Durant, Nebraska

"Durant, Nebraska"

Season Number: 2
Episode Number: 2
Airdate: August 19, 2012
Director: Adam Davidson
Writer: John Shiban
Producer: Tony Gayton
Joe Gayton
Jeremy Gold
John Shiban
David Von Ancken
Chad Oakes
Michael Frislev
Episode order
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"Durant, Nebraska" is the second episode of the second season of the AMC series Hell on Wheels.


Thomas Durant must make a tough decision after the nearby railroad town of Durant, Nebraska is razed by the Sioux. Cullen Bohannon comes face to face with his own mortality at Fort Larned while Elam Ferguson searches for the man who killed Penny at Lily Bell's request.


A band of Sioux ransack Durant, Nebraska and set it on fire, while Eva hides and watches.

At the Fort Larned jailhouse, Cullen Bohannon is told he is guilty of armed robbery and sedition, but his death sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment if he reveals his cohorts' names. A belligerent Cullen refuses to cooperate, even when his head is repeatedly submerged in water.

Thor Gundersen delivers a telegraphed message to a sleeping Thomas Durant, who dismisses him. Durant then tells Lily Bell, who lies in his bed, of the Indian massacre. Durant, Joseph Black Moon and a crew of armed men later board the train on a counterattack mission. After the train reaches the burning town and its survivors, Gregory Toole tells Durant that nine people were killed. Eva adds the attackers were not Cheyenne. When a band of Indians appears in the distance, Joseph sees that they are from the Sioux Nation and are sending Durant a message that he is now at war with them.

Doc Whitehead visits Cullen in jail. Cullen confesses that he murdered an innocent man and, when Doc attempts to comfort him, adds that he feels nothing about the act. Officers later drag a bound and blindfolded Cullen to a barn. Alone, Cullen takes off the hood and tries to escape but is surprised when Durant appears, smiling. Durant produces two documents: a warrant for Cullen's execution and a pardon. He claims that Cullen has "unfinished business" and then asks him to choose life or death.

Over tea, Eva tells Lily she wants justice brought upon the man who murdered Penny. Lily agrees but stresses that it will be a difficult request to fulfill. Lily later joins Elam Ferguson at the saloon and discreetly asks him to deal with the man who killed Penny. Elam refuses until she mentions that the request came from Eva.

At church, Joseph and Ruth distribute clothes and food to the Durant residents. A drunken Reverend Nathaniel Cole approaches and claims he is ready to preach, but Ruth asks him to leave and Joseph blocks his entry. Later that night, Reverend Cole drinks by Gundersen's bonfire. Cole prophesizes that the railroad will wipe out the Indians, but Gundersen argues that the Sioux's legendary "White Spirit" will prevail. He shows Cole a sign: a sabre-toothed animal skull he dug up by the riverside.

Cullen is brought to Durant's train and shackled to a bench. Durant slaps Cullen for robbing his railroad and they both later wonder if they have made the right decision. When Durant gets too close, Cullen wraps the chain around his neck, challenging him to ask for his own stay of execution. Durant holds out, but Cullen releases him. Durant says that sometimes one has to make a deal with the devil. Cullen asks who the devil is in this deal. Durant tosses him the key to his shackles and exits the train car.

At Hell on Wheels, Elam pulls his gun and approaches Dieter Schmidt, accusing him of murdering the woman. A brazen Schmidt walks away, saying a gunshot would attract attention, but then admits to killing the woman. Elam stabs him repeatedly in the stomach.

Cullen disembarks the train behind Durant, who says he trusts Cullen's word that he will not leave town, acknowledging an approaching Elam and saying he could always get Elam to shoot him. Elam welcomes Cullen, telling him he will need a gun. As Cullen makes his way through Hell on Wheels, Lily sees him from the railway office. He passes a mob of people throwing stones at Schmidt's corpse, which bears a sign that reads "woman killer." Cullen arrives at his new quarters, Gundersen's old caboose. Looking out, he sees Gundersen, who smiles at him, looks up, and walks away.




  1. Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon
  2. Colm Meaney as Thomas Durant
  3. Common as Elam Ferguson
  4. Dominique McElligott as Lily Bell
  5. Christopher Heyerdahl as Thor Gundersen
  6. Tom Noonan as Reverend Nathaniel Cole
  7. Eddie Spears as Joseph Black Moon
  8. Ben Esler as Sean McGinnes
  9. Phil Burke as Mickey McGinnes
  10. Robin McLeavy as Eva

Guest Starring

  1. Duncan Ollerenshaw as Gregory Toole
  2. Kasha Kropinski as Ruth
  3. Brian Jensen as Dieter Schmidt
  4. Grainger Hines as Doc Whitehead


  1. Chad Norbert as a Prison Guard
  2. Helmer Twoyoungmen as a Chanting Warrior
  3. Alex Zahara as Lt. Weston
  4. Sheldon Elter as the Lead Warrior
  5. Lisa Christie as a Weeping Woman
  6. Joelle Kupin as a Saloon Singer
  7. Conrad Hild as Samuel
  8. Cody Wells as a Scary Sioux Warrior


Opening credits

  1. Joe &
  2. Tony Gayton - Creators
  3. Cathy Sandrich Gelfond,
  4. Amanda Mackey &
  5. Kate Caldwell - Casting
  6. Jackie Lind, CSA - Canadian Casting
  7. Gustavo Santaolalla - Theme
  8. Kevin Kiner - Score
  9. Todd Desrosiers - Editor
  10. John Blackie - Production Designer
  11. Marvin V. Rush, ASC - Director of Photography
  12. David Von Ancken - Consulting Producer
  13. Chris Mundy - Co-Executive Producer
  14. Mark Richard - Co-Executive Producer
  15. Paul Kurta - Co-Executive Producer
  16. Jeremy Gold - Executive Producer
  17. John Shiban - Executive Producer
  18. Joe Gayton - Executive Producer
  19. Tony Gayton - Executive Producer
  20. Chad Oakes - Episodic Producer
  21. Michael Frislev - Episodic Producer
  22. John Shiban - Writer
  23. Adam Davidson - Director

Closing credits

  1. Peter Chomsky - Co-Producer
  2. Jami O'Brien - Co-Producer
  3. Bruce Marshall Romans - Story Editor
  4. Linda Rogers Ambury - Unit Production Manager
  5. Jack Hardy - First Assistant Director (AD)
  6. Michele Williams - Second AD

Featured MusicEdit

  • Soul of a Man David Lindley


Critical receptionEdit

The episode received positive reviews. The A.V. Club's Alasdair Wilkins gave "Durant, Nebraska" a B+ grade, calling it his "favorite Hell On Wheels episode yet," adding the episode "is often silly and over-the-top. This isn't great (or perhaps even good) television by most conventional definitions, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it on its own slightly ridiculous terms.""[1] Sean McKenna of TV Fanatic rated the episode with 4.5 out of 5 stars, saying, "This second episode really captured the whole atmosphere of the show and provided the perfect seeds for what is to come."[2]


"Durant, Nebraska" was watched by 2.31 million viewers, a slight drop from the season premiere, and showed no change in its 0.6 rating among viewers aged 18-49.[3]


  1. Wilkins, Alasdair (August 19, 2012). "Durant, Nebraska". The A.V. Club.
  2. McKenna, Sean (August 19, 2012). Hell on Wheels Review: Let's Make a Deal.
  3. Bibel, Sara (August 21, 2012). Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Wins Night, 'Fallling Skies', 'Breaking Bad', 'Army Wives', 'The Newsroom','Leverage' & More. TV by the Numbers.

External linksEdit

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