Hell on wheels Wiki


Season Number: 2
Episode Number: 3
Airdate: August 26, 2012
Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Writer: Jami O'Brien &
Bruce Marshall Romans
Producer: Tony Gayton
Joe Gayton
Jeremy Gold
John Shiban
David Von Ancken
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"Slaughterhouse" is the third episode of the second season of the AMC series Hell on Wheels.


Thor Gundersen stirs up trouble in town in the wake of the Dieter Schmidt's murder. Cullen Bohannon starts his first day working for Thomas Durant, though not everyone is pleased he's back.


Thor Gundersen chats with Mr. Bauer, the town's butcher, about the death of Dieter Schmidt, the last foreman of the railroad. Schmidt was a good friend to Bauer and a fellow immigrant from Germany. Meanwhile, Lily Bell visits Cullen Bohannon for the first time since his return to Hell on Wheels. The meeting is slightly awkward for her. Lily explains she works for Thomas Durant now, though Bohannon seems unfazed. In the saloon, Elam Ferguson is getting drunk, possibly dealing with after effects of killing Schmidt. Durant approaches Elam and tells him to keep an eye on Bohannon, saying that he has taken a risk on bringing Bohannon back to the railroad, though Elam thinks it is really over Lily.

Mickey McGinnes has become involved with a young prostitute named Ginny. She tells Mickey that she and the other girls in the whore house are afraid for their safety because of what happened to Penny, the prostitute killed by Schmidt. Mickey tries to comfort her by telling her that he and Sean McGinnes are now protecting the whore house. He even goes as far as to confirming that he was the one who killed Schmidt.

At rail's end, Bohannon struggles to find his place again, getting into a confrontation with Psalms over the stolen payroll. Backed into a corner, Bohannon names Gregory Toole the foreman, as he was one of the only men that was not employed by the Union Pacific Railroad when Bohannon was stealing the payroll.

Eva confronts Elam about Schmidt's murder. She is stunned that he killed for her, saying Mr. Toole would not have done it. She says Toole is good to her though he hits her occasionally when he's drunk, though he always apologizes profusely. Eva expresses her regret that Elam was unwilling to settle down with her. He kisses her passionately several times before she breaks off and leaves.

Gundersen continues to stir up trouble in town, this time with Reverend Nathaniel Cole. Cole is angry that Ruth has strong-armed him out of the church and has "corrupted his son" (meaning Joseph Black Moon). Gundersen tells him it is time to get things back to the way they were before. Meanwhile, west of rail's end, Durant shows Bohannon a gorge that the train must cross in order to make it to Colorado and tells Bohannon he will never be free until the train reaches the Rockies.

Ruth leads the funeral of Dieter Schmidt. Cole interrupts by calling her a fornicator. When he pushes Ruth, Joseph steps in. Bauer, enraged by the interruption to his friend's funeral, attempts to forcibly remove Cole but is stopped by Gundersen, who tells Bauer that his anger should be directed at the McGinnes brothers. An angry mob quickly rounds up Mickey and Sean and drags them to Bauer's slaughterhouse. Meanwhile, Durant, Lily, and Bohannon discuss the bridge that will need to be constructed to cross the gorge to the west. Lily expresses concern about building a bridge over the gorge, citing that they have never built a bridge the size they will need to cross, and the Sioux will harass them every step of the way. Elam interrupts the discussion with news of the mob with the McGinnes boys. Bohannon leaves with Elam, though Elam only goes when Durant tells him the problem is railroad business.

Inside the slaughterhouse, Bauer and his friends have tied up Mickey and Sean and have already started beating them. Elam enters and threatens the men. He is joined by Bohannon, who no one seems to know, much to his chagrin. A brief fight breaks out, but Elam and Bohannon are successful and free Sean and Mickey. Bohannon immediately locks up the brothers in the boxcar jail cell. Bauer openly threatens the brothers.

In town, Joseph tells Ruth that they are hypocrites for preaching repentance to the people when they themselves are sinning. Joseph tells Ruth that he loves her and that he wants to marry her. Ruth is less than enthusiastic about his proposal, saying the town will not accept him and she cannot leave Hell on Wheels or the church will die.

Sean and Mickey argue about whether both of them will hang. Sean is angry that Mickey only told people he killed Schmidt to impress a whore. Durant, Lily, and Bohannon discuss if the McGinnes boys should be hanged. Durant thinks Sean might be useful in the long run and might be spared, but thinks they must hang Mickey in order to save face. Lily is reluctant to hang either brother, knowing that Elam was the one who killed Schmidt on her orders. Bohannon is disinterested and leaves to let Durant and Lily sort it out for themselves. Lily approaches Elam, telling him that they need to come clean about Schmidt's death. Elam refuses, afraid that he will hang even though Lily was the one giving the orders.

Joseph attempts to lead the congregation at the church, though the people leave as soon as he begins. A few men stay behind and mock Joseph for having an affair with a white woman. A fight ensues, and Joseph is quickly overtaken. Cole bursts from the back room with a cavalry sword and chases the men away. At the boxcar, Ruth brings Sean and Mickey pork and beans. She asks Sean if he has made peace with his maker, though he says he needs a priest to hear his confession, but asks her to stay to talk to him.

In Durant's car, Lily confesses to Durant that she paid a man, whom she doesn't name, to kill Schmidt. Durant is enraged by her actions and tells her someone will have to hang for the crime. In the bathhouse, Bohannon confronts Gundersen about inciting the Germans to riot against the McGinneses. He promises that he will bury him if he ever does it again. Back in the church, Cole urges Joseph to return to his people, though Joseph has no where to go. He argues with Cole that Jesus has not brought peace to anyone like he had promised. He vows not to leave Ruth as Cole did when she was a child.

After much huffing and puffing, Durant agrees to let the brothers go free, and Lily rushes to tell Bohannon. On the way to free the brothers, Bohannon confronts Elam about the murder, though Elam is not affected. Bohannon tells Bauer that he needs to be on the next train out of Hell on Wheels. Reluctantly, he packs his things and prepares to leave. The McGinnes brothers, now free, lie in wait for Bauer. They attack him and, while Bauer defends himself, the brothers overpower him and kill him. They dispose of the body by feeding Bauer to his own pigs.


Gundersen: In the beginning, there was blood. The land demands it. Every new land demands blood, and we relent. It is our nature. We, after all, animals. In our arrogance, we forget this, but in the end, we rise from the land only to return.

Lily: You know how people talk.
Bohannon: To hell with people.

Gundersen: Any dispute between the Celts and my Nordic brethren, I must side with my brethren.

Bauer: This is a free country, by God.
Bohannon: That's about the funniest damned thing I ever heard.




  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. Dohn Norwood as Psalms
  4. Brian Jensen as a Dieter Schmidt
  5. Timothy V. Murphy as Bauer


  1. April Telek as Nell
  2. Sydney Bell as Ginny
  3. Kelly Frey as a Thug
  4. Brian Martell as a John
  5. James Dugan as Carl, the Bartender
  6. Don Bland as Hahn
  7. Louie Koutis as an Old Man


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. Bridget Durnford - 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. Jami O'Brien &
  23. Bruce Marshall Romans - Writers
  24. Sergio Mimica-Gezzan - 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


Critical reception[]

The episode received positive reviews. The A.V. Club's Alasdair Wilkins gave "Slaughterhouse" a B- grade, calling it "weirdly admirable", but adding the episode "has a theme it wants to explore—people are bloodthirsty animals, per the Swede’s opening narration— the creative team still doesn't quite have the skill to bring it all together. This episode is full of stuff happening, and it's possible for the audience to see how each sequence links back to the episode's big idea, but that still means the underlying connective tissue is missing."[1] Sean McKenna of TV Fanatic rated the episode with 4.7 out of 5 stars, saying "Slaughterhouse" "proved that the season is getting better with each week." He added "the lawlessness of the land continues to prove intriguing, as the lines of friendship and alliances are as quickly crossed out as they are made."[2]


"Slaughterhouse" was watched by 2.50 million viewers and received a 0.6 rating among viewers aged 18-49, the season's highest ratings to date.[3]


  1. Wilkins, Alasdair (August 26, 2012). "Slaughterhouse". The A.V. Club.
  2. McKenna, Sean (August 26, 2012). Hell on Wheels Review: There Will Be Blood. TVFanatic.com.
  3. Kondolojy, Amanda (August 28, 2012). Sunday Cable Ratings: 'True Blood' Finale Dominates, + 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians', 'Breaking Bad', 'Real Housewives of NJ', 'Army Wives' & More. TV by the Numbers.

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