Deadwood: Sold Under Sin   Rewatch 
March 5, 2017 2:23 PM - Season 1, Episode 12 - Subscribe

General Crook rolls into Deadwood with his troops, known as "Custer's avengers," and the Yankton magistrate, Clagett, prompting a parade and business solicitations from E.B. Farnum and Cy Tolliver. Al Swearengen delivers a tortured soul from suffering, and Bullock reacts decisively to Russell's intentions regarding Alma. Stapleton's new commission as sheriff proves short-lived, and Bullock and Alma have a late-night meeting.

Season finale.
posted by porpoise (4 comments total)
Is there anything in this episode that isn't a headfake? I feel like anything I could say about what happens here is a spoiler on future developments. Well, except for the reverend taking a little vacation over at the Gem SalooHA HA JUST KIDDING HE'S DEAD NOW.

The parade seems highly ironic.
posted by rhizome at 11:00 PM on March 12, 2017

Looks like this fanfare thread is suffering from a whole lot of lack of momentum. But season 2 is even better - industriously building on story nuggets within base worldbuilding already established.

My problem is that I've kept watching ahead of posts and am now halfway through (the last) season 3.

I do re-watch the episodes that I comment in - except for this one - but the full rewatch was on the order of months ago.
posted by porpoise at 9:21 PM on March 22, 2017

Hello, hello, I'm still interested in this—it's that part of the academic year when everything that isn't teaching and writing is a luxury, though. Like porpoise I'm ahead of the rewatch but am re-rewatching in order to comment. When the rewatch started the posts were explicitly tagged rewatch—would it be possible to go back to that? It allowed us the full range of our expression—it would let Rhizome explain those false starts they allude to, e.g.

I haven't commented on this episode yet in part because I like it so much I barely know where to begin. Here's one arc: I take it one of the headfakes Rhizome talks about is what happens between Al and the magistrate, beginning with this conversation about the limits of Al's powers and the encroachment of government:
Al: Well as to bribing you further for help with that warrant against me, beyond the 5000 you've already pocketed, the gist was, 'Fuck yourself'.
Claggett: Do you now reconsider?
Al: No, Magistrate, I do not. Not if you've seen Adams or if you haven't seen Adams.
Claggett: Well that would be imprudent, Al. A failure to properly value your freedom in the promising days ahead.
Al: Maybe you don't value keeping your fucking guts inside your belly enough.
Claggett: Those are the days behind us.
Al, gesturing to Dan behind the bar: No, those are the days to my fucking left.
Claggett: I didn't generate the warrant. My disappearance won't quash it. You can't murder an order, or the telegraph that transmitted it, or those that are content to put food on the table simply by being its instruments. It can't be done.
Al: Get the fuck out of my joint.
It's been a decade or more since I first watched this, but I remember being genuinely unclear about what would come of this exchange: Claggett isn't wrong about the limits of murder and the reach of the system, and when Dan starts advocating for Russell's death as "the exact type of murder you preach, Al" and folds the magistrate and Tolliver into it as a threefer while he's murdering at the Bella Union anyway, Dan comes across like a ruffian not seeing the full scope of the situation. Add to that the ambiguity of Adams' loyalties, and it seemed the magistrate might survive that meeting in Al's office; after that, it seemed that Al might have reacted with more impetuousness than the situation could bear.

I take it this is paralleled by the situation with Bullock and Russell—Russell, too, tries to control his present situation by reference to the long arm of the law and, even more straightforwardly than Claggett with his highhat blackmail, by his willingness to lie to turn the law to his best advantage. I want to say more about that whole scene and the episode's consideration of violence institutional and otherwise, but for right now and this comment I'd just note that here too civilization overplays its hand, thinking that the days of violence are behind us; here too, a camp representative returns to violence without being sure that civilization isn't right, that this won't come back on them. (It turns out of course—and if this is a spoiler it's not one that Deadwood alone would spoil for you—that everyone involved is wrong about violence and civilization being opposed, anyway. This is pretty transparent in Russell's character, best exemplified in his making threats to Alma without changing his tone and while jollying Sophia with—of course—coin tricks, making literal how money is distraction and cover for violence. It is less so in the magistrate, who hasn't quite enlisted the institutional power whose full and neutral agent he pretends to be—which is why his throat can be cut.)
posted by felix grundy at 11:52 AM on March 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just finished this season, and what struck me the most was how the presence of the cavalry served as such a specific tonal backdrop to the tenseness of the actions happening everywhere in camp. Bullock's beating of Russell, threatening of Dan (and AL by proxy), and going to Alma, Stapleton's fall from the tiniest modicum of assumed respectability, Wu's backroom meeting with Al, Claggett and Crook and Tolliver figuring out sleeping arrangements, and most of all Doc Cochran worrying over Jewel and the Reverend, all took place in a setting where the Cavalry's mere presence felt like the camp was being sacked and it was the end of the world.

Which was of course the point. They're all building a civilization there, but it's theirs to build, and the cavalry were interlopers presenting a threat of an undefinable nature to those actually involved with shaping that future. Merrick is of course a clownish figure throughout the first season at least (and Alan Sepinwall makes a point repeatedly that Merrick is Milch's reflection of how little he cares for the media) but it's interesting to me how much he wants to follow around and photograph these "heroes" who every real power figure is so wary of.

I also loved the drunk soldier mumbling his certainly more accurate version of events while Crook was recounting the epic heroic version.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:30 PM on May 3, 2017

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