Season Three, Episode Four: “Full Faith and Credit”
Note: each writing will spoil the episode in review but will not discuss any future episodes.
“Full Faith and Credit” is one of the few Deadwood episodes with odd and sometimes annoying plot threads with various characters making an attempt to establish trust with one another, even those who have caused a lot of harm and pain.
First of all, Hosteler and General Fields are back in Deadwood; they have the horse that once ran loose and mortally injured William Bullock. The whole ordeal amounts to little more than having Bullock forgive the men for the accident and proceed to go back and forth between Hosteler and Drunk Steve (who’s last name also happens to be Fields) over the selling of the livery. It’s not the best use of any of the actors and feels more like a setup for larger issues. And as much as the character Steve is to be hated, the actor Michael Harney (likely better known for Orange is the New Black) is to be lauded. He does quite a lot with a few scenes shifting from pacified to angry well; however, angry is usually where he hovers with Steve. Yet he dives deep with the ignorant indignation that makes Steve tick, even bringing the idiot to tears over the possibility of losing the livery that he’s come to love. It’s also a refined take with Hosteler: what’s normally the trope of a subservient African-American character is instead played as a man who doesn’t kowtow even though apologetic and understanding. The final good moment of the narrative is when Timothy Olyphant gets the opportunity for comedy, rarely seen from the Seth Bullock personality though viewers may have seen these more humorous shades from Olyphant from Justified or Santa Clarita Diet. It happens when Charlie has to ask Seth about the school-slash-old-whorehouse and if Martha would be willing to have a new school built in its place if the building is sold to Jack Langrishe. Olyphant’s posture alone, which mimics Charlie Utter’s worried stance, makes for a funny moment between the two friends. It’s as humorous as Bullock has been this season, perhaps ever in the series. Sadly, the selling of the livery isn’t settled in this episode and must continue.
The other two major plot threads have Hearst sending for Al once more but this time in the presence of Cy Tolliver. Here, George Hearst acts as if nothing transpired between him and Al. He then goes on to notify the two saloon owners that he may be in and out of Deadwood, seeing to other affairs, and he wants to know if the two will maintain some order on his notions. Al understands it to mean that they are to kill someone for Hearst and collect some money in the process. The whole conversation is a bit opaque, but this is one storyline that feels important in the ongoing of the season. Hearst basically alludes to the idea that he doesn’t want his interests involved with such things as the elections and any “retrogressive elements” of the camp. Whatever the case going forward, Al will have Silas Adams represent him because there’s no way that Cy Tolliver would believe that Dan Dority would go against Al’s interests. He has some cards left up his sleeve, does Al.
As always, some of the best writing and acting come in the scenes of Al’s backstory monologues where he sits, reflects, ambles through recounting his past, and gets serviced via Dolly or some other girl of his. In this episode’s version of Swearengen’s history, it’s troubled as Hearst’s treatment of him — particularly having Captain Turner hold him down while George Hearst hammered Al’s hand — took him back to one of his childhood traumas where a young Al was held down by a proctor as he tried to get to his mother, who young (and old) Al saw as changing her mind about leaving him at the orphanage. Like a lot of Swearengen’s backstory, it’s a horribly sad incident and it’s no wonder that he’s tried to bury them unless speaking in privately to a worker that he knows will never tell a soul about them. When Dolly lies that she’s not bothered by the way Al treats her at times, Al responds with, “Well, bless you for a fucking fibber” in a whimsical moment from a man in duress over memories and current situations.
Al trusts those he can control, and he knows that he’s going to have to trust some that he cannot, such as Bullock. He’ll move forward, though, with full faith in some and none in others as he determines who those are.
- It’s a good and telling character moment for Martha to request that no harm be done to the horse who killed her son.
- What the hell is Leon doing lingering outside the Ellsworth home? One would assume he’s there due to overhearing about Steve getting the loan for the livery while he was in the bank. Also of note is that he knew how to read and write since he was twelve, which more than a lot of the characters of his ilk can likely say.
- Another odd plotline that could go somewhere significant or nowhere at all is Langrishe’s actress (I’m assuming) who sleeps with Con Stapleton. It’s been a while since I’ve watched this third season so I genuinely can’t remember if this is important for future episodes.
- Ellsworth is quite willing to step up and put possible bank customers in their place for their lack of faith in his wife. He, once again, perhaps overstepped as Mrs. Ellsworth could’ve handled it.
- Joanie Stubbs agrees to sell her building to Jack Langshire as long as he builds another school out of his own money.
- E.B. Farnum unknowingly quotes Wordsworth to an attractive lady in his hotel who has yet to be properly introduced this season.
- Al blames poor Dolly’s change of method and Jack attributes the problems to the time of day, but viewers know that it has a lot more to do with Hearst getting in Al’s head like no other man before him.
Quote of the episode:
Al, in his speech to his prostitute Dolly: “Kid yourself about your behavior, you’ll never learn a fucking thing.”