Welcome back, Hellions! We’re in the home stretch and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. The last half of the season has been a sensory overload – I’m expecting the Hell on Wheels series finale to be phenomenal. I know we aren’t quite there yet, but the lead up has me convinced we will enjoy an exceptional ending to the series we’ve come to love. I know we won’t get “Dextered.” To those of you who don’t know what I mean by that, just think of a show you’ve watched religiously only to see it sign off for good with a giant middle finger and zero resolution.
This week begins with Chang’s backstory. He’s been an ass since 1863 (or birth). He’s buying his wife – Wai-Ling. That’s Mei’s “Big Sister.” I thought she was just an unfortunate working for Chang, but his wife!? Number one – I should never whine about how rotten my life is ever again. My parents sold me for a lot more than 250 Yuan. Number two – my husband never aspired to be a pimp and whore me out. Anyway, my point is things could always be worse … and also hate Chang more than you do already! He’s terrible!
The next bits show how he ended up in Truckee. His whole pimp and opium scheme … his blah, blah, blah to the right people. A little charm and some fancy words and away he goes with his bride (after he helps her down from an auction block!!!) to start his “business” in America.
My heart goes out to Wai-Ling, who becomes nothing more than a revolving door. What kind of man whores out his own wife?
To see a woman so unhappy and so mistreated hurts my heart. While washing his scarred-up back (what happened to him? I start to wonder but realize I just don’t give a sh-t at this point), she takes an opportunity, grabs a knife and stabs him. Other than some pain and another scar, it doesn’t do much more than piss him off. She runs, but he catches her. He contemplates caving her head in with a sledge hammer but recognizes she’s worth nothing dead, so he uses it on her leg instead. What a scumbag.
And with that said, Chang really knows. I knew it. You knew it. Cullen (welcome back!) goes to Chang insisting that Mei’s father’s wages go directly to him for disbursal. Chang is completely smug because he’s aware of the real reason Bohannon wants Mei’s money. This is confirmed when Cullen sees Wai-Ling wearing Mei’s mother’s dress.
He makes arrangements for Mei to get out of town. Stagecoach Mary will take her to Laramie where she’ll be safe with Maggie Palmer. Mei refuses at first – she wants to stay – they’ll take on Chang together. Cullen won’t hear it. She does as instructed, but I know the plan won’t work. If it did, we’d be disappointed.
Before Mei goes, she tells Cullen she wants a life with him. She loves him. He won’t return the sentiment. I get it. I almost don’t want him to say it. I don’t want her dead, and I’m worried at this point. He remains steadfast. She needs to get out of Truckee, and she has twenty minutes. Talk about a hasty good-bye! But, he’s right. She needs to “run as fast and as far” as she can. Her fate in Truckee with Chang is a death sentence … or worse.
She heads out with Stagecoach Mary. Bohannon trusts her to get Mei to Laramie safely. Trust … funny how that word is so often connected with funds.
Huntington and Chang have a conversation over a meal. It’s duck, so my brain immediately goes to A Christmas Story because I haven’t been able to eat duck without picturing that movie since middle school. My dogs eat fancy-ass, grain-free duck kibble, so every time I buy it, I hear Ralphie’s dad say, “Yes, it’s a beautiful duck. But, you see, it’s smiling at me.” Oops – digression. Sorry!
Yeah, so anyway, what do they talk about? Some serious stuff, that’s what! Who is better and who is worse … they’re both capitalists, so there’s no debate there. Chang’s just a better cook. Business is business, and last week we found out that business is dirty as hell. Alright, we didn’t just find that out last week. Oh, the moneygrubbing! More duck!
Back to Mei and Mary. Mary has stopped for a bathroom break. At least that’s what I assume. She’s gone so long that Mei gets bored enough to rifle through bags. She finds her mother’s dress. Mei offers to buy it, and when the offer hits twenty bucks, Mary concedes. Strange. Mary really wanted that dress two weeks ago.
Bohannon and Huntington have a sit-down next. Bohannon wants Chang out of the picture. There are other workers who come with less issue. Huntington wants that connection with China. He thinks Cullen doesn’t understand. He thinks Cullen doesn’t see the bigger picture – after the railroad is complete. There’s money at stake! Lots of it! Cullen doesn’t care. If Chang is still in the picture after the railroads meet, he won’t be. Done.
Since he gets nowhere with Huntington, he goes to Chang and offers to buy Mei. Chang drives a hard bargain. He wants what he’d get for a good whore. He tells Bohannon that his dear wife, Wai-Ling, brings in $6,000 per year for her assets. Disgusting.
Bohannon agrees to pay, but Chang wants it per year for at least five. Cullen antes up, but Chang still won’t take it. Seeing Bohannon squirm is priceless. He’s going to find Mei and turn her into the worst thing Cullen could imagine. Chang hasn’t forgotten being stiff-armed on his shares in the railroad.
Cullen tells Chang not to misjudge him. Chang responds with the same warning. Yep.
On the way to Laramie, Stagecoach Mary encounters a “problem.” Some Chinese gentlemen – or thugs, rather – roll up and stop the coach. Thankfully, Bohannon gave Mei a pistol, because the whole sh-t is, well, sh-t. It’s all about money to Mary, and she figures Cullen will be none the wiser. Trust. Yeah, that.
Mei uses the gun to escape the hijacking, though I don’t understand why she doesn’t actually aim it. Maybe fear … maybe morals … maybe both. I do hope I see Mary get what she’s got coming. The world is full of opportunists, but it doesn’t make being an opportunist okay.
I know Hell on Wheels is fiction, but it is based on fact. I find it interesting that things (and people) haven’t changed much. I’m a teacher, and I’ve heard talk of ditching history class. I say that’s a stupid idea, but if history just repeats itself, maybe it should be ditched and replaced with empathy class.
Mei makes it to Sam Yup camp and hides. Chang is right behind her. He inquires but gets nothing. He’s an exploiting trespasser for all they’re concerned. Being polite isn’t working, so he gives kung fu a shot. I hate him, but he is impressive. Just before this all goes down, Bohannon gets a telegraph and gets on his horse. There’s hope for Mei.
She enters a bar. The barkeep asks, “Can I help you, sir?” Okay, I get it. She’s been posing as a boy this whole time, but sir? From day one, I knew she was a she. Rub some dirt on her, and put her to work doing guy-stuff … fine … but she does not look like a “sir” by any means. “Can I see some ID, kid?” would be easier to swallow!
She hears a ruckus outside. It’s Chang. He enters the bar, gun first. He asks about Fong. Barkeep hasn’t seen “him” because “he” is situated under the bar with a gun aimed at Barkeep’s crotch. Chang continues questioning the very nervous man. Chang knows, but it doesn’t matter. Someone tougher isn’t far behind. The drawn out interrogation just gives Bohannon more time to show up – but Mei gets her moment first.
She sends the barkeep out and points her pistol at Chang. He finds it amusing. His men are everywhere.
Then, the door is slowly pushed open with a cane. Bohannon. He cocks his pistol, and before Chang finishes his second sentence, Cullen shoots him right between the eyes … well, not quite, but close. Pow. Dead. I can’t even believe it. I brace myself for the sh-t-storm.
It doesn’t happen.
Once Chang is dead, Bohannon proceeds to kill his minions like nothing. He makes them look so un-badass, it’s almost sad. In less than two minutes, they’re all dead. Cullen Bohannon, I love you. AndI don’t want to compare you to Clint, but the eyeball over the shoulder is a little Eastwoodie. So grimy, and so dreamy. Swoon.
When it’s done, he and Mei walk out hand in hand. I’m a bit taken aback. I know he cares for her – loves her even – but this is unexpected. What comes is even more unexpected.
On the way back to Truckee, she says she won’t be safe there. Bohannon assures her she will. She says she needs to go back to China. He tells her she doesn’t. I’m floored.
Back in Truckee, Mei visits Wai-Ling to tell her of Chang’s death. Mei offers her money to return to China – she can leave right away. Mei tells her home awaits – a place where the sun will shine on her, and it “starts with a single step.” Wai-Ling does not accept. Laramie is home now. I need a tissue.
Cullen and Mei are alone in his quarters. He knows Mei went to see Wai-Ling, who “gave her up.” Mei teaches him a lesson in forgiveness – one he needs. Wai-Ling gave up a lot more than Mei. Cullen says he “can’t shake it.” We know what he means, but Mei begs to differ. She tells him he’s good. And he really is good. He just doesn’t see it … but he will. He has to.
They’re intimate again, but it’s real this time. I didn’t expect this either. Some of you commented on their deep feelings for each other. You’re right. I sat on the fence, and now I’m flabbergasted.
Afterward, Cullen is on a mission. He insists she stay inside with the door locked until he returns. She doesn’t want his life to be difficult because of her. Before he leaves, he says it – he tells her he loves her. It’s really hard and sort of forced, but it’s what she needed to hear.
Cullen meets up with Huntington. The Chinese general from the beginning of the episode is there. Word has gotten back that Chang was murdered by a “white assassin” while trying to retrieve one of his whores.
Bohannon says he’s familiar with a white assassin who killed one of his men. Then he says maybe Chang was murdered over a dispute as to the worth of the whore he was seeking. There’s a lot of unspoken knowledge in the room, but it doesn’t matter.
Huntington’s concern that the railroad could be held up due to Chang’s death is squelched when the general says he’ll replace Chang. As the general leaves, Huntington tries to give his condolences. The general says Chang was a pimp and nothing more. What? All this time I thought the world would end if anything happened to him! Dammit!
Bohannon knows Huntington wants to ask it, so he opens the floor only to give no answer aside from donning his hat and walking out. Classic. A confirmation wouldn’t even matter at this point, but at least Cullen invited the question.
When he returns to his quarters, he finds Mei gone. On the bed, he finds the box her father left her – the box that would beckon them back to China once emptied. It isn’t empty. Inside there is a note but nothing more. Mei is on a ship home. She leaves with Cullen’s words in her heart and the belief she’s saved them both.
This episode is epic! What do you think? Sound off in the comments!
I have questions!
- What’s in store for Stagecoach Mary?
- Do you think Chang will be outdone by his replacement?
- Is Cullen really off the hook for what he did?
- Will Mei’s departure lead to Cullen’s downfall with the railroad, or will it fuel his fire even more?
- Do you think Naomi is really out of the picture for good?
I love a good discussion! Follow me on Twitter @KimberlyThies1. I tweet during episodes.