Second Take: Deadwood – A Lie Agreed Upon: Part II

deadwood

Season Two, Episode Two: “A Lie Agreed Upon: Part II”

Note: each writing will spoil the episode in review but will not discuss any future episodes.

It’s a late night in Deadwood camp as Episode Two picks up in continuation of the very evening from Episode One, hence the “Part II” of the title, and it’s time for people to start making their penances for the day’s sins.

As the Doc wraps up Al’s broken ribs, he asks him about his piss pot and how he’s been urinating. That’s three times that Al’s bathroom tendencies have been mentioned in only two episodes. With the roughness of his appearance and the worries over his inner workings, Al may not be “fit as a fucking fiddle and ready to play on” as he tells the Doc to lie to Bullock. He’s still itching to finish the fight and Bullock, too, but he’ll soon have set aside those differences for the good of the camp.

In E.B.’s hotel, Alma and Bullock finish their evening encounter; it’s here that Bullock suggests the two of them flee camp now that Martha, his wife, and William, his son, have arrived. But Bullock is leaving that decision up to Alma Garret to decide. In the meantime, he’ll go to retrieve his badge and gun from the Gem Saloon where they were left due to his and Al’s scuffle. It’s interesting that Seth can’t stand the idea of bringing shame to Martha yet he’s willing to leave her and William alone in a such a dangerous place. His relationship for Alma definitely has him love struck, though Al had put it less politely in Part I. It’s up to his friend and partner Sol to correct him — he’s not acting out of love at all but out of shame. By the way, Sol likes being loaded from the dope used to ease the pain of being shot. It even emboldens him to call Seth a “cocksucker,” sometimes a term of endearment in Deadwood.

Seth Bullock leaves to go for his things but he’s joined by Charlie Utter who wisely fakes being dizzy from the bullet that grazed his ear. It’s an attempt to keep Bullock from barging into the Gem unarmed and without help. It also gives Charlie a chance to try to talk Seth a little. Charlie’s the kind of man who would hate to see Martha widowed twice. He’s of the belief that Seth will surely be gunned down this time for approaching the Gem Saloon with such a sour look. He’s not quite wrong, either, but there are changes of heart that are occurring as he and Seth speak. Before long, they’re joined by Jane, who’s back in camp and just as drunk as ever. (She’s first shown trapped in a device made by herself to keep her on her horse; later, she tells Charlie and Seth a story of a Finnish man who wanted to “suck [her] cock” — they’re not amused.) The three of them eventually make their way to the Gem, guns in tow, where they find that Al is more than willing to make amends and simply give Bullock his gun and badge without insult or further fisticuffs.

Al’s more at ease with Bullock now because of the news he gets from the newest of his crew, Silas Adams. Turns out, the men of Yankton are fond of Bullock due to thoughts that he may be a link to getting the camp annexed to the United States, whether he knows it or not. Bullock is closely associated with Montana, as he was the sheriff there, and Montana has links to the United States the that Deadwood Territory doesn’t quite have; therefore, Bullock not only has to live, but maybe Al needs to work with him on at least some levels.

All of it has taken a toll on Dan, though, especially having to deal with Al’s new fondness of Adams. Dan takes it upon himself to punish Adams’ man, Hawkeye, by beating the shit out of him since he knows he can’t beat Adams (Al wouldn’t have it). Adams, in return knowing he can’t fight Dan, kills Slippery Dan (who is not Dan Dority, it should be noted) by slamming him through a set of deer head antlers on a post. It’s a scene that amps up in intensity in a matter of about a minute, revealing an ominous air throughout the camp. As if it wasn’t obvious before, Dan feels a fatherly love and connection to Al. After being scorned by Al with a near gun shot, Dan takes to the back room to cry. He admits that Adams is getting more of Al’s attention, and Dan fears being replaced as Swearengen’s right-hand-man, but Al assures him that will never happen. They have a history of starting from scratch in the beginning of the camp, a history that a Yankton representative cannot replace. A spit handshake confirms that the future will still have the two men in alignment, no matter what may come. Deadwood repeats some themes of men dropping their manly guard in order to have tender moments between them. On the other side of camp, Seth and Charlie are having a similar occasion.

Later as Al is being seen to by Dolly, who, by the way, is putting her thumb up his ass to attempt to relieve some of the pain he’s having in and around his midsection, Seth, Charlie, and Jane have made their way to confront the gang at the Gem by calling out to Al. As Swearengen has taken into account the usefulness of Bullock in the coming days, he brings out the badge and gun, asks that Bullock wear them for a “good, long time,” and even references the deceased Reverend Smith as a sign of true sincerity that takes Seth aback. It seems that all is well between the two for now, and as Seth turns to leave, Alma shuts her curtain in the hotel where she’s kept view of the confrontation. She knows that Bullock won’t be coming back up that night, and maybe never again, as she asks Sophia’s tutor to return Mr. Bullock his watch. Timothy Olyphant gives a trace of sadness to his quiet performance — there’s a beaten look to a winning man in his eyes as he now knows that he’ll not leave with the woman he loves, all out of duty to his dead brother.

The episode ends with Martha, up all night, waiting on Bullock to return safely. She isn’t just in Deadwood to be a wife in name only: she wishes to peruse an actual relationship with him since she lets him know that she took down the bundling board. At the same time in the Gem, a thoroughly beaten — both physically and spiritually — Al Swearengen is willing to take embarrassment in full as he recounts to Merrick what to print in the newspaper, none of which makes Al look a hero.

It’s a sacrifice of self for the future, a bet that Al has been willing to place since day one of Deadwood.

 

Other Takes:

  • Joanie Stubbs’ new operation, Le Chez Ami, is “high-end whoring” (Cy Tolliver’s words) at the end of the camp’s main thoroughfare. So much so that two dollars will barely get you much of anything but a whiff of the ladies inside as Elmer, who helps them move in, finds out when they pay him. He’s to spend his money at the Gem or Bella Union, where girls are cheaper. For even more of a barometer on the cost of things, it costs $5 to dispose of a body in Mr. Wu’s pigsty.
  • Doc advises Jane to stop drinking; her liver is swollen.
  • Seth recounts being thirteen-years-old and finding his brother in Texas only to have written him letters a few times after that.
  • Silas Adams makes mention of “Kate Hogranch” to Hawkeye when he returns. Any ideas on who that is a reference to? The only results I can find are all in Spanish.

Quote of the episode:

Al to Merrick for the newspaper on the events of the day: “Tonight, throughout Deadwood, heads may be laid to pillow assuaged and reassured for that purveyor for profit of everything sordid and vicious, Al Swearengen, already beaten to a fare-thee-well earlier in the day by Sheriff Bullock, has returned to the sheriff the implements and ornaments of his office.”

 

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