I’ve been waiting for “A Two-Headed Beast” for some time. Dan (W. Earl Brown) and Captain Turner’s (Allan Graf) fight has been seared into my memory since I first saw it years ago. On rewatch, it doesn’t disappoint — but there’s so much more to this episode than I’d remembered. This week, Esther and I discuss the big fight, Alma’s (Molly Parker) descent into opium addiction and the tragic conclusion to Hostetler (Richard Gant) and Steve’s (Michael Harney) feud.
Esther took the words out of my mouth when she compared the fight to John Wick. This is a brawl that feels every bit as real as the combat in those films, but here it’s so raw and so unfocused — these are not trained assassins, after all — that it elicits an entirely different feeling from the viewer. Despite having seen the show before, I was still worried that this might be the end for Dan until the last moments of the encounter. I’d also forgotten Dan’s post-fight trauma, so delicately portrayed by Daniel Minahan here in a shot that evokes the tortured emotion of “Saturn Devouring his Son” by Francisco Goya.
Esther offers touching perspective on Hostetler’s final moments. We explore how sensitively the show has demonstrated the real health effects of both interpersonal and systemic racism. The injustice of Steve’s “victory” is deeply painful. It remains to be seen how Samuel Fields (Franklyn Ajaye) will handle this turn of events, but I hope he sticks around — if for no reason than to be a pain in Steve’s side.
Next time on Hoopleheads, we’ll be discussing Season 3 Episode 6, “A Rich Find.”