AMC’s acclaimed Western series Hell on Wheels, which dramatizes the construction of the Union Pacific transcontinental railroad in the post-Civil War years, has now reached the one-quarter mark of its fourth season. The current 13-episode season represents an expansion from the previous 10-episode length of prior years.
Following its fourth episode on August 23, Hell on Wheels has averaged 2.16 million viewers for its host cable & satellite network. An interesting approach of the series this season is to run the first ten episodes of Season 4 consecutively for 10 weeks and then take a break in October – the final three episodes will then run consecutively beginning November 8th.
The current season has been focused thus far in the emerging city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1868. Historically, the Union Pacific first reached Cheyenne with its westward track in November of 1867. The creation of a division point to service and repair trains, along with the establishment of a nearby U.S. Army fort, meant that Cheyenne would grow quickly into an important center. One of the themes of the series is connected to that growth; a group of new characters is seeking to impose a form of ‘rough justice’ upon the town, believing their methods are government-sanctioned as they bring order and legal structure to the territory.
These new arrivals to the West, which include the appointed Governor, a judge, a federal marshal and his deputy, are seen by lead character Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) as carpetbaggers. That term was applied negatively to northerners who came to the South after the Civil War to profit personally, be it economically or politically, while the federal government directed rebuilding of the region. The term is derived from the carpet bag luggage they typically carried.
In a preview for tonight’s episode, Bohannon, a former Confederate soldier, meets another new arrival to Cheyenne, a fellow southerner, who on the surface seems to offer a potential ally to Bohannon against the powers of Cheyenne. Here is a preview clip:
Episode 5 of Hell on Wheels debuts tonight at 9E/8C.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)