I called it. I’m not proud of it, but I called it. “A Constant Throb” was a phallic title if ever I saw one. Yet most of this week’s episode, penned by W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority), focuses on Al (Ian McShane) restoring himself to his former glory. When Alma (Molly Parker) is shot at in the street by the Pinkertons on Hearst’s (Gerald McRaney) behalf, Al wakes from his reverie as he literally jumps into the fray from his balcony. I suppose something’s springing into action! (Sorry, Con.)
I was relieved to see Al back in top form. This is him at his best: a scheming tactician with the full fury and snap judgement necessary to win in such a deadly battle. We’ve endured a muted Al for most of Season 3 so far, ever since he found himself at the wrong end of Hearst’s most violent impulses. To see him restored to the roaring (if still occasionally compassionate) power broker he once was offers significant hope for the camp’s future. Add to that Seth’s (Timothy Olyphant) unspeakable rage and we might yet see an evening out of the sides as the season (and series) draw to a close.
This is also a strong episode for Alma. Esther points out that this episode sees Alma breaking out of her usual cycle of drug addiction and timidity. Here she passionately argues with Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) that she should continue her walk down the thoroughfare despite the threat of gunfire. Her boldness in the face of death is admirable and only lends to her elevated image in the eyes of the camp’s women — from Jewel (Geri Jewell) to the prostitutes. Let us hope this version of the character carries through the final episodes and onto the Deadwood movie.
You won’t want to miss next week (as if you would!), as we’ll have a special guest on to discuss Season 3 Episode 11, “The Catbird Seat,” with us. Advantage: Hoopleheads.