'Hell On Wheels' Season 1, Episode 9: 'Timshel' Recap

'Hell on Wheels' sets up the climax for its first season with ‘Timshel,’ offering Bohannan and Elam potential new roads to take after Durant’s railroad finally makes it to the 40-mile mark.

Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannan Hell on Wheels Timshel

At the end of last week’s Hell on Wheels Bohannan, Elam and a small group of Union soldiers were besieged by the Cheyenne, led by Black Moon’s brother Pawnee Killer. While things looked dire for our band of vengeance-seeking soldiers, through some sheer tenacity and creative killing techniques, they managed to thwart off their attackers by rendering them all lifeless.

‘Timshel’ starts off big, with Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears) finally forced to take the life of his violence-loving brother Pawnee Killer (Gerald Auger), and then explaining to Bohannan that in order for anyone to believe that the path of the railroad is safe, the southerner is going to have to take back some “proof.” Of course, Black Moon is referring to the scalps of the fallen Cheyenne, but Bohannan refuses, despite being told the market value for such evidence is running at $20 a piece.

Elam disapproves of Cullen’s desire to let such wealth slip through his fingers and sets himself to the task of scalping – though it doesn’t look as though he’s spent much time cutting the skin off a dead man’s head and is likely wondering if that morning’s breakfast is going to make a surprise return.

Speaking of surprise returns, Mr. Toole (Duncan Ollerenshaw) wanders back into camp to the surprise of everyone after being shot point blank in the face by Elam, the very man Mr. Toole had failed to hang. Apparently, having a piece of hot lead shot out the back of your neck begins the road to salvation, as Mr. Toole comes looking for Elam’s forgiveness. Being a gentleman, Elam also makes the ventilated and repentant hatemonger apologize to his lady friend Eva (Robin McLeavy).

Back at Hell on Wheels, Bohannan approaches the McGinnes brothers who have recently returned from Chicago with freshly tailored suits and some salacious new pictures to show in the reopened ‘Magic Lantern’ tent they are the proprietors of. When asked by Bohannan if by chance their fancy new duds and pictures are the result of some wagering on the fight he lost against Elam, Sean McGinnes (Ben Esler) remains mum, but does offer Bohannan $100 dollars if he’d knock off The Swede.

Of course Bohannan turns Sean down, but does offer him a juicy tidbit of information that The Swede has been stealing from Durant – find evidence of said thievery and Durant himself will gladly run the lanky extortionist out of town, Bohannan tells the entrepreneurial Irishman.

Cullen Bohannan & Elam Hell on Wheels Timshel

The following day, Bohannan fulfills his promise to have reached the 40-mile marker, and to commemorate the occasion, hands over the hammer to Durant, so that he may personally drive the spike in. Afterward, everyone takes to drinking – even Lily Bell – to celebrate the momentous event, and Bohannan sees this as an opportunity to say more than three words to Mrs. Bell that won’t end in her walking away, repulsed by his “manner”.

Unfortunately, the lovelorn Durant, who had his romantic advances spurned by Lily not long ago, eyes the pair as they chat harmlessly at the bar while sipping on some mildly flammable brown liquid. Requesting an audience with Bohannan, the two step outside where Durant makes clear that The Swede has men coming for Bohannan, and that this is his opportunity to escape.

Finally, Black Moon returns to his tent to find Reverend Cole’s daughter, Ruth (Kasha Kropinski), waiting for him. Back at Cole’s tent/makeshift church, Lt. Griggs also returns to camp (arrow wound and all) looking for Black Moon, but with very different intentions than those of Ruth. It’s just not Griggs’ day, however, as he comes across an increasingly unhinged Reverend Cole, who after failing to talk Griggs out of his quest to kill Black Moon, lifts the Lieutenant’s saber from its scabbard and promptly beheads the Union soldier.

Let’s hope Griggs doesn’t come looking for forgiveness next episode. That would be… awkward.


The season finale of Hell on Wheels will air next Sunday @10pm on AMC.

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