Hell on Wheels S04E06 Recap – The Bears are ScaredSeptember 10, 2014
For fans of the AMC transcontinental railroad epic Hell on Wheels, the current fourth season has been especially satisfying. Keeping alive the idea of the TV western, the series has managed to up the dramatic impact this year. The writers have created more must-see moments than any of its previous three.
In spite of this, one cast member has been conspicuous by his absence. Elam, the freed slave played by rapper-actor Common, has been AWOL since being mauled by a bear last season. His charisma alternately blended and clashed with that of Cullen Bohanon (Anson Mount) so that the strong storylines this year did not totally obscure his absence. Where is Elam?
He finally resurfaced on Saturday’s episode entitled “Bear Man” (S04E06). Interestingly, the producers decided to devote the episode to him rather than the usual multiple weekly storylines. There was no attempt to play down his current physical state. Sporting savage scars across his scalp, Elam struggles with the simple task of rising from his sickbed. We (and he) learn his rescuers are Plains Indians. A nice touch was the decision not to use subtitles when any of the Native Americans speak to him, allowing us to share his confusion over what has happened.
At first he seems to be suffering from amnesia, but two characters from the outside jog his memory. A woman taken prisoner from a wagon train asks him for help in escaping from her captors who she (in the tradition of Indian captivity stories of the day) fears have “a fate worse than death” in store for her. The other is an old trapper who recognizes him from the construction camp and tells him about Cullen returning. By episode’s end, Elam is ready to venture forth to the current camp in Cheyenne. Will he confront Cullen over leaving him behind? Tune in next week.
– Louis Burklow (aka, Hollywood Country Boy), Staff Writer, Phoenix Genesis
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