There’s a true sense of unpredictability built into season three of Hell on Wheels. I’m not sure where we’re going or how we’re going to get there, but I’m excited to go along for the ride. I can honestly say that the final twenty minutes of the premiere had me on the edge of my seat, which is something few films this year have caused me to do.
This season adds a whole new layer of tensions, surprises, and adversaries to the mix that makes me anxious to see what’s in store for the townspeople of Hell on Wheels and the builders of the railroad. Last season brought about a lot of unexpected deaths, alliances, and thrills, and if the premiere of season three is any indication, we are in for one hell of a season!
Hell on Wheels is much bigger than just the building of the transcontinental railroad. The railroad is merely a catalyst that has brought an eclectic group of individuals together with a likeminded purpose that finds them headed West toward the promise of a better life.
I liked that the season picks up several months after the events that took place at the end of season two. It gives us a clean slate to begin from, and enables us to see the characters facing new and more harrowing challenges. The series continues to be an unforgiving and unrelenting look at life in the 1860s and doesn’t sugar-coat or trivialize the problems faced by the freed African-American slaves of the time or the struggles faced by other minorities.
I like the direction the series is taking and the expansion of the world of the show this season includes elements beyond the town of Hell on Wheels that adds a dimensional of historical realism to the series. I also feel that the characters are continuing to grow and show more depth that goes beyond cookie-cutter Western archetypes.
Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) continues to be an excellent anchor for the series’ many interconnected storylines. He is a solid and reliable foundation that the people of Hell on Wheels and others can depend on to do not so much what’s right, but what’s best for the situation at hand. It’s clear that Bohannon isn’t in Hell on Wheels to make friends; he’s there to work and do whatever it takes to get the railroad built.
I still wonder if Bohannon will ever get back to his intended purpose: to avenge the murder of his wife. I do hope that this aspect will be explored further this season.
Elam Ferguson (Common) continues his uphill battle for equality in an unforgiving land that still sees the now freed slaves as beneath them. He’s a man on a mission for respect and equality in a time where neither are given to nor asked for outright by African-Americans.
Throw in his interracial coupling with Eva (Robin McLeavy) with their baby on the way, and Elam’s struggles are far from being resolved.
Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant (Colm Meany) continues to be the blustery, conniving, and manipulative politician he has been for the previous two seasons, but his recent downfall from his pedestal of power has only given him that much more drive and ambition to get back the prestige he once possessed.
Much like other AMC series like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, you really don’t know what to expect moment-to-moment, episode-to-episode with Hell on Wheels. This to me is the hallmark of great storytelling: never let the audience know what’s going to happen next. The less predictable the better!
The premiere definitely makes me want to keep watching to see what new twists will transpire over the course of the season. I actually got a little upset that I didn’t have the rest of the season to watch after the premiere ended; I was completely engrossed in what I was watching.
For those who have never seen the series I recommend starting with season one and working your way to season three. This is an excellent Western that has yet to disappoint me and I can’t wait to see what Hell on Wheels has in store for us next!
The season three premiere of Hell on Wheels airs Saturday, August 10 at 9pm PT ONLY on AMC!
What did you think of the premiere? Leave a comment and let us know!
Check out the show’s theme song below!