INTO THE WEST – Parallel Tracks with AMC’s Hell on Wheels

This coming Sunday, September 23rd, the fourth episode of the epic historical mini-series Into the West will parallel in both title name and content the show that it leads directly into on the AMC network – Hell on Wheels.

Since September 2nd, AMC has been screening the acclaimed six-episode Into the West series each Sunday at 7pm (EST). Each installment is two hours in length and follows the story of two families – one Indigenous, one Euro-American – as they are affected and connected by US expansion westward in the 19th century. The series mixes both historical and fictional characters within its story-lines.

Into the West was originally broadcast in 2005 on the TNT network and was produced by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios.

In episode four of the series, one of the members of the featured Euro-American family (the Wheelers) joins the construction gang of the Central Pacific railroad. The Central Pacific – launching from Sacramento toward the east – is in a race with the westward-building Union Pacific to connect the continent by rail. It is the Union Pacific of the historical Thomas Durant (played by Colm Meaney) that is featured on AMC’s weekly series Hell on Wheels – that show launched in November 2011 and is in its second season.

The character of Abe Wheeler will establish a friendship with one of the Chinese workers employed by the Central Pacific and Wheeler works on the railroad until the “last spike” is driven on May 10, 1869 in Utah. The joining of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific that day creates the first transcontinental railroad in North America. That date also marks one of the first mass media events – the word “done” was sent by telegraph across the US as the last ceremonial spike was driven.

Photo – May 10, 1869 – Birth of the Transcontinental Railroad

Another of the Wheeler family, Daniel, works with the Central Pacific to promote new towns along the railway so as to squeeze profits from the pockets of new arrivals to the towns. Daniel’s son, Robert, while working as his father’s assistant comes to oppose the exploitative approach of Wheeler Sr. The completion of the railway will see father and son part ways.

It is interesting to note that AMC’s Hell on Wheels – as of Season Two / Episode Six – is currently set in the spring of 1866 as the Union Pacific crew, led by former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), works to construct a historically-true railway bridge in western Nebraska. The 2005 Into the West episode that precedes the new Hell on Wheels episode this Sunday offers in effect, a “back to the future” opportunity for viewers of AMC’s weekly railway drama.

Episode Seven of the ongoing second season of Hell on Wheels will debut Sunday, September 23rd, at 9pm (EST) on AMC. Railroad impresario Durant has been wounded during a thwarted robbery of his payroll and Bohannon and Durant’s professional assistant (and personal confidant), Lily Bell (Dominique McElligott), are left to lead the construction of the railway. The following is an inside look (supplied by AMC) at the September 23rd episode:

Further episode info and viewing times for AMC’s showcase of Into the West can be found at this link: Into the West  The AMC’s network site for Hell on Wheels is at: Hell on Wheels

The second season of Hell on Wheels will run for a total of ten episodes.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

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