Episode Report Card
Al Lowe: B | 12 USERS: A
It's May 1876. The Montana Territory is rough and dirty. The local law man is writing in his journal (so, you can tell already: hot and sensitive) while guarding a prisoner he's brought in for horse thieving. It's revealed that the Marshal is working his last night in this territory, and will soon be on his way out to start a new venture in an upstart town in the Dakota region. The prisoner laments that he, too, had wanted to get himself to Deadwood. "I had my plans about set," he says. "I only wish to Christ I could get these past three days back." Marshal Seth Bullock gives him a nice but non-committal look, sort of like you'd get from the high school secretary as you sat waiting to get your ass chewed out by the principal, and says, "I can imagine."

We learn that Bullock won't be going to Deadwood to continue his current career -- he and a partner are taking goods to start a hardware "bidness."

The prisoner goes on waxing fond about what he's heard about the lawless, gold-rich Deadwood. "Jesus Christ Almighty. No law at all. Gold you can scoop from the streams with your bare hands, and I gotta go and fuck myself up by supposedly stealing Byron Sampson's horse." (For those of you playing at home, we're one minute into the pilot, and have heard the first, most miniscule drop in the ocean of foul language to come.) Bullock shows his skill at understatement as he offers the guy a cup of coffee, saying, "That's poor damn timing at the least."

The Marshal is a polite man. The prisoner even shot him in the shoulder during his arrest and everything, but he's not holding it against him. "Don't look like it wants to infect," he says about the flesh wound, noting the sling holding his arm in place, and absolving the guy from his compounded crime. They share a little gallows humor about how God has probably heard worse stories than the one about the prisoner shooting the Marshal in his shoulder. Hell, Bullock's such a gentleman, the prisoner figures he might as well make a go of sweet-talking him into setting him loose. This, he is to find out, is a waste of his time.

This is a nice little interlude, this scene. The prisoner makes his pitch and Bullock leans against the bars to listen. Timothy Olyphant, who plays Bullock, aside from being devastatingly handsome, has a weird ability at unnatural stillness. I'll have more to say about that later, you can guarantee. He stares, unblinking, while the prisoner suggests "an idea to you, sir, that I pray as a Christian man you will entertain on its own fucking merits." Bullock: "Does it involve lettin' you go?"

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