Hell on Wheels – Season 2
It takes some getting used to, the start of this second season for Hell on Wheels. Cullen Bohannon has left the train town after killing Sergeant Harper and joined a group of desperados in the hopes of gaining enough money to start a new life in Mexico. He quickly realises, though, that the others have a different opinion about this and when during a raid he stops one of his fellow outlaws killing an innocent he gets beaten down and left to be captured by federal troops.
Meanwhile Durant has been building his railroad but when he reaches Sioux territory it quickly becomes clear that they’re all but happy with the Iron Horse passing through their terrain. With the Swede no longer keeping things under a tight lid and Elam not suitable as “black person” to lead white workers Durant can use a decent foreman and as such decdes to save Bohannon from certain death and recruit him again.
Once back in the travelling town, however, Bohannon realises that during his absence quite some things have changed. Elam is practically the hired killer for hire and Lilly no longer just work for Durant but has also started filling his bed. The Swede meanwhile does everything within his power to stir trouble, and with the constant threat of the Sioux around the corner Bohannon realises all too well he’s got a hell of a job in front of him…
As said, the start of this new season, which contains ten episodes, requires some getting used to. The first episodes are used to get Bohannon to return to Hell on Wheels and mapping the changed relations between different characters but this works quite confusing and even a bit annoying, up to the level that it could almost be called boring, making this eason a bit less than the first one. Luckily halfway through things do start to fall into place and we’re lead to a surprising finale that could even be seen as the end of the series. Don’t despair, though, as Hell on Wheels isn’t over just yet, the third season contains again ten episodes and seeing the end of this one – which we won’t spoil – the question is mainly how the makers will continue.
The storylines are as diverse as they are deep and we again get treated with great acting work from the entire cast. The start of the season may be a bit too disturbing compared to the end of the first to make it easy to pick up again, but once the dominos are set and slowly start falling over we do get treated to a total picture that perfectly fits together and brings along some surprising plot twists. Hell on Wheels continues to bring forth stereotypes of the western genre but succeeds to do this in a surprising way and for lovers of the genre we can only say this is a definite must-have.
This Blu-ray is delivered by eOne with excellent image quality that truly stands head and shoulders above average. Here and there you can see a bit of grain appear that may have been intentional to deliver a more gritty atmosphere in certain scenes but for the rest there’s nothing to complain about. The level of detail is astonishing and each time the faces of Bohannon (Anson Mount) or The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl) pass by in close-up you can’t but think back to classic spaghetti westerns from Sergio Leone like “Once Upon a Time in the West” or “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” and the equally worn-out faces of Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. And close-ups aren’t even the most spectacular images! No, truly spectacular are the wide-shots where nature and other surroundings are shown in all its glory and the characters almost look as if they are about to step out of the screen. Amazing!
The sound which comes through the speakers with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is of equally high quality with music that nicely flows from the speakers, effects that get positioned up to the smallest detail, and dialogues that never get overwhelmed. Excellent work over the entire technical line!
The extras start with a look back at the first season after which you can check out a Making Of and some short interviews with Anson Mount (Bohannon), Common (Ferguson), Colm Meany (Durant), and Dominique McElligott (Lily Bell). There’s also a short set tour with Anson Mount and ten short “Inside the Episode” featurettes with commentary on each episode by the cast and the creative team.