Television Tuesday :: Deadwood and relationships, part six.

11 Nov

The end of season one of Deadwood makes my mother cry every time, and if I did that kind of thing I would probably join her, and this is for two primary reasons, which I realize sort of run parallel-but-opposite: Jewel (Geri Jewell) and Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif), Reverend Smith (Ray McKinnon) and Al (Ian McShane).


Jewel, who has lived her whole life with, as Cochran puts it, “difficulties,” and the Reverend, who has only recently come into difficulties.  Jewel, who manages her difficulties and continues to function productively, and the Reverend, whose difficulties have by season’s end laid him up completely.  Jewel, who actively seeks not a cure but assistance, who tries to improve on her own lot in life with the assistance of others, and the Reverend, who smilingly accepts his fate as “god’s plan” and does not ask for help yet receives it.  Jewel, who ends the season happily dancing with Cochran, and the Reverend, who ends the season by being sent to what might be his heaven by Al.

Interesting is the way these stories overlap each other in the plot of the show, too: Jewel is in Al’s employ and wants to get around more easily in part so she doesn’t aggravate Al as much (Cochran tells her “fuck Al” every time she mentions this, has no interest in helping her just to help him), Al cares for Jewel but also regularly derides her (not that he doesn’t deride everyone for one thing or another, but still it needs noted).  The Reverend had previously worked in a volunteer capacity with Cochran but tried to hide his condition from him, Cochran wants to help the Reverend but cannot get through to him.  Jewel belongs more to Al’s world and the Reverend to Cochran’s on the surface, but that’s not how the stories end.

Jewel and Cochran have a rapport, that much can’t be denied, and it’s not just seen in these episodes.  Jewel has those difficulties, but she’s bright and has a sense of humor both about herself and about life, she doesn’t take shit, she holds her head up high, and Cochran respects that.  Cochran is gruff and slightly unnerving in some contexts, he’s angry a lot of the time and apparently did some graverobbing in his day, he’s sometimes judgmental and often harsh, but he does have compassion for people, and his biggest hope in helping Jewel is that he will help her, that he won’t be setting her up to harm herself and put her in even more difficulties.  She wants to go about her life in a more efficient fashion, and she understands the risks but that’s not going to stop her from trying.  Jewel’s interest is in her life, and Cochran’s interest is in that too, and then they dance and are happy together.

Al and the Reverend have an odder relationship.  They don’t speak much at first, being in drastically different businesses, but as the Reverend’s condition becomes apparent Al reveals that he had a brother who suffered similar “fits” that might be the cause of his sympathy for the Reverend.  And as the Reverend gravitates toward Al’s new piano and eventually is installed in the back of the Gem, Al’s sympathy for him develops, so much that he eventually answers the prayer he doesn’t know that Cochran is making for an end to the Reverend’s pain by smothering him (“you can go now, brother”).  The Reverend’s story ends in death, but it’s a different kind of peace.

–your fangirl heroine.

troubled fidgeting


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