Hell on wheels Wiki
The White Spirit.jpg

The White Spirit

Season Number: 2
Episode Number: 7
Airdate: September 23, 2012
Director: David Von Ancken
Writer: Bruce Marshall Romans
Producer: Tony Gayton
Joe Gayton
Jeremy Gold
John Shiban
David Von Ancken
Episode order
← previous
"Purged Away with Blood"
next →
"The Lord's Day"

"The White Spirit" is the seventh episode of the second season of the AMC series Hell on Wheels.


Thor Gundersen returns to town to help Lily Bell with the railroad's accounting ledgers, against Cullen Bohannon's wishes. Mickey and Sean McGinnes seek to expand their franchise. Cullen arrests Gundersen for supplying the Sioux with rifles.


Beside a river, Thor Gundersen shaves his head, paints his body white and then joins the Sioux as the "White Spirit" in a chant. In town, Gregory Toole is concerned that Thomas Durant's possible death would affect their job security but Cullen Bohannon orders them back to work. He joins Ruth in mourning over Reverend Nathaniel Cole's coffin in the church. He confesses to putting the knife in Joseph Black Moon's hands, but she says her father chose his own death and admits to thinking some souls are beyond redemption.

Mickey McGinnes chides Sean for giving away a plot of land to the church, saying Sean's mind is clouded by his interest in Ruth. Sean insists it is charity, but Mickey is upset he was not even consulted. Elam Ferguson approaches and asks about the brothers' bid for the Starlight Saloon, but they tell him the owner, Carl, is not keen on selling. Elam says that he has a plan to remedy that, if they will give him a percentage of the profits and free riverfront property. Mickey agrees before Sean can object.

At the bridge construction site, Cullen orders Psalms to stop telling stories and work. Toole defends Psalms but is rebuked by Cullen. At the railway office, Cullen warns Lily Bell against employing Gundersen, but she reasons that he was Durant's bookkeeper for years and is essential in deciphering Durant's accounting ledgers. When Gundersen comments on Cullen's new rifle, Cullen insinuates that the Sioux got it from Gundersen. He turns to leave, but then hits Gundersen on the head with the butt of the rifle.

In the jail car, Cullen hopes to obtain a confession from Gundersen. He knows it was he who armed the Sioux, to which Gundersen calls it "wonderful" and adds: "Bloodthirsty heathens with modern weapons, led by a drunken white man of God." He claims he and Cullen are bonded by their love of killing. Ruth sees the church being dismantled. Alarmed, she reminds Sean that he granted a rent extension. He surprises her with the deed to a new plot in the center of town, free of charge. Lily tells Cullen they must release Gundersen if he has not confessed. Cullen tosses her the key. She must do it.

That night, Elam and Psalms hijack a train car of whiskey and break open the barrels. Gundersen joins Cullen at the saloon and explains that he hates Cullen because he associates him with the horrors of Andersonville Prison. Gundersen says the reason Cullen hates him in return is because Gundersen is a constant reminder of the capacity for evil that resides within him. Cullen tells Gundersen it is not a problem anymore because he is leaving town. Lily finds Cullen saddling his horse and accuses him of running away whenever things get difficult. "You can disagree with my decisions if you like," she says, "but judging my choices won't change yours. I'm done trying."

The next morning, after Carl finds his liquor shipment destroyed, Lily accuses Elam and Psalms of destroying it, based on the Young Engineer's description of two black men. Elam challenges her to identify which two black men the engineer saw, noting, that he is good enough for her dirty work, but not good enough to trust with security. She offers to renegotiate his position when Durant returns. He scoffs that he is finished negotiating and quits.

Cullen approaches Lily, who asks why he is still in town. He concedes she was right about him being ready to run away. She whispers that she is glad he stayed. Later at the railway office, Gundersen informs her that, according to the books, Durant has been fraudulently inflating mileage numbers. Cullen finds Elam clearing grass for a riverfront home and says he will need Elam's help if the Sioux attack. Elam says that there is no place for him on the railroad. Cullen warns him that the Sioux will attack everyone, railroad workers or not.

At the saloon, the McGinnes brothers threaten Carl with continued destruction of his whiskey shipments as well as bodily harm if he does not sell the bar to them. He counter-threatens to send Hahn and the Germans after them. "Tell him to bring his friend the butcher, if he can find him," Mickey answers. Later that evening, Lily enters Cullen's caboose. They kiss, then make love. Carl signs the saloon over to Mickey and Sean. Later, Sean watches Ruth beaming as she preaches in front of her new church. By the river, Elam gazes at Eva’s wedding photo, covering Toole's face. The next morning, Cullen dresses quietly as Lily sleeps. As he walks out the door, Lily calls his name and he smiles.




  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


  1. Chris Ippolito as Young Engineer
  2. James Dugan as Carl the bartender
  3. Bruce Marshall Romans as Handsome Engineer
  4. Sheldon Elter as Lead Warrior
  5. Helmer Twoyoungmen as Chanting 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. Kevin Krasny - 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. Bruce Marshall Romans - Writers
  23. David Von Ancken - 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. Lee Knippelberg - First Assistant Director (AD)
  6. Victor Landrie - Second AD

External links[]

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