Deadwood: Season 2 Review

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Ian McShane returns to the daily struggles of whore-house management.


If the first season of this anti-Western pushed boundaries even for HBO, then a second visit to the pioneer town finds profanity and poetry shacked up in the Gem Saloon, minglin’ in a way that would make our good Lord blush. Indeed, as Ian McShane’s monstrous Al Swearengen delivers another profound soliloquy about the virtues of whorin’ ’n’ gamblin’, it’s easy to believe the story that creator David Milch lies on his back to “channel” scripts rather than sit by
a computer. Swearengen still dominates Season 2, but Milch makes sure the canny hotel owner faces greater challenges than ever before — not least a gall stone — as the dark forces gather (very) slowly for a climax both bloody and oddly moving.