Is That Your Littlefinger, or are You Just Happy to See Me?

The theme to Game of Thrones was composed by Ramin Djawadi. According to Apple Music, the title is called, “Main Title.” This isn’t very original. Then again, no one asked me. If they had, I wouldn’t have given a peasant’s shit, because I wasn’t a fan of Game of Thrones up until about three months ago.

That said, another perfectly acceptable theme song for this epic series could have been lifted from the Mel Brooks musical, The 12 Chairs:

“Hope for the best,
Expect the worst.
Some drink champagne,
Some die of thirst.
No way of knowing
Which way it’s going.
Hope for the best,
Expect the worst.”

Those lyrics perfectly encapsulate the central themes of this epic series about war, sex, dragons, more sex, more war, family, more sex, political nihilism, more sex and a little magic thrown in there.

Now, I won’t try to recap Game of Thrones, because even those who aren’t fans of the show have a basic understanding of what it’s about. Like its predecessor, Harry Potter, Thrones was a cultural black hole that swallowed everything else in its orbit. Sufficed to say, it’s about a mythical world where several large and powerful houses compete to sit on the Iron Throne. It’s kind of like a grand reality television show, but with dragons, swords, graphic sex, medieval sensibilities and no Donald Trump.

My purpose in writing this is to address the conclusion of the show. When it aired on May 19 of this year, I was probably about half way through the fourth season. Yet, I couldn’t help being spoiled. My choices were either to be spoiled on the ending, or to avoid Facebook and Twitter for a solid month. Since I am a pathetic, shameless social media whore, I chose to be spoiled.

What sparked my desire to write this was a petition on the internet that actually *demands* that the powers that be rewrite and reshoot the final season of Game of Thrones. This is due to overwhelmingly negative feedback from fans over the trajectory of the final story of Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister and especially, Daenerys Targaryen.

The ire of the fans is mostly righteous. The entirety of the season was not true to the original spirit of the series as envisioned by the author of the source novels, George R. R. Martin. The plotting was rushed and sloppy, the character notes rang false and the sex wasn’t nearly as gratuitous as it was in previous seasons. In short, it blew great big dragon balls! That said, the fans have about as much chance of getting a do-over of the final season as Tyrion would have trying to successfully peg The Mountain.

Look, you little wussbags just need to relax and get the fuck over yourselves. I loved The Sopranos and invested five years of my life in it. The black screen pissed me off too. But I celebrated the series by inviting my ex-girlfriend over to my apartment and nailing her on the kitchen floor. I got up, wiped off and moved on with my life. I know some of you reading this who are of the feminist persuasion, and who are pickled in your own bitter bile of rage of the ultimate fate of Dany, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains and Fucker of Nephews, may not be able to relate to my decidedly masculine perspective on the virtues of impulsive kitchen sex as a soul-cleanser, but give it a try sometime.

You know who really needs to get laid? Some guy on YouTube named, Think Story. He actually took the trouble to rewrite the final season of the show in his head. Then, he posted it on YouTube, where it currently has 4,871,306 views. So that’s nearly five million nerds, geeks, angry feminists and a few amateur film critics who could be spending their energy burning calories with some Shae equivalent, rather than signing some internet petition that has less value than a spent condom.

So this guy rewrites the season. I won’t recap the whole thing because you can look it up for yourselves if you’re that desperate. In short, in Think Story’s version, the White Walkers win the battle of Winterfell and lay siege to King’s Landing. Dany doesn’t go mad, but kills the Night King and becomes queen, Jon Snow dies heroically in the final battle, Jaime kills Cersei, who was faking her pregnancy all along, Arya gets wounded, and Brienne never gets laid by anybody. Oh yeah…and Eleeria Sand (anyone remember her?) plays some part in it all, but…ahh, screw it!

No offense, Mr. Think Story, but I would’ve had about as much fun watching your version of the finale as Tywin Lannister would’ve had at an Occupy Braavos protest.

There are two main problems with Mr. Story’s Kelvin timeline version. One is that, no matter what they do, The White Walkers will always be the most boring characters on Thrones; with the possible exception of Bran the Broken. Yes yes yes, I know they were in the books and are therefore part of the GRRM source material, but there was absolutely nothing compelling about them. The Night King was a dull, uninspired villain who felt like a knockoff of The Walking Dead. Whether they were vanquished at Winterfell or King’s Landing, The White Walkers had not built up enough emotional capital to serve as a satisfying final antagonist for the ultimate conflict of the series.

This leads me to the second reason why Mr. (or is it Mrs?), Story’s scenario. It was even less true to the original spirit of the series than was the hot mess cooked up in a cauldron by Benioff and Weiss.

Look, if I were David and D. B., I’d be embarrassed. I mean, really humiliated. We’re talking Reek territory here. The GOT crowd wants their heads on a spike, and they did themselves no favors with the Star Wars crowd. They seemed to forget the basic idea that the central appeal of Game of Thrones is not the magic, or monsters, or even the sex. It was the machinations, manipulations and perfidy that occurred between the human characters in an effort to rest power from one house to another. My earlier commentary about reality television wasn’t based entirely in jest. Thrones really was a competition to see who the ultimate winner would be. The White Walkers, The Dornish, The Brotherhood, The House of Black and White and all of the other B-plots were instrumental in world-building, but they were mere trappings that served as obstacles along the path toward the final goal. And that goal was The Iron Throne.

That’s what makes the arc of Daenerys Targaryen so tragic. She probably would’ve been a better ruler than Robert Baratheon, or Cersei Lannister, or maybe even Jon Snow, but the seeds of her own destruction were planted centuries before her birth. The only way for fans who want to impose their politics on their pop culture would come to realize that is to watch innocent men, women and children burn under an onslaught of dragon fire. The way David and D. B. handled it was inexcusable, but the end goal was legitimate. Dany ultimately learned the same harsh lesson that many real world tyrants, and many male fictional characters such as Darth Vader and Michael Corleone have learned to their detriment. In the words of Lord Acton, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Like it or not, the universe carefully constructed by Mr. Martin is based on a deep cynicism. That doesn’t mean that individuals can’t find happiness within his giant wheel of misery, but most folks are destined to be crushed under it. If a benevolent ruler like Jon Snow, or even Tyrion Lannister, were to seize power for a while, it would serve only as a rest bit until Gendry decides that his papa had the right idea. The whole notion of a democracy with Bran the Broken as a king in partial absentia and Tyrion as his hand is just fake butter on stale movie theater popcorn. Arya the Explorer, Jon Snow the Wildling King and Sansa the drop-out queen may feel good, but they are about as realistic as The Hound in a corset.

Sidebar: Have you guys ever watched behind-the-scenes videos where Benioff and Weiss give commentary? It’s very telling. I mean it. Go watch interviews with David Chase, Vince Gilligan or David Simon. If you have two weeks to spare, go watch David Milch. Those guys are really smart guys who understand the universes they created. This doesn’t mean that the creator of an alternate world can’t fuck up his own recipe. Ronald D. Moore is Exhibit A in the bed-wetting department. But Benioff and Weiss are clearly as mentally capable as Hodor on an abacus. Without George Martin’s source material, their grayscale of the brain becomes obvious through clunky dialogue, contrived situations and climaxes steeped in Stevia.

Look, I’m not a hypocrite. As a wannabe author, I sometimes rewrite stories in my head. I too have ideas of what would’ve made the Thrones finale better. In my version, George R. R. Martin gets off the podium at whatever comic nerdfest he’s lecturing at in between glasses of wine and lobster tail drenched in real butter, and he writes the rest of the Goddamn story!

As for Thrones, we’re stuck with it. We’ve got six seasons of excellent television and two subpar seasons to wrap it up. As far as the final story itself, I would’ve done two things differently. I would’ve flip-flopped the killings done by Jon Snow and Arya Stark. Let Jon take out The Night King, and let Arya kill Dany. Had I watched the show in real time, that would’ve been my prediction based on Arya’s exit from the smoldering ruins of King’s Landing on her horse. Arya’s assassination of Dany would’ve been a fitting end to Dany’s character, all while paying tribute to the show’s ability to subvert expectations during the Martin years. Besides, who doesn’t like a little girl-on-girl action? I’m sure Littlefinger would have smiled from one of the seven hells.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to my favorite character on Thrones, Jaime Lannister. I really do feel that he had the most satisfying arc of any of them. He was a callow, incestuous, child-murdering, entitled twat when we first met him, but even before he lost his hand, we began to see the man of honor underneath. Once he became disabled and began to be rejected by his family, his true character shown through. His journey parallels that of Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad. Both men were pompous jerks at the beginning, but after they faced a life-altering disability, we learn that they were men of honor at their core. Yet, once again I have to disagree with Think Story. Jaime’s actions in season eight were the only ones I found true to character. Despite his honor, and despite the fact that she had shunned him, he loved his sister. In the world of GOT, emotion trumps all. His choice to try to rescue Cersei, and ultimately to die with her, was perfectly in character.

In closing, I should say that Think Story has millions of viewers. This blog entry will probably get two hits; Mags and maybe…maybe Dana, if she’s bored enough.

Hi, Danamonster. And hi to my other GOT buddy, whom I don’t want to embarrass by naming on this conservative-based website.

I’m off to bed. The night is dark, and full of terrors, like the next three Star Wars movies.

Hell on Ice

I wonder if any of you reading this have ever experienced real terror. I don’t mean the kind of terror you feel while watching The Walking Dead, or riding the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. I’m talking about genuine, piss-your-pants terror, in which you are suddenly forced to confront your own mortality. It might be the kind of terror a reporter would experience in a war zone, or that of a police officer confronted by a mass shooter with an upraised gun.

I experienced such terror on February 19, 2018, one day after my 43rd birthday.

I did not hear of the harsh weather conditions on the radio because it was tuned to KOA out of Denver. My first hint that things were amiss came as I exited my apartment building to go to work and slid across the wooden front porch toward the steps. Still, I felt that I had the situation under control.

That self-assurance evaporated as I walked down the steps, slipped, and collapsed in a heap like a sack full of used kitty litter. My white cane went flying from my hand and I scrambled on the slippery ground, trying to retrieve it and get my feet back under me. It was a monumental effort. Sure, I’d fallen many times before, but this was the first time that every single surface was covered by a glaze of ice.

Eventually, I found my cane, got up and began to walk down the middle of the street to the bus stop.

Let me correct my last statement. The place where I pick up the Metro bus is not officially a designated bus stop. It’s a spot along the street where the bus drivers very charitably ignore Metro policy and pick me up, so that I will not have to walk in the street for a block-and-a-half to the actual bus stop. The walk is hazardous because there are no sidewalks along the route to the bus stop; only sloping grass and a curb that indicates the street.

So, I collected myself and off I went, trying to recall what an O&M instructor once told me about walking on ice. I think he told me to keep my knees slightly bent and to slide my feet, rather than taking actual footsteps. I tried this approach and was about as elegant as an elephant on a balance beam. Twice more, I fell before I got to the intersection of my street. Twice more I hefted my considerable bulk and soldiered onward to my intended destination.

Finally, I made it to the street crossing that I had to forge in order to catch the bus to work. I lined myself up, waited for a break in traffic and started across…

… And almost immediately, went down again. My cane flew out of my hand and rolled away. I began scrambling for it, but couldn’t find it. I tried to get up, but couldn’t regain my footing. Every time I managed to become half-upright, I would slam back down on to my hands and knees on the icy pavement.

And then, I heard the car rolling toward me. It didn’t sound as if it were slowing down. I scrambled like a gerbil on a hot griddle, but couldn’t seem to get any traction. The car rolled closer, then sounded as if it hit the brakes. I heard the unmistakable sound of tires skidding on wet pavement. I knew I was dead.

The two thoughts that flashed through my head like hurriedly-sent texts were:

God, don’t let Mags end up in a shelter!!! Please let one of my friends take her!!!


Why the hell didn’t I just take Amy to bed that night after my house-warming party?

It’s funny what we think about in times of mortal peril.

The next thing I remember was a lady’s voice saying, “Sir, you look like you’re having a hard time.”

“No shit!” I bellowed.

“Can I help you up?”

“Yeah!” I said. I threw my hand up, she grabbed it, hoisted me to my feet and helped me over to the curb.

“Here’s your stick,” she said. I felt such relief at holding my cane again that I didn’t bother to correct her on the terminology. It’s called a cane, not a stick.

“Can I help you get somewhere?” she asked.

“Nah, I’m good,” I said.

“You sure?” she asked.

“Actually, can you help me across the street? I’m gonna catch the bus.”

She took my hand and walked with me across the street. I don’t remember if I thanked her properly or not. She got in her car and drove away. I didn’t think to ask her for her name. I couldn’t look at her car to note its description, or memorize her license plate number. My head was full of an odd buzzing sound; actually more of a sensation than a sound. It seemed to reverberate throughout my whole body, making the tips of my fingers and toes vibrate like a tuning fork. After she was gone, I sheepishly felt the front of my pants, not certain if the moisture was entirely that of melted ice.

I waited for 20 minutes, but the bus never showed. So, I clinched my sphincter extra tight and skated back home, aided this time by another resident from my apartment complex who just happened to see me flailing around in the street.

When I moved from Denver to Omaha in October of 2017, I knew there would be adjustments. I knew the cost of living was lower. I knew public transit sucked. As a native Nebraskan, I knew that the winters were more brutal than those in Colorado. But I was not prepared for the lack of sidewalks in my living area.

In Denver, you can walk almost anywhere. Convenient to me in my neighborhood in Denver were all of the necessities; a bank, a grocery store, a vet for my cat, a post office, and at least half a dozen restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Here in Omaha, my coworker informs me that sidewalks become more and more scarce once you get west of 72nd Street. I live within walking distance of Westroads, but can’t walk there due to lack of a pedestrian-friendly route. Once a month, I attend meetings of our local NFB chapter at the Swanson Library, located only a few blocks from my home, but I can’t walk there because most of the trip would be in the street. Some NFB hard-liners would read this and say, “Just shoreline the curb, dumbass!” I tried that at first, but many drivers came way too close for comfort. When I learned cane travel in the early ‘80’s, I was taught how to navigate streets where sidewalks were not present. That was long before the existence of terms such as, “Distracted driving.”

Even so, curb-hugging is all well and good in the warmer months, but what about winter?

Imagine walking in my neighborhood last February, when we got one snowstorm on top of another and the drifts were piled high along the curbs. Sometimes, they can push me out into the middle of the road. Then, there’s the time of thawing, when we get slush. Cars drive by and I often get an unwanted shower, courtesy of their spinning tires.

Worse yet, the problem extends to my apartment complex. We don’t have sidewalks here either. We only have islands of grass that serve as boundaries for parked cars. When I first toured the facility, it never occurred to me to ask the manager if they had sidewalks or not. It just seemed like it would be good common sense to have them. Now, every day, come snow, rain or shine, I walk in the street to catch the bus.

The absence of sidewalks may seem a small quibble to all of those who have the privilege of driving automobiles, but I can testify that it carries a real impact on those of us for whom walking serves as a primary means of conveyance. It is far easier to either take a bus, or more often than not, to call for a Lyft or an Uber to take me a short distance to a meeting, to the mall, to dinner, etc. The problem has become so enormous, and my sense of isolation has grown so vast that I find it necessary to move from my complex when my lease expires.

There are other reasons, of course, the most glaring being that of the family of raccoons that lives part time above my head.

… But that’s another subject for a future blog entry.

In conclusion, let me deliver a heartfelt thank you to the kind soul who stopped and helped the struggling blind guy regain his feet on the cold winter morning of February 19, 2018, at the intersection of Burt Street and North 94th Plaza. Thanks to you, I got to celebrate my 44th birthday this year. I apologize if I spoke rudely to you and didn’t properly express my gratitude. God bless. The meager staff of the Radio Talking Book Service thanks you as well. Without your kindly interference, they would have had to start another search for a new station manager.


“No One Gets Out Alive”

Last October, I took the time to write a blog entry about Deadwood the series, followed up by an entry in which I expressed eager anticipation for its return in Deadwood, The Movie. Well, it aired last night and, thanks to my friend Dana, I was able to watch it in real time through her HBO app, sans a television in my house. Here are my initial impressions:

First, it behooves us to ponder the usefulness of sequels. In my mind, a sequel, prequel, spin-off, reboot, or in Deadwood’s case, a revival, only has two creatively valid purposes. One is to break new ground by telling a new story, or by effectively building upon the mythology that the initial story created. Think of successful sequels such as The Empire Strikes Back, or The Godfather Part II.

The other reason to make a sequel is purely for fan service. If the fans love it and want it to continue, go for it. We all love a good story. In my view, reason number two pales in the shadow of number one. People are always going to want more of something they like, even if it isn’t good for them.

Of course, Hollywood’s main reason for making sequels, prequels, spin-offs and the like has nothing to do with either of the above. It wants to make money. That’s why our culture is engorged with 10,000 Marvel movies, 2,000 Star Trek movies and TV episodes, and we’ll soon have 50,000 Star Wars movies. Story potential for these franchises was exhausted years ago, but like the villain of Deadwood, George Hearst, Hollywood can’t help itself, so it keeps going on and on in perpetuity. This means that they have to keep recycling the same story over and over again with new polish on an old car. Think Rocky, Home Alone, Die Hard, etc.

Deadwood was not a money-maker, though at the time, it was the most expensive TV series being produced. It did not generate ratings that would translate into revenue for HBO. Nor did it generate the kind of commercial or mainstream buzz that enveloped office coffee machines around The Sopranos, Sex and the City and especially, Game of Thrones. It was sadly telling that I found many reviews on the Deadwood movie from the usual suspects such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone and Slate in the days leading up to the movie, but there was nary a word about it from the common folk on Twitter and Facebook, who had been in an angry buzz over the Game of Thrones series finale nearly two weeks hence. We can certainly blame the passage of time for this, but I think you’ll see much more excitement from the hoopalhead crowd when the Breaking Bad movie comes out. The reasons are stark and obvious. Deadwood was a niche show, adored by stuck-up cosmopolitan critics and a small-but-vocal band of devoted fans like me. It’s meandering narrative style and dense, complex language made it inaccessible to mainstream fans who found The Sopranos and Game of Thrones far more digestible.

Why then make a movie after 13 years of silence? The answer seems to be, unfinished business.

Clearly, there was more story to be told within the universe of David Milch’s historically revisionist drama. Like Wild Bill Hickok, The series was killed before its time and history provided a road map that Milch could adopt or discard at his whims. In its original series form, it was good for at least three more seasons, though it likely would have only run for one more before Milch, “Got off the bus,” as he put it.

But history rendered its judgment, fingers got leveled, tempers flared, every cocksucker abandoned the table with nothing but their pride, and the expensive sets came down. So the only reason to resurrect it was, because that small band of adoring fans and critics wanted it.

HBO certainly wants to make money, but they also have a habit of sometimes lending their might to projects that transcend mere monetary value. It wasn’t out of character for them to give Deadwood one more breath of life so that it could offer a proper farewell to its fans.

So, did Deadwood, The Movie, accomplish the goal of telling a new story with the same old characters? Did we get Daddy Vader, or Mr. T? My answer is…a little of both. Did it adequately service the fans who wanted more? My answer is an enthusiastic, hell yeah!!!

I started leaking at the first sound of Calamity Jane’s voice. It was not the last time I lost it. On Facebook afterward, I wondered if my reaction to the conclusion was because the movie was just that great, or because I suffer from a touch more emotional incontinence as I age. As I reflect upon the final sojourn of Al Swearengen, Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, Charlie Utter, Trixie and the rest of the cast of this fine series, I do tend to think the answer is due to the latter.

Don’t get me wrong… It was a wonderful feeling spending time once again with characters whom I’d come to know and love 13 years ago, and whom I occasionally revisit. I was glad they got a send-off. We fans spent years patiently waiting and eventually, not believing that we’d ever get that movie we’d been promised. Anything surpassing Seth reading bedtime stories to his kids, or Al and Calamity Jane playing poker, would have been welcome.

That said, the movie did have its flaws; some of them quite glaring.

If you will consult my earlier entry, I wondered how the movie would treat Doc Cochran, who had been stricken as a “lunger” in the third and final season of the show. Tuberculosis was a death sentence to most anyone who contracted it in 19th century America. In the movie, not only did Doc survive, but he seemed completely healthy and normal. Not only was this not addressed in the movie, but no reviewer (of whom I read plenty), seemed to catch this obvious discrepancy. “Nobody gets out alive, Doc,” Al tells him during a coughing fit in the show’s third season. Apparently, Doc did get out alive. Others were not so lucky. What else would we expect when George Hearst comes to town?

The main thrust of the plot did seem to be a rehash of the third season. Hearst, now a senator from California, comes back to Deadwood and wants to appropriate Charlie Utter’s land so that he can string telephone wires across it. As was the case in season three, Hearst proves to be a predatory capitalist, who only knows how to grab everything he wants like a child. If he can’t get it by coercive bargaining, he tries to obtain it through violent means. In the third season, his primary conflict was with Alma Garret-Ellsworth, who refused to sell him her gold mine until the final episode. Alma’s second husband Ellsworth proved to be a casualty of their war of wills.

In the movie, Charlie Utter, former friend of the deceased legend, Wild Bill Hickok, wound up dead from bullets from two assassins dispatched by Hearst. Ultimately, Seth Bullock challenges Hearst and prevails, even though more bodies fall in their ensuing conflict, including Samuel ‘The Nigger General’ Fields. Hearst goes to jail, but we are left with the sense that he will likely walk yet again.

Aside from the obvious recycled conflict, I find its genesis problematic.

In the series finale, Trixie, Al’s former favorite prostitute, shoots Hearst in the shoulder in retribution for his murder of Ellsworth. Hearst survives and agrees to leave town, but demands that Trixie be murdered as a consequence. Since Al favors Trixie, he kills a different prostitute in Trixie’s stead. Hearst did not get a good look at Trixie when she shot him, so Al’s gamble works and Hearst leaves Deadwood amidst vocal rebukes from the town citizenry.

10 years later, Trixie is pregnant with Sol Star’s child. When Hearst comes to town to celebrate South Dakota’s official entrance into the Union, Trixie gives into an angry fit and berates him in her customary acid-tongued fashion from her balcony as he passes by. This, of course, raises Hearst’s suspicions, thereby causing him to demand that Charlie Utter surrender his land in exchange for Hearst’s forgiveness of Trixie. When Charlie refuses to sell, he gets dead, and things escalate from there.

I don’t buy for a second that Trixie would dishonor the dead whore’s sacrifice (her name was Jenn, by the way), and put her future baby and marriage in jeopardy by calling out Hearst as she did. Trixie was my second favorite character because of her sharp tongue and irascible manner, but she wasn’t a fool. I believe that impending motherhood and the welfare of the community of Deadwood, which Al killed Jenn to protect, would have suppressed her fiery temper. A moving scene between Trixie and Al late in the movie illustrates extreme survivor’s guilt on Trixie’s part over Jenn’s death, which lead to her serious lapse in judgment. I just don’t buy it. I believe she felt guilty, but I think she would recognize that the burden she carried was not hers alone.

There is a subplot involving the romance between Jane and Joanie Stubbs, but it feels hollow. Apparently, Cy Tolliver left Joanie his saloon when he died, but the circumstances are barely mentioned. I’m not sure I buy that Joanie would take anything Cy gave her, as she was trying to break free of him at the end of the series. Even so, what was to prevent Al from waltzing across the street and bargaining with Joanie once Cy had been declared dead? He may have grown soft in his old age, but he was still a pragmatic businessman.

Some fans criticize the fact that Al had relatively little to do in the movie. With respect, that was the fuckin’ point. Al tries to keep his finger on the pulse as he did in his prime, but his diminished capacity causes him to be shunted to the side, allowing Seth to take center stage.

Years of drinking and whoring had worn away Al, finally taking a toll on his liver. Remember also that he was afflicted by a stroke after suffering from a kidney stone that almost cost him his life in the second season. It is perfectly credible that, 10 years later, he would be on death’s doorstep. Some fans wanted him to go out in a blaze of glory, killing Hearst (and himself in the process) in order to save Trixie and the town. Again, with respect, that is not what Deadwood was all about. I found Al’s final scene, passing away quietly in his bed, being tended to by his close friends, far more true and fitting for the end of Al’s story arc than I did the shoot-out between Bullock and Hearst’s mercenaries.

Like it or not, Al Swearengen served as the heart and soul of the budding community of Deadwood. More than any other character, he symbolized its journey from a lawless, violent camp to a thriving town. He began as a cut-throat crime boss who abused his women, killed his disobedient underlings and hurled racial insults at any non-white person within his vicinity. By the end of the movie, he was gently urging Sol Star to run for political office and offering to leave Trixie his saloon.

Like Breaking Bad, Deadwood is the story of change. Unlike Breaking Bad, which showed the decay of one man’s soul, Deadwood shows that healthy change can be wrought through redemption and forgiveness. Seth Bullock begins the series as a man filled with rage at injustices he sees all around him. By the end, he is a husband, a father and an upstanding member of his community. The brief scene he shares with Alma demonstrates that their feelings for each other still smolder, but Seth remains a good man who stays loyal to his wife and honors his commitment to his family. Trixie becomes a mother and a wife. Charlie Utter dies defending the land that he worked so hard to cultivate. Others in the community, such as Tom Nuttall, continue to lead quiet, normal lives.

Not everyone changes. Jane is still an alcoholic vagabond, adrift on a sea of her own insecurities. Joanie appears to struggle with substance abuse and E. B. Farnum…well, he’ll always be E. B. Farnum. Hearst is also the same purple villain that drives the plot, showing less nuance than many of Milch’s other creations.

Yet, it is heartening to watch Al pass quietly, knowing that, whatever storms may pass over Deadwood, those whom he cared for in his own curmudgeonly way, are safe. That alone made the movie worth the watch.

I did have to chuckle at certain points. Many characters got very little to do. I knew that would be the case going in. Alma Garret-Ellsworth had little more than a cameo in the movie, though this was due to conflicts in Molly Parker’s own work schedule. Anna Gunn only had one or two scenes as Martha Bullock. Each time I heard her speak, I was struck at how much more like Skyler White she sounded. Tim Olyphant too had much more Raylan Givens in his delivery than he did pre-Justified. On the other hand, Calamity Jane seemed as if she’d never left the role.

At the end of the day, I liked the movie a lot. I didn’t love it. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s possible to ever wrap up a series in a satisfactory manner. Fans of Game of Thrones don’t seem to think so. Maybe finales such as that of The Shield and Breaking Bad are more of an anomaly than a real possibility. Yet, I will re-watch Deadwood, The Movie. Every two years or so, when I break out the series for a re-run, I will now happily include this final chapter in my viewing, not choosing to skip it as I do other wrap-ups such as Homicide.

Will Deadwood be back for yet another chapter. I say emphatically, hell no! David Milch’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, embodied in the story by the passing of it’s central character, assures that this series has been appropriately laid to rest. In short, there ain’t no more fuckin’ Deadwood without Al Swearengen. I believe that this is only as it should be. Let Seth, Sol, Trixie, Jane and all the others pass into the sunset knowing that a small few of us will speak of them fondly in TV heaven.

Huzzah, Deadwood! Huzzah!