Television

Second Take: Deadwood – Unauthorized Cinnamon

deadwood

Season Three, Episode Seven: “Unauthorized Cinnamon”

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

The fact that the seventh installment of season three is named “Unauthorized Cinnamon” after a quote from Dan warning Jewel not to put out cinnamon with the usual-for-meetings peaches colors a great episode of television. The case that the episode features another gathering of the heads of Deadwood is another reason for excitement.

The chapter picks up immediately where the previous leaves off with Aunt Lou busting into the lobby of the Grand Central searching out of fear for her son, Odell. She’s too late. Odell has already began talks with George Hearst, her boss and rich man of power that he is. A few things happen in Hearst and Odell’s talk. First, Hearst emphasizes that he’s an asshole. When Odell tries to make small talk with Hearst, he snaps that when people only say to him back what he just said, he gets impatient. It’s the same sentiment that Al Swearengen has voiced in seasons before, but with a more straightforward and humorous tone that lacked the smugness Gerald McRaney voices for Hearst. The conclusion of their conversation, which eventually finds them eating amongst a few of Hearst’s hired guns, who eye Odell as a man to shoot, has Hearst interrogating Odell about the liquor on his breath. Hearst tries to get him to admit that he’s actually not associated with the church, the church who lays claim to the gold in Liberia, but are willing to partner. It’s the equivalent of shaking a person upside down for their change or a maifiaso searching for a wire. It implies, too, that Hearst is little more than a bully, a thug, a mobster. Hearst pushes Odell to the point that Odell even takes a “combative tone,” per Hearst, and admits that the church was partly a ruse to cause Hearst to think him pious and trustworthy. The ice is broken. Hearst still wants the gold in Liberia and is willing to take the next step of sending someone with Odell to see if he can lay hands on even more of it. Odell’s possibility of getting him richer and more powerful saved Odell a shooting or hanging. Hearst’s anger toward the camp of Deadwood doesn’t prove to be as patient. His diction points out that he believes himself a god. Aunt Lou warns Odell that Hearst could very well have him killed on the way out of camp anyway, never mind the gold claim in Liberia. He’s not the type of man who wouldn’t do it, that’s been established.

Which takes us to the readying of the upcoming meeting. Dan and Jewel comically argue over the notion of the cinnamon while Tom Nuttall vouches for Harry to attend. Both of those also coincide to a food allergy that damn near kills Harry later, as he consumed the cinnamon and it almost swells his throat shut. Also before the meeting, Cy lets Al in on some pertinent information: Cy told Hearst of Alma’s relapse into drug use. But Cy Tolliver is of the idea that the camp just needs to turn over Sheriff Bullock to Hearst in order to save everything else they have going. Hearst still fumes over being embarrassed and arrested. Al’s not with him on that front. Instead, the meeting itself starts and concerns whether or not the rest of the camp should hire guns — and maybe even attack Hearst — before he has the chance to burn them down like Gomorrah. In an odd turn, the decision seems to be put on the back burner when Bullock has Merrick read a letter that he penned about the recently killed Cornish worker. The letter doesn’t mention Hearst at all. It only states that the camp plans to see to Pasco, the dead Cornish worker, and make sure that he’s buried properly. It’s a kind-hearted piece of writing. That’s the point, too. It’s decency is meant to attack a man who’s beyond law, as Jack later points out to Al. That’s enough to settle it for Al Swearengen, who opens the Gem back up after seeing the letter’s intent.

Two other impending finalities linger within “Unauthorized Cinnamon.” Ellsworth is still determined to dissolve his marriage to Alma, whether officially or unofficially, by not bothering her so that Alma can save herself from the dope. His reasoning is that without him around, she can get back on her feet. It’s a pitiful, heartbreaking scene between the two. The lovable and sweet Ellsworth politely lets Alma know that he won’t be coming back and Sophia continues to ask his whereabouts. The second is the poor Doc, who is getting worse with tuberculosis. Al Swearengen has a funny way of letting people know that he cares about them. With the instance of the Doc, he throws swaths of material down to him while yelling that he does not plan to get used to another doctor’s quirks. Yeah, that says I love you, Al.

The episode is little more than some serious place setting, but it works well because of the character interplay. Seeing all of these people interact and discuss motives, moves, and maneuvers is pure beauty. It feels as though something will certainly come to an end to some of them.

 

Other Takes:

  • Was Gustov’s only reason for coming into the Gem was so that Al could later throw the material down to the Doc?
  • Blazanov’s brief period of being upset over his murdered parents comes to fruition in this episode: breaking his oath, he warns Al that Hearst has sent for more “bricks” that he will use to kill more innocent people, much like Blazanov’s parents were killed years before.
  • Jane gets a bath and more from Joanie as Joanie reveals even more of her troubled childhood.
  • The nicest that Steve gets is saying that he won’t murder General Fields as long as General Fields will do the same. Well, he also asks that General Fields work for him at the livery rather than leave for San Francisco. That’s improvement.
  • One of the sex workers makes quite a feminist statement noting that even owning a damn bank doesn’t get you a seat at the table of the men’s only meeting. Just wait ’till she sees what 2019 is like!
  • We get a brief, unnecessary look at Chesterton, who is also dying. Just go ahead and die!
  • Al voices simple wisdom to the Doc when he tells him, “No one gets out alive.” That part is true for everyone.
  • When I first saw the title of the episode, I was tempted to look up what allusion was being made, but it seems as if it’s only a piece of the dialogue from Dan, which is brilliantly played by W. Earl Brown. I don’t give him enough credit here, but he’s the type of actor I could just listen talk.

Quote of the episode:

E.B. to his whipping boy, poor Richardson, who had only asked how the meeting had gone: “I imagine the pool that spawned you. I am filling it with rocks. I am holding shut your gills to prevent you from taking in air. I suppose the meeting went quite well.”

 

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