Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On The Last Three Or Four Episodes Of Deadwood Season One

  • Innocence will be punished
  • The innocents get fucked, and then charged for it: two dollars extra for ass-fucking.
  • Regardless of what the Mormons will tell you, Jesus didn’t make it anywhere close to America, and certainly not the Black Hills.
  • This is the Preacher:
  • preacher ep 1 deadwood
  • And to downshift from the thematic/metaphysical/overarching grand pronouncement, the actor (Ray McKinnon) has one of the most fascinating faces I’ve ever seen: all angles and pinions and a giant nose and mouth that twist around the Gospel and dance with each other during his sermons.
  • The Preacher is kind, and without guile or ambition; he is truly Christ-like.
  • There are moral people in the camp, who only kill them what got it coming.
  • And there are decent people in the camp, who only kill when they have to.
  • The Preacher doesn’t kill anybody at all, ever.
  • He’s got, like, a rule about it.
  • You can see the brain tumor coming up the road from Yankton, can’t you?
  • We’ll get back to Reverend Glioma in a bit, because it’s time to meet everyone’s favorite Celestial, Mr. Wu:
  • mr-wu-1024
  • Can we all just acknowledge the racist joke in the picture and move on with post, please?
  • Thank you.
  • Mr. Wu (Keone Young) is the Al Swearengen of Chinatown, because Chinese guys like drugs and gambling and whores just as much as white guys, but they weren’t allowed into the Gem or the Bella Union.
  • The racism of 1870’s America was pure, primal, uncut.
  • There really was a Chinatown in Deadwood because by that point there was a Chinatown in any place with any money in America: Chinese immigrants had been arriving since the mid 1800’s, mostly through San Francisco, and then the railroad spread them across the country.
  • Wait.
  • First, they built the railroad.
  • Then the spreading thing.
  • The Chinese–referred to as Celestials and many other awful things–came here for the same reason all immigrants do: the American Dream, even though no such concept or phrase existed in 1876.
  • Wait.
  • They came because there was money, big piles of it right underground or laced into the sides of hills, and you could work for some of it or steal a lot of it.
  • You could also feed people to your pigs, which is one of the business arrangements Mr. Wu had with Al Swearengen: sometimes a body had to disappear, and pigs are like magicians that only know one trick.
  • Anyway, Mr. Wu also supplies the opium in Deadwood and when two white cocksuckers rob and kill his courier, they have to die.
  • Well, one of them does: even though–by traditional custom–both of those men had put a death mark on themselves, they were white and you could not kill two whites for the death of one Celestial.
  • It wouldn’t cause a race riot or anything.
  • A “race riot” is when an underpowered minority group rises up and loses their shit, momentarily and in the long run ineffectually.
  • This would have been a massacre: the white Deadwoodians would have overtaken Chinatown and killed, raped, and enslaved all of the inhabitants.
  • And there would have been no consequences whatsoever.
  • The past was terrible.
  • If you look on the innertubes, the present seems awful, but the past was so much worse; do you know anyone who has been fed to pigs?
  • Because if you lived in Deadwood, you knew several people who had been fed to pigs.
  • They do not feed the Preacher to the pigs.
  • Remember the Preacher?
  • He’s going to die.
  • To leave the sty, Magistrate Claggett from Yankton is most likely fed to the pigs after his lieutenant slits his throat in Al Swearengen’s office.
  • (A note on spoilers: the program of Deadwood aired in 2004; it was based on events from 1876-8 featuring characters that were literally in your history book. Spoilers does not apply here. Deadwood is not a safe space, in any sense. Also, it’s tough to spoil any death in this show because you see every single one coming. People waste away from disease over a season, or other characters discuss murdering them for several scenes prior.)
  • When you hear “Yankton,” think “America.”
  • Remember: Deadwood is an illegal settlement on Indian land, and while annexation by the United States and integration into the Dakota Territories is inevitable, the terms have not been settled.
  • Custom dictates that any claim a man has worked honestly is his, but that’s not the way the law works.
  • The law works the way D.C. wants it to work.
  • Yankton arrives in Deadwood–after being whispered of for several episodes–in three forms, all America.
  • First there is the devious Magistrate’s lieutenant, who is business.
  • Then the Magistrate, who is the law.
  • And then the army, who is the army.
  • Knock knock.
  • Who’s that cocksucker banging on my fucking door?
  • America!
  • Also: Yankton and Deadwood (the actual physical real places) are 334 miles apart, so: holy fucking shit, these human beings were made out of iron and hardtack.
  • Seventeen days. (I have no idea whether there were trains up there yet, but I don’t think so.)
  • The tiniest bit of googling says that a horse can travel 20 miles a day, so that makes it more than half-a-month on the trail.
  • Not road.
  • Trail.
  • There may not be any place on the planet it takes seventeen days to get to now, let alone a town in the same state.
  • Okay: maybe Texas.
  • The camp of Deadwood has two types of women in it: women who shouldn’t have come, and women who aren’t allowed to leave.
  • The first category includes Alma Garrett, who looks like this:
  • Alma-Garret-deadwood-16934137-333-500
  • She is played by Molly Parker, who has a spectacular chin, and the only reason she lives through the first season is luck and the script saying so.
  • However, by the end of the season, with her claim a bonanza, she has the money to purchase violence.
  • Violence can take money, but money can purchase violence.
  • Power lies in the middle of those two things.
  • She’s also protected by her status in society: a married woman (and then a widow).
  • She is respectable, and men stand when she enters the room.
  • When the whores enter the room, the men stand, but for different reasons.
  • Remember the thing about Yankton being America?
  • Well, when you hear “whore,” think “slave.”
  • “Whore” makes it sound nicer than it was, which is entirely fucked up.
  • Some of them were sold outright by their parents to the pimps, but the real-life Al Swearengen liked to advertise in the papers back East.
  • Waitress, actress, whatever.
  • And who would answer this ad and take this job?
  • Girls without connections or money or many other options, and when they got out West, Al would take all their money and papers and beat the shit out of them and rent their pussies and mouths and asses out until they died, or killed themselves, or whatever.
  • He could always get more.
  • The past was terrible.
  • Also, when rich ladies get naked on Deadwood, they are wearing fancy and symbolic corsets and the shots are gauzy, sultry, tasteful.
  • The whores just walk around with their titties out.
  • This is one of the whores from the Gem, Trixie:
  • trixie-1920
  • The actress’ name is Paula Malcomson, and her nose is mind-blowing.
  • We are introduced to her, way back in the first episode, after she has shot a trick for hitting her.
  • Trixie is a Whore With A Heart Of Gold, but like I said: Deadwood contains every trope in the Western playbook.
  • A teleological argument can be made for Westerns, that without the WWAHOG, and a Righteous And Handsome Sheriff, and a Cunning And Charismatic Baddie, and a Town Drunk, it wouldn’t be a Western at all.
  • You can’t just lay down some wooden sidewalks and spread shit everywhere and call it a Western: the genre comes from the stock characters, not the setting.
  • Anyway, we’ll get back to Trixie because she is awesome and also because I want to keep these things under 1500 words.
  • I mean: I’ll do one for each episode, but only for cash on the barrel.
  • Otherwise, you’re getting the scattershot approach.
  • Speaking of which: the plague has passed and the guy Powers Boothe left in the woods to die did not; Ricky Jay starts to have something interesting to do, but then disappears forever; Joanie (who is the Bella Union’s version of Trixie) begins to break away on her own; there is a meeting in which peaches are served; Alma Garrett’s father shows up and gets the shit kicked out of him by Seth Bullock, who then bangs Alma Garrett; Ellsworth and Farnham and Merrick and Charlie Utter all do things, too, but we’ll get to them because we have to get to the Preacher.
  • You know: he has to die.
  • A big part of the show–and the actual moment in history–is the Civil War: many people called out for Jesus at 2nd Manassas, but He only answered the Preacher; after the war, he went West and wound up in Deadwood to save sinners’ souls.
  • You gotta go where the action is.
  • The Preacher watches Seth Bullock and Sol Star’s hardware store in the evening for a tiny wage; he tends to the small pox victims in the pest tent; he prays for the dead at the frequent funerals in the graveyard overlooking the camp.
  • People mix up “disinterested” and “uninterested.”
  • Disinterested doesn’t mean to not care, uninterested does; disinterested means that you have no financial stake in the proceedings.
  • The Preacher is literally the only disinterested character on the show.
  • Remember when I said he dies?
  • I lied.
  • Al Swearengen smothers him on a whore’s mattress in the back of a saloon.
  • So much for the innocents.

(Second addendum, same as the first: this is happening. If you’re not into it, I understand. Check out for a few days and when you come back, Bobby and Josh Meyers will be rescuing Katy Perry, and Roy Head is going to Europe, and I have absolutely terrible things to say about Ann Coulter. Also, I want to do a podcast and I have many ideas and that will be next week. For now, though: Black Hills, bitches.)


  1. Looking forward to a whole post dedicated to the great Charlie Utter.

  2. Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

    July 11, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Don’t you get enough violence in real life, without having to watch more on the small screen? Huh? Don’t cha?

  3. I hope you’re not kidding about the podcast. This has pretty much become my favorite blog and podcasts have become one of my favorite means of entertainment.

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