Stars: Anson Mount, Colm Meaney, Common, Dominique McElligott, Tom Noonan, Christopher Heyerdahl
Writer: Tony Gayton & Joe Gayton
Director: David Von Ancken
Network: AMC, airs Sunday nights
Original Telecast: August 12, 2012
Time for another of my favorite shows to return this week! With “Viva La Mexico,” HELL ON WHEELS makes its end of summer return. This gritty and entertaining Western series is a great filler for the void left in anybody’s life by Deadwood. The langue isn’t as rough as Deadwood, but the production value, writing, and characters are engaging. I’m not a huge fan of westerns in particular, but being from the Wild West (Wyoming) I do enjoy when I am able to watch a well-done show. This series is like a younger brother to Deadwood, even though it’s not quite at rough and tumble.
In the first season the main storyline revolves around Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount) a Civil War veteran who returned from the war after fighting for the South, to find his wife and son dead; murdered by Union soldiers. Bohannan when we meet him is tracking down all of the men that were part of the unit that defiled and killed his family, and that quest leads him west to the edge of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Bohannan quickly dispatches his target and then in a surprising turn of events is offered a supervisory job with the construction crews.
Once in Hell on Wheels he encounters Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) the railroad magnet determined to have the 1st railroad connecting the East to the West. He befriends Elam (Common), one of the former slaves that now are working paid work on the construction of the railroad and an educated black man, with a pretty good sized temper which gets him into hot water more than once. And of course develops feelings for Lily Bell,the surveyor’s wife,(Dominique McElligott) who becomes widowed in the first episode, and then ends up taking her husband’s place with Durant in the expansion plans for the railroad. She is a determined and feisty British woman who kills to defend herself in the first episode, and she doesn’t back down from a fight ever.
At the end of the first season Bohannan had decided to flee Hell on Wheels after killing an innocent man in his quest for justice for his family, and this season opener picks up sometime later. All of the characters have moved on in different (and some very unexpected) ways. Many of the characters are connected to other that you may or may not have put with each other in your wildest dreams, and then there are other situations you aren’t surprised to see that will certainly lead to interesting situations down the line.
The Swede, (Christopher Heyerdahl) who is an absolutely delightful villain in the first season is one of those characters you love to hate. Now after the events of the finale he is a much changed man, and his role in the town is almost as low as you can go. It doesn’t seem that he has a huge interest in getting his old position back as Durant’s enforcer, but he does undoubtedly have some tricks up his sleeve that will continue to make him one of my favorites to watch on the show.
It’s nice to see everyone back again. It’s even nicer to see that some of the characters that had it so rough in the first season are a little bit better off now. The production values are still top notch, and the sets, costumes, and designs are all spot on. Of course they couldn’t resolve too much in the first episode and we’ll all have to tune in next week to discover the fate of certain members of the cast!
Related: Exclusive Interview with HELL ON WHEELS actress Dominique McElligott
Related: Exclusive Interview with HELL ON WHEELS co-creator Joe Gayton
Related: Exclusive Interview with HELL ON WHEELS star Colm Meaney
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Article: TV Review: HELL ON WHEELS – Season 2 Premiere – “Viva La Mexico”