Watching “The Whores Can Come” in such proximity to the finale, “By the Earth Talks To,” draws a striking contrast. This episode is a funeral: a sunny daytime tale where black clothes contrast with a bright backdrop. The joy of its successor is nowhere to be found; Seth (Timothy Olyphant) and Martha (Anna Gunn) languish in the death of their son as the rest of the camp watches from across the thoroughfare.
The episode’s title derives from the Gem Saloon prostitutes who we learn from Trixie (Paula Malcomson) are distraught over William’s death. Trixie entreats Al (Ian McShane) to allow them to attend the funeral, an event he repeatedly dismisses to avoid sharing his emotional connection to the boy’s death. Meanwhile, the Chinese prostitutes who entered the town on Lee’s (Philip Moon) heels have begun to die of their various ailments. Lee’s callous burning of their bodies — and the camp’s disinterest in them — contrasts with the attention and care poured into William’s funeral.
This week, I found myself wrapped up in the emotional stakes of Martha and Seth’s loss. J, alas, did not. I saw a clever “black wedding” mirror that hints at the coming events in the finale, while J did not. What we can agree on is how immediately different next week’s episode is. There’s a striking difference between the technical qualities of directors Gregg Fienberg and Ed Bianchi; the former relies more on narrative while the latter sets up nearly every frame in new and interesting ways.
The the second part of our Hoopleheads two-parter will cover Season 3 Episode 12, “Boy the Earth Talks To” and will release later this week.