“Two Soldiers” was always going to be a tough episode to follow. Hell on Wheels this week tried to keep the quality high with some heart tugging decisions being made by Bohannon. “Return to the Garden” continues after the death of Thor Gundersen and Cullen riding back to see Naomi and William. Of course this goes over like a lead balloon with new hubby Isaac, who makes it fairly clear how he feels about Bohannon being back.
That wound is still giving Cullen a lot of problems and it is understood that he is running on empty, so to speak. The chance meeting at the creek with the wounded Ute, besides being a portent of things to come, showed just how vulnerable Bohannon is right now.
Despite the almost open hostility that Isaac shows Naomi’s husband, Cullen offers to make sure that his family get back to the Mormon community safely. He even promises to put in a word with the leader; Brigham Young (played by that splendid character actor Gregg Henry).
This was a hard one for Cullen. He has to eat crow more than once in his efforts to see his wife and son safely ensconced in the Mormon community. “Turning the other cheek” to Isaac’s obnoxious and odious behavior; the younger man barely managed to thank Bohannon for saving his life, is clearly not easy.
After refusing to take no for an answer, Cullen goes with them on their journey. He then has to fight off temptation as Naomi makes it clear a couple of times that she would welcome him back into her life. “My father would have wanted me to honor my vows with you,” she whispers in the barn.
The “father” speech was particularly poignant (this episode of Hell on Wheels aired on Father’s Day) and Cullen struggling not to cry was heart breaking. Telling William the things a father needs to tell his son, has Bohannon sniffling and Naomi tearful.
When Bohannon leaves the couple behind, there was a slight “Shane” feel to the scene, or perhaps a “The Searchers” moment where the protagonist turns his back on loved ones. Knowing that leaving is the best thing for all concerned.
Back in Laramie Durant (Colm Meaney) has returned and the first thing he does, besides bait Eva (Robin McLeavy) is head down to see Mickey for more workers. Although he does have to placate a group of unhappy investors whose land is now worthless since the hub will be in Cheyenne and not Laramie.
Mei/Fong (Angela Zhou) believes that Cullen is not coming back and smokes a little opium to ease her fears. After leaving the opium den she spies Bohannon riding into town. The two join up before the end credits roll.
Prior to the romance of Mei and Cullen, Durant finally concedes to Mickey’s request for stocks in the railroad out of sheer desperation. He will get his 1000 Irish workers now and he warns Mickey that being a share holder is not all “steak and wine.”
Looking at the previews of next week’s show, Cullen looks to be back on form, “It’s my tunnel now.” Bohannon is back, the Swede is dead and his family is safe. Cullen can now focus on the railroad and Mei.
Hell on Wheels airs Saturdays on AMC. Tune in and catch this superior western offering and enjoy the performances and the storylines.