The third and fourth episodes of Deadwood Season Two are remarkably entertaining considering the near total absence of Al Swearengen. I missed that foul-mouthed Limey cocksucker.
Garrett Dillahunt enters the camp as Mr. Francis Wolcott, an advance scout for George Hearst, who struck it rich at the Comstock lode. He's a curious sort with a well-thought-out plan to cause panic in the camp. Enlisting E.B Farnum as his accomplice, he causes a rumor to be spread that the camp's claims will be ruled invalid once the camp becomes part of the U.S., leading many of Deadwood's speculators to sell out at bargain prices just to be out ahead of losing their whole claim. Mr. W, as he is called by Joanie's whorehouse partner Maddie, also has dealings to attend to with Cy Tolliver. Apparently Hearst himself has been impressed by Tolliver's business moves, and would like to help him out as a sort of silent partner in some as yet murky enterprise involving moving in on the Chinese operations of Mr. Wu.
Meanwhile, Alma does not react well to being cast aside by Bullock, and perhaps takes out her anger on Ms. Isringhausen, Sophia's tutor, whom she dismisses. Displaced anger seems to be a common trope for the series. Certainly Al, Dan Dority, Seth, and even Trixie can be said to demonstrate it at times. Ellsworth, who is fast becoming my favorite character, offers himself as an outlet for Alma's anger, saying that if she needs to punch someone in the nose his is broken in enough to take it.
Seth is trying to become domesticated, and a funny scene features he and his wife discussing their need to have a "conversation" (Mrs. Bullock even calls it an "intercourse" to underscore the point).
And poor Al, with his gleets, which are apparently some kind of stone you get from gonorrhea? Anyway they're blocking his urine and its getting serious. Al is found shivering on his floor. Watching the way Doc Cochran treats this ailment is yet another of the show's reminders how good we have it these days. From a plot standpoint, the more interesting thing to watch is how Dan Dority and the others in Al's camp react to the possibility of world without him. Dan seems to realize the impossibility of filling Al's shoes, which is why he so readily assents to Trixie's request that the burn the town down before letting Tolliver take it over.
Stephen Tobolowsky arrives in town as commissioner Hugo Jarry, and falls in with Cy, which a healthy Al might have prevented.
I enjoyed Alma, with a tip from Ellsworth, forcing E.B.'s hand and figuring out that the claims are more stable than is generally thought.
I also like how his injury has freed Sol up to speak his mind to Seth. I'm interested to see how their friendship adjusts.
A quietly touching scene between Jane and Utter, as she wakes from her drunkenness to find that Utter has put her to bed in Wild Bill's coat.
I like the odd pairs this show keeps introducing, but Ms. Isringhausen and Silas Adams has to be the oddest grouping yet.
God, there really is a lot going on with this show.