Deadwood Recap: High Fever Blues
Deadwood Plague Season 1 Episode 6 Editor’s Rating 5 stars * * * * * « Previous Next » Photo: HBO
Welcome to 12 Days of Deadwood, in which Matt Zoller Seitz, author of the upcoming A Lie Agreed Upon: The Deadwood Chronicles, revisits the first season of the landmark HBO drama one episode at a time. Up today: “Plague,” written by Malcolm MacRury and directed by Davis Guggenheim, which originally aired on April 25, 2004.
Early in the bluntly titled “Plague,” A.W. Merrick asks Doc Cochran, who’s passing through the Gem, if he wants a “libation,” adding, “I wonder if he thought I said ‘Live patient’?”
That malaprop-driven joke sums up a brutal and exhausting hour: Live patients (and dead bodies) keep getting in the way of libations. A plague is upon the camp. Cy Tolliver tries to deny it, but the truth is as plain as smallpox scars. Al called Doc to the Gem to see after a client who was unable to perform due to lung trouble and back pain. (Al paid the attendant worker a dollar to wait.)
Already a rare spiritually focused American TV series, Deadwood doubles down by setting much of the inaugural season’s action against a biblically inflected plague that torments the just and unjust alike. Al name-checks Sodom and Gomorrah and says he was raised to call this type of event “plague” from the get-go, though he has agreed to the Doc’s request to “keep that in reserve in case our luck holds and the rats descend on us too.” The body politic is infected and inflamed. The illness must be treated, managed, and passed through the system.
Had metafictional commentary been called for, someone would’ve noted the timing. In “Here Was a Man,” the plague starts visibly infecting people on the same day bad mojo rises around Wild Bill. The montage of grief and outrage that follows Bill’s murder includes a shot of Andy Cramed, Cy’s soon-to-be-abandoned friend, shivering in a bed at the Bella Union. The plague spreads further in the next episode, “The Trial of Jack McCall,” which sees multiple new infections, Andy getting dumped, the “boy” who never sampled Nebraska pussy dying short of heaven, and the Reverend seizing on the Gem floor after a meeting called to plan a civic response to the outbreak.
“Used to have a fuckin’ brother given to that,” Al says, after the Reverend’s seizure passes and the dagger sheath is taken from his teeth, incidentally explaining why he knows what to do. “We’d make pennies off it when it’d come over him in the street.” Al’s citation of his (historically nonexistent) brother has a metaphoric resonance. For the camp to survive, all must act as their brother’s keeper.
As was the case in “The Trial of Jack McCall,” there sometimes seem to be two Als in Deadwood. One is obsessed with wresting a supposedly played-out but actually rich find from a forcibly dope-addled widow whose husband he had killed and whose adopted daughter nearly suffered the same fate. Al is smart to doubt Trixie’s commitment to getting the widow hooked on dope in lieu of laudanum. Trixie is in cahoots with the widow, helping her dry out. “This passes,” she tells Alma, perhaps alluding to personal experience. Trixie advises Alma to playact highness to flummox E.B. “You can do it, Alma,” Trixie says. “Look at all the practice you’ve had.” Alma succeeds beyond Trixie’s imaginings, rising up in bed all damp and breathy during E.B.’s supposed laundry visit and sending him scurrying from the room. “The dope has made the widow randy,” he tells Al, buying her some time at least.
The other Al, the impulsively constructive one, again volunteers his joint for a milestone in the camp’s development. He keeps the meeting on point and even commands Johnny to procure fruit for the occasion. The latter is, judging from Johnny’s bewilderment, a request Al has never made before. Saloons deal in fermented sugar, not fresh off the vine. Deadwood doesn’t offer the latter, but the consumption of canned peaches and pears seems another bellwether of incipient civilization. It’s easy for 21st-century tenderfoots to forget that in 1875, canned fruit was a technological wonder, their equivalent of boxed soup or microwavable rice packs. And feeding people has a different energy than supplying them with alcohol and dope. The latter entices people to stay up all night and part with their money. Food makes them more inclined to work through the day, complete the task at hand, and think about the future.
Al gets all of this even if he never thinks of himself as getting it. Of Deadwood’s two saloon big shots, Cy’s the one who publicly playacts the role of civic leader, and at the end of the day, Al cites his Chinaman’s Alley real estate as proof that Cy’s got “brass fucking balls and a long-term vision for the future.” But it’s really Al who fits that profile, because his vision encompasses the welfare of others. That he officially considers the welfare of others mainly in relation to himself and his ledger’s bottom line, and redefines kind acts (like keeping the palsied and disabled Jewel on staff) in terms of self-interest, doesn’t mitigate against the idea that Al’s as constructive as he is malevolent. Cy chastises young Joey, the Nebraska pussy enthusiast, for showing around a list that included pandemic-management items and sends him straight upstairs to keep him from dampening the mood of drinks and craps players (a group that includes Ellsworth, celebrating his “workin’ fuckin’ gold claim” with Joanie Stubbs); but it’s Al, standing side by side with Cy, who spots Joey seizing on a mattress and says, “Why don’t we do something together? Us and several others?”
Al’s the one who pushes the idea that the Deadwood Pioneer should get ahead of the crisis and run a story about proactive pandemic management to “get a jump on them fuckin’ panic-mongers.” He proves to be a masterful public-relations man and unofficial editor-publisher to A.W., insisting on rewrites to make the story comprehensible to a community packed with nonreaders and nonthinkers. Free and gratis mean the same thing, after all. “Is the idea to inform your reader or make him feel like a fuckin’ dunce, huh?” Al asks Dan, rhetorically as usual.
Cy, in contrast, instigates a cover-up to keep money flowing into his joint and alienates his people. Joanie is already starting to withdraw from her malevolent lover-boss. She initiated a bathtub make-out near the end of the last episode to save herself from having to talk to Cy. A scene in this episode finds Cy warning an obviously depressed Joanie to quit acting sad lest her “free ride” come to “a quick fuckin’ halt.” Eddie Sawyer keeps seeming as if he’s about to read Cy the riot act over his pandemic mismanagement only to bite his tongue instead. Still he radiates disdain. Cy’s face and words confirm he’s noticed the card sharp’s rebuke. Cy does participate in the civic meeting, offers up a plot in the Chinese section for holding triage tents, and thanks Al for “not putting the stink on me” by telling the other members of the governing body he’d been trying to cover up the pandemic mere hours earlier. It’s enough to make you wonder if he’s coming around to the whole 1 Corinthians 12 thing.
There’s a lot more going on in this episode, but it feels intertwined with the plague story because it’s about commonality, interdependence, collective responsibility, coincidence/fate, and the notion that two heads are better than one when it comes to solving problems and such.
The episode starts with the most shocking scene of violence since Bill’s killing, the mano a mano to the death between Seth Bullock and a Lakota brave (Juddson Keith Linn) that feels like it goes on for days. Seth admits he survived the ordeal through sheer luck. He might’ve died himself had Charlie Utter, returning home from a parcel pickup, not randomly stumbled upon his knocked-out body. Seth can’t hate the man who nearly killed him because, thanks to Charlie, he knows their fight was rooted in cultural misunderstanding — one he posthumously tries to rectify by giving him a proper Lakota burial rather than a Christian one. This is only the sixth episode in the series, but it’s the fourth one in which Seth becomes a key participant in a memorial service. The Reverend’s not there to nudge his conscience, but Charlie makes a fine stand-in.
Recalling that Jane happened across Andy in much the same way, you may ask how accidental anything is on Deadwood. Jane seems meant to find and care for Andy, her lack of symptoms indicating immunity to Doc and thus the invitation to work with him in the plague tents. Charlie seems meant to find and minister to Seth and help him give his fallen foe a proper burial. Ned Mason seemed meant to enter Deadwood rather than Cheyenne after fleeing the site of the massacre in exactly the wrong direction. Seth speculates that his happening upon that burial ground and triggering the brave’s attack interrupted his mission of vengeance and saved Jack McCall’s life. Charlie notes that the warrior’s “buddy” is “headless,” which suggests he was once the owner of the noggin now residing in a box in Al’s saloon, the very place where Al offered $50 per native head in the pilot. If E.B. hadn’t been so rattled by Alma’s pantomime of doped-up lust, he might’ve agreed to clean her bedsheets rather than tell Trixie to take them to “the Chinaman,” an exchange that leads to Trixie chatting with Sol in the thoroughfare and establishing an instant connection. Sofia would still have a family if Al hadn’t associated with loose-cannon road agents, and she’d be dead by Al’s hand if Doc hadn’t blocked the door of his cabin when Al’s henchman Dan came calling. Sofia sings a song in English: “Row Your Boat.” She learned it from Jane and Charlie. “We’ll see each other again down the road,” Jane tells Sofia.
This plot thread cannot say to that plot thread, “I have no need of thee.” All are necessary.
HBO strikes comedy gold with Hacks
HBO strikes comedy gold with Hacks
Hollywood veteran and Emmy winner Jean Smart (right) and rising star Hannah Einbinder deliver the laughs as comedians at odds in HBO’s Hacks. The 10-episode show won three awards at the recent 73rd Emmy Awards.
Fresh from its multiple Emmy wins, HBO’s Hacks — a comedy series about the stand-up comedy world — is now available to Filipino audiences on HBO Go.
Topbilled by the legendary actress Jean Smart and rising comedy darling Hannah Einbinder, the American TV show is the dark and wickedly funny take on a “mentor-mentee” relationship and the generational divide between a certified boomer and millennial.
Jean, who was last seen on HBO’s critically-acclaimed Mare of Easttown, plays Deborah Vance, the reigning Las Vegas comedy queen on the verge of being dethroned by acapella group and young-crowd favorite Pentatonix.
Hannah, who was named Just For Laughs’ New Face of Comedy and Vulture’s “Comics To Watch” in 2019, is the “entitled and woke” 25-year-old writer Ava whom Deborah is forced to hire to update her act.
The 10-episode Hacks won three awards — Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series (Jean Smart), Outstanding Directing For a Comedy Series (Lucia Aniello) and Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series — at the 73rd Emmy Awards held last month. Recently renewed for a Season 2, the series is a top performer on streaming service HBO Max and enjoys a 100-percent Rotten Tomatoes rating based on reviews from TV and movie critics.
The STAR virtually met with the lead stars and saw that their hilarious sparring is not limited to the show. When asked if sparks flew during their first meeting on set, like how their characters met for the first time (both their favorite scene, by the way, where they deliver the laughs by slinging “insults” at each other), Hannah joked, “Sparks? I would call them meteors.”
“Stars even. Planets, you know. It was instant. It was instant for me,” she added, to which Jean quipped, “Not for me, no.”
“It takes some getting used to,” the 70-year-old showbiz veteran continued to tease her younger co-star.
“And that’s sort of a dynamic, right, in love,” mused Hannah. “And she’s getting me. It’s all in good fun. We love it. No, I love it!”
Turning a little serious, Jean disclosed she was floored by Hannah’s audition tape for the series. “I also looked up Hannah’s stand-up material and I was just so impressed with her. I said, ‘Definitely, that girl has to be in the final mix here,’ and so that was when we met in person.”
Jean further recalled the “strange circumstances” they were in when they finally saw each other in person. “It was at the height of the pandemic and we met in a giant, football field-sized, completely empty soundstage. It was sort of like a bad detective movie where they’re questioning, there’s a lamp and there’s one chair, and another chair opposite it. And then, they put a Plexiglass between us because they want to see a picture of us standing next to each other, to see how we looked physically together. But, she was always my first choice so I was thrilled when they cast her.”
“And those are strong sparks that fly,” Hannah mused. “I mean to go through Plexiglass, the heat alone of the spark, it’s up there.”
Below are more excerpts from the interview set by HBO Asia for select Asian press.
On what the show and role mean to the stars:
Jean: “For me, when I got this script, I just thought this checks every box I could hope for in a role. If I could have sat down and written a list of things I wanted in my next job, this checked every single thing on the list. I’m still kind of amazed that at this stage of my life, in this stage of my career, I am being given these incredible opportunities.
“I do think that it’s meaningful and important that, you know, this is an older woman who is grappling with her career and questions about how she has spent her life, summing up her life and her career, and being challenged by this younger woman. But what’s wonderful about the show is that neither one of them is right, neither one of them is wrong. So that’s kind of the fun of that interaction.”
Hannah: “I would say that the character of Ava is very important to me. This project came at a time when… I come from a stand-up background and during the pandemic, that went away, and there was no sign of when it would return. This used to be my life, this show. And because it showed me how fulfilling a new medium could be, how fulfilling acting could be as an expression of my soul through the beautifully written words that our creators provided us with and through the collaboration with Jean and the rest of the cast, and so this character, especially as a young, queer character, was huge. It was so important to me, and I’m certainly glad she exists.”
On getting into their characters’ love-hate relationship:
Hannah: “Oh my God, every time either of us had to be mean or get into a fight or any of it, and they’d yell cut, I’d be like, I’m so sorry. I have to say it, I’m so worried about what people think and I’m such a people-pleaser. I’m a comedian, so I am, you know, desperate for external validation (laughter). So, it was like a lovely vacation to step inside someone who had no concept of how her honesty affects others. It was so nice. I was like yeah, for 12 hours, I get to not give a f*** basically. I liked it! She’s a character. And you know, I’m from Los Angeles and I came up in the L.A. comedy scene, and Ava is like a lot of people I know, so it was very easy to step into her vibe.”
Jean: “Getting to abuse Hannah Einbinder and getting paid for it was an incredible delight (laughter). But, I mean, like kind of the reverse of what Hannah said is that getting to step into a character who is fully aware of how much she frightens people and intimidates people, and who uses that when she needs to.
“The thing I like about the way they wrote Deborah’s character was that they didn’t make her just a sort of two-dimensional diva who was dismissive and rude of everybody and demanding and temperamental… She has enormous respect for the people who work around her and work for her. She knows what it takes to succeed. Anybody who works hard has her respect. Unless she’s in a bad mood.”
On real-life mentors as acting inspiration:
Jean: “I had a really extraordinary acting teacher in college. In fact, I’m still friendly with her. I still see her occasionally but unfortunately, she’s not well right now, she’s in her 90s. But when I met her, she was about 40 and a gorgeous, dynamic woman who taught at the University of Washington. And she was a professional actress. She wasn’t just someone who had worked briefly, dabbled in acting and then decided, ‘Well, I’ll just teach.’ She was a working actress which is one of the things that made her such a good teacher. We were all a little bit scared of her. But she was very supportive of me, and very kind.
“I remember going to see her, I was 18… she was doing a play in Seattle and playing the lead. I remember seeing her and just being just blown away by her and thinking, ‘Wow! That’s my teacher up there.’ Then years later, when I decided to go to New York, she was very, very helpful and supportive, and introduced me to a good friend of hers who was a casting director in New York. She’s the first person that comes to mind as a mentor.”
Hannah: “Yeah, the show highlights a rich tradition of mentorship within comedy. It’s a huge part of it. It’s hard to start as a young comic without someone going, ‘Alright, these are the good open mics, these are scary, don’t go here, go to this show,’ you know, giving you notes on your material.
“It feels like the expression, it takes a village? It really does take a village to cultivate a comedian, I think, like especially where I came up. It was a really beautiful, supportive, sort of insular community full of mentors.
“There are countless people who I look up to and who took me on the road for the first time, let me open for them on the road. You know, paid me before I even knew you could be paid to do stand-up; I was just getting beer or doing it for free. And not good beer. I want to be clear about that. Well drinks, okay, just the least. But I mean it, truly countless (mentors). It’s such a rich tradition in stand-up.”
(Stream Hacks on HBO GO. Download the app at the App Store or Play Store on your device. You can also access HBO GO via Cignal, Globe and Skycable or at https://www.hbogoasia.ph/.)
‘The Gilded Age’: HBO Unveils Premiere Date & First Look at Period Drama (VIDEO)
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Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 46F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph, becoming NNE and increasing to 10 to 20 mph.
Catch ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League,’ other DC films on HBO GO with Globe
Catch ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League,’ other DC films on HBO GO with Globe
Globe postpaid and Prepaid customers can watch the film on their mobile phones thru HBO GO for only P149 per month.
MANILA, Philippines — Comic book and superhero fans are still buzzing with excitement over the release of DC’s cinematic movie of the year, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”
The great news is Globe subscribers can now watch the much-awaited film on HBO GO! Postpaid and Prepaid customers can watch the film on their mobile phones thru HBO GO for only P149 per month.
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The story starts when Bruce Wayne (Batman) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions—an act to ensure that Superman’s ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.
The length of the movie spans four hours divided into six chapters and an epilogue.
At first, this might seem like a daunting and heavy watch, but it actually fleshed out the characters and background stories especially that of Cyborg and The Flash. It also features some of Snyder’s signature styles like monochromatic color palettes and speed ramping action scenes and made do with less of the comedic banters, leaning to a more serious tone.
After watching “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” you can also enjoy other DC movies such as “Birds of Prey” (2020), “Joker” (2019) and “Shazam!” (2019), and series like “Gotham” and “Doom Patrol” on HBO GO.
Watch these movies and shows on mobile phones thru HBO GO. Just register or log in to the GlobeOne app, go to the Lifestyle section from the Menu and follow the activation steps.
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Visit http://www.globe.com.ph/hbogo to know more about HBO GO and Globe.