TV Article

Unhappy Trails

On the last ''Deadwood,'' Swearengen cuts a deal with Hearst that gets the mining mogul out of town; meanwhile, Mrs. Bullock settles, and love is in the air

TRADE OF THE TRIX Swearengen saved Trixie's life by murdering one of his girls
TRADE OF THE TRIX Swearengen saved Trixie's life by murdering one of his girls

The ''Deadwood'' series finale: Al cuts a deal

This is the end,

Beautiful friend.

This is the end,

My only friend, the end.

Yes, the series finale of Deadwood has come and gone. And while we eagerly await a pair of two-hour movies at some point in the future (filming is supposed to start on the first one next spring), there's just no way executive producer David Milch can shoehorn a season arc into four hours. Still, I'll take a truncated Deadwood over most of the drivel that's on the air now.

But we'll have to wait and see about the next chapters. Right now let's talk finale. Were you overwhelmed or underwhelmed? The long-predicted war between Hearst and, well, everyone else in the camp never came about. Hawkeye showed up with 17.5 men (the dwarf was a genius bit of levity), and Wu had his countrymen available to battle the Pinkertons, but in the entire episode nary a shot was fired. At first I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get the massive battle scene that we had been led to expect all season, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the show was being true to itself with an ending in which Hearst rides out of town unarmed and the camp continues to move along. In real life, only the psychotic want a gun battle to solve every problem. And part of the reason we love Deadwood is how honest each story line and character felt. This finale stayed true to that ideal.

For example, Al killed a totally innocent girl. Slit her throat to appease Hearst, who wanted Trixie to pay for her attempt on his life last week. It was a stone-cold move, done out of love for Trixie, that was totally in line with the way Al's mind works. Someone had to die, and he didn't want it to be Trixie. It sucks, but that's how it goes. When Johnny said, ''It ain't fair,'' Al replied, ''Since when did that enter into it?'' Maybe we can't relate to that mindset, but after three years of watching Al, at least we understand that it makes perfect sense to him. That's stellar character development and writing. The type of writing I'll miss. Sigh.

So little action really, but tons of great moments as interactions between the denizens of Deadwood tied up some loose ends and left others dangling.

My Top Moments:

1. Joanie tucking Jane under Wild Bill's robe. Sweet and tender.

2. Cy calling out Joanie as a lesbian. Which gave her the strength to tell Jane she wanted to be with her and later drove Cy close to suicide. Oh, and he killed Leon. Frankly, no big loss for that organization.

3. Sol and Trixie. Finally, Sol showed some real emotion besides being calm or wanting to have sex. Passion brought tears to his eyes and his lady back to his door.

4. The group huddle at the Gem while Al explained how he would take a stab at Hearst if the subterfuge involving the fake Trixie didn't pan out. Wow, did I wish that had happened.

Low Moments:

1. Langrishe. What a waste of airtime. The man was a blowhard, and all he blew was hot air. I'd rather have seen more Jewel. Need I say more?

2. Bullock's last speech to Hearst telling him to skedaddle. Little too High Noon for my taste.

Sol put it succinctly when Bullock asked him what was going on. ''Everything'' was the response. And almost everything did happen. Bullock lost the election by a landslide. Mrs. Ellsworth sold her claim to Hearst but by doing so ensured that she could remain in Deadwood without fearing for life and limb. Trixie and Sol will be happy together. So will Joanie and Jane. And life at the Gem continues. The only things that still remain unclear are the fate of Doc Cochran and whether Cy went inside and burned down the Bella. Maybe we'll find out next year.

The penultimate scene was a perfect goodbye: E.B. peeking out of the hole on the balcony that Hearst had made. He slipped out and pretended that nothing was wrong or had ever been wrong.

And that's how we should leave. Not upset that our promised season 4 will never appear but convinced that how things actually are is the way that we want them to be.

What do you think? Did the finale provide enough of a payoff? What more do you want to see in the Deadwood movies?

Originally posted Aug 25, 2006
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