Deadwood: Plague   Rewatch 
January 17, 2017 5:48 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Bullock encounters native resistance in his quest to bring a murderer to justice. Swearengen presses a resentful Farnum to keep tabs on Alma and Trixie as the camp fathers pool their resources to dispatch riders after the precious vaccine and build a sick tent as smallpox arrives in Deadwood. Cochran turns to a distressed Jane for help caring for the diseased in the coming days.
posted by torisaur (6 comments total)
I recall the opening scene bugging me the first time around, and it's bugging me again. Is the native Indian meaning to just count coup on Bullock or did he intend to right-out murder him?

Bullock killing him is fully justified as self defense, but what was the motivation of the native? The characterization, also. Counting coup from ambush seems inimical to the idea of counting coup.


One of the first displays that Joanie has a conscience. I wonder how much input Jim Beaver has on his characters lines, the man's wonderful in everything I've seen him in.
posted by porpoise at 7:46 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I recall the opening scene bugging me the first time around, and it's bugging me again. Is the native Indian meaning to just count coup on Bullock or did he intend to right-out murder him?

Charlie at least thinks it was to count coup -- had he wanted Bullock dead he'd have shot Bullock, not the horse, or killed Bullock when he was still down.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:24 PM on January 17, 2017

porpoise: It was common to kill an opponent after counting coup; the coup strike just had to precede the killing to give it honor. I think it's safe to say that Bullock wasn't going to make it out of there.

Also, for those curious about what the Lakota warrior was saying while attacking Bullock: Wasi'chu means "white man/european" and Hokahey is a war cry and also a common expression meaning "let's go" or "come on."
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Also an interesting interaction here between two of the few clearly good-hearted people in the camp (the Reverend and Doc Cochran), with Al interjecting his own veiled form of empathy. As if proximity to decent people rubbed off on him. One of the earlier moments in the show to highlight Al's capacity for non-monstrous kindess.

Rev: I take it I suffered some sort of convulsion or seizure. Perhaps brought on my irregular hours.
Doc: Oh, I see. And I 'spect you'll be soon hangin' up your shingle in competition with me?
Rev: No, oh no, no, sir.
Doc: Mmm. How did you feel before the spell come on you?
Rev: I-I noticed a peculiar smell in the air. As if something were burning.
Doc: Is this the first time?
Rev: No, the first episode occurred several days ago. After the service for Mr. Hickok.
Doc And any others between that one and this?
Rev: (shaking his head) No.
Doc: Follow my finger. (Puts his index finger out and traces a line back and forth, front and back in the air)
Rev: Mmm, or, or perhaps I just need glasses. (Al enters)
Al: Merrick needs to see you about the article. Prescribe this malingerer (Holds out a can) a can of peaches, and show him the fuckin' door. (winks, turns and leaves)
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:24 PM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Bullock killing him is fully justified as self defense, but what was the motivation of the native?

I gathered from Charlie's explanation that he was basically guarding his buddy's grave. I also got the sense that the head that Johnny found was probably taken from that grave, so the grave had already been desecrated (Charlie mentions the body being without a head, I'm just guessing at Johnny's involvement). It's also possible that the tufts of hair being sold by Soapy in "The Trial of Jack McCall" were from that head, but I don't think that would affect the native's motivation any.
posted by LionIndex at 5:38 AM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

So (a full three months or so after discussion has died down on this thread) I just started watching the show for the first time tonight. I guess this is a sixth of the way through the series (or a square-root of the way through the series, which my mathematician GF pointed out is pretty useless for gauging how far through linear time one is.)

Anyway, some thoughts:

1. It's amazing to me how clear it already is that the show is about how civilization forms itself out of lawlessness by force of almost nature. Even in a place with no legal authority and no official means of enforcement, they feel the need to have a trial (even if Swearengen has to fix it so's they don't actually convict anyone and risk their hopes for annexation. We get the feeling from this episode that the meeting was the first time anything like that had been called in Camp, and that for all of the similar monstrosities of Al and Cy, at least Al is personally invested in the town and has some sense of the civic duty necessary to maintain things through the epidemic.

2. I'm still wondering what it is, exactly, that Charlie saw/sees in Bullock that he thought was missing in Wild Bill. Bill seemed a cooler head and more canny at the politics than Seth, but I guess Charlie was just mostly wanting Bill to settle on a trade and practice it for once.

3. The Little Girl saying "Hello, Jane," was the sweetest thing to happen so far.

4. FARNUM: Be Brief
JANE: Be fucked!

5. Plot-wise, there's a ton of almost-certainly-unintentional similarities to Game of Thrones Season 1. Our seeming protagonist is first introduced sentencing a man to execution who we the viewers would certainly not feel to be deserving of it, and carrying it out personally to make sure that it is as clean and painless and honorable as it can be, to show the nature of the world and that protagonist's place in it's moral universe. The second episode then deals with a small child who someone attempted to kill in the first episode coming to and certain parties freaking out about what they child will have to say. There are a couple of seats of power in town, with our protagonist becoming right-hand-man to the flashy and famous one before that figure is killed midway through the season in an unlikely fashion, and the brothel-keeper who is actually running everything and whom everyone has to trust to some degree whether they want to or not because he's got his fingers in everything.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:08 PM on April 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

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