Sold Under Sin
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
Written by Tedd Mann
As false dawn enters Deadwood, Al Swearengen is at his usual post at the Gem's balcony, staring out over the nearly silent town. Not far away, Reverend Smith lies in Doc Cochran's office, twisting and talking deliriously. The Doc is clearly upset by the grim spectacle.
A small band of cavalry officers ride into town; Al seems to have expected them. "Tell Johnny brew some coffee, open some peaches," he calls out to Dority. The party includes the Yankton magistrate, Clagett, and General Crook, who is leading a force seeking reprisals against the Indians for Little Big Horn.
As the officers make arrangements to give the troops a respite in town-but not one that will lead them to "balk at re-harness," warns the general-Al seeks a moment with the magistrate. He learns that the bagman Silas Adams has not conveyed his message to the official, so Al is forced to deliver it himself. On the issue of additional bribes to quash the murder warrant, he can go f*ck himself.
Unsure if the double-crossing Adams has double-crossed him, Al makes it clear to Clagett that more is at stake than a few orders. But the magistrate is unfazed: "You can't murder an order, " he says. As the meeting breaks up, Al apparently disagrees. "The f*cking magistrate don't go back to Yankton alive," he says, to no one in particular.
Cochran arrives at the Gem with Jewel's new boot brace and delivers a forceful lecture about reporting any problems. Afterward, he speaks with Swearengen about the reverend, asking him to arrange a girl to care for him, at the doc's expense. Al feigns indifference. "A human being in his last extremity is a bag of shit," he says, but he still accepts the arrangement.
Alma's father Otis offers to handle the "man's work" of mining Alma's claim, but the pretense of paternal warmth is quickly dropped between the two. Russell is in substantial debt again--$47,000 worth-and Alma will bail him out again, or he will create problems in New York. The daughter is horrified, but agrees, with the stipulation that he remove himself-in writing-from the venture. Otis's reply mingles insult and threat, with a razor thin veneer of affection. "No darling, you'll help me, and you'll have no such thing."
Shaking and weeping, she picks up Sophia and rushes from the boarding house, straight to Bullock's store.
Bullock is incensed, more so than Sol has seen before. He demands to speak with Otis Russell, who suavely informs him that it would not look very good if Alma's father was injured by her agent in the wake of her husband's suspicious murder. Blithely condescending to Bullock, he asks him if he was bullied as a youth, since he now seems so interested in setting everyone's business straight. Threatening to lie about Alma's involvement Brom Garret's murder, he dares Bullock to take a swing at him, smugly assuming that Bullock will do no such thing in the middle of Tolliver's casino.
But Russell has misjudged Bullock, who not only strikes the man, but savagely pounds his face until he is left gurgling and spitting teeth on the floor. Finally stopping, he is barely in control. "Leave this camp," he says. "And draw a map for anyone who wants to believe your lies...and tell 'em I'll be here waiting."
Walking out, Bullock sees that Tolliver's efforts at creating hostility toward the Chinese are coming to fruition. Con Stapleton has shot a Chinese citizen who was in an altercation with Leon and the ersatz sheriff is threatening others. Bullock confronts Stapleton and pulls off his badge, throwing it in the mud.
Still incensed, Bullock makes his way to the Gem, and tells Dority that if Otis Russell lives, he's going to end up investigating who did in Brom Garret. Dority asks Seth if he wants him to tell Al that Russell's luck has run out. "I don't swim in that shit," Bullock says. But the two understand each other: "You ought to pin that on your chest," Dority says of the silver star clutched in Bullock's hand. "You're hypocrite enough to wear it."
Wu has gone to Al for help, but the situation is out of Swearengen's hands. "When did you start thinking every wrong had a remedy, Wu?" he yells as the man leaves. "Did you come to camp for justice? Or to make your way?"
Finally settling down, Bullock realizes he has gone too far. "What kind of man have I become?" he asks Sol. "I don't know," he friend replies. "The day ain't fucking over."
At the Gem, Swearengen has problems on every flank. Tolliver's moving on Chinatown and soliciting a garrison of soldiers to help with enforcement. Clagett is threatening to enforce the warrant; Russell could be bringing trouble to town. Dority offers to walk over and take 'em all down at once.
Meanwhile at the Bella Union, General Crook has taken a dim view of Tolliver's plan to garrison troops in town to fight "lawlessness." The offer of $50,000 in gold doesn't change his mind. In fact, his soldiers have already begun deserting to the gold fields and casinos, and the general has decided to bivouac out of town.
Bullock interrupts Crook's dinner to ask him to take Russell under his protection, explaining that he himself is among those who seek to harm him. Impressed by Bullock's story, the general suggests that the former marshal take on the responsibility of sheriff. "We all have bloody thoughts," he says.
Bullock visits Alma and tells her of his conversation with Crook, and says that they will deal with her father later if he decides to act against her interests. With the attraction between them irresistible, Bullock stumbles. "I stand before you a married man....," he says. But the two are soon kissing passionately and undressing.
Trixie takes care of the Reverend, but he is clearly on his last legs. Across town, Doc Cochran is kneeling in anguished prayer, asking for Smith to be taken from his pain, and recalling the hundreds of screams he witnessed on the battlefield. He doesn't know that at that moment, Al has been summoned to the reverend's room. Filled with emotion, he takes Smith in his arms, then holds a cloth over his face to smother him. "You can go now, brother," he says gently.
Wiping his eyes, Al walks upstairs to face other business. The magistrate has arrived, and joining Silas Adams in the Gem's office, it is time to sort out who sides with whom. In short order, Adams cuts Clagett's throat and removes the warrant from the magistrate's pockets.
As the troops muster and leave town, Bullock visits Swearengen. Explaining that Russell is under Crooks' protection, he says he'll be dealt with if he returns. "The way you and Hickok dealt with Ned Mason?" Swearengen surmises. "No," Bullock says. "I'll be the f*cking sheriff."