Meanwhile, Cullen heads back to Cheyenne and the town is stunned to see him, as he was feared dead. Local whore Eva (Robin McLeavy) is very angry to see him since the love of her life, Elam (Common), a freed slave, railroad worker, and Cullen's best friend, went after him when Cullen left Cheyenne earlier and is also feared dead. Apparently, at the close of last season, Elam was attacked by a bear and we'll get to see what happened to him during the time following the attack in two key episodes. Elam does return to Cheyenne, but he is not the same man and Cullen will have to face off with him with devastating consequences.
Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), owner of the Union Pacific Railroad, has been having great troubles as his railroad construction is stalled due to the inability to get through a large mountain. Now that Cullen is back, he has ideas of going over the mountain and inventions to help with that, but Martin Delaney (David Wilson Barnes) is the new engineer and Bohannon must start back at the bottom with the rock movers. Durant's other big problem is the arrival of Provisional Governor John Campbell (Jake Weber, Medium) and his posse of jerks who intend to establish "law and order" in Cheyenne on behalf of General Grant at any cost. Campbell slowly but surely begins taking over the town, starting with the casino, which makes Mayor and casino owner Mickey McGinnes (Phil Burke) none too happy. The Governor and his marshals will butt heads with the locals with violent outcomes almost every time and leave it to local Cheyenne Leader reporter Louise Ellison (Jennifer Ferrin, The Following) to tell it all each and every time.
Unfortunately for Bohannon, who just wants to keep his head down and work on the railroad to see it finished, an old soldier buddy named Sydney Snow (Jonathan Scarfe) from the Civil War comes to Cheyenne with gun-toting Mexican officials hot on his tail. He causes all sorts of havoc and bodies drop, but when Campbell clashes with Durant again, he decides to make Snow his new marshal, instead of hanging him as he should. Campbell wants the railroad at any cost and giving Snow a badge is a dangerous thing. Even with people taking safe haven in Ruth Cole's (Kasha Kropinski) church, it seems no one is safe. Things naturally go awry and spin so out of control that a beloved cast member not only commits murder, but is hanged for the crime.
With so much having happened, Bohannon decides his time in Cheyenne is done and heads out to look for his wife and child, whom he brought back to Fort Smith earlier for their safety. He ends up having to travel to Salt Lake City in search of them and finds himself in the employ (and small percent owner) of Central Pacific Railroad to aid him in the search for his family. I guess Cullen just can't let the railroad go.
It was tough for me to come into this series so late in the game, especially knowing that Season Five will be the final season, but the characters are compelling and the story is interesting, especially since there are real people portrayed here. Cullen Bohannon is an enigmatic character and I can see how longtime viewers would be quite invested in what happens to him and those around him. This season was incredibly harsh as three beloved characters were killed off this season. Since I am not a longtime viewer, this might be a regular occurrence, but I did watch the first two episodes of Season One, and the loss of at least two of these particular characters is deep, as they go back to the beginning.
Special features are plentiful, but short and sweet. There are featurettes for every episode to give you a little bit of insight into that particular episode, as well as a few making-of's for certain episodes. You'll get a set tour with Anson Mount, featurettes on Season Four and its new characters, plus interviews with Anson Mount, Jake Weber and Colm Meaney. Jake Weber as John Campbell is despicable and he makes the character easy to hate. I found his portrayal a bit over the top, but I guess he is doing his job if he makes you hate him. Everyone plays their parts beautifully and it's easy to forget you are watching actors portraying real characters. The scenery is gorgeous and visceral, whether you are seeing the epic mountains, sweeping green valleys, or even the mud-covered town of Cheyenne. Watching it on Blu-ray makes the visuals explode from your TV screen.
Seeing where everyone is in Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season makes me want to find the time to go back and watch it all from the beginning. If you enjoy history and Westerns, you'll like Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season; just know that it's tough coming in towards the end, so watch it from the beginning if you can.