With the way “Hell On Wheels” returned on Saturday (June 11), one would think the pending showdown between Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) and Tor Gunderson (Christopher Heyerdahl) — better known as the Swede — would be a bloody epic one. Yet, the catharsis fans were looking for ended up coming in a long, drawn out bottle episode that finally put an end to this plot line that AMC has been stringing along for the past five seasons.
So how did it all go down? After Gunderson went off the rails on the mormons in the Season 5A finale, he went to wreak havoc on Bohannon’s wife and family. Pretty much slaughtering everyone, except Naomi (MacKenzie Porter), their baby boy and Isaac Vinson (Toby Hemingway), what transpired was a let-down of a cat and mouse chase as the Swede chased Mrs. Bohannon into the woods. Needless to say, it could’ve turned into an amazing climax to this story but the episode, titled “Two Soldiers,” ended up literally shooting those possibilities right in the leg.
Sure, Gunderson injured Bohannon and the two had it out in the river but mere seconds away from taking the murderous Norwegian’s life, Cullen let’s him go. Instead of stooping to his level, the goal instead was to bring the man to justice and watch him hang. Great, Bohannon was taking the high road. Yet, we then we were treated to 30 minutes of eye-roll worthy odd-bonding as the two men traveled through the desert together.
It’s probably safe to say these two were enemies in the same sense that, say, Batman and the Joker are enemies. Yet, as difficult as it was for Bohannon to put the Swede down, it finally happened. Finally.
Watching the man dangle like that in front of the crowd of soldiers did bring an odd sense of closure in the sense that we finally didn’t have to watch this storyline play out any longer. What started as a very intriguing rivalry in Season 1 ended up turning into a gross — seriously, how long did the camera need to stay on him as he swung? — and pathetic remnant of the remaining conflict.
It did come down to that, though. As much as Bohannon has attempted to take the high road, at his core he is still a soldier. Given a glimpse into Gunderson’s backstory, it became evident that these men were simply two sides to the same coin. Thankfully, we won’t need to see it get flipped anymore.
“Hell On Wheels” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.