Hell on wheels Wiki
God of Chaos.jpg

"God of Chaos"

Season Number: 1
Episode Number: 10
Airdate: January 15, 2012
Director: David Von Ancken
Writer: Tony Gayton &
Joe Gayton
Producer: Tony Gayton
Joe Gayton
Jeremy Gold
John Shiban
David Von Ancken
Episode order
← previous
next →
Season 2
"Viva La Mexico"

"God of Chaos" is the tenth episode of the first season of the AMC series Hell on Wheels.


Thomas Durant and Lily Bell conspire to gain arriving investors' interests, after she pleads for Cullen Bohannon to not let his vengeful path ruin him; Sean and Mickey McGinnes exact their own revenge on Thor Gundersen; and Elam Ferguson and Eva each begin to see the future differently.


The episode opens with a flashback. Home from the Civil War, Cullen Bohannon finds the barn burning and his home ransacked. He searches for his wife Mary Bohannon, only to find her dead, hanging from a rafter on the porch. After burying her body and his son's, he rides away.

In the present, Thomas Durant continues to celebrate his railroad's reaching the 40-mile goal by hosting a dance, to which senators, investors, and other dignitaries may attend. He asks the town's prostitutes to escort any arriving visitors, telling them to behave like "proper ladies." Sean and Mickey McGinnes inform Cullen that Thor Gundersen left town with two bottles of whiskey, possibly to get drunk. Cullen tells them that Gundersen doesn't drink. Meanwhile, at Council Bluffs, Iowa, Gundersen pours drinks for Sergeant Frank Harper. The sergeant produces a document showing that he was discharged from the army two weeks before Mary died, and was not involved. Gundersen tells him that he may not have been present, but Harper can still testify to federal marshals about Cullen's motivation to kill Daniel Johnson and the other soldiers. The marshals are en route to Hell on Wheels and will protect Harper.

Back in town, Lily Bell struggles to install floorboards in her tent and Cullen stops in to assist her. Lily learns, while Cullen works, that he has lost his wife and son. Not wishing to think about the past, nor discuss it with her, he moves to leave. Lily pleads with him not to let what happened to his wife and son kill the man they loved. Cullen replies that "it's too late for that." After Cullen leaves, Durant visits her, presenting her with a new dress, and asks her to come to the dance to help lure potential investors. She agrees to his current need, after he allows her to remain with the railroad till its completion.

Reverend Nathaniel Cole loads Griggs' body into a coffin. Cullen soon enters the church tent seeking moral guidance. Cole stuns Cullen by lamenting over God's failures in the face of evil, and telling him to choose hate, because "it's so much easier."

Gundersen and Harper ride into town. Sean informs Cullen that Gundersen's companion is wearing a Union jacket with sergeant's stripes. Cullen returns to his tent and cleans his gun. Elam Ferguson stops in to suggest that Cullen could be wrong about Harper and, echoing Cullen's advice to Elam about slavery, urges Cullen to let go of the past.

Durant visits Gundersen, admitting that he told Cullen about the marshals so he'd leave, but since he hasn't, Durant now wants Gundersen's plan to succeed. Later, Gundersen warns Harper to hide from Cullen until the marshals reach town that evening. He does hide after seeing Cullen approach the railcar. Cullen enters, armed with a pistol, demanding to know Harper's whereabouts. Gundersen claims he doesn't know and dares Cullen to shoot him, which he doesn't.

Eva watches as men erect a permanent town for the people staying behind after the railroad workers move on. Elam appears, and Eva mentions marrying and settling down with him. While he has agreed that he asked her to be "his," he explains that he has just received a taste of freedom, has been well paid by Durant for his labor, and isn't ready for marriage.

Lily plays her part as the "Fair-Haired Maiden of the West" for Durant's investors

At the dance, Durant and Lily impress the investors with tales of the speed traveling across country will be with the railroad. They dance together, but she scans the room for Cullen. In town, Cullen searches for Harper, while the McGinnes brothers and an angry mob surround Gundersen. A man on horseback lassos him, and the mob tars and feathers him and runs him out of town. By nightfall, Cullen still hasn't found Harper, but continues searching the camp. As the train bearing the marshals arrives, Cullen finds Harper and chases him down, but loses his gun. Harper picks it up and points it at Cullen. He insists that he has proof he didn't kill Mary. Cullen, refusing to believe him, runs at him, knocks the gun away, and then strangles him. After Harper dies, Cullen sees the discharge notice sticking out of Harper's pocket. Reading the document, Cullen realizes his mistake. At the dance, he watches from afar as Lily dances with Durant. Lily glimpses Cullen, but he slips out of view as Durant wheels her around. When she comes full circle, Cullen is gone. Down by the tracks, Cullen admits to Elam that he killed the wrong man. With the rising sun, Cullen rides out of town and Gundersen scarred from his tarring, comes across a wanted poster offering a $250 bounty for the capture of Cullen Bohannon.


Durant: Have you ever had your heart ripped out by a woman?
Gundersen: I was married once sir, but she ran off with a gypsy. My heart was not ripped out but she did steal my cuckoo clock.




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

Guest starring

  1. Duncan Ollerenshaw as Gregory Toole
  2. Ian Kilburn as Frank Harper
  3. Christopher Heyerdahl as Thor Gundersen
  4. Dohn Norwood as Psalms
  5. Kasha Kropinski as Ruth
  6. Robin McLeavy as Eva

Also starring

  1. April Telek as Nell
  2. Randy Birch as Deuce
  3. Kassia Warshawski as Mary Bohannon
  4. Brian Jensen as Dieter Schmidt
  5. James Dugan as Carl


Opening credits

  1. Joe Gayton &
  2. Tony Gayton - Creators
  3. Gustavo Santaolalla - Theme
  4. Kevin Kiner - Score
  5. Todd Desrosiers - Editor
  6. John Blackie - Production Designer
  7. Marvin V. Rush - Director of Photography
  8. Mark Richard - Consulting Producer
  9. Paul Kurta - Co-Executive Producer
  10. David Von Ancken - Executive Producer
  11. Jeremy Gold - Executive Producer
  12. John Shiban - Executive Producer
  13. Tony Gayton - Executive Producer
  14. Joe Gayton - Executive Producer
  15. Chad Oakes - Episodic Producer
  16. Michael Frislev - Episodic Producer
  17. Tony Gayton &
  18. Joe Gayton - Writers
  19. David Von Ancken - Director

Closing credits

  1. Scott Schofield - Associate Producer
  2. Jami O'Brien - Executive Story Editor
  3. Bruce Marshall Romans - Staff Writer
  4. Linda Rogers Ambury - Unit Production Manager
  5. Philip Chipera - First Assistant Director (AD)
  6. Lorie Gibson - Second AD
  7. Cathy Sandrich Gelfond &
  8. Amanda Mackey - Casting
  9. Cami Patton - Additional US Casting
  10. Jennifer Lare - Additional US Casting
  11. Jackie Lind, CSA - Canadian Casting
  12. Alyson Lockwood - Extras Casting

Featured Music[]

  • "This Train is Bound for Glory" by Jane and Anthony.


Critical reception[]

TV Fanatic's Sean McKenna rated the episode with 4 out of 5 stars, saying, "Overall, 'God of Chaos' didn't end with the same bang that the show first started out with, but it left the door wide open for plenty of strong possibilities for the future."[1] Phil Nugent of The A.V. Club rated the episode a C, saying that the season finale was "livelier" than episodes before it, adding, "Anyone who's ever made a dollar as a storyteller ought to have some ideas about how to get an audience's attention at the start of things, and how to bring things to a boil at the close, especially if the close is also meant to get them to come back in a year."[2]


  • The name of the episode, "God of Chaos", is a reference to the Norse God of Chaos Loki, which the Swede calls Bohannon, pointing out their rivalry as his name is Thor - the Norse god of lightning.


The season one finale was watched by 2.84 million viewers, marking the highest viewership since the fourth episode, and kept its steady 0.7 rating with the 18-49 age range.[3]


  1. McKenna, Sean (January 16, 2012). Hell on Wheels Season Finale Review: A Time To Kill. TVFanatic.com.
  2. Nugent, Phil (January 15, 2012). God of Chaos. AVClub.com.
  3. Gorman, Bill (January 18, 2012).Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Kourtney & Kim' Take The Crown + 'Cajun Pawn Stars, Atlanta 'Housewives,' 'Mob Wives 2,' 'Hell On Wheels' 'Leverage,' 'Shameless' & More. TV by the Numbers.

External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).