Episodes: Ongoing (hour)
TV show dates: November 6, 2011 – present
Series status: Has not been cancelled
Performers include: Anson Mount, Common, Dominique McElligott, Eddie Spears, Tom Noonan, Ben Esler, Phil Burke, Colm Meaney, and Christopher Heyerdahl.
TV show description:
This contemporary Western follows a former Confederate soldier named Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount). Following the rape and murder of his wife at the hands of Union soldiers, Cullen sets out to exact revenge on them. His journey takes him west to the mobile town called “Hell on Wheels,” a dangerous, raucous, and lawless melting pot. It travels with and services the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, an engineering feat unprecedented for its time. Cullen is ultimately torn between the cycle of revenge he has unleashed over his wife’s death and his tiring of this violence.
In addition to following Cullen’s story, this TV series also highlights the engineering and construction of the first transcontinental railroad, the institutionalized greed and corruption, the immigrant experience, and the plight of newly emancipated African-Americans during Reconstruction.
Elam Ferguson (Common) is an emancipated slave who’s working to achieve true freedom in a heavily prejudiced world. He struggles to come to terms with who and what he is: half white and half black. He doesn’t feel at home in either world but refuses to be treated as anything less than a man. Elam and Cullen’s fates continue to be bound together, not only by their common Southern roots, but also by circumstances.
Lily Bell (Dominique McElligott) is a newly widowed woman who’s trying to survive in a man’s world. Following the death of her husband, she continues to wrestle with the idea of the railroad being the end of the West. She feels a connection to the pristine landscape and worries that the approaching railroad and Hell On Wheels will despoil the West forever. Her desire to fulfill her husband’s dream ultimately becomes her own and she slowly gains respect in an ever difficult world.
Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears) struggles with the difference between his cultural heritage and the ever-changing world around him. He hates the idea but tries to bring his people into the reservation, hoping his people’s safety can be guaranteed.
Reverend Nathaniel Cole (Tom Noonan) is chiefly concerned with avoiding a war with the Indians, a war that he knows they can’t win. After riding with John Brown in Kansas and serving as a minister for the Union Army in the Civil War, Cole is sick of the slaughter. He genuinely wants to help the whites and Indians avoid another war and he sees Joseph as a means to this end. Cole struggles with his own personal demons while preaching a path of peace.
As young Irish immigrant brothers heading to the West to find their fortune, cracks develop in the relationship of Sean and Mickey McGinnes (Ben Esler and Phil Burke). They exploit business opportunities in Hell on Wheels and use more and more underhanded tactics. Mickey eventually questions what Sean is doing and resents his brother for using him as a pawn.
Thomas “Doc” Durant (Colm Meaney) is a greedy entrepreneur who takes full advantage of the changing times. As the railroad comes closer to completion and he becomes rich beyond his wildest dreams, he becomes more and more concerned about securing his place in history.
Thor “The Swede” Gundersen (Christopher Heyerdahl) is Thomas Durant’s ruthless head of security. The Swede’s tactics help him maintain a degree of control over the chaotic Hell on Wheels, but he abuses his power to extort money from its residents. The Swede suspects that Cullen Bohannon is a murderer and schemes to prove it.
Has not ended yet.
First aired: —
Image courtesy AMC.
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