Director Ed Bianchi does excellent work with “Amalgamation and Capital.” The episode focuses on Seth’s (Timothy Olyphant) nephew and adopted son, William (Josh Eriksson), whose amiable interactions with different players in the camp put a lighter spin on the Deadwood cast. To build the tension of several plot threads, Bianchi uses clever editing reminiscent of films like Babel, Traitor and perhaps Dunkirk, although I argue it’s used to greater effect here.
J and I also talk about how Bianchi and cinematographer Joseph E. Gallagher (in his Deadwood debut) present the mise en scène in strange ways. We note how characters leave the frame in odd directions, and moments like this one leave characters out of the shot altogether while making use of copious negative space in the dead center of the picture. In one clever moment, Al (Ian McShane) prepares to read a letter by putting on glasses; in the third person, we observe the letter come into sharp resolution as the focal plane changes.
I also point out that several scenes carry on almost as if they were written for the stage. As we see when Charlie (Dayton Callie) and Jane (Robin Weigert) speak in the jail or when Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) and Trixie (Paula Malcomson) catch near the thoroughfare, the characters speak sort of to each other and sort of to audience. Likewise, the momentum of their dialogue is halted by natural pauses and then interrupted by the character’s new train of thought.
Drop by Movie Fail next week for our discussion of Season 2 Episode 11, “Advances, None Miraculous.”