No other sons or daughters
Photo: HBO / http: //dvdbash.wordpress.com/
Welcome to 12 days of Dead wood, in which Matt Zoller Seitz, author of the next An agreed lie: the Dead wood Chronicles, revisits the first season of the historic HBO drama, one episode at a time. Until Today: “No Other Sons or Daughters”, written by George Putnam and directed by Ed Bianchi, which originally aired on May 16, 2004.
“Be in my joint in two hours.” We are a fucking government.
So says Al Swearengen to his puppet Farnum, and presto! The camp is on the way to becoming a city.
So much has changed since this story began. The biggest recent change, linked to the possibility of annexation of the camp, are negotiations with indigenous tribal leaders, including Spotted Elk and Red Cloud, who could lead their people to reservations and make Deadwood a camp established on land then indigenous, if not legal, then not strictly illegal more.
The opening shot of the episode tells us what all the grunt work was all about: Al is lying in his bed next to a sleeping Trixie, contemplating the conciliatory gift she brought him the night before, a rock from the size of a potato with gold deposits all over it. This is proof that Widow Garret’s claim was far from hushed up – and sadly, once Seth hires Whitney Ellsworth to assess her true worth and keep her going by scrolling through the feed, there will be no possibility that Al will cut short. to order the deaths of Alma and Seth, which the previous episode had established that he was unwilling to do so.
But there are other sources of income, so to speak, and Al’s first job is to make sure that the profits not only flow but increase, and that whatever he and his fellow citizens have already built is not suppressed or diluted by the legislature deciding “to shake our balls with regard to our title and our properties.
In keeping with Milchian’s idea of society as one large organism, there are many moments in “No Other Sons or Daughters” that establish a sort of inarticulate collective unconscious aspiration for personal advancement through financial or civic success. Throughout the hour, the main characters act independently of each other to improve their status, then cross paths and realize that they have that impulse in common. Recognizing the commonalities strengthens the larger body that is the camp.
There’s Al, who becomes the closest thing to Deadwood with a mayor (despite EB’s manual labor – a rise worthy of the office proper). And there is Cy, who wants to reap the fruits of incorporation without participating in governance. And AW Merrick, who opens his mouth to declare himself mayor just as Al hits the hammer and certifies EB And Seth Bullock, who accepts the post of health commissioner to avoid being directed to the sheriff. Ten or twelve rungs up the camp power ladder we have Al’s shopping boy, Johnny, whom Al installs in a location formerly occupied by Persimmon Phil. Johnny validates Al’s choice by coming up with the brilliant idea of serving canned peaches and pears (originally featured at the Plague Conference) at Gem Meetings, spawning a civic ritual.
This is the third time in nine episodes that Al has hosted a milestone in the development of the camp. “A different path taken at some junctions in the road, who knows what kind of a joint we’d be in now, eh?” Al says at the end of “Plague”. “Of course the truth is, as a base of operations you can’t beat a fucking saloon.”
Charlie Utter is the emblem of an evolutionary man: in the span of one Dead wood week, he rents an office for his freight business, buys an ad in Merrick’s newspaper, erects a sign big enough to annoy Al, begins to wear a fancy frock coat that he says makes him “look stupid” and volunteers as fire marshal. Her corporate mirror is Joanie Stubbs, who leaves death-haunted Bella Union to search for a property that she can turn into a brothel with Cy’s starting money. Charlie and Joanie’s colloquium in the street is also a mutual assurance that the other’s dream has value.
A sidelight, but not really: Seth explains his decision to invite his wife and son – previously that of his late brother – to Deadwood noting that the camp is on the verge of being more hospitable to domestic life; but it also seems to be Seth’s way of embracing the civilizing pressures of marriage and fatherhood to discourage himself from starting an affair with a wealthy future widow who feared Seth would “disassociate” himself from his affairs.
As for the details of the annexation of Deadwood: it’s complicated. Writers know How? ‘Or’ What complicated, so they give viewers not one but several scenes in which the mechanisms can be separated. First, we get a meeting between Al and Magistrate Claggett (Marshall Bell) establishing that unlike Al’s nightmare that Deadwood will be overrun by the brothers and cousins of the Yankton lawmakers, the powers that be would prefer to confer “the blessing of legal status” on deed and claim the owners because it’s less work than starting Deadwood over again.
The episode’s most devious satirical thread comes from Al’s meeting with Claggett. Al urges Claggett to skip ahead to the part where he tells him how much he has to bribe the Legislature. Claggett is suspicious, in a bland bureaucratic style, then returns to the subject at the end of their speech by offering to provide “a list of names and a preliminary estimate of some numbers” and resolve the issue of Al’s murder warrant. for $ 5,000. Al holds up the bribe sheet as if it were Excalibur.
The purpose of the meeting is re-explained before it begins in earnest, to ensure that everyone (viewer included) understands what is at stake. The bottom line: everything the government needs to ratify pre-existing claims is proof of the existence of an “ad hoc municipal organization”. Turns out Deadwood already has it somehow. Notice how quickly Al gathers “the pillars of the fucking camp” and the order in which he contacts them. He first visits the lickspittle EB, future mayor. Next is the first of two attempts to speak with Pioneer publisher AW Merrick, who cares enough about the camp to consider declaring himself mayor but will have to content himself with serving as “fourth estate”. Al searches for Cy, his main business rival, and Doc Cochran, Deadwood’s true health commissioner, and Sol and Seth, who have just arrived at the camp but are already leaders. (“Did a fucking Well work here! Al said, admiring the sturdy construction of Star & Bullock Hardware, which started life as a tent: like Charlie’s coat, the store symbolizes progress in the mic.) Tom Nutall, unfortunately the co-owner of the first historic site of the camp, shows up late to the meeting and flogs herself for not being invited. He is welcome.
Less warmly received (especially by Cy) is Eddie Sawyer, who has a crisis of conscience. During his years with Cy, he’s been an accomplice to all kinds of bastards, but he draws the line of murder. “You screwed me up, Cy, with what you did to those kids,” he said. “There is no angle to that.” Her contribution to the meeting is to ask if women who pay business license fees will have the same rights as men to operate brothels. Eddie will never be taken for an activist, but he remains the only man in place to take into account the needs and rights of women (the working girls watch behind the scenes, more authorized than welcome), and although he especially cares to help her buddy Joanie escape Cy’s orbit, it’s a question that could have much wider ramifications if someone answered it. No one does. Tom wants to know what this “has to do with the price of fish”, and Al brings the meeting down to “the correct order of the fucking business” is to “make headlines and departments before the territorial motherfuckers do. send their cousins to steal and steal from us.
Joanie’s trauma and Eddie’s distress are just two notes of concern in an otherwise festive episode. Jane and Doc both try to help the Reverend come to terms with his mental disintegration due to a brain tumor that fills his nose with the smell of rottenness and cuts off his access to the Holy Spirit and his ability to transmit. his life force to others. Looking back at the time, we can clearly see Seth accepting that he cannot act on his attraction to Alma without betraying his wife, his stepson, and his brother’s memory. With that in mind, Ellsworth’s immediate relationship with Alma and Sofia almost makes him look like a surrogate husband / father candidate, on the bridge to replace Seth if Seth decides not to replace Brom. It’s as if the camp anticipated Brom’s murder and gave her an orphan to replace the child she would never have had with Brom, then immediately started auditioning Brom’s replacements: the Emersonian Oversoul. as a dating service.
Joanie’s Walk Through Town is a powerful and subjective film from director Ed Bianchi, which puts us in the mind of a woman trying all over the place to navigate a man’s world. Seeing Flora’s mutilated dress in a corner of the pigsty makes Joanie shiver. A photo of Joanie blurring her white boots is synecdoche for everything she faces. In these scenes, as well as the porch conversations between Seth and Sol, then Seth and Charlie, and the long conversation between Charlie and Jane on the street at night, and Doc’s anguished conversation with the Reverend revealing he was skeptical as for God’s purpose, we feel what we have felt in all of the graveyard footage up to now and in the aftermath of Bill’s death: that feeling of camp as a living being, a sentient field of energy connecting individuals who might not otherwise connect, highlighting commonalities and affinities, shared pleasures and sufferings.
“Don’t fuck to worry About me! ”Jane yells over her shoulder at Charlie, hurtling down the muddy road. Dead wood the music of the hive swells: rattling acoustic guitar, plaintive harmonica. We feel what the beehive spirit feels: affection, compassion, worry. Earlier that day, Charlie told Joanie he didn’t know what had prompted him to rent the building where his freight company now resides. It was the Holy Spirit. It was Deadwood.