Directed by: Walter Hill
Written by: David Milch
"No law at all in Deadwood... is that true?"
Seth Bullock abandons his position as Marshall in the Montana Territory to begin a career as a hardware merchant in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, a burgeoning, lawless gold-rush town set in the heart of Native land. Joining Bullock in the endeavor is his friend Sol Star. Before setting off from Montana, Bullock brings final justice to a horse thief, holding off dangerous mob to give him a legal hanging from a makeshift gallows in front of the sheriff's office.
Also drawn to Deadwood is Wild Bill Hickok, the famed gunfighter and lawman. He travels with his old friend Charlie Utter and the foul-mouthed Calamity Jane. Hickok's reasons for moving to the Black Hills aren't immediately clear, but it's obvious that his very presence in the town sends excitement through its residents.
Upon arriving at Deadwood, Bullock and Star rent a lot on which to open their hardware tent. Their landlord is Al Swearengen, proprietor of the Gem Saloon. Swearengen runs the whisky, women and faro games in Deadwood, and his cold efficiency is demonstrated when he beats Trixie, one of his whores, after she kills a trick in self-defense.
As Bullock and Star's hardware business gets off to a brisk start, Hickok's presence in Deadwood continues to capture the attention of those in the town. Newspaperman A.W. Merrick of the Deadwood Pioneer tries to get some information out of him, but the gunslinger ignores him. Also taking notice is Jack McCall, a man given to sitting in the dark corners of Tom Nuttall's No.10 Saloon. McCall claims not to be impressed by Hickok, and swears to "gut that son of a bitch at poker" whenever he gets a chance. Wild Bill does get into a poker game and winds up on a terrible losing streak. He has recently married, and is trying to earn up enough money to buy a stake with which to support his wife.
Meanwhile Swearengen enlists E.B. Farnum (proprietor of the Grand Central Hotel), along with Tim Driscoll and Dan Dority in a conspiracy to dupe East Coast dude Brom Garrett into buying a pinched-out gold claim. Brom gushes about his purchase to his wife Alma, who is supportive, but dealing with the difficulties of her situation with steady doses of laudanum. The conspiracy deepens as Swearengen has Doherty kill Driscoll to ensure his silence.
News of a massacre arrives in Deadwood: the entire Metz family, a man says, has been killed by Indians. When pressed, the man says he saw two dead children, but townspeople say the Metz family had three children. Hickok puts together a party, including Bullock, to look for the missing child. Fearing a major disruption of business, Swearengen offers up free alcohol and discounted sex to those that stay behind with him.
The party finds the third Metz girl, but she's unconscious and hovering near death. They take her back to Deadwood, dropping her off with Doctor Cochran. Hickok and Bullock then confront the man who originally brought the news of the massacre, accusing him of staging the raid in order to line his own pockets. The man draws his gun, but is shot dead. As the violence outside comes to a conclusion, Swearengen goes to bed with a bruised Trixie - unsettled by what he's seen in the streets.