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Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 7 review: False Prophets

Hell on Wheels Season 5 Episode 7: False Prophets
Official Synopsis: Cullen and Durant reunite in Salt Lake City to meet with President Grant over the future of the railroad. Swede enacts his plan against the Mormons.

Read the previous episode review

Review
“The race we start tomorrow will be decided in the mud. I was born in mud, tore a farm out of that mud, built an army out of more mud.”

At last, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Well…sort of. Although half the season technically remains, we’ve reached our conclusion for now. And what a thrilling finale it was!

Episode 7 opens with Durant and Huntington bickering in Salt Lake. Tired of the fighting, Grant cuts through the bull but Brigham Young soon puts Huntington in the hot seat himself. Now everyone’s ticked at everyone and we’ve got ourselves a standoff in the making just as Cullen makes his appearance. Before opening credits roll, there’s an awesome showdown between Bohannon and Durant eying one another from across the table. Reunited never felt so good.

In the ensuing scenes, all the powers clash. Grant adjourns the meeting and Huntington frantically discusses his plans with Bohannon while Brigham Young berates the newly returned Phineas, adding more fuel to the son’s fire. While Phineas pouts from the tongue lashing, the Swede swoops in and fans the flames. We’re all on edge as we wait for his plan to unfold. Once again, Cullen’s loved ones are at the center of it as he plans to have Phineas overthrow the Prophet Brigham and then massacre the Hatchite clan (Cullen’s wife, son and inlaws). As they ride out of town, Cullen watches them go, an ominous feeling in the air.

Things come to head when the railroad tycoons convene again and Cullen forces Durant’s hand, making him confess his plans for the Union Pacific to pass through Ogden — not Salt Lake as Durant promised Brigham Young. Impatient for a resolution, Grant calls a recess once more and orders them to return with a final plan to meet the railroads. During the back Durant backpedals works to regain the trust of the Mormon leader before the contract is signed but it’s too little too late.

At the same time, Huntington works just as hard to get Cullen to lie about the progress of the Central Pacific to the President himself. His goal is to move the terminus of the two railroad lines to Fort Bridger, denying Durant his Ogden coal fields. Huntington hopes to take advantage of Cullen’s relationships with Grant, but our hero is hesitant to lie to the President.

To make things even more complicated, Durant tries his hand to sway Cullen, also realizing his influence with Grant. He pretends to forget and forgive, urging Cullen to return to his real family, the Union Pacific railroad. The cherry on top, Durant delivers a very Emperor Palpatine-like speech to Bohannon: “Join me and together we will destroy Huntington!”

Of course, Brigham Young wants to throw his hat in the ring too, and he’s got the biggest bargaining chip: information about Cullen’s family. Desperate to keep the terminus in Salt Like, Young admits he knew where they Hatchites were all along. If Cullen will convince Grant to stick to their plan, he’ll give Bohannon the location. Cullen reluctantly agrees to his terms and gives his word he’ll get the railroad terminus to Salt Lake City.

The series of visitations culminates at last with Bohannon meeting with Grant. Much to his dismay, however, Grant offers no advice other than to tell him that the American people really don’t care where the railroad meets. A bit long-winded with the numerous dialog scenes, we end up right where we started, with the fate of the transcontinental railroad in Cullen’s hands.

Cullen isn’t the only one pushed to the brink as the season draws to an end. however. Although some of the other support cast has taken a deep backseat this season, we’re still closely following Eva’s story. The madame find herself at odds with her girls after she lets one of them steal the house funds and now she’s in danger of being dethroned, losing everything she’s worked for. Eva forces Josie to leave and is attacked in the process. Even so, she spares Josie’s life, only for the usurper to return and try to force her out. This time, Eva’s had enough. Channeling her inner Calamity Jane, Eva turns around and shoots her head, right in the whorehouse. Don’t mess with the madame.

Now the time has come for Cullen to make is decision. Ever the trickster, he stuns the entire room. Instead of choosing Huntington, Durant or Brigham Young’s plan, he proposes a fourth option to Grant: a race to the finish line, the victor receiving the spoils of Ogden’s coal fields. Understandably, everyone is real pissed, but Grant approves and the race is on!

Brigham Young ends up have an awful day. After his dreams of the terminus are snatched away, Phineas shows up and attempts to assassinate the prophet, stabbing him repeatedly. With Brigham Young lying in a pool of blood on his desk, Phineas walks out on the porch declares himself the new prophet to the nearby Mormons. The Lion of the Lord isn’t done yet, though! Weak from blood loss Brigham Young still manages to get his hands around Phineas neck and cast him down, declaring himself betrayed, before collapsing on the porch. Seeing his scheme fall apart, the Swede makes his break for it.

Hearing about the attempted assassination, Cullen rushes to Brigham’s side and tells the Mormons who’s responsible for the attacks. It’s there he receives chilling news: the Swede made a break for it and he’s heading for the Hatchite settlement. In the final shots, we see the Swede looking over a farm, Cullen’s wife and son below. With Cullen racing to catch him, the Swede closes in on his little family.

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