AMC’s hit western drama Hell on Wheels finally reached the end of its tracks this summer (bad pun fully intended) with the end of its fifth season. The series’ end had been announced well before Season 5 started. That didn’t make it any less difficult to see such a standout series comes to its end. For those who didn’t want the series to come to its end, its final episodes were released on DVD and Blu-ray at November’s opening. There is plenty to say about the series’ final volume of episodes beginning with the work of the show’s writers. That will be discussed shortly. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note here as that of the show’s writers. The bonus material included in this final volume of episodes rounds out its most important elements. Each element plays its own clearly important in the collection’s presentation. All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 proves to be a fitting final farewell for one of the best serials to come along in recent memory.
Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for a show that is one of the best serials to come along in recent memory. That statement is supported in part through the work of the show’s writers. Once again the series’ writers managed in these final seven episodes to keep audiences completely engaged as they wrapped up all of the loose ends left from the first half of the season. Not to give away too much, one of those loose ends might leave some audiences really disliking Cullen even despite everything else. The writers did a good job of showing the difficulty in Cullen’s decision here. But it’s still difficult to not dislike Cullen’s choice or to not dislike Cullen himself for that choice. It is truly a heart wrenching moment. It’s just one of the loose ends that is wrapped up in these final episodes. Viewers finally see the end of Thor Gundersen in these final episodes, too. This is perhaps the one moment in which the writers slipped up. Every time it seemed like Cullen had finally finished off Thor, he was still alive. That is until he finally meets his fate. That moment is brutal in itself to watch. Getting back on topic, the fact that Thor just kept coming back up until that moment made it seem like the writers weren’t entirely certain how to finish off Thor, so they used the different scenarios to keep the story moving in hopes that audiences wouldn’t mind his multiple deaths. At the same time, finally presenting Thor’s past served to illustrate why he had become such an angry person. So that makes up for the issues of Thor’s many deaths up until his final death. One of the most surprising moments in which the writers’ work shines comes as Cullen is called to testify against Thomas Durant in Washington, D.C. Cullen’s reaction as he sits before the committee was completely surprising. It also showed in its own way perhaps another realization by Cullen about who he was in comparison to Durant. That deeper element makes this moment stand out even more. It’s just one more moment that exhibits the importance of the series’ writers in these final seven episodes. There are so many others that could be cited. But there isn’t enough time or space to cover them all. Audiences will have to find them for themselves when they purchase or order this final volume of Hell on Wheels’ episodes. While the work of the series’ writers clearly exhibits its own importance in the collection’s presentation, it is not the only important element to note. The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as the work of the series’ writers.
The work put in by Hell on Wheels’ writers in its final episodes goes a long way toward making them entertaining and engaging. That is evident through the moments discussed here and through so many other moments. Even with this in mind, the writers’ work is not the only work that makes these episodes so entertaining. The cast’s work interpreting each episode’s script is just as important to note as the writers’ work. One of the most notable moments that exemplifies the importance of the cast’s work comes as Thomas Durant sees first hand the death of someone very close to him. He finally saw for himself the impact of his schemes. It was clear from that moment on that he was not the same man anymore. Colm Meaney’s handling of the moment made that traumatic moment so powerful. He didn’t try to ham it up and scream, “nooooo” or anything else. He merely had to look at what had happened to fully display the impact that the moment had on him. His narration of the events leading to the moment, so calm yet clearly so hurt, added to the moment’s emotion. Meaney handled it all with such expertise. As devious as Durant had been throughout, this one moment actually will lead audiences to feel some level of sympathy for him. Again, that is thanks to Meaney’s handling of the situation. He is to be so highly applauded for his work here. Fellow star Anson Mount is to be just as applauded for his display as he handles his own emotional struggles. For so long throughout this series, Cullen has proven to be a rock solid figure in terms of his emotions. But here in these final episodes, that façade finally begins to crack as he is forced to make some very difficult decisions. One of the most intriguing of those moments comes as he encounters a Native American at a stream. The pair stares one another down, waiting to see what the other will do. It is a short moment, but when one looks back, it explains why Cullen told Grant he wasn’t an indian killer. The defiance in his voice as he makes that clear to Grant makes so much more sense when one considers that moment. There were no words, only actions and emoting. Yet it was such a powerful moment. Both Mount and his co-star shined brightly in that simple moment, showing once more than importance of the cast’s work to these episodes’ presentation. As with the work of the show’s writers, there are so many other moments that could be cited in explaining the importance of the cast’s work. But that would take far too much time and space. So, again, audiences will find plenty of other examples when they purchase or order Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 for themselves. Keeping this in mind, the work of the series’ writers and cast are obviously both important to the episodes’ presentation here. They are just two of the series’ most important elements. The bonus material included in the episodes’ recent home release is just as important to note in their presentation as the writing and acting behind each episode.
The work of Hell on Wheels’ writers and cast are both pivotal to the series’ continued entertainment in its final episodes. The writers managed to wrap up the show’s leftover loose ends relatively well and keep audiences entertained and engaged in the process. The cast did just as much to entertain audiences as evidenced through the work of Colm Meaney and Anson Mount (and their cast mates). While the work of the series’ cast and writers is undeniably important to the presentation of its final episodes, they are just two of the elements that make this collection’s presentation enjoyable. The bonus material that is included with the collection is just as important to note as the writing and acting in these episodes. As with each of the series’ previous installments each episode is coupled with its own “Inside the Episode” audio commentary. Needless to say, that commentary is not to be missed. The other bonus material is less extensive. But it does a good job bringing everything full circle. “Golden Spike” is the shortest of the bonuses. It last all of perhaps a couple of minutes, if that. But audiences learn through this little piece that the golden spike was very real. They also learn that allegedly every telegraph in the country was silenced on the day that the golden spike was hammered into the transcontinental railroad. That was so that when the message was delivered—by the strike of the hammer—every person in the country would know that was the moment when the spike was being driven. That is something that generally isn’t taught in history classes at any level, so it is interesting to learn. “Wrap Up” and “A Look At The Final Episodes” are both interesting in their own way as they offer the cast and crew the chance to comment on the importance of the episodes’ stories as well as working on the final episodes. Viewers will be most intrigued to learn of Anson Mount’s connection to Cullen as he discusses topics such as Cullen having to kill and bury Elam, who had become such a friend to Cullen. Robin McLeavy also gets the chance to discuss Eva’s personal growth from the series’ opening to the final episode. This discussion is just as important to take in because it reminds audiences that while Eva might not have been one of the series’ marquee characters, she was still very integral to its development in her own right. It’s just one more discussion that exhibits the importance of this collection’s bonus material. There are so many other discussions both in the shorter features and the episode-length commentaries that add their own depth to the collection. When they are joined with the discussions noted here, the whole of that bonus material proves to be just as important to the collection as the episodes and their content. When all three elements are combined, they make clear why Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for what is one of the best serials to come along in a long time.
Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting farewell for a series that is one of the best serials to come along in a long time. Considering how many serials are out there today versus standalone series, that is saying a lot. From day one, this series has proven to be a serial actually worth watching. This collection is no different. It shows just as much why the series is worth the watch whether one is a fan of dramas or a western fan. That is evidenced primarily through the work of the series’ writers. Even with perhaps one or two minor slip-ups here and there, the writers succeeded by and large in these final episodes. The cast was just as entertaining as ever, too. The bonus material that accompanies the work of the series’ cast and writers rounds everything out. That is because it brings everything full circle all while keeping audiences just as engaged as ever. Each element is important in its own right to the collection. All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 proves, again, to be a fitting farewell to a rare serial that is actually worth watching. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is available online now along with more information on Hell on Wheels at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.