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Season 4, Episode 11

Bleeding Kansas

Cullen and Durant fight to save the life of a criminal. Louise tries to provide support as Ruth copes with a great loss.

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In a flashback, men carrying torches escort a buckboard as it rides across the plains. The men force their way into a farmhouse and haul the family outside as the family's slaves watch. Reverend Cole steps out of the shadows, proclaims that "the time has come for the sins of slavery to be washed away from this land," and proclaims the slaves free. When the father protests, Cole decapitates him. Blood spatters onto the face of a child hiding in the buckboard: It's 10-year old Ruth, who watches as the rest of the family is slaughtered.

Cullen calls gently to Ruth, pulling her out of her flashback. Cullen hands Ruth off to Louise so he can deal with Sidney Snow, who lies bleeding in the street after being shot by Ruth. When Eva yells that Sidney doesn't deserve to live, Cullen responds, "He dies, Ruth's a murderer."

Cullen sets up a makeshift surgical table in the Palmer Hotel's dining room, and Eva assists. Cullen realizes the bullet is still lodged in Sidney's gut, and packs the wound with coffee grounds to stem the bleeding.

In the Cheyenne Leader office, Ruth looks at her gunpowder-stained hands and shows them to Louise. "I have my father's hands," she says wanly.

Cullen approaches Durant and tells him Sidney needs a doctor. "He needs to be put down," Durant responds, "It's what's best." "For everybody but Ruth," Cullen counters. Durant sighs and grabs his medical kit.

Durant arrives at the hotel and assesses Sidney's condition, determining the bullet nicked Sidney's celiac artery and that the damage will need to be surgically repaired. As Durant digs into the wound to find and remove the bullet, Sidney passes out from the pain.

Returning to the flashback, Reverend Cole catches 10-year-old Ruth reaching for his sword on the buckboard and realizes she saw everything. He smacks her across the face. After Ruth cries and confesses, Cole explains that those men were sinners and that "God extracts judgment against such men through me. It's God's will."

In the newspaper office, Ruth chugs water. Cullen takes the pitcher from her and says, "Water won't chase the metal from your mouth. That's from your heart racing. It's what happens when you shoot a man." Cullen tells her Sidney is still alive and will hang for his crimes.

Campbell instructs Cullen to go to the jail and arraign Ruth. Of Sidney, Campbell says, "As soon as he's able, he'll stand trial for murder, be convicted, hanged and forgotten. In the event that he dies first, it must be seen that she is held accountable."

A group of hoodlums who call themselves the "Dead Rabbits," led by "Dandy" Johnny Shea, arrive in Cheyenne by train and go looking for Mickey. At the brothel, Mickey welcomes them with a round on the house. Shea asks Mickey why he called them out West. "We're gonna extort some people, bash some heads, and strong-arm a governor," Mickey replies. Shea grins, "It's grand to see you, Mick."

In the hotel, Durant tells Cullen he's stemmed the bleeding and stabilized Sidney. As they talk, a semi-conscious Sidney lurches off the table and grabs his gun. He aims at Cullen and pulls the trigger, but the gun is empty. "You know me better than that," Cullen admonishes. Sidney's injured leg buckles and he collapses to the floor. Durant and Cullen get him back on the table, pull back his bandages, and discover Sidney's leg is spurting blood. Durant says it's over because the artery is shredded: "I can't fix that, and I can't stop the bleeding."

Cullen instructs Durant to cut off Sidney's leg to keep him alive and fetches a saw. Durant tries to talk him out of it, saying no jury will convict Ruth. Cullen refuses to take the chance, and pours whiskey into Sidney's mouth as Durant begins the operation.

In the saloon, Campbell drinks with Judge Webber and discusses Ruth's future. Webber notes Louise will need to be "managed," as she's "widely read and known to be critical of your policies." Campbell responds that he'll handle Louise. Mickey and Shea stroll in, backed by the Dead Rabbits, and Mickey announces to the crowd that Shea is now "the proprietor of this establishment." Shea challenges Parker and asks Mickey if he's "the coward who beat you when your hands were tied." When Mickey affirms, Parker throws a nervous look to Campbell. Realizing he can't win this fight, Campbell concedes: "The casino is yours, Mr. McGinnes." Parker moves to leave, but Shea punches him in the face, then kicks him with a blade embedded in his boot. Parker falls to the ground, and Shea presses his thumb scoop into Parker's eye. As Parker screams in pain, Mickey tries to stop Shea, but Shea responds, "I love you, but I don't work for you," and scoops out Parker's eyeball.

Ruth reminisces about her father. She tells Louise she's a mother, not a martyr like him.

Cullen amputates Sidney's leg below the knee.

When Ruth tries to leave the newspaper office, Psalms stops her, acting on Cullen's orders.

Cullen praises Eva for helping with Sidney, and quickly learns she's still upset with him for killing Elam: "He would've left quiet with me. You took that from us."

Sidney is brought to an upstairs room to recover from his amputation. "All this to see me hang," he says. "First you're gonna save the church lady," Cullen responds. Sidney doubts this one good act will "wash away all the bad I done." He asks Cullen, "What becomes of men like us?"

Cullen gives Ruth an update and promises to rebuild the church once Sidney hangs and she is freed. "You can't rebuild what I lost," she says.

Cullen asks Durant what will happen to men like them after the railroad is built. Durant answers, "I will be remembered as the man who built the Transcontinental Railroad. You will not be remembered at all. Not even by me."

Cullen hears a noise and runs upstairs, where he finds Sidney sitting on the windowsill. He tells Cullen a story about mocking a Union soldier whose legs had been blown off. Cullen realizes Sidney's stump is bleeding and pulls him back to the bed. "I know what happens to men like us," Sidney says, "We die alone." Sidney closes his eyes and dies.

In another flashback, 10-year-old Ruth sits in the barn with a bible. "This pleases me much," Cole says. "Thou shalt not kill," she reads. Cole explains that God sent him to avenge the men's sins. Ruth turns to a page she's bookmarked and reads, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, sayeth the Lord." Cole reddens. Ruth starts to read another passage but Cole shouts, "Enough!" and grabs the bible. Ruth asks what it means, but Cole answers that she'll understand when she's older.

In the newspaper office, Ruth tells Louise, "God doesn't avenge sins through his creations. He doesn't move men to kill."

Louise finds Campbell at the jail. She tries to convince him to not prosecute Ruth, but he insists, "I'm not a fool, but I am the governor." He suggests that it would help Ruth's cause if "until this matter resolves, you keep it out of the newspaper."

At the hotel, Campbell reminds Cullen he still has a job to do.

Cullen tells Ruth about Sidney's death. She walks with him to the jail.

In the newspaper office, Louise types out the names of the week's killings. The list includes Ezra and Sidney Snow.

At the jail, Cullen tells Ruth he's sorry and promises to figure a way out. Ruth assures Cullen she's fine, and says it wasn't his fault or God's will. "The only thing more satisfying than shooting Mr. Snow was the moment you told me he was dead," Ruth says, before stepping into a cell and pulling the door closed.