In “Leviathan Smiles,” it is George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) who smiles widest at the prospect of prising yet more riches from the Earth. This episode picks up just as last episode ended: with Odell (Omar Gooding) entering the lion’s den. It turns out Hearst is keen to hear what Odell has to say — as long as there’s money at the end of his tale. If not, if indeed Esther is right that Odell is attempting a con, Hearst makes it clear that the consequences for Odell would be fatal. He does so, of course, by way of some odd claptrap about the so-called equalizing power of gold and wealth.
Again, the show’s politics laid bare in what it portrays as monstrous.
Meanwhile, the Earps have arrived in town. Wyatt (Gale Harold) and Morgan (Austin Nichols) enter as frauds and are immediately clocked by Al (Ian McShane) (recognizing his own trick) and Seth (Timothy Olyphant). It’s a fun twist on the legendary Earp brothers who are generally portrayed in a flattering, almost divine light. In Deadwood, they give off a sense of scumminess as they dupe prostitutes into giving away their labor for free. Their faux heroics remind me of the 2014 film, Hercules, where the central conceit is that Hercules’ god-like feats are really a tag-team effort by a regular man and his posse (which funny enough, includes Ian McShane).
And, of course, “Leviathan Smiles” features Steve (Michael Harney) and his fateful end. This was a welcome relief for Esther and me. Esther had worried the show might try for a redemption arc with Steve and fall into a tired and damaging trope that put Fields (Franklyn Ajaye) in a compromising position. Instead, the narrative is quickly tied off as Steve manages to find himself kicked in the head, functionally killing him. This allows Fields to close off their interaction on his terms. It may also mean that he sticks around to look after the livery, but that remains to be seen.
The show goes on next week as Esther and I discuss Season 3 Episode 9, “Amateur Night.”