Season 2, Episode 6
Purged Away With Blood
Durant must save the railroad while fighting for his own life. Meanwhile, Cullen fights to save an old friend.
Hell on Wheels is currently not in season.
The Swede and Reverend Cole rendezvous with a band of Sioux Indians. The leader, Yellow Dog, gives The Swede a white wolf pelt and The Swede explains that the Sioux rescued him after he was chased out of town. The Swede tells Cole that he is the White Spirit, and the two distribute rifles to the Indians.
Durant hallucinates about his son as he is transferred to the train to Chicago. Lily informs him that she's telegraphed his wife, who will meet him when he arrives. Durant begs Lily to stay with him, but she insists on remaining behind to oversee railroad business.
Elam tries to stop a pregnant Eva from escorting Durant as his nurse, but she says “my condition ain’t none of your business” and explains that Durant “asked for me himself and he’s paying me, just like he pays you.”
Cullen prepares to flee with Doc, but Lily says Durant could die without Doc to treat him. “Doc will die if I don’t get him on this horse,” Cullen argues. He adds that if Durant dies, Lily “won’t have to share his bed no more.” Lily lunges at him, appalled.
At the railway office, Doc tells Cullen he won’t abandon Durant despite the death warrant. Cullen relents, but makes Doc promise to get off the train before it reaches Chicago.
On the train, Eva tells Doc that Durant’s fever is down then grabs her belly. She reveals that she’s three months pregnant. When Doc asks if she has a man, she says, “What I got is a whole lot of heartache.”
A track explosion halts Durant’s train and a band of armed Sioux board, followed by a sword-wielding, Bible-quoting Cole. Cole orders Durant to publish his manifesto on the front page of the New York Tribune or else all hostages will die. Durant reluctantly agrees.
Back in town, Lily shows Cullen a telegram sent from Durant’s train. “The crimes of this guilty land can only be purged away with blood,” she reads. Recognizing the text as John Brown propaganda, Cullen leaves the office in haste.
Cullen requests permission to board the hijacked train. Once inside, Cullen tells Cole that killing innocent people will not save the Indians. “Pray on it,” he suggests, “I know God will lead you to do the right thing.” As Cullen leaves, Cole shouts, “Blood is God here!” and impales the conductor on his sword.
Lily arrives and confers with Cullen and Elam. Cullen says Cole is “sober as a judge; mad as a hatter” and advocates taking Cole’s train by force, but Lily insists on negotiating. “Why do you think Durant sent us that telegram instead of sending it on back East?” asks Cullen. “This is what he wants.”
Durant engages Cole in conversation about the sacrifices they’ve made to achieve their goals. “I’ve been a terrible father,” Cole admits. “Great men often are,” agrees Durant, adding that his wife never forgave him for it. Cole says the manifesto is his legacy to his children, like Durant’s legacy is the railroad. But Durant says Cole is “on the wrong side of history” and will be vilified.
Cullen and Elam spray the hijacked train with gunfire, hitting the guards. Inside, Eva and Doc grab the wounded Yellow Dog and hold him until he bleeds out. Cole holds Doc at gunpoint, prompting Cullen and Elam to stand down. Cole retreats inside and sighs, “I want to see my children.”
Elam confides that Eva is carrying his baby as he and Cullen keep watch on Cole’s train, while Lily and Joseph find Ruth at church and explain the situation. “There’s nothing I can do,” Ruth claims, but Joseph begs her, saying, “I know you don’t love me anymore, but please just do this one last thing for me.”
On the train, Cole tearfully apologizes for being a bad father. “I forgive you, Papa,” she cries as they embrace.
Outside, The Swede escorts authorities toward the train car. Cullen curses The Swede for leading them to Doc.
Back on the train, Joseph tells Cole that Jesus will only forgive him if he lets the hostages go. “I’m going to kill them all,” Cole whispers, “but I’m doing it all for you.” Joseph tells Cole he loves him, then stabs him in the gut. Ruth sobs over Cole’s body.
Joseph exits the train car and hands Cullen the bloody knife. The authorities take Doc into custody.
As the track is repaired, Elam tells Eva they need to discuss the baby when she comes back from Chicago. “You mean your baby,” she says.
Near death, Durant tells Lily that he needs his wife’s forgiveness. Lily says goodbye and leaves.
Doc asks Cullen “to see me out of this world.” He adds that “there’s no honor in the way I’ve been living. Least I can do is die with some.” Doc kneels in the grass and urges Cullen to be strong. Cullen closes his eyes and shoots Doc dead.