The episode while very difficult to watch shows what is usually called “the opening of the west”. Seldom has this story been told with realistic emphasis on the racism of the whites and their genocidal treatment of the Indians. Also highlighted is the role of Chinese labors in the building of the railroad and the prejudicial attitudes toward them. Touched on only briefly is the anti-Irish prejudices of the era.
Using as a storytelling technique this series follows the branches of one family (the Wheelers), which allows the brutality become personal. The behavior of Skiffington at Sand Creek and Custer’s attacks on old men, women and children are usually omitted in historical accounts.
Margaret Wheeler’s decision to return to her mother’s people is courageous and understandable from her point of view and her meeting with Jacob Jr. pulls at your heart as they both try to make their way in the clash of their parent’s two cultures.