Sunday, July 30, 2006

Episode 31: "Unauthorized Cinnamon"

Much like Johnny was wondering what was really decided at the end of the big meeting at the Gem Saloon, I find myself questioning what actually happened in this episode. Another week of set-up, wouldn't you say?

Not that I'm complaining. Storylines have to be set in motion. Tension has to build. A payoff has to be earned. But after two weeks of set-up, I just hope that's not all we get until the final episode. I'm not sure even the greatest season/series finale in history could justify so much build-up.

Fortunately, the journey's just as - if not more - enjoyable than the destination when it comes to everyone in Deadwood. As Gustave the swatch man (played by Milch/NYPD Blue alumnus Gordon Clapp) says, "sometimes if you have a thing, the reason for the thing is that you have it." So maybe I shouldn't question whether anything's happening, I should simply be happy that I have this show. I wouldn't mind one of those swatches to wear as an ascot, though - especially in this humid weather we've been having. The HBO Store should get on that.

So let me see if I can distill this episode down to its metaphorical essence, as I often like to do. Al likes to break out the canned peaches for these meetings. It shows a little class, and it thanks the luminaries for attending. Yet it's been done before, and this meeting was probably a little more important than the others. So Jewel broke out the cinnamon, to use with the peaches. Why? Because it was nice - a kindness to include with the original gesture.

Al likes to gather the power brokers of the camp (excluding Alma, of course, who has the misfortune of being female) to decide which direction their little community will take. It shows some civilization, and it gives the people a voice. Yet it's been done before, and this particular gathering was more important than the others. So Bullock (who Tolliver wanted to sacrifice to Hearst) pulled out his letter, in hopes of staving off what appears to be an inevitable bloodbath for proprietorship of the camp. Why? Because what he said was nice - a kindness to show that Deadwood isn't just some mining outpost, that it's a community with people that care.

Ultimately, maybe Bullock's letter will have the same effect on Hearst and his plans that Jewel's cinnamon had upon poor Harry. "Cunningly sophisticated," no?

Of course, that's not the way Al usually does things. He was "mystified" at himself for "endorsing it." So poor Doc is the recipient of Al bottling up all that rage and indignance. I suppose Doc also represents a sense of community, which is why Al doesn't want to lose him and will bully him ("I ain't learnin' a new doc's quirks!") into recovery if he has to.

Or maybe Al was mad at himself for endorsing such a seemingly pacifist tactic after Blazanov tipped him off to Hearst's shipment of "bricks," soon to be delivered. Hearst sends out for more men, while Al holds off on bringing in more guns, in favor of publishing a "very nice fuckin' letter" in Merrick's paper.

What do you think? Am I onto something or are these the groggy ramblings of a man awake earlier than he should be on a Sunday morning?

Other questions and observations 12 hours (and counting) before the next episode:

▪▪ Joanie and Jane sittin' in a tree... k-i-s-s-i-n-g. I loved Jane's narration of events as they were happening. "I suppose now I'll take off my fuckin' undershirt and the like, and show off my tits and so forth!" Hot. Boy, did that bring back memories of the first time I got to second base with a young lady. Who needs romance when a woman's nice enough to tell you what's about to happen?

▪▪ Joanie slept with her two sisters? Yeesh.

▪▪ What the fuck was the deal with those swatches, anyway? At least we were treated to Al's reaction at his hand being wrapped in gold fabric, and his plea to Johnny ("Please God, come in!"). Sometimes the reason for the thing is that you have it.

▪▪ How touching was Trixie's reaction to Sol's suggestion that they might take Sofia? For some reason, it reminded me of the second-to-last season (?) of Six Feet Under, when Claire tells Nate that he needs to work at the funeral home again because David's falling apart. Why? "He'd do it for you."

Oy, you're making me verklempt ova heah!


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