Hell on Wheels s02e06: Purged Away with Blood

Purged Away with BloodA review by Nalini Haynes
  • Director: Joe Gayton
  • Writers: Joe Gayton (creator), Tom Brady
  • Stars: Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Common

This review will contain spoilers for the previous episode. If you want to catch up with background behind Hell on Wheels the TV series and the previous episode, I recommend reading my previous review.

In the ‘Railroad Job’ Hawkins (Ryan Robbins) shot Durant (Colm Meaney). Durant is dying, his only hope is to travel to Chicago by train for surgery. Lily refuses to go with Durant as she does not want to meet her lover’s wife. Eva goes instead although Ferguson is concerned about Eva travelling while 3 months pregnant.

The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl) sets the Reverend up with some Indians who blow up the tracks to take Durant and his entourage prisoner. The Reverend demands Durant orders a holy war manifesto telegraphed to Chicago to be printed on the front page. Durant orders it telegraphed back to camp, where investigations lead Bohannan to the captured train.

This story had issues. For example, in previous stories, people were in danger from rifle shots much further away than in this episode. Durant wandered in and out of consciousness but was lucid to give instructions when necessary. The Reverend was never stable but his suicide mission seemed bizarrely out of character even for him.

[Spoiler alert] 

What annoyed me the most is that the Swede manipulated the Reverend and the Indians who all lost their lives while the Swede vanished at a key point in time, seemingly with impunity, no-one even searching for him, no-one seemingly aware of the role he played.

[Spoiler ends]

Overall, Hell on Wheels ‘Purged Away with Blood’ remained engaging and true to its genre,- an action/drama Western. Although the story threads were a bit more holey than recent episodes I think this episode is pushing the overall narrative arc towards its destination, developing characters along the way.

Rating:  3 1/2 out of 5 stars for a violent dramatic Western

Until June 25, 2014 there is a competition open to residents of Australia for a free copy of Hell on Wheels season 3 on DVD.