Season 3 Episode 12

Tell Him Something Pretty

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Aug 27, 2006 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
140 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

In the third season finale the camp turns out to vote, but as Bullock notes, the election may already have been decided. In light of the populace's mood, Langrishe delays the opening of his theater, and ponders his future in Deadwood. After detouring at Nuttall's Number ten, Hawkeye arrives at the Gem with "almost 18" men to complement Wu's contingent. Alma works out a deal for her claim; Utter receives another body for Hearst; and Harry gets his fire engine. Stubbs reaches out to a frustrated Tolliver, who finds himself with a folded hand as the action heats up. Through Farnum, Hearst issues his conditions for departure, forcing Swearengen to finish what Burns can't.moreless

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  • Shouildn't Deadwood have climaxed with an OK Corral type shootout?

    Shouildn't Deadwood have concluded with an Earps vs. the Clantons "Gunfight at the OK Corral" or even a Sam Peckinpah "Wild Bunch" type bloodbath?

    The real Deadwood reportedly burned to the ground sometime after the events depicted in the TV series.

    Shouldn't Milch have taken some artistic liberties and combined the showdown with the raging conflagration? The antagonists could have been depicted fighting tooth and nail amidst hellfire as Deadwood metaphorically descended into hell.

    Missed opportunity is a gross understatement.moreless
  • Oh what a whimper we wove. For a producer who is meticulous and methodical as David Milch, he sure dropped the ball on this one. Heck, he dropped a medicine ball.moreless

    Now, don't get me wrong. The "nothing happened" crowd I'm not. I watch this show in great part thanks to the characterization (and the occasional spark of adrenaline) and the language it uses to paint the picture it does.

    But man this was a dud.

    Let's see: we spent episodes and episodes building a climax. Waiting for the reinforcements to come from two sides. I mean we waited for a hundred Chinemen, for God's sake! And when that actually came to pass, how was it handled? "And in one corner, from China.... hundred bizarre rag-tag warriors! In the next corner, 20 bloodthirsty mercenaries... In the middle, Herst vs. Deadwood.... aaaaand they all hug and make up... Yes folks, it's a pretty scene..."

    I think one of the first rules of any visual art is not to waste something when you have it. If you already introduced this hanging sword over the head, you dont put it back in the sheath UNLESS it's meaningful - and this was NOT. The feeling I got from the entire second half of the episode was "Oh, geez, I needed another episode and a half to build this up properly". Well, in this kind of a show, Milch had that episode and a half and didn't use it.

    Second bone to pick; the entire emotional premise of the show was built on the fact that a hooker must be murdered, and two of the meanest SOB's in the camp, who have between them scalped, bludgeoned, cheated, abused, murdered and murdered again canyon-full of people, suddenly put on a conscience-filled routine - with that much at stale?! Way to keep character, Mr. Milch!

    If he was going for the "Let's hang this on a moral balance" he did not succeed, as with very little else in this episode. There was no furthering of anything except a small part with Jane and Joanie's romance, and that's that.

    The "Soaps" flu bug that bites all directors at the funniest times must have got him.

    And let me say this for the record: with all his feigned intensity, Bullock IS NOT intimidating. I'll take a drunk look by Al any day.

    I have NEVER been so hugely disappointed with any season ender as I have been with this one. I hope Milch gets out of it in time for the two films, which he can still make to be two of the most special, most intense westerns of all time. Until then, I'm left with a big "sigh".


  • A huge build up to be let down again in a final episode. Fantastic script as per usual however a lack of action again worrying!!!!

    This story line had been building and building for so long I had such high hopes for a full on show down between hearst and bullock & co. I am not disappointed in the script as usual top quality work right from episode 1 up till now it has been mind blowing word use etc. However the lack of action in this series bar the fight between dan and hearst's second in command, has been pitiful. I was expecting an excellent gun fight leaving it on a knife edge for the upcoming 'specials' next year. I only hope that because that didn't happen at the end of series three that the two 'specials' will deliver the confrontation we have all been waiting for. The Deadwood series had so much potential after series one and I feel and probably not the only one to have been a bit let down by the lack of action and the slow moving nature of the programme. I have no doubt we will have a finale to relish but I must say that I am not surprised that it wasn't given a fourth series and wish all concerned with the production of the programme heed this warning and make the two finishing episodes the stuff of legend....moreless
  • „In the aftermath, play the lie as mine, knowing I speak of you in Heaven.”

    Season 3 is over, but at least it went out on the same high note on which it started, if not even more so. The episode picks up perfectly where the previous installment left off, with the tension still high aloft and the camp „galvanized” by recent events. And while there are no special effects, smoke and mirrors to wrap up the story, the writers chose a more dramatic, albeit quieter, but generally better alternative. The episode is a symphony of emotions and moral conflicts, a delight for the senses.

    Truly, the concluding episode plays out as we least might have expected after the first 10 episodes, revolving around Hearst’s sudden decision to leave the camp and his demand to see Trixie dead. The moral antinomies that are triggered by his demand are incredibly well done and have the effect of a „rolling snow ball”, as they implicate every important character in the conundrum, giving us a better look at the evolution of all the characters. Needless to say, the directing and acting was spectacular, even when compared to an academy winning film. Sean Bridgers (Johnny Burns) did an excelent job himself, as he was faced with his first ever dramatic experience, lifting the character to a whole new level. Al’s own war with his conscience was dangerous territory to be tackled, considering his complex character, but the writers deserve all the respect for the fine job they did, and so does Ian McShane for the brilliant synergy between him and his character. Almost every line or glance seems to hide an untold feeling: from his affectionate, melancholic „loopy ****” in the previous episode, to his subtle impulse to delay the sepulchral act, (hoping that perhaps time will give him another solution, as Johnny suggested) when he asks Jen’s client: „You sure you’re done?”, there is not a single noticeable gap in his portrait.

    When looking at the episode at the end, I came to realise that Hearst is merely a motif thrown in to better delve into the intricate tribulations of the main characters. His presence and their interaction with him is only the pretext for their inner drama. Without him, we wouldn’t have witnessed Sol’s and Trixie’s great act that shows the power and beauty of love in the face of death, or Johnny’s honest, moving affection for a girl. We wouldn’t have seen Al’s never-ending battle between cold reason and his heart. The ending itself is for the first time a bit tragical, as there is no escaping to the situation they are in. Al knows that no matter what he chooses, he will end up losing this fight, to either Hearst, or his conscience. Who best to confide these tumultuous feelings of his, if not to his longtime friend, the chief. He knows „this place is going to be a misery”. He also knows he can’t bring himself to kill „her that sat nights with” him „sick and taking slaps to her mug that were some less than fair”. Being the leader that he is though, he knows that the onus must be his and nobody else’s, thus sparing Johnny and the others of his actions, as he alone must „stand for virtue”, and alone wash the blood stain in his office. All of a sudden all of his ruthlesness so far seems but a small indulgence in the face of the sacrifices that he has to endure.

    Dan himself seems more mature in this episode, starting to understand his boss better and agreeing with him more and more. As for the other characters, they were placed for the time being on hold, with not much happening outside of the Gem. Cy is truly losing his mind, tired of being „a cog in the Hearst machine”, as Al would say, and his actions at the end culminate in a grotesque, but extremely intense picture. If I haven't already mentioned it, another memorable moment is the one with Johnny and Jen as they talk about „the wall of life”, a truly moving conversation in its simplicity and honesty. As a matter of fact every scene had its own appeal, just that some were more relevant than others. We definetly couldn’t have asked more of the writers though. Perhaps the only thing that seems a bit rushed is Hearst’s decision to leave. But that too is not necessarily a flaw. He had no reason to announce his „trip”, as he wanted his adversaries to be alert and frightened. Also, his departure is merely physical, as he achieved most of what he came for and is leaving merely to calm things down. In retrospect, this outcome was hinted at in the previous episode, when he states: „I oughtn’t to work in these places. I was not born to crush my own kind”. Al’s light-hearted legacy as he prepares to meet Hearst is perhaps the most beautiful moment of all. In one phrase, surrounded by his friends, he brings all events to a conclusion, drawing a tear, at least from me if nobody else: „In the aftermath, play the lie as mine, knowing I speak of you in Heaven”.

    Some might call the ending anti-climatic, and from an action-based point of view they have a point, but when seen as a drama, I’d say that it’s anything but that. Bullets whizzing by does not necessarily have the same emotional strength and tension, as the silence in Swearengen’s room, as he grasps his knife and the two titans exchange their final looks, ending their own silent war. As Hearst would say it, „they’re having a conversation” nobody can hear.

    Doing nothing is sometimes harder than anything else, as Charlie remarks. And making such an intense episode without any gunplay is equally hard. Truly, we all wanted to see Wu's and Hawkeye's men engage Hearst's army, but in reality nobody is that fast to draw. Preparations for such encounters are often made, but rarely carried out, and as in real life, it's the thing we don't expect that finally happens, which only adds to the episode's value. Ellsworth isn't avenged, an innocent girl gets killed for a crime she did not commit and Al swallowed his pride, but all, more or less, for the good of the camp. His "entrenched ways" ultimately payed off, as blood-shed was avoided for the most part. It is this delicate juggle between keeping things peaceful and "breaking hell loose" that makes up the tension of the whole season, and as Bullock passes between the lines of gunsmen at the end, we see how closely the camp avoided catastrophe. There are so many „angles and dimensions” to the episode, that to say only half I’d have to write twice as much, and this would be only half of what I understood, which is probably less than a quarter :). I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did, and for those of you that I see have been dissapointed by it, please try to watch it again, only this time try not to see it from the perspective of an exterior conflict, but rather an interior one. It might make all the difference in the world on how you perceive it. Until the much anticipated movies arrive, „Huzzah!”.moreless
  • The biggest let down i've ever seen. They've been building to a confrontation since mid season 2 and then, he just leaves.

    This is BS. They kill Elsworth, the girl johnny was interested in gets killed(not as mad about this one, but still not happy) and what do we get in return for all this. Nothing, Hearst rides off and... o wait that was it.

    Elsworth was one of my favorite characters and i thought two things when he died, why did they have to kill him, and two that now it would be on becasue thye had to give us something interesting in return. But no the stupid writers had to stay true to history and didnt even have a good fight. You know there's a problem when the most exciting part of the whole season happens happens in the middle of it.

    This finale was horrible, i didn't anything rewarding out of it in terms of emotions or anything. The only thought provocing thing from it was when Al killed the whore and no one said a thing about it. They all knew what he did, and that she didn't deserve it but they said nothing. That was the only mildly interesting thing in the whole episode.moreless
Gerald McRaney

Gerald McRaney

George Hearst

Guest Star

Jennifer Lutheran

Jennifer Lutheran


Guest Star

Franklyn Ajaye

Franklyn Ajaye

Samuel Fields

Guest Star

Jeffrey Jones (I)

Jeffrey Jones (I)

A.W. Merrick

Recurring Role

Larry Cedar

Larry Cedar


Recurring Role

Peter Jason

Peter Jason


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Cy Tolliver: Go ahead now Janine and finish your latin lessons and your greek. The thirst this girl has for knowledge, she barely has time to suck a pr**k.

    • George Hearst: I expect your practice includes whores.
      Doc Cochran: And worse.

    • Aunt Lou: You gonna vote for Mr. Bullock, now.
      Richardson: Even though he beat Mr. Farnum, 'cause he took you-know-who by his ear?
      Aunt Lou: Like some others ain't brave enough to do.
      Richardson: Anyway, Harry Manning gives me splinters.
      Aunt Lou: How's he do that, child?
      Richardson: Raisin' the windows after he's et.
      Aunt Lou: Richardson... Richardson, you right about that. South had that man's gas to load in they cannons, shoot... Wouldn't be no free ******* nowhere.
      Richardson: Noah hisself woulda throwed him out the boat.

    • Johnny: (About Jen) She ain't stole, or been quarrelsome, or set the beddin' afire-
      Al: Get outta my ******' way, Johnny.
      Johnny: It ain't fair to ******' kill her.
      Al: Since when did that begin enterin' in?

    • Charlie Utter: I'm the guy that the next time you see me you'd better take a different ******' tone with.
      George Hearst: Given what's in store, I'm not sure I'll ever learn what price I'd have paid for not complyin'.
      Charlie Utter: Oh, I guess someone lookin' hard might could find you in there somewheres, peekin' from under the covers to make a ******' threat.

    • Leon: What the **** did you do to me, sir?
      Tolliver: I believe I ******* stabbed you.

    • Johnny: (Staring at a wall) What is this, Jen?
      Jen: A wall?
      Johnny: On the surface, yes, it is. But inside, many creatures go about their lives, such as ants. They got a whole operation going. They got soldier ants and worker ants and whore ants to fuck the soldiers and the workers, right inside that wall, baby ants. Everyone's got a task to hew to, Jen. You understand me? (Jen nods)

    • Sol: (To Trixie who is putting on her boots) What are you doing?
      Trixie: Going for a stroll to the polls. One vote for Star buys a hand job. Repeaters get a suck.

    • Con: I've got "Stay The **** Out" written on a stone tablet in my bedroom.

    • George Hearst: I've stopped reading your paper, Merrick. I'll have my people here start another one - to lie the other way.

    • Al: We show united in the prelude, when he's making his entrance and the ******' like. Comes to viewing the body, I stand for virtue alone. The deception failing, I'll make a pass at him with my blade. In the aftermath, play the lie as mine, knowing I speak of you in Heaven. Others owe thought to the future - that thinking straightforward don't come that naturally to.

    • Seth Bullock: Can't shut up! Every bully I ever met can't shut his ******* mouth. Except when he's afraid.
      George Hearst: You mistake for fear, Mr. Bullock, what is in fact preoccupation. I'm having a conversation you cannot hear.

    • Silas: When he ain't lying, Al's the most honorable man you'll ever meet.

  • NOTES (0)