Davis Guggenheim takes the wheel this week in “Deep Water,” an episode that feels like a direct follow-up to the series pilot. Now we’ve got a better handle on the characters, from Al (Ian McShane) and Seth’s (Timothy Olyphant) fiery relationship to Jane (Robin Weigert) and the Doc’s (Brad Dourif) unlikely alliance. J points out that this episode is filled with characters who talk past one another; everyone’s trying to get a read on what their fellow Deadwood residents are really after.
This leads into a discussion of Preacher Smith (Ray McKinnon) and The Dude (Timothy Omundson) who, unlike Al and the rest, don’t seem to have an ulterior motive. Both characters are raw in their innocence and stand out against the gritty backdrop of the frontier. Conversely, Jane’s triggering encounter with Al is deeply complex. Her past is clearly riddled with trauma which explains not only her reaction to Al, but also her attachment to the girl and to Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine).
We conclude with a brief discussion of the last moments of the episode. Jane demanding Charlie (Dayton Callie) sing is a sweet moment of levity, but we were even more focused on the camerawork itself. As the camera cranes up and away, the lit wagons shine like stars against the darkened frontier. Beautiful.
Tune in next week where we’ll discuss Season 1 Episode 3 of Deadwood, “Reconnoitering the Rim.”