Entertainment Weekly recently had a Top 5 Saddest Television Moments. Something like that (I can’t find a copy online, as it was just a page of blurbs). It got me thinking about how absolutely wrong the list was. I’ll admit I hadn’t seen most of the television shows listed (Lost, Little House on the Prairie, etcetera) but I showed the list around a bit and nope. The consensus was: it was not the Top 5 Saddest anything. Maybe 5 sad moments. (I have learned to make a conscious effort to only say Top when it is a matter of my personal opinion, specifically. Things that I think are sad. People that I am attracted to. Etcetera. Not just These Are Ultimately The Best Things Of All Time No Matter What.) But not the saddest.
We then sat there thinking about sad television moments we’d list. And almost everything we came up with straight off was Whedonverse (which… I’m still planning on analyzing the hell out of someday) or Deadwood. So, here I present 5 sad Deadwood moments. Maybe not the Saddest Of All Time. But things that make me pretty bummed. Unsurprisingly, four of the five involve death. (I believe that one of the items on Entertainment Weekly‘s list did. And all of their shows were network; which, nothing against, but it’s not encompassing the widest possible range of sad.)
5. Jewel (Geri Jewell) and Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif) dance and it’s sweet (1×12, “Sold Under Sin”)
This is the one that doesn’t involve death. It’s just so endearing that if I cried happy tears, I would at this time. Jewel is the Gem Saloon’s cleaning lady, cook, and general ladyhelp; she’s also disabled and walks with a limp. She and the doctor contrive to build her a boot that will help her walk better (there are diagrams in books of his, it seems viable). And then once it’s done, and they’re testing it, they dance. And it’s just… it’s wonderful.
4. Joanie (Kim Dickens) is sad when her whores are murdered (ongoing throughout season 2)
This isn’t a moment so much as a mood. But as seen in last week’s ode to platonic friendships, my Joanie (Joanies always end up being mine) goes through a rough time. She’s brought some girls to the camp to start her very own whorehouse, but then, as I’ve before discussed, Francis Wolcott (Garret Dillahunt) murders some of them, including her partner-in-madaming, Maddie (Alice Krige). Poor Joanie is haunted by a lot of things from her past, but this sends her spiraling into an even worse guilt and depression, and she’s seen contemplating suicide, discussing it, until she finds a new purpose in her life with turning her place into a schoolroom. And it’s just devastating whenever she’s so sad because of the murders and all that followed and preceded.
3. Al (Ian McShane) mercy-kills the illness-ridden Reverend Smith (Ray McKinnon) (also 1×12, “Sold Under Sin.” This is a brutal episode.)
Though the reverend is seen more than once helping in the plague tent in camp, his eventual demise is brought about by what seems to be a brain tumor. He is being kept at the Gem, in the whore quarters; Al, troubled by his condition, takes it upon himself to end the other man’s suffering. Reverend Smith is suffering, suffering a lot: hallucinations, fits, the whole lot of it. And it’s hard just to watch. But Al has that strange moral code of his, and in his way, he doesn’t want to see the reverend subjected to such pain any longer. So, he smothers him. “You can go now, brother.” Augh.
2.William Bullock (Josh Eriksson) is trampled and killed by a horse (this happens in 2×09, “Amalgamation and Capital,” but the aftereffects are throughout the season’s end)
This is one of those times where it’s not sad because of who died, but because of everyone’s reactions. I mean, it’s sad that Bullock’s stepson (his brother’s widow who is now his wife’s son) gets killed by a horse. It’s brutal, and it’s definitely not a quick death. But we don’t get to really know William that well. What’s more upsetting is watching the entire camp hold their breath and then mourn. Watching Seth (Timothy Olyphant) feel guilty and watching Martha (Anna Gunn) feel awful for even coming to Deadwood in the first place and watching everyone else around grieve for an innocent child. There are shooting deaths regularly in camp. But this is an accident that nobody could have foreseen. It’s something tragic and terrible.
1. Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) is shot because Hearst (Gerald McRaney) is an asshat (3×11, “The Catbird Seat,” but it’s dealt with through that one and the next-and-last)
Ellsworth marries Alma (Molly Parker) in order to cover up her pregnancy, which then ends (it’s HBO) and leads her back to her drug addiction. This then causes Ellsworth to separate from her, but he still cares for her deeply and tends to her first late husband’s gold claim. That asshat Hearst wants said gold claim, so after trying to scare Alma by having her shot at, he actually has Ellsworth shot in order to get her to sell. And this is… just not all right. Ellsworth is a truly decent man. He looks after the people he cares about, he doesn’t make many enemies, he does what he needs to, he’s just loyal and good. (And his daddyrole with Sofia [Bree Seanna Wall] is just the cutest.) It seems like everyone who finds out he’s been killed can’t breathe when they hear, and nobody can quite believe it. Trixie (Paula Malcomson) goes so far as to go and shoot at Hearst in an attempted revenge. It’s the reactions and the loss of such a genuinely good fellow.
–your fangirl heroine.