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Hell on Wheels - Struck - Review: "Strike"



Struck was another solid episode of Hell on Wheels, even if it couldn't quite offer some of the best that we've seen from the show in the past as it allowed the audience to return to some of the characters who we've not quite seen on the show this season, aside from a brief cameo from Durant in the first episode of the show's final season, and it was a welcome refresher. Ever since Cullen joined the Central Pacific Railroad, Durant's been licking his wounds, and he's behind schedule with his own railroad. It doesn't help that his personality probably isn't the best suited for matters like these, usually brooding when things don't go his way. He's also joined by the other recurring cast members that we've missed for a while, Mickey, Eva, and Psalms, and now that we've had plenty of time to spend with our new cast in Truckee, Struck was the perfect time to revisit these characters even if oddly at this point I was more focused on Cullen's storyline and his interactions with the new cast, and I was kind of glad that this episode wasn't entirely devoted to Durant and company, and we got plenty of Cullen's storyline as well.

We got caught up with the more familiar characters however in quick order. Mickey's still not on best terms with Durant, still running a bar and now has Eva helping him out with the prostitutes. Durant has promoted Mickey and and his bullying cousin Johnny Shea is now the foreman. Surely Durant's got to be doing this to keep Mickey close, right? Because Shea's used some pretty brutal tactics to demonstrate his authority in this episode, and it makes an interesting reminder as to how things are working out without Cullen. There's further development for Eva as well in case you've missed her character, who's established as a boss in her own right even if it was at the cost of her child, who's deemed to be better off without her and was adopted to live in a better environment (the East Coast) than a brothel, which would of course be no place for a young girl to grow up in. It was nice to be reconnected with these three characters, and keep up to date on how they've changed as the story goes on. What I'm looking forward to the most though, as I'm sure everyone else is, is a time when Cullen reconnects with the cast, because that reunion should no doubt be an interesting one and hopefully the show's writers will deliver. But the story's not ready for them to reunite just yet, and we spent time with them separately but at the same time, managed to keep both sections interesting, and they were never really dull.

Chang using his power over the Chinese workers to gain prestige in his own right and seeing him interacting with the workers was a great moment, and the fact that the audience was kept in the dark as to what he was saying as Cullen helped increase confusion even though it became pretty clear what was happening when they refused to work. We got to see an approach that avoided open violence, with Cullen keen to avoid open conflict that would have led him with a reduced amount of workers and been a massive blow to completing the railroad, giving Durant a much needed advantage. So a peaceful solution was always the best one and the compromise that allowed for a good understanding to be developed between Chang and Cullen which was handled well, even if it definitely won't stop them from coming to blows in the future. We did get to see Tao's diplomacy in action though, and whilst the attention may be focused on the conflict between Chang and Cullen, Tao's importance cannot be understated. He's got as much say in how things work as the others, and in the end, the compromise of a proper funeral for the deceased Chinese workers on Central Pacific's Dime and food provided to the workers was what took to end the strike before it could properly begin.

Struck offered up another decent instalment of Hell on Wheels that continued to keep the audience hooked, offering some further conflict between Cullen and Chang as well as a reunion with Durant, Eva and company as we caught up with them in a solid episode. I also feel like I should point out that I will be unable to cover the next two episodes of the series as I will be in France during the time that the episodes air and thus unable to watch them, but if all goes to plan, I should return with a double review of the last two episodes of the first half on the season in the first week of September. I may even be able to get a review of next week's episode up before I leave, however, if not, then I should be able to get Hungry Gods & False Prophets covered for sure. So keep an eye out in the future. But now that's out of the way, I'm going to finish with a couple of questions, as per normal - What did you think of this week's episode of Hell on Wheels? Were you happy to be reunited with Durant and company or do you prefer Cullen's storyline and couldn't care less about those characters anymore? Let me know in the comments below, and check out the next episode of Hell on Wheels, Elixir of Life on August 15 at 9/8c on AMC.

Overall Episode Verdict: C+
Positives:
+Threat of a strike resolved without resorting to an open conflict.
+the opening scenes where the workers refused to work.
+Durant! Eva! Mickey!

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Childhoods End, Da Vinci's Demons, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan and Murder in the First for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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