Deadwood: The Movie provides fans of HBO’s hit show with a fitting finale after they were unexpectedly canceled thirteen years ago. Deadwood was able to pick up exactly where it left off 13 years ago and maintain the same level of quality we’ve come to expect from a series written by David Milch. It makes you wonder why they even canceled the show, to begin with. The whole cast is back for the movie, and what stood out was the attention to how season three ended and how they used it to craft the film. While I don’t think that it’s necessary to go back and rewatch the series before May 31st (which is when the film debuts on HBO) it does help to have some working knowledge of the series.
Deadwood takes place in the late 1800s in a small South Dakota mining town. Timothy Olyphant plays Deadwood’s marshall Seth Bullock who is charged task of maintaining order where justice is often dished at the end of a gun barrel. Ian McShane plays Al Swearengen, a businessman who runs the local brothel and has many run-ins with Bullock over the years. It does seem over the years that their tensions have pacified and now they share a common enemy.
At the end of the third season, Al’s one true love, Trixie (Robin Weigert) attempted to kill George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) as one of bringing and to the evil deeds he’d committed in Deadwood. Well, she didn’t succeed, and he demanded Al kill his one true love as a way of forgoing bloodshed. Being that Hearst never got a good look at her, Al killed another girl and passed her off as Trixie. Fast forward to ten years later, Now Senator Hearst rides into town to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood and continue the construction of phone polls throughout the countryside. The great Senator from the state of California is bound and determined to see this project through by any means necessary, and it’s those means which lead to turmoil in Deadwood.
McShane and Olyphant’s intensity ignited this narrative and was reminiscent of what we saw at the beginning of the series. The ensemble was strong as well, which always makes for a more pleasant viewing experience. I don’t see them reviving the series (partially based on how the film ends) but mostly because that was never the point of the series. The Deadwood: Movie is David Mich’s present to the hardcore fans who have clamored for this and what a great gift it turned out to be.