Hell on Wheels: 61 Degrees – Explosive Consequences (Review)


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Hell on Wheels this week sees the day after Cullen’s reuniting  with Mei last week and Durant connecting with Maggie. Bohannon and his lover are closer than ever and Doc proposes to the hotelier.  “61 degrees” is about nitroglycerin and  “safe” temperatures where one can use the unstable explosive without deadly consequences.  Bohannon has to force his old friend Strobridge  to mix the stuff up and Jim warns that many will die as a result.

The ranchers gang up on Durant demanding their money back. Maggie opens the company  safe and Doc gets a smack in the mouth with a gun barrel. The safe is empty and the angry land owners give the magnate a limited amount of time to get the money.

At the tunnel, after a successful first attempt,  some workers die when one of the canisters fails to explode. A man grabs the “dud” and it explodes in his hand killing two Chinese laborers and knocking Cullen and “Fong” to the ground.

Jim Strobridge (Reg Rogersrefuses to continue with the dangerous explosive after Bohannon says that he and Collis can personally check for misfires. It costs Cullen’s friend his job. Eva manages get that white horse she spied earlier.

Durant devises a scheme to get more money. He gets Mickey to set up his kidnapping and the money that the railroad pays will pay the ranchers and Mickey. (So much for going legitimate eh?) The saloon owner and new shares owner gets his psychotic  pal Shea (played by Andrew Howard who specializes in deadly nutters) to do the deed.

Bohannon mixes the next batch of nitro with Mei and he gets caught up in the power of what he is doing. The two have rushed sex on the same table the explosive is on. This was almost as dangerous as the game they are playing where no one, apart from Cullen and one Chinese prostitute, know that Fong is a woman.

If Mr. Chang (Byron Mann) learns of the deception,  Mei could be the thing that finally gets Cullen killed.

Bohannon asks his friend to reconsider and when he refuses is forced to move out of the carriage car with his family and belongings by Huntington (Tim Guinee).  (A sad scene where  Strobridge’s daughter, who clearly worshipped the ground that Bohannon walked on is devastated that her hero can be so cruel. Cullen is also upset at this turn of events.)

Another canister fails to explode and Cullen learns he has to drill and place another charge next to the dud. Mei helps him and the explosion takes Bohannon and his crew through to the team on the other side.

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Colm Meany as Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant

Dandy Johnny breaks into Durant’s private car where Louise (Jennifer Ferrin) waits for a quote from Durant. Shea pistol whips the newspaper owner. Martin intervenes and dies for his trouble. The kidnapper starts to shoot Louise and Durant shouts at him to stop. “It’s me you want, take me.” 

Chang almost catches Fong,  as Mei, (she is with Cullen)  and the Chinese businessman is now suspicious.

Looking at next week’s preview it looks to be mostly about Durant’s kidnapping and less about Bohannon’s rush to finish the railroad.  With the introduction of the nitroglycerin and the fact that Mei and Cullen are getting careless, it is all too easy to see Bohannon dead before  the series ends.

What do you think? Will Cullen’s injury combined with his rushing to finish the railroad mean his demise?

Hell on Wheels airs Saturdays on AMC.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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