“Mister Wu” opens up the Deadwood universe to some of the most iconic characters and lines from the show. This week introduces Richardson (Ralph Richeson), Hostetler (Richard Gant) and, most notably, a fully fleshed-out Mr. Wu (Keone Young). For many fans of the show, these names are inextricable from the fabric of the frontier town. I’m terribly excited to see them make their first appearance.
The bulk of this episode rests on the relationship between Al (Ian McShane) and Wu. Josh and I consider the dichotomy of extreme racism and mutual respect between these two crime bosses. For my part, I found the interaction to be one of kinship. Josh agreed that Al seems to see Wu as his equivalent for the Chinese quarter of Deadwood.
I also posed the idea that this is the first episode the places Al squarely as the protagonist. Throughout the episode we see his softer side – particularly with regard to his sympathy for Reverend Smith (Ray McKinnon). Smith’s health is rapidly and tragically deteriorating and Al can’t help but feel sorry for him as he remember his brother’s own medical trauma.
Josh disagrees that Al is framed as a protagonist this week, but we did at least come to a consensus that Merrick’s (Jeffrey Jones) earnest hunt for friends is wildly endearing.
Related question: anyone know how we might join “The Ambulators”?
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Next week we’ll spend some time getting to know another iconic Deadwood character who hasn’t yet spent time in the spotlight with “Jewel’s Boot Is Made For Walking.”