July 31, 2016


The Series Finale: Hell On Wheels Is ‘Done’

(season 5, ep 14, FINALE)

Five seasons and the railroad is DONE, and so too is the show as “Hell On Wheels” has come to an end. It’s sad as I say good-bye to one of the few Westerns; though recently, it seems that they may be making a bit of a comeback.

This episode opened with the the finality of the railroad and all the hard work and emotions are now left for each character to deal with in their own way.

So how did the characters fare?

For starters: Durant is given a subpoena…

“…on charges of bribery, fraud and corruption.” - Governor

He is to appear in court in Washington.


He also gets a subpoena. They want him to testify against Durant.


He attends a party.

Durant is also at the party. He tells Bohannan that none of the people at the party are Bohannan’s friends. They will turn on Bohannan just like they turned on him. He gives Bohannan the go ahead to testify and says that Grant just wants his scapegoat, which is Durant.


Bohannan can’t bring himself to bury Durant. His only testimony is a repeated phrase:

“The transcontinental railroad could not have been built without Thomas Durant.” - Bohannan

A job offer

Bohannan is offered a job as a colonel in the 4th calvary to protect the railroad from all threats. Sounds like a pretty nice gig.

It looks like he’s going to take it when he’s outside practice shooting with another soldier, someone he’ll be working closely with.

“You got yourself a girlfriend?” - soldier

The soldier then makes the job seem fairly easy. But there's a catch too difficult for Bohannan to snatch up: Killing some Indians and coming back as heroes. This doesn’t sit well with Bohannan, whose developed relationships with some of the Indians. He doesn’t kill people who don’t need killing. And he doesn’t see Indians as automatic bad guys.

He turns down the job and heads west.


This is a nice bookend to how the series started. It began in a confession booth with him murdering the man who murdered his family.

And it ends with him breaking down in confession.

San Fransisco

This is as far west as Bohannan can go while staying on the mainland of America.

And he plans to travel a lot further…

He takes a boat to China. The letter that Mei left for him was an address in China. He’s choosing love and happiness with Mei!


Things don’t go as well for Durant as they did with Bohannan. While scheming for money, he lost the woman he loved a couple of episodes back. And now he’s on the verge of losing his freedom too.

Although, Bohannan didn’t testify against him, Senators, he had bribed over the years, did. 

“The record of history will remember Thomas Durant as a criminal.” - Governor

“I am not interested in the record of history. I’m interested in reality… the one I witnessed with my own eyes, out west.” - Durant

I found the above dialogue interesting since Durant was so focused on ‘history’ in the last episode. He wanted his name as the victor when building the transcontinental railroad, putting Huntington in such a bind that he gave up the glory of the win and handed it to Durant.

Because everyone witnessed Huntington winning the race, not Durant, who rewrote history.


Durant does the right thing and hands Mickey money knowing that with Durant’s pending indictment, Mickey could lose out on a lot of money. Mickey owns shares of Durant’s company, which is sure to take a plunge with Durant’s legal issues.

Mickey is hesitant, angry even. He doesn’t want to be bought out. Durant is doing him a huge favor here, but Mickey can’t see it.

“I am not your father.” - Durant

Mickey lost almost everyone personal to him. In the end, he really only has two people—Eva and Durant. Maybe Durant is like a father figure of a sort.

A long pause, Mickey takes the money.

“I hope you hang.” - Mickey

Regarding Eva, he wants to be with her, but she is not interested. They’re not good for each other, too much fire here.

Mickey give her money. Looks like the same money Durant had given him. And he is on his way to San Fransisco to expand his enterprise. He’s a survivor.


Not sure about her choice here. She has a chance to make some money by writing a book about her time with the Indians. She was sold to Mojave.

And as she reflects, tells her story, she thinks back to the sister Mojave she had grown up with. She decides not to write the book, not to make that paycheck that would help her future.

Instead she rides off into the sunset, probably to go back to her home with her Mojave sister.

This in itself doesn’t really bug me. I like the choice of family. It’s just that I never really got the sense she was wearing the emptiness of not being with her Mojave family. This felt like a missed opportunity to see more of this side of her.


About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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