Hell on Wheels

Season 1 Episode 5

Bread and Circuses

7
Aired Saturday 9:00 PM Dec 04, 2011 on AMC
AIRED:
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
66 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

Joseph Black Moon and Reverend Nathaniel Cole travel into Cheyenne territory in hopes of a peace talk, while Joseph's brother endures a native ritual; Lily Bell and Thomas Durant continue to discuss the future of the railroad construction; and Cullen Bohannon and his crewman Elam settle their differences in a public fight.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • White Men Can't Jump

    8.5
    The title 'Bread and Circuses' didn't give us much of an indication what this episode was about (until I saw the promos, of course). Nevertheless, Hell On Wheels gave us another engaging episode that kept us on our toes. I only wish Cullen had done the same.



    Ol' 'Twinkle Toes' Bohannon found himself on the wrong side (is there a right side?) of Elam's fist this week. Here's the nub of the story. With the construction of the railroad going through some financial difficulties, Cullen informed his foot soldiers (though he was not supposed to. Nice going, genius!) that they won't be getting payed for a second consecutive week (except for the walking bosses. They always get paid. Lucky bastards). So obviously, the grumpiest character on AMC (let's call him Elam), acquired a bug up his ass and got in Cullen's face. And we all know how men settle their differences in the west. A gunfight! Nope. You beat the crap out of each other.



    This epic battle between the Titans of Gruff was cut short by Durant, who instead decided to make the bout official (and if a little money was made in the process, who's gonna complain? That Durant! Always working the angles). The rest of the episode pretty much revolved around the fight. After the expected back and forth, Elam ended up delivering the final punch that floored Cullen and for the first time in five episodes, Cullen Bohannon became human.



    Up until now, we have seen our hero handle every situation he faced with the utmost Clint Eastwoodness (pardon the comparison. Couldn't come up with a better word). His loss to Elam brought things back down to earth. But contrary to what you may think, this defeat actually made him cooler than before. My favorite scene was Cullen lying on the floor, contemplating the humor of his situation. I found myself laughing along with him in the end. I'm starting to really like this guy!



    In the meantime, increased Union presence in the area compelled Reverend Cole (Tom Noonan, yay!) and Joseph to pay a visit to Chief Many Horses, who also happens to be Joseph's dad. Expect the Chief to visit our favorite dusty settlement next week to start the 'peace' process.



    Lily finally decided to tell Durant that she does have the bloomin' maps he's been looking for. In exchange, she asked for recognition for her late husband's work. That's not an unreasonable request, is it?



    Tidbits



    - Lily Bell looked mighty fetching in this episode. She literally lights up every time she sees Cullen. Her husband's been dead for how long?

    - The Swede is awesome! Nuff said.

    - Durant was kind of a dick in this episode. Lily should have held onto the maps for a little longer.

    - Cullen and Elam, the Titans of Gruff. Catchy, isn't it? And guys, what's with all the hostility? I thought you two were best buds. Elam just ran out of friends.

    - I secretly wanted Cullen to win, just to see if Common might actually change his facial expression this season.



    This episode continued the upward trend the show has been having. Now that we've eased into the characters, this is gonna be fun to watch!moreless
Anson Mount

Anson Mount

Cullen Bohannon

Common

Common

Elam Ferguson

Philip Burke

Philip Burke

Mickey McGinnes

Eddie Spears

Eddie Spears

Joseph Black Moon

Ben Esler

Ben Esler

Sean McGinnes

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Thomas "Doc" Durant

Morris Birdyellowhead

Morris Birdyellowhead

Bull Skull

Guest Star

James Dugan

James Dugan

Carl

Guest Star

Jim Rattai

Jim Rattai

Crony

Guest Star

Wes Studi

Wes Studi

Chief Many Horses

Recurring Role

Diego Diablo Del Mar

Diego Diablo Del Mar

Dix

Recurring Role

Christopher Heyerdahl

Christopher Heyerdahl

Thor Gunderson

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The episode title is a reference to the phrase "bread and circuses" taken from the Satire X written by the poet, Juvenal (circa 100 AD). The term is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In Satire X, Roman politicians devise a plan, in 140 BC, to effectively win the votes of their new citizens and rise to power — provide cheap food and entertainment, "bread and circuses."

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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