Suffer The Little Children

Episode Report Card
Al Lowe: A | 1 USERS: A-
Suffer The Little Children
Jewel scrubs the bloodstain left on the floor of the Gem by Dan's jealousy-inspired killing. "You might, Dan," says Al, where the two men sit in the quiet office, "want to learn how to indicate interest in a girl, other than murdering another person." You know, just one homicidal maniac to another. Al ought to make sex-ed health class films. Dan stops trying to get the blood stains out of his tie and shamefacedly apologizes for the disturbance he caused, as well as the free drinks Al had to give out to restore order. Off camera, we hear E.B. change the subject. He exclaims that it's already false dawn and that they'd better hurry if they're going to get their mission accomplished. Apparently, said mission is to get rid of Bullock and Mrs. Garret. "The question is, do we act?" E.B. says. "And to me, the course is clear." Al, sipping his tea, asks what's the course. "Murder them where they sleep," E.B. intones like he's on a 1940s radio show. "Dan," Al says. "Loan E.B. your knife." But, well, E.B. isn't really in the mood to do the knifing, himself. He will, he says, wield the key to Mrs. Garret's hotel room -- at that point in his plan, Dan is supposed to creep up, kill Mrs. Garret, go across the road, climb a ladder to Bullock's room at the store, and bushwack Bullock. Then, E.B. goes on, they can forge a pre-dated bill of sale, Al can allocate him the percentages they previously agreed to, and they won't even have to bother spending any money to continue trying to legitimately buy the claim.

He finishes laying it out and smiles. "Bold?" he asks. "I suppose. But when boldness is called for, bold men do not shrink." As if you could shrink any further, E.B. "That's what the 'B' in E.B. Farnum stands for," Al drones. Dan: "Bold." Al: "You're goddamn right." E.B. doesn't like playing the fool. "Say the words my bones already know," he says, anxious and pissed. "You're gonna back off that fucking claim." This backchat might have earned him a shank, but E.B. is saved by, of all things, the ringing of gunfire in the thoroughfare. They rush to the balcony to find the riding party, sent out to get smallpox vaccine, returned at last. "Well done, fellas," Al says, "and congratulations to the entire fuckin' settlement." He tells E.B. to go down and pay these guys their promised fifty dollars a man. "And if you don't spend it in my joint," Al tells them, "I'll turn the morning over to weepin'." Al is thrilled, but he's got better news coming. The Sioux (to their great detriment) have agreed to sign a treaty and leave the hills to the whites. Al's so happy, he tells Dan to give each of the men ten dollars in bonus credits downstairs: "Ten in pussy; ten in faro; ten in booze." The men whoop it up. "God bless you, Mr. Swearengen," they yell, but Al shakes his head. "Well," he says, "not likely. But my short-term prospects just improved." Back in the office, E.B. is still moping over the Garret claim, but Al's mood cannot be dampened. "The dam has broken, young man," he says. "And only ourselves can fuck up." He tells E.B. that that with the smallpox eradicated and the peace treaty signed with the Indians, they are about to be swimming in money. "And how can we fuck up?" he goes on. "By engaging in open fuckin' bloodletting." E.B. is chagrined, but continues to listen. Al explains that Bullock, that "priggish fuckin' douchebag," is the perfect front man to have on display to any questioning government faction. "Much as we might want the widow's claim," Al says, "it's a luxury now to forgo." Aw, E.B. is heartbroken. Al gently smacks his cheek, telling him to find somewhere to lie down until his depression passes, and as E.B. shuffles out to pay the riders, Johnny comes in. "Go find that fuckin' whore," Al tells him, speaking so fondly of Trixie. Johnny gives him both the "OK" and the thumbs-up signs, and Al asks what his problem is. "I lost my voice," Johnny croaks out, and Al rolls his eyes with contempt. I don't get why Johnny had to lose his voice, but whatever.At the Bella Union, Joanie opens her door to find a crying Flora. She tells the older woman about the murder in her honor at the Gem. Joanie is sympathetic, perhaps a bit overly much, giving her whiskey. Flora bats her eyes, saying she'll go in a minute, but then breaks down, saying she doesn't know if she can deal with the violence of the camp. "One thing leads to another," she says, "and you never know when it's gonna happen." Joanie tells her that, mostly, you can steer your way through life there. You just have to be ready for those few seconds of notice that you get before bad turns to worse. Flora dramatically lays her head in Joanie's lap. "Can I stay?" she asks. "Can I sleep here with you just this last little while before we have to get up?" Joanie tells her she can, and Flora sits up to undress, always keeping one scheming eye on Joanie, who looks at her with such a mixture of longing and sadness, I really have to hand it to sweet Kim Dickens. They lie down together in the bed, and Joanie holds Flora, whose face is like a stone.

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