It’s hard to know who’s sitting in “The Catbird Seat” by the close of this episode. After last week’s near miss, Hearst (Gerald McRaney) lands his attack on the townsfolk as he sics his Pinkerton goons on poor Ellsworth (Jim Beaver). In a moment of catharsis, it’s not long before the sentiment is returned in-kind by Trixie (Paula Malcomson). It’s a shocking sequences of events and we’re lucky to have the one and only Ben Siler here to help us discuss them. Ben’s a Deadwood superfan and history nut, as well as a filmmaker, and we were chuffed to have him along to parse this fantastic episode.
Ellsworth, we hardly knew ye. I have long argued that Ellsworth’s arc hasn’t always made the most sense to me. His meek, acquiescing introduction in Season 1 contrasts hugely with his bold, righteous fury in later seasons. Let us not forget his original sin: allowing the death of Alma’s (Molly Parker) husband to go uninvestigated. He has spent the greater part of Seasons 2 and 3 redeeming himself by working so hard for Alma and Sofia (Bree Seanna Wall), but one might argue this ending was inevitable in a poetic sense. Still, it is deeply sad to see such a fantastic labor advocate and all-around decent fellow die at the hands of some anonymous Pinkerton agent.
During our discussion, Ben alludes to the real Seth Bullock’s unpopularity with working people which is explored in the book Seth Bullock: Black Hills Lawman by David Wolff. The irony of this character working so closely with working folks in the show isn’t without some irony. In the recently released Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino, Esther adds that Olyphant’s character seems to overtly reference his Deadwood legacy. Ben also offered a fun bit of trivia about Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe), who (assuming David Milch’s musings can be trusted) said in a coffee table book that his five-season arc was to be come “the great philanthropist and feminist of Deadwood.”
I don’t know about that, but I do miss Boothe and I would have been curious to see how far they could pull his character in that direction. For the time being, Cy remains an entertaining mystery.
Don’t forget to check out Ben’s Deadwood podcast, Anyways, over on Youtube, and keep an eye out for his upcoming reproductive rights sci-fi western, Space Submarine Commander. And of course, swing by Movie Fail next week where we’ll have our second guest on to discuss the Season 3 Deadwood finale, “Tell Him Something Pretty.”