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Photo Credit: Michelle Faye/AMC

Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 2 Review: Mei Mei

Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 2: Mei Mei
Synopsis: Cullen and Fong find themselves in peril as they transport a locomotive over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Swede gains Phineas’ trust.

Read the previous episode’s review (Season 5 Episode 1: Chinatown) here

Review

Bohannon can’t seem to keep himself out of sticky situations can he? Right off the bat, our fearless southern railroad leader finds himself on the end of a short rope, with poor Fong hanging on the other end, dangling off a cliff. As we soon find out, this is two days in the future. Just what happened in between remains to be seen.

I’ve got a feeling it has something to do with the giant locomotive Bohannon wants to move up the mountain. As he checks over the boiler, pistons and bearings with an experienced railroad man’s eye, Strobridge is somewhat skeptical.

“It’s gonna take a magician to get her up there, Bohannon.”

“Well, I ain’t no magician.”

Meanwhile, Cullen is busy dealing the aftermath of Mr. Chang whooping on his foreman — apparently the only Chinese worker aside from Chang who can translate to the other workers, as luck would have it. A comical scene ensues as Bohannon tries to communicate with his workers, none of which have any idea what the hell he’s saying.

Speaking of humor, the follow scene featuring the Swede breaking off a poor Mormon boy’s frostbitten toe got a chuckle out of me. Considering how the Swede is probably going to corrupt Phineas and the rest of the Latter-day Saints, however, I don’t think there will be many more laughs to come. Even so, it’s hard to find the evil in the Swede’s plans as he provides a voice of (at least for now) reason to Phineas Young.

Right away, Bohannon’s locomotive transportation plan seems doomed to fail. Struggling to work with his new translator, the previous foreman’s son Fong, Cullen and his crew are dealt with setback after setback. Right away, the horses spook and the fail, but Fong impresses Cullen with a show of ingenuity. Around the campfire that evening, the two share a bonding moment talking about their previous lives as soldiers whilst passing around the whiskey.

In a rare moment, Bohannon opens up, talking about his dreams, his plans to build a house — a place he can kick his boots up. You get the feeling he’s growing weary of the railroad fight as he remarks he’d like “something that will last.” If there’s one sure thing about Cullen Bohannon, it’s that nothing is a sure thing. Nothing in his life lasts.

Two things are sure about Fong though. 1. He’s a she and 2. she’s messed up pretty bad, coughing up blood as a result of the horse team running her over during the previous locomotive breakaway.

To his credit, Bohannon doesn’t blow her cover (no one really expected him to anyway, though). Partly because he’s a southern gentlemen when it comes down to it but mostly, I imagine because he needs her to build the damn railroad.

When Fong tries to leave, we catch back up to the opening scene: her and Cullen bouncing down the mountainside with Fong ending up on the edge of the cliff. After a complete rehashing of the scene (with Fong’s response in subtitles this time to give us her side of the arguement), they — surprise, surprise — fall back over the cliff and we’re back where we started.

No way. She cuts the freaking rope. But is she dead?

Nope, Fong just cut a mighty deep snow angel at the bottom of the cliff. Leaving Strobridge in charge, Bohannon goes to the rescue. It’s ironic that, as the ultimate tragic character himself, Cullen can’t but attract and attempt to save every tragic character who crosses his path.

Meanwhile Brother Thor (he’ll always be the dirty rotten Swede to me) has managed to finagle Huntington out of boots for the Mormon workers. Although, on the surface, it’s a life-saving gesture, the apple is still rotten at it’s core. What evil scheme is he weaving?

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