When Hell on Wheels‘ previous episode ended Sidney Snow was laying in the street having been shot by Ruth and as this week’s episode, Bleeding Kansas opens, Snow is still alive and Cullen must rush to save the homicidal lawman to keep the woman from becoming a murderer. Bohannan packs Snow’s wounds with coffee grounds and runs to get Durant who initially refuses until he realizes that if Sidney dies Ruth will hang. Despite his reluctance “Doc” rushes to the Hotel where Snow lies wounded.
As Ruth stands in front of the store where she shot Snow, the woman has a flashback to her father killing slavers when she was a small girl. Durant stems the bleeding in Sidney’s torso but the man’s artery in his leg is “shredded” and the only choice is to cut the limb off. John Campbell acts true to form and tells Bohannan that Ruth will hang if Snow dies and Cullen tells the man the town will not put up with it.
Mickey’s cousin Dandy Johnny Shea shows up to take over the running of the saloon. Before the sheriff can have his leg sawed off, he attempts to shoot Cullen who took the precaution of unloading the pistol. As Eva, Maggie, Doc and Cullen prepare Snow, the former sheriff begins to beg them to leave his leg on, swearing that he will leave and they’ll “never see me again.” Sid does not understand that they have no choice and if they leave the leg on he will die and even though Durant believes Campbell will not hang Ruth for murder, Cullen says that he will not take the chance.
Meanwhile Mickey and his cousin Johnny go over to confront Campbell and the man who beat McGinnes when he was tied up. Campbell is still making plans to arrest and hang Ruth if Snow dies despite Bohannan warning him off. Shea viciously gouges the governor’s deputy’s eye out and after putting it in his mouth spits it at his victim. Ruth remembers her father, Reverend Cole and how the press vilified him for killing the slavers. In Hell on Wheels, Bleeding Kansas, the blood flows in the saloon and the hotel as one man is violently attacked and another has his leg sawed off. Durant tells Snow, before they begin that “this will hurt like hell.”
After bloodily removing Snow’s leg, Cullen has to use the saw after Durant cuts through the flesh, neither Eva nor Ruth appreciate that he has saved Sidney’s life. Cullen and Durant talk after Bohannan speaks with Sid who asks him where he thinks men “like us” go when they die, the implication being that it will be hell. Doc reveals that he is not really a doctor at all and that after Bohannan dies now one will remember him at all.
Despite the surgery, Snow bleeds to death and Ruth has another flashback to her childhood and talking with her father about vengeance. Once Sidney dies Cullen has to arrest Miss Cole and she tells him that the only thing she liked more than shooting Sid was learning that he was dead. Hell on Wheels, Bleeding Kansas is easily the bloodiest show of this season. The table where Snow is operated on is awash with blood and it spills onto the floor, Bohannan actually slips on it when he goes to get the saw. Campbell looks ready to ignore Alice and Cullen’s warning about the town not putting up with Ruth hanging for Sid’s murder. Next week on the series may be when the “acting governor” steps over the line. Hell on Wheels airs Saturdays on AMC.
By Michael Smith