THE SOUNDSCAPES INSIDE – A Musical Juncture in Hell on Wheels

At the conclusion of the second episode of AMC’s ongoing sophomore season of Hell on Wheels, Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) returns to the railroad camp that he left effectively as an outlaw at the end of Season One. There is a feeling of greater permanence to the camp – which now includes wooden buildings – due to its function both as base for the upcoming construction of a railway bridge and as a larger community.

Railroad impresario Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) has used his extensive government connections to rescue Bohannon from lethal punishment for actions between the end of Season One and this point in the series. Durant needs Bohannon’s leadership skills – honed thru service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War – to ensure that the Union Pacific railroad is the first transcontinental railroad to link the Eastern US with the American West.

Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) Returns – AMC Image

Episode director Adam Davidson makes use of a 1930 blues song in the final scene to great effect. The track is “Soul of a Man”, by Blind Willie Johnson, and the version used in the episode was recorded by David Lindley. The song plays as Bohannon makes his way to new living quarters and he is seen by a number of the main characters of the show. For those who are familiar with the Hell on Wheels narrative arc thus far, this segment gives resonance to the individual story-lines that the characters viewed in this scene represent. For those new to the show, the scene is useful for its introduction of those characters and an initial sense of the back-story of each. The scene is a narrative juncture set to a music choice that powerfully frames the return of Bohannon to the railroad community.

This second episode of the current season was watched by 2.31 million viewers. The second season – which premiered August 12th – will run for 10 episodes on AMC with the next installment on Sunday, September 2nd at 9 (EST).

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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