Viva La Mexico

"Viva La Mexico"

Season Number: 2
Episode Number: 1
Airdate: August 12, 2012
Director: David Von Ancken
Writer: Tony Gayton &
Joe Gayton
Producer: Tony Gayton
Joe Gayton
Jeremy Gold
John Shiban
David Von Ancken
Episode order
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"God of Chaos"
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"Durant, Nebraska"

"Viva La Mexico" is the first episode of the second season of the AMC series Hell on Wheels.


On the run for his crimes, Cullen Bohannon robs trains with a group of ex-Confederate soldiers, while Lily Bell and Thomas Durant continue the Union Pacific Railroad's westward progress.


A band of masked robbers hijacks Thomas Durant's payroll train, though a guard shoots one of them in the shoulder. The wounded bandit takes off his mask as he flees to reveal that it is Cullen Bohannon. Later, Hawkins, the leader of the robbers, gives him his cut of the stolen money. Cullen insists they save their money to start a Confederate colony in Mexico, but Hawkins thinks the men should celebrate their victory and rob more trains. Doc Whitehead, an old friend of Cullen's, extracts a bullet fragment from Cullen's shoulder and apologizes for involving him in the gang. The train robbers later drink at a trading post, where a pair of former Union soldiers provoke Cullen into a fight over their derisive comments about Southerners.

At the railway office, Lily Bell tells Durant that railroad construction has been slow and complains about the foreman. Elam Ferguson informs Durant that the payroll train was robbed again. Outside, Durant speaks with Thor Gundersen, who is tending his wagon. Gundersen offers to help restore order in town, but Durant thinks he should continue his new jobs as undertaker and custodian, having been tarred and feathered by the citizens of Hell on Wheels when he was in charge of security.

Nell finds Penny, one of the prostitutes murdered in bed, and a crowd watches silently as Gundersen loads the body onto his wagon. Durant tells Lily about the murdered woman, a first for Hell on Wheels, and Lily insists they find and punish the killer, but Durant doesn't care, as she was a whore. Lily later gives Gundersen money to ensure the dead woman receives a proper burial.

Spying on another train, Cullen recognizes Elam as the guard, then demands to be the first man on the train. As the bandits rob passengers on the train, Cullen barges into the payroll car and orders Elam to hand over the money, explaining that he is saving Elam's life. He refuses, and Cullen urges the robbers off the train, saying Elam overpowered him. Cullen urges the bandits to head straight to Mexico, but Hawkins wants to rob one more train and questions Cullen's motives. Cullen relents and agrees with Hawkins.

Durant chastises Elam for letting Cullen live, but Elam points out he was hired to only protect the payroll. He then offers to help get Hell on Wheels back on track; Durant hesitates, on account of Elam's race, but says he will consider it. At the brothel, Nell strikes a protection deal with Sean McGinnes for 10% of her profits. Sean later tells his brother Mickey that she agreed on the condition that they kill the whore's murderer. Standing at the edge of a river, Lily tells Durant that the Sioux tribe considers the land on the other side sacred and her husband Robert Bell wanted to avoid it. Durant disregards her, says the Sioux will be the least of their troubles if they do not get the railroad under control.

Doc urges Cullen to forgo the heist and leave, saying the others are unhappy with him. Later, as the men rob the train, Cullen points his gun at Hawkins as he is terrorizing a mother and child. Another Bandit knocks out the distracted Cullen, who wakes to find himself in a prison wagon. He jokes with a fellow prisoner, as they are transported to a military camp. Later, from his cell, Cullen watches a firing squad kill the prisoner, knowing he could be next.




  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 Dieter Schmidt
  5. Grainger Hines as Doc Whitehead


  1. Ryan Robbins as Hawkins
  2. April Telek as Nell
  3. Sydney Bell as Ginny
  4. Alejandro Rae as a Bandit
  5. Peter Strand Rumpel as a Train Engineer
  6. Kevin Hogg as Blackhat
  7. Kelly Frey as a Thug
  8. Mark Anderako as Ruffian #1
  9. Karen Kelly as a Mrs. West
  10. Jacob Thurmeier as a William West
  11. Chris Ippolito as a Young Engineer
  12. Aileen Harley as Penny


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 - 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. Joe Gayton - Writer
  23. Tony Gayton - Writer
  24. 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. Philip Chipera - First Assistant Director (AD)
  6. Lorie Gibson - Second AD

Featured MusicEdit

  • Will There Be Enough Water? The Dead Weather


Critical receptionEdit

The episode received fairly-positive reviews. The A.V. Club's Alasdair Wilkins gave the episode a B- grade, which was "somewhat provisional, my way of splitting the difference between all the problems of last season and the potential I still think the show has. This episode could look a lot better or a lot worse in retrospect, depending on how things proceed from here."[1] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix also gave the episode a B- grade, calling it "a solid, meat-and-potatoes example of a genre (Westerns)". However, he added that while the cinematography was "beautiful to look at", most of the characters were "still thin and unengaging, even in their new stations." Their stories, he stated, "seem to be moving in circles, even as the railroad itself keeps moving forward."[2] TV Fanatic's Sean McKenna rated the episode with 4 out of 5 stars, saying, "Maybe it wasn't a jaw dropping premiere or switched things up in a wild way, but it was engaging nonetheless and started off with plenty of promise, potential and pure Western fun."[3]


"Viva La Mexico" was watched by 2.45 million viewers and received a 0.6 rating among viewers aged 18-49.[4]


  1. Wilkins, Alasdair (August 12, 2012). Viva La Mexico. The A.V. Club.
  2. Sepinwall, Alan (August 12, 2012). Review: AMC's 'Hell on Wheels' returns for season 2. HitFix.
  3. McKenna, Sean (August 12, 2012). Hell on Wheels Season Premiere Review: Back In the Saddle.
  4. Kondolojy, Amanda (August 14, 2012). Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Hell On Wheels' Lead AMC + 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Homeland,' 'Dexter' & More. TV by the Numbers.

External linksEdit

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