Deadwood’s first true bank is open in “Full Faith and Credit,” an episode whose interweaving storylines all rely on those very words. Ed Bianchi is back in the director’s chair for the first time in several weeks. His characteristic camerawork is on full display, from security camera-like shots to clever framing, sometimes conveying power dynamics and dividing lines simply by where he places the camera. In one scene, we’re treated to an unceremonious match cut, something we rarely see on Deadwood.
Much of “Full Faith and Credit” is centered around Hostetler (Richard Gant) and Fields (Franklyn Ajaye) returning to camp with the wild horse that killed William Bullock. Their reemergence foreshadows conflict with Steve (Michael Harney) who has looked after the livery since their escape. It’s a bizarre, somewhat absurd scenario but it feels deeply relevant to our time: two black folks are forced out of town fearing for their lives, and then are somehow held accountable for not looking after the livery they had to abandon. Steve uses this as a cudgel to try and take the livery for himself for nothing; it’s only through Seth’s (Timothy Olyphant) single-minded will that fair price is ever paid.
We close with a discussion of Al (Ian McShane) as he reveals his childhood trauma more clearly than ever. In the final scene of “Full Faith and Credit,” we see him exhibit the faintest glimmers of introspection about how he treats sex workers in The Gem. It is a testament to this show’s writing, and to McShane’s peerless acting, that such a despicable person on paper comes across as such a layered and, at times, sympathetic character. This contrasts in some ways with Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe), a character who’s great fun to watch but, as Esther says, is more of a “personality” than a “person.”
Swing by next week where we’ll take on Season 3 Episode 5, “A Two-Headed Beast.”