Hell on wheels Wiki

"Immoral Mathematics"
Written by: Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton
Directed by: David Von Ancken

Previous episode: Next episode:
Pilot A New Birth of Freedom



(EXT Massacre Site - Day)

(A sizable river runs by and birds sing in the trees. It is a beautiful day, despite the carnage at the surveyors’ camp. Scalped bodies lay on the ground, the sound of FLIES heavy in the air. Some of the bodies have been loaded into the back of a buckboard wagon by two men. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE REPORTER is documenting the scene with his camera. His flash-pan WHOOSHES loudly. The horse hitched to the buckboard is startled by the sound and WHINNIES.)

(The reporter looks up from his camera towards the ridge to see a party of three men riding on horseback. One figure, on a white horse, rides ahead of the two other men. The two men with the reporter chamber rounds in their weapons.)

REPORTER It’s Durant.

(DURANT dismounts, as do the two men.)

REPORTER (to himself) What the hell’s he doing here?

(Durant walks up to the Reporter.)

DURANT Are you the Chicago Tribune reporter?


DURANT Did you photograph this body?

REPORTER Y-yes, sir, Mr. Durant, but just-just the one body.

(Durant looks at the man, disgusted.)

DURANT What’s wrong with you, man?

REPORTER I’m sorry. I thought...

DURANT Just the one won’t do.

(The Reporter is confused.)

DURANT (to the men by the buckboard) Get those bodies off the wagons. Come on, snap to, boys.

(The men drag one man, the sentry who was shot first, from the wagon. They drag the sentry back to the field as Durant continues to talk to the reporter.)

DURANT I want this scene photographed exactly how you found it. I want an unblinking look at the horror perpetrated here.

(The Reporter is still confused.)

DURANT More arrows. We need more arrows.

(Durant gathers arrows and sticks them into random corpses lying in the meadow. He attempts to stick one into a man lying in front of the Reporter but it won’t go in. Durant pushes it slowly in with a SQUISH, much to the Reporter’s disgust. Durant looks up at him.)

DURANT He can’t feel anything. He’s dead, for God’s sake.

(Durant turns as a man, identified as DURANT'S MAN, walks from the tree line.)

DURANT The maps. You find them?

DURANT’S MAN (shrugs) No, sir. Nothing anywhere.

DURANT Keep looking.

DURANT’S OTHER MAN (off screen) Mr. Durant, over here!

(CUT TO: Woods)

(Durant and his men walk towards two bodies, one being Sun Bear, the brave killed by Lily Bell. Durant kneels and rolls over the other. It is Robert Bell.)

DURANT Robert. (stands) Pack up everything. Bring it all back to Hell on Wheels.

(Durant is about to leave when something catches his eye in the grass. He bends to pick up the object. It is a silver pocket watch. He opens the hunting case and turns it to see the inside of the cover. There is a black and white photo of Lily Bell stuck to the watch cover. He looks at the photo a long while.)

Act I[]

(EXT The Cut - Day)

(Men, both Negro and white, are working in the cut. BOHANNON walks along the top of the cut, monitoring work. He looks at ELAM before continuing on. Two men approach on horseback at a gallop. One, Dix, has long brown hair. The other, BOLAN, has short, sandy hair and a beard and wears a Union jacket. Bohannon notices them and puts his hand on the grip of his gun. Elam climbs out of the cut and stands next to Bohannon as Dix and Bolan approach.)

ELAM (quietly) They found Johnson’s body. Everybody back in camp talk ‘bout it.

(Bohannon turns to Elam.)

BOHANNON Get the hell back in that cut.

(Elam doesn’t move. Bolan arrives first and pulls his horse to a stop.)

BOLAN You Cullen Bohannon?

(Bohannon and Elam stare at Bolan.)

BOLAN You hear about Daniel Johnson’s murder?

BOHANNON Who wants to know??

BOLAN (raises eyebrows and smirks) Why you so spooked, son?

BOHANNON I guess I still ain’t cottoned to the sight of Union blue riding up on me.

(Bolan chuckles and smiles. He turns to Dix, who gives a small smile.)

BOLAN You ought to be happy to see us.

BOHANNON Yeah? And why’s that?

BOLAN Boss wants to talk to you about taking Johnson’s job.

(Bohannon sighs and looks at Elam)

(EXT Hell on Wheels - Same Day)

(Town is bustling with activity after the move to a new location. People are setting up their tents. MICKEY is pulling up a pole that forms part of the framework for the Magic Lantern Show tent.)

(SEAN exits the Starlight Saloon with two bottles of liquor. He crosses the street to Mickey and hands him a bottle.)

SEAN Here you go, Mickey. (puts his arm around Mickey’s shoulder) Yeah.

(Near the rail line, Bohannon rides his horse, following Dix and Bolan. Bohannon is smoking a cigar.)

(CLOSE ON man hanging from a makeshift gallows)

(The trio arrive at their destination and dismount. Bohannon follows Bolan up the steps of a caboose. Bohannon removes his hat and puts out his cigar with his boot before entering.)

(CUT TO: INT Caboose)

(A large, imposing man dressed in a black waistcoat sits praying over a piece of hardtack at his desk. This is THOR GUNDERSEN. The hanged man can be seen through the window behind him.)

SWEDE We thank thee Lord for this bounty you have placed before me.

(He finishes and looks up at Bohannon. He indicates a chair across from his desk.)

SWEDE Sit down.

(Bolan pulls up a chair across from the Swede’s desk. The Swede dips the hardtack in a bowl of liquid.)

SWEDE Sit down.

(Bohannon doesn’t sit but eyes the Swede. The Swede calmly takes a bite of hardtack. Bohannon looks out the window at the hanged man.)

SWEDE (nods towards window) Horse thief. Tor Gundersen, head of security for Mr. Thomas Durant.

(The Swede extends his hand. Bohannon shakes.)

SWEDE They call me the Swede. (beat) I’m Norwegian but no matter. (shrugs) We are all Americans now, even you Rebels, yes?

(He smiles but Bohannon does not return it or respond.)

SWEDE Hmm...Daniel Johnson told me that the two of you was cut from the same cloth.

BOHANNON (scoffs) Yeah? I don’t think so.

SWEDE (bits into hardtack) Why is that? Did you not like him?

BOHANNON (shrugs and shakes head) He was my boss. That’s about all there was to it.

SWEDE And drinking companion, yes?

BOHANNON (nods) We tore it up some.

SWEDE I understand the two of you was “tearing it up some” on the night he was murdered. In fact, you was seen leaving the saloon with him. Hmm?

(The two men stare each other down for a moment. Bohannon smirks.)

BOHANNON Yeah. (looks toward Bolan and Dix) I’m not here to talk about Johnson’s job, am I?

SWEDE (laughing) Is that what they told you?

(Bolan and Dix stand near the door, chuckling. Bolan has placed himself in front of the door. The Swede continues to chew on the hardtack.)

BOHANNON You a lawman, Mr. Swede?


BOHANNON ‘Cause I don’t see no badge.

SWEDE (brushes off his clothes) Oh, no. There’s no official law out here yet.

BOHANNON Then what authority you got to be interrogating me?

SWEDE (looks up) Mr. Durant has appointed me to bring some order to the chaos out here.

BOHANNON When’s the last time you took a look outside, Mr. Swede? (beat) Looks to me like chaos is winnin’.

SWEDE Well, when harlots and dipsomaniacs are killed, I lose not a minute's sleep. But Daniel Johnson was a valuable asset to Mr. Durant.

BOHANNON Daniel Johnson was hated by just about every man who worked for him.

SWEDE (with interest) Any with a reason to kill him? (beat) Perhaps one of the Negroes. (nods) I heard he had some trouble with them. Hmm?

BOHANNON I wouldn’t know nothing about that.

SWEDE (skeptical) Hmm...Ja, ja.

(He sweeps the crumbs from the hardtack with his pinky and he mutters in Norwegian. He looks up at Bohannon.)

SWEDE Well, that leaves only you then.

BOHANNON (beat) You know what? I’m done here. This ain’t no court.

(The Swede grips a double-barrel, pistol-grip coach gun that is holstered to the underside of his desk. Bohannon moves towards the door. As he passes, Dix pulls Bohannon back by his coat pocket. Bohannon unsheathes a knife and nicks Dix. He holds the knife to Bolan’s throat. The unmistakable CLICKS of the hammers going back on the shotgun stops Bohannon in his tracks.)

(The Swede holds up the gun, the word “BEAUTY” carved on the side of one barrel.)

SWEDE This here’s Beauty.

(Bolan swings Bohannon’s knife away from his throat. He pulls out his pistol and cocks back the hammer. He straightens his jacket, indignant.)

SWEDE She’s an old piece, but she still shoots true.

(CUT TO: INT Pig Car)

(The Swede shoves Bohannon into the car. Bohannon hits the far side of the cart and falls. The Swede holds him by the neck. He puts on manacles that are tethered around one of the floor boards.)

(Bolan stands near the door, his pistol trained on Bohannon.)

SWEDE We gonna give you a chance to confess to this crime.

(He nods and Bohannon looks up at him in fear. The Swede slowly turns away and leaves. Bolan holsters his pistol and slides the door shut. The CLANK of the chains can be heard as he locks Bohannon in.)

(Bohannon waits a moment before pulling at the chain looped around the floor board. The board CREAKS but it doesn’t budge. He pulls again but falls on his backside. He looks out at the hanging man and sighs, his eyes wild.)

(EXT Nebraska Territory - Day)

(LILY BELL walks slowly near a river, the map case tucked under her arm. She is disheveled and covered in blood. She hears the SNORT of a horse and looks around.)

(Through the trees, she sees several men on horseback.)

(She drops to the ground, wincing in pain.)

(The men ride out of the trees. There are three Cheyenne men.)

(Lily crouches behind a fallen tree, peering through the branches.)

(The men dismount and hitch their horses to a large tree. Two of them begin to gather fuel for a fire while the third, PAWNEE KILLER, looks towards the log Lily is hiding behind. She crouches, terrified.)

(INT Pig Car - Same Day)

(Bohannon sits with his back against the wall. He digs with his heel at the straw strewn on the floor. He sees a large nail sticking up from the floor boards. Bohannon moves to kneel near the nail and starts to scratch at the wood around it. He grips the nail and starts to pull at it.)


FLASHBACK - INT Bohannon Farmhouse - Some time before 1864

FROM Bohannon’s POV

(The camera pans down a hallway and moves towards the front porch of the house. A woman with auburn hair is sitting in a chair cross stitching.)

(INT Pig Car - Same Day)

(Bohannon continues to pull at nail.)

(FLASHBACK INT/EXT Bohannon Farmhouse, Porch - Sometime before 1864)

(PUSH IN on woman’s cross stitch. It is a picture of a yellow farmhouse with a magnolia tree blossoming in front of it.)

(INT Pig Car - Same Day)

(Bohannon continues to work at nail)

(FLASHBACK I/E Bohannon Farmhouse, Porch - Sometime before 1864)

(The woman looks up as someone puts his hands on her shoulders. She smiles as she looks up at Bohannon. This is Mary Bohannon, his wife. He smiles down at her.)

(INT Pig Car - Same Day)

(Sweat beads on the end of Bohannon’s nose as he strains at the nail.)

Act II[]

(EXT Nebraska Territory - Same Day)

(Lily dozes, leaning against the fallen tree.)

(Pawnee Killer and his men are camped out only a few feet away from Lily’s hiding spot. One man brushes his hair with a silver brush while the other puts more wood on the fire.)

(JOSEPH walks out of the woods towards the camp. The men do not hear him approach.)

JOSEPH Where is she?

(The three men jump to their feet at the sound of Joseph’s voice.)

PAWNEE KILLER Hello, little brother. What are you doing way out here?

(Joseph takes the brush from the men.)

JOSEPH Where’s the woman?

(He holds out the brush to Pawnee Killer. It was Lily’s once.)

PAWNEE KILLER We don’t have her. Yet.

JOSEPH You kill white men, that’s one thing. But you take one of their women and you’ll have every damn one of them hunting you down.

PAWNEE KILLER (nods) Good. I’ll count coup and get more scalps.

JOSEPH I hope it was worth it.

(Joseph turns and starts to walk away.)

PAWNEE KILLER What about the scalps you took?

(Joseph stops and looks over his shoulder.)

PAWNEE KILLER You act so pure now, but I remember a time when you loved the taste of blood.

(Joseph turns more fully towards Pawnee Killer.)

JOSEPH (nods) Jesus has forgiven me for that.

PAWNEE KILLER (nods) Jesus may have forgiven you but do you think your white friends would?

(Joseph stays silent and walks away.)

PAWNEE KILLER (calling after Joseph) You better find her before I do.

(INT/EXT Hell on Wheels, Pig Car – That Night)

(Bohannon is still struggling to pull up the floorboard. He grunts as he strains at his chains.)

(Elam walks up to the car.)

ELAM Hey. Hey.

(Bohannon stops and looks up, confused.)

ELAM You’d be surprised how fast you get used to the feel of them things.

BOHANNON What the hell are you doing here?

(Bohannon goes back to working on his chains.)

ELAM Wanted to know if you be fixing to testifying on me.

BOHANNON I don’t know. Ain’t decided yet.

ELAM I know about that sergeant.

(Bohannon stops and looks up again.)

ELAM Heard Johnson say some other things, too. Things about men getting killed in churches and such.

(Bohannon goes back to work.)

BOHANNON Yeah, what’s your point?

ELAM Point is, I be hanging for Johnson, you gonna drop down right beside me for the folks you done killed.

(Bohannon moves to the side of the car so he can look Elam in the eye.)

BOHANNON Tell you what, you tell your story and then I’ll tell mine and we’ll see who they believe.

ELAM (nods) Yeah, who’ll believe some nigger slave over a white man?

BOHANNON (chuckles) Relax, son. Ain’t nobody hanging nobody.

(Bohannon moves back to pull at the floorboard.)

ELAM I ain’t your damn son.

BOHANNON Well, I’ll be out of her by tomorrow.

ELAM I imagine that’s what that horse thief done said.

(Bohannon looks up at Elam. Elam hears a wagon coming and runs off.)

(INT McGinnes Brothers’ Magic Lantern Show Tent - Same Night)

(A crowd is leaving after another successful magic lantern show. SEAN leans against table holding the magic lantern while MICKEY holds open the tent flap, seeing patrons out. The Swede sits silently on a bench, still staring at the screen. Mickey and Sean look at each other and then the Swede.)

MICKEY Did you enjoy the show, sir?

(The Swede doesn’t look up, instead admiring the projected image of a bridge over a river.)

SWEDE Very moving images of home, boys.

SEAN But you don’t sound Irish.

SWEDE I ain’t, but my heart was moved nonetheless. (sighs) We all yearning for our homeland out here in this strange place.

SEAN (pulls out the slide) Excuse me, sir, have we met?

SWEDE We have not. (rises and turns to the brothers) Folks ‘round here call me the Swede. (extends his hand to Mickey) You got yourself a prime location here, boys.

MICKEY (steps forward and shakes the Swede’s hand) Yes, siree. Right between the whores and the liquor.

(Sean looks worried.)

MICKEY (laughs) Picked it out meself.

SEAN What is it you want, Mr. Swede?

SWEDE I like that. Right to the point. And the point is nice location like this got a nice price attached to it.

(Sean nods, realizing why the Swede is there. Mickey is suddenly very grave.)

SEAN I should have realized there was a reason this spot wasn’t taken. I should have seen this comin’.

SWEDE I take it you’re the smart one.


(Mickey makes a protesting sound.)

SEAN So how much you want, Mr. Swede?

SWEDE Ah, once again, right to the point. Uh, two dollars a week. First payment due this Friday.

MICKEY (incensed) But that’s half our flippin’ take!

SWEDE (loudly) And for this two dollars you shall have my protection against all the villains that surround you in this wicked place.

(Sean looks skeptical.)

MICKEY And what if we don’t pay?

SWEDE Well, you can always move down to the slaughterhouse.

SEAN (defiantly) And what if we refuse to move?

SWEDE (smiles) And I thought you was the smart one.

(EXT Hell on Wheels, Near the Pig Car - Next Day)

(A rooster CROWING and hens CLUCKING can be heard. The dirt roads in town are now mud, some places simply deep puddles from rain. People slowly go about their morning business.)

(CUT TO: INT Pig Car - Day)

(Bohannon is still trying to pry up the nail. He hears the CLANK of the chains on the door and looks up to see the shadow of someone about to open the door. He throws straw around the nail and quickly sits with his back to the wall.)

(The door slides open. The camera pans up from a pair of black boots to reveal the Swede. He has removed his coat. A silver charm of Thor’s hammer hangs from his pocket watch chain. He smiles as he surveys the pig car. He pulls a crate across the room and sits down. The crate CREAKS under his weight. The Swede looks at Bohannon for a moment before carefully beginning to eat.)

SWEDE I used to be a bookkeeper.

BOHANNON You look like a bookkeeper.

SWEDE Hmm. I was always more comfortable around numbers than people. I could control numbers.

BOHANNON The war put a stop to that, didn’t it?

(The Swede chews for a moment and looks at Bohannon.)

BOHANNON You’re suffering from the Soldier’s Heart, Mr. Swede. Yeah, I can see it in your eyes. You’re still fighting them battles.

SWEDE I saw no battles. I was a quartermaster. More numbers. I never even saw the enemy ‘til our supply train was captured and I become prisoner of war.

BOHANNON Andersonville?

SWEDE (nods) That’s right. Way down in the great state of Georgia. Total chaos ruled. Thirty thousand prisoners, fourteen thousand dead. I weighed two hundred pounds when I went it, and eighty-six when I come out. I just couldn’t make them numbers add up.

(He pulls up left sleeve to reveal a large red scar)

SWEDE I awoke one night to find one of my own men trying to eat the flesh from my arm. He thought I was dead. But I realized that night I had to control people like I control numbers and I learned to practice a sort of immoral mathematics. And I did some…(whispers) horrible…not so good things in Andersonville, Mr. Bohannon. Ja? In the end, I found I was able to make them numbers add up.

(He finishes eating and rests spoon against bowl rim.)

SWEDE (brighter) So, have you thought about that confession?

BOHANNON I figured by your math you’re gonna hang me either way.


(The Swede slowly rises and turns to go.)

BOHANNON You know why the man didn’t finish eating your sorry ass?

(The Swede turns around and steps closer to Bohannon.)


BOHANNON ‘Cause you Yankees all taste like shit.

(Bohannon suddenly kicks out and knocks the bowl and spoon from the Swede’s hands. The Swede shouts in anger. Bohannon prepares himself for retribution but the Swede gets hold of himself.)

SWEDE (calmly) Get right with your Maker, Mr. Bohannon. Soon as we cut down the horse thief, you gonna hang.

(The Swede exits and shuts and locks the door. He stares down Bohannon between the slats of the car before leaving. Bohannon waits a moment before he moves towards the spoon and bowl the Swede left behind. They are beyond the reach of his hands. He kicks the bowl away and drags the spoon towards him with his foot. The spoon gets caught between two floorboards. He strains but can’t get it free. He scissors it between his feet and lifts it from the crevice. Grabbing it from his feet, he quickly brushes away the straw from the nail. Using the spoon as a lever, he starts pry it up. He chuckles to himself as it pulls slowly from the wood. He holds the nail in his hands, looking at it.)

Act III[]

(INT Pig Car – Same Day)

(The Swede cuts down the horse thief from the gallows with the help of Dix. Bohannon pulls out another nail and then another. He stands and pulls at his chains. After a moment, the board comes free. Bohannon looks out of the train car and sees the Swede approaching. Using the board he’s pried loose, Bohannon levers another board free. He pulls another loose with his hands.)

(The Swede is unlocking the door.)

(Bohannon slips through the hole in the floor. He reaches up and feels around for his hat for a moment before grabbing it.)

(The Swede pulls open the door and sees that Bohannon has escaped. He looks through the hole in the floor. He is distraught.)

(Bohannon crouches under the train platform. He loops the chain around his wrists and hides his still manacled hands in his hat. Bohannon slips through camp.)

(The Swede has Bolan and Dix with him and they search around the platform looking for Bohannon but he has already moved on.)

(Bohannon blends in with a group of workers.)

(EXT Nebraska Territory–Same Day)

(Durant’s party and the Reporter and his party are on their way back to Hell on Wheels. Durant’s men ride on horseback, one leading Durant’s white horse along.)

DURANT (off screen) Write this down: outnumbered five to one, eight white Christian souls were brutally slaughtered by the marauding, bloodthirsty war party of merciless savages.

(The camera pans over the wagon of dead bodies as they rattle on the journey back to Hell on Wheels. Durant rides in a second wagon with the reporter.)

REPORTER Outnumbered five-to-one?

DURANT Make it ten-to-one.

(The Reporter hesitates before writing.)

DURANT Amongst the murdered were Robert Bell, (swats a bug) visionary surveyor the Union Pacific Railroad. His beautiful wife, Lily, the Fair-Haired Maiden of the West, was sullied by the savage pack, then carried off into slavery in their filthy camp.

REPORTER What does sullied mean again?

DURANT It will mean whatever the reader wants it to mean. My road will bring civilization to these untamed western lands. And the Fair-Haired Maiden of the West represents nothing less than civilization itself.

REPORTER You see this as sort of rallying cry?

DURANT Yes, now you’re getting it.

REPORTER Save her at all costs.

DURANT Save her, yes but I want national troops brought in to clear every last savage from the path of my road.

(EXT Pawnee Killer’s camp – Same Day)

(Lily awakes, leaning against the same log she hid behind when the war party arrived. She sits up and winces in pain. Crouching, she peers over the log and sees the campfire abandoned. She stumbles up to the ashes of the campfire and kneels beside them. It is still smoldering.)

(Lily unbuttons her dress and examines the wound in her left shoulder. It is still bloody and very deep. She pulls at the boning in her corset. She struggles but pulls a piece free. She breaks it into a smaller piece and bites down on the end. She tugs at the hem of her skirt until she comes away with a long strand of thread.)

(Lily wraps the thread around the makeshift needle she had made from the boning. She takes a moment, breathing deeply and looking at the sky, preparing herself for what she must do. She pushes the needle through the skin around her wound. She cries out, biting down on the bandage on her hand to stifle the sound. She makes several passes of the needle before she is done. She closes her eyes, her lashes wet with tears and falls backwards onto the grass, unconscious from the pain.)

(EXT Hell on Wheels – Same Day)

(Men and women walk the muddy roads. The Swede and Dix are still searching for Bohannon.)

(Bohannon, seeing the Swede draw closer, ducks into the church tent.)

(INT The Church Tent)

(Bohannon stumbles backwards into the tent, kicking the flap closed.)

COLE (off camera) Welcome, brother.

(Bohannon turns at the sound of REVEREND COLE’s voice, startled. Cole looks over Bohannon’s chains.)

COLE You must be that fellow they’re-they’re looking to hang.

(Cole picks up the chains that manacle Bohannon and holds them in his hands.)

COLE You know St. Peter himself was chained like this and condemned to die? And he was freed by an angel.

(Bohannon looks Cole up and down before wresting the chains back from the Reverend. His look is skiddish.)

BOHANNON I ain’t no Saint Peter, sir.

COLE Yeah, and I’m no angel.

(Bohannon moves to the tent flap and peers out.)

(The Swede is just outside but he hasn’t seen Bohannon.)

(Bohannon closes the flap. He is terrified. Cole moves to the flap and steps through.)

CUT TO: EXT Just outside the Church Tent

COLE Peace be with you sir.

SWEDE (shakes Cole’s hand) And with you, Reverend, and with you.

(CUT TO: INT Church Tent; Bohannon dashes to the altar and picks up a heavy-looking cross. He readies himself to swing.)

(CUT TO: EXT Outside Church Tent)

COLE I hear your prisoner escaped.

SWEDE (nods) Ja, we’ll find him, it’s just a matter of time.

COLE I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for him.

SWEDE Careful he’s a dangerous man.

(CUT TO: INT Church Tent)

(Bohannon is surprised but still stands ready to swing.)

(CUT TO: EXT Outside the Church Tent)

(The Swede walks away, followed by Dix. Cole re-enters the tent.)

CUT TO: INT Church Tent

COLE Brother, we need to talk.

BOHANNON I thought you were going to turn me in.

COLE No, the Lord instructs me to give sanctuary, even to the condemned.

BOHANNON Yeah? What he say about (holds up his arms) cutting off a pair of cuffs?

(Cole takes the cross from Bohannon.)

COLE You’re on your own there.

(Bohannon shrugs and looks away. Cole reaches out towards Bohannon, who recoils slightly.)

COLE You know, you best set things in your heart before you go a-swinging, son.

BOHANNON They ain’t gonna hang me.

COLE (chuckles) Nevertheless, one day your name will be called and on that day, you must answer.

(Bohannon sighs and bends to pick up his hat. He taps on a chair to get rid of the dust.)

BOHANNON I know it.

COLE And what are you going to say?

BOHANNON I did the best that I could in a bad time.

COLE Now see, I understand that. Better than you know. But it won’t be good enough for him. So all you got to do (gets on his knees) is get down on your knees.

BOHANNON I seen plenty of men get down on their knees and call His name out in terrible time. I seen their prayers answered by a bullet, more often than not.

COLE It’s–it’s hard to comprehend, son, I know and it’s impossible sometimes. But He is here and His mercy knows no bounds. So, just bend them knees and ask for forgiveness.

BOHANNON Nah, sir. I won’t do it.

(Bohannon walks past Cole to the tent flap.)

COLE ‘Cause the Lord took your faith?

BOHANNON ‘Cause I don’t deserve forgiveness.

(Bohannon steps out of the tent, leaving Cole alone, kneeling on the ground.)

(INT Mickey and Sean’s Tent – Same Day)

(Sean goes to a suitcase and pulls out a wad of cash from a secret flap.)

MICKEY Oi! We can’t use that.

SEAN Ma would understand.

MICKEY What about next week? And the week after? This ain’t gonna stop. There’s nothing we can do about this bastard.

SEAN That’s what you said in Boston.

MICKEY (through gritted teeth) I thought you said we never were to speak of that.

SEAN (smiles) I got us out of that, I’ll get us out of this.

MICKEY But, how?

(Sean shrugs and smiles again.)

SEAN Don’t know yet. We’ll figure something. (shaking money) One day, we’ll send this to Ma (puts his hand on Mickey’s shoulder) and it will be as thick as a brick.

(Mickey smiles and nods.)

SEAN My hand to God.

(EXT/INT Freedman’s Tent – Same Day)

(A man stands lookout, peering out the tent flap. Inside, Elam is attempting to break Bohannon’s chains with a spike and a hammer. Elam’s wrists are wrapped in thick scars. Bohannon winces with each strike of the hammer. He stares at Elam’s scars. Elam notices and lifts his wrist.)

ELAM I had some jackrabbit in me too. Master gave me a nice pair of bracelets to sleep in. (strike) Somebody put you in chains, natural thing to do is to try to escape. (strike) Ain’t I right? (strike)

(Bohannon doesn’t respond. Elam stares back at him. He raises the hammer and it is uncertain if he will strike the spike or Bohannon.)

ELAM Ain’t I right.

(Bohannon grits his teeth.)

BOHANNON (begrudgingly) Yeah, you’re right.

(Elam strikes the chains and they break with a CLATTER. The lookout turns towards Elam.)

LOOKOUT They coming.

ELAM You gonna make a run for it?

BOHANNON I ain’t leaving.

(He gets up.)

ELAM They’ll find you.

BOHANNON Not where I’m going.

(Bohannon crawls under the tent wall.)

Act IV[]

(EXT Wilderness – Day)

(Lily lies in the grass, fading in and out of consciousness. A large bird of prey circles overhead.)


(Robert sits in a field of tall grass, working on a map. He looks up at Lily.)

(CUT TO: EXT Wilderness – Day)

(Lily gasps.)


(She and Robert stand together in a field of yellow flowers. He holds her by the waist and they press their foreheads together, both smiling.)

(CUT TO: EXT Wilderness – Day)

(Lily reaches out to her hallucination.)


(Robert looks straight at Lily/camera before fading away, leaving behind the field of yellow flowers undulating in the wind.)

(CUT TO: Wilderness – Day)

(Lily looks up into the sky and sees three birds circling.)

(CUT TO:EXT Further upriver)

(Pawnee Killer and his men ride along the river. He stops at the SOUND of the birds and motions for his men to stop. They do. Pawnee Killer turns to see the birds circling over a stand of trees. He cries out and wheels his horse around towards the trees.)

(CUT TO: Stand of trees)

(Lily, now sitting upright. Hears the men TALKING. She grabs the maps, gets to her feet, and hurries away. The men are getting closer. She looks back towards the trees. She doesn’t see Joseph until he grabs her, covering her mouth. She tries to scream but her cries are muffled in his hand. She struggles against him but he holds her fast.)

(Pawnee Killer’s party look through the trees but do not spot Joseph or Lily.)

(Lily sees the men and stops struggling.)

(EXT Just outside Hell on Wheels – Same Day)

(Durant and the Reporter have returned. The Swede rides up on a brown horse to meet them. He wheels his horse around and rides alongside Durant. He looks over the bodies in the buckboard.)

SWEDE So it’s true.

(Durant makes a sound in the affirmative.)

SWEDE (skeptical) Everyone?

DURANT Everyone but the woman.

SWEDE Them Injuns get her?

DURANT I don’t know. Get the word out, one hundred dollars reward for anyone who finds her. But, uh (looks over his shoulder) not a word about the maps.


(The Swede looks over his shoulder as well.)

(The wagon train arrives at Durant’s car. He dismounts from his horse straight onto the platform of his car. One of his men take the horse away and Swede rides off. Durant takes off his gloves and enters his car.)

(CUT TO: INT Durant’s car)

(Durant takes off his hat and set his hat and gloves on his desk. Bohannon stands just behind the door of the car. Durant turns, confused but not startled to see him standing there.)

BOHANNON (nods) Mr. Durant.

DURANT (still confused) Who the hell are you?

BOHANNON Cullen Bohannon. (holds up shackles) The man they’re looking to hang.

DURANT For killing Johnson. (nods) I suppose you’re here to tell me you’re innocent.

BOHANNON (shakes head) Nah, sir. (beat) I’m here to ask for his job.

(Durant’s face shifts from confusion to shock.)

DURANT How do you put your trousers on, son?

(Now Bohannon is confused.)


DURANT Over those big balls of yours.

(Durant narrows his eyes. Bohannon smirks, mildly amused. He walks to the window and peers out behind the shade. He turns back to Durant, holding his hand up. He locks the door with the other hand, with an audible CLICK.)

BOHANNON Two minutes that’s all I ask.

(Durant waits for a beat before going to his desk. He pulls out a small six-shot pistol and sets it on an open ledger. Bohannon works his jaw, unsure of what is to happen next. Durant opens and looks at his pocket watch.)

DURANT Two minutes.

(He sets the watch next to the gun. He sits behind his desk. Bohannon gestures to the gun with his hat.)

BOHANNON You fight in the war, Mr. Durant?

DURANT I served my country in other ways.

BOHANNON Well, building this railroad ain’t much different from a war. You got an army out there and they need a leader.

DURANT I take you fought for the South, (drawls) Mr. Bohannon.

BOHANNON (smirks) Yes, sir. (nods) And that’s exactly why you need to hire me.

DURANT (confused) You’re going to have to explain that to me.

BOHANNON Can’t remember a time I wasn’t outgunned, outmanned, or outsupplied fighting you Yankees, (steps forward) but I damn sure whooped your asses more often than not.

DURANT (raises eyebrows) Is that so?

BOHANNON Yes, sir. My men rode to Hell and back for me, Mr. Durant. That’s why you need me out here.

DURANT What do you know about railroads?

BOHANNON Well, I had to know how they was built so I could know could figure out best how to blow them up. You remember the Baltimore and Ohio Bridge over the Monocacy River?

DURANT I built that bridge before the war.

BOHANNON (chuckles) Well, I blew the whole thing up using half a keg of blackpowder.

(Durant is clearly irritated and Bohannon tries a different tack.)

BOHANNON But I’m done destroying things, Mr. Durant. I want to help you build this railroad

DURANT Why should I trust my railroad to a Grayback?

(Bohannon is more than a little irritated and frowns.)

BOHANNON You didn’t have too much trouble trusting Graybacks when you was smuggling cotton out of Mississippi during the war, now did you?

(Durant is incensed someone knows his secret.)

DURANT You walk a fine line, son.

BOHANNON Forty miles, Mr. Durant. Ain’t no secret you got to lay forty miles of usable track before your government money kicks in. Now, you and I both know that you ain’t going to get there going at this rate. You don’t get that $16,000 a mile, (gestures to ceiling of car) this whole thing goes belly up. (beat) You’re fighting a war, Mr. Durant. No doubt about it. You need me to help you win it.

(Bohannon and Durant regard each other for a moment.)

(CUT TO: EXT Outside Durant’s car)

(The Swede and his men are still searching for Bohannon. Bohannon steps out of Durant’s car, Durant close behind. The Swede sees Bohannon and does a double take. He runs toward Bohannon.)

SWEDE Son of a bitch.

(He cocks back the hammers on Beauty. Bohannon stops.)

DURANT What the hell are you doing man?

SWEDE (almost gleeful) That’s the son of the bitch who killed Johnson. We gonna hang him.

(A few of the Freedmen stand on the other side of the tracks watching. Elam is among them.)

DURANT Nonsense. (gestures to Bohannon) This man is my new foreman.

(The Swede looks up Durant, very confused.)

DURANT Find me someone else to hang.

(Durant returns to his car. Bohannon stares down the Swede and walks towards him. The Swede keeps his gun up and pointed at Bohannon. Bohannon walks away. He passes Elam and taps the brim of his hat in salute. Elam nods to him, smiling.)

(EXT Hell on Wheels – That evening)

(Bohannon walks towards the railroad office tent. Durant’s man stands outside the tent. He looks Bohannon up and down.)

DURANT’S MAN You’re the new foreman?


(The Swede stands nearby, though Bohannon does not notice him.)

BOHANNON (nods towards tent) Is Johnson’s things still in there?

DURANT’S MAN Yeah. You want me to clear it out?

BOHANNON Leave it.

(Bohannon walks into the tent. Durant’s man tips his hat to Bohannon and walks away.)

DURANT’S MAN Yes, sir.

(CUT TO: INT Railroad office tent)

(Bohannon takes off his hat as he ducks into the tent. He removes his coat, throwing it on the bed. Bohannon removes his Griswold from the holster on his belt. He sits in a chair and spins the cylinder of the gun, checking the chambers. He holsters the weapon and sighs. He looks around his new surroundings and spies a piece of fabric hanging out of his coat pocket. He pulls it out. It is the cross-stitch his wife had been working on in the flashback, though it has faded some. He runs his fingers over the stitches before bringing it to his nose and sniffing it. He closes his eyes.)

Transcribed by Defenderofmen (talk)