live-Long Day

Well, it looks like I'm running behind again. I should have had this post up nearly two weeks ago last week (I guess I was wrong). I had hoped to get it up this last week, but time seemed to just get away from me again. Well, I have some time now, so let's get this up and me caught up.

Recently I finished watching the first season of Hell on Wheels. All in all, it's pretty much a modern day western. This show, set just after the Civil War, follows the lives of a few people as they work on building the Union Pacific Railroad.

What I like most about this show are the different plot-lines and character triangles. Like the other great shows on AMC (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Walking Dead…), the writers behind Hell on Wheels give motives to all their characters. Each character has their own secret goals. The main character, Cullen Bohannon, once a soldier in the Confederate army, is now seeking out the men who killed his wife and son. One of the big questions throughout the first season is "Will Bohannon follow through with his revenge or will he stay at Hell on Wheels and change his ways?" Elam Ferguson, a former slave, is stuck in a type of limbo: the other black men say he acts too white while the white men only see the color of his skin. His journey in the first season is to learn how he fits in. There are a lot more characters, but the last one that I want to look at here is just a fun one. Called "the Swede," this Norwegian worker used to work with numbers and tries to bring the techniques with numbers to people. One of his greatest lines is "Something doesn't add up."

And it's not just the characters that make the show. It's also the connections that each of the characters have to each other is perfect. And somehow, the writers worked it out perfectly to make many of those connections work in threes. There's a sort of love triangle between Bohannon, Lily Bell ("The Maiden of the West"), and Thomas Durant. There's another tense triangle between Bohannon, Durant, and the Swede.

I think I'll leave it at that for now. The second season is currently running on AMC (there's actually a new episode tonight, so if you're interested you should check it out). I'll try to get up another post on Hell on Wheels once I finish the second season.

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