This week we sit down for a sprinkling of “Unauthorized Cinnamon,” a phenomenal episode of Deadwood. This episode features arguably the funniest sequence in Deadwood‘s run as Gustave (Gordon Clapp) attempts to sell Al (Ian McShane) on a variety of quilts for his injured hand. It also pushes one of the most intriguing budding relationships — between Joanie (Kim Dickens) and Jane (Robin Weigert) — into one of full blown queer romantic attraction. Suffice it to say, Esther was caught totally off guard (to my pleasure and hers!). It’s a tasteful, honest scene that avoids falling into antiquated pitfalls in depicting female-female relationships on television.
Esther raises the specter of night which permeates the episode. Shots seem to engulf characters in isolation, alone and fearful of Hearst’s retaliation. I mention a great shot where the focus shifts from Walt Rutherford (Deadwood writer Ted Mann) in the foreground to Harry Manning (Brent Sexton) in the background. In the new focus, Harry now speaks to Tom Nuttal’s (Leon Rippy) reflection in the angled mirror above the bar. It’s a fun little perspective play that works well in the moment.
In our discussion, we allude to the phenomenon of lampshading, where a film or TV show points out its own plot hole or problem to the audience as a means of skirting past it. In my view, the prostitutes raising Alma’s (Molly Parker) absence from the town meeting qualifies entirely, but Esther makes a good case that it’s one of the few ways they can address the problem without anachronistically fixing it. I also go on a tangent about Louis Pasteur’s experiment with swan neck flasks conducted during the mid-19th century, which you can see/read about here.
Please note that we are aware of the (very occasional) audio glitches on Esther’s track — it isn’t your headphones. We did what we could to deal with the problem and it should be fixed in future episodes!
Stop by next week to hear us talk about why the “Leviathan Smiles” in Season 3 Episode 8.