Season 4, Episode 3
Cullen goes back to work on the railroad and butts heads with his new boss. Durant and Campbell battle over a valuable piece of real estate.
Hell on Wheels returns to AMC in 2016.
Louise Ellison prepares typeset for the latest edition of the Cheyenne Leader. She writes of the "men in suits who do now with their pens what earlier, rougher men did with their guns."
Jessup steps in front of Cullen’s wagon, grabs the reins of Cullen’s horse, and threatens, "There's nothing here for Mormons but trouble." Cullen replies, "I ain't looking for trouble," but Jessup refuses to drop the reins. Campbell observes from the hotel balcony as Cullen jumps off the buckboard and walks up to Jessup. Heckard reaches for the hem of Naomi's dress. Cullen snatches Jessup's pistol from its holster and whacks Jessup on the nose with the butt of the gun. As Jessup drops, Cullen quickly turns the pistol on Heckard before Heckard can raise his rifle. Heckard drops his rifle and carries Jessup away. Cullen drops the pistol and rifle into a watering trough and climbs back on the buckboard.
Durant argues with Delaney about the railroad’s inability to tunnel through a hill of mudrock and shale. Cullen enters the railroad office with Naomi, introduces himself to Delaney, and demands to speak to Durant. Durant chastises Cullen for starting the gunfight in Cheyenne before he was abducted: "And for what? A girl you got pregnant?" Cullen asks to be reinstated as chief engineer, but Durant refuses, saying Cullen isn't dependable. Cullen notes the only way to get the railroad past the hill is to go over it, but Durant stubbornly insists on tunneling through it.
As Cullen and Naomi leave the railroad office, Mickey intercepts them. He alerts Cullen to Campbell's presence and intentions, then offers Cullen a job protecting the casino. Cullen turns him down.
Jessup and Heckard enter the marshal's office and find Tom McGuire's corpse propped upright in an open coffin. Mickey notes that McGuire was Durant's employee and says menacingly, "Next time you decide to make my business a gallows, clean up before you leave."
Cullen asks Psalms for a job laying rail with the freedmen. Psalms agrees: "Never thought I'd see the day I'd be the boss of the boss." Psalms takes Cullen, Naomi and the baby to a squalid tent on the edge of the freedmen camp. Cullen tells Naomi to see Ruth if she needs any help.
Louise finds Ruth in utter shock over Cullen's return.
Over breakfast, Louise questions Durant about his plans for Cullen on the railroad, noting the country views Cullen as a hero for saving Ezra's life and that "Washington loves a hero." Durant abruptly ends the meal when he sees some of Campbell's men erecting a flagpole with a Wyoming Territory flag on a nearby hill.
Durant confronts Campbell, who explains that the flagpole stands where he plans to build his statehouse, and that he will acquire the land under eminent domain because it's not currently in use by the railroad. When Durant responds that the hill is where he plans to build the Union Pacific food depot. Campbell tells Durant he'll take over the land "if there is no structure on that hill within 24 hours." Durant orders Delaney to divert whatever manpower he needs to build six chicken coops on the hill by the following morning.
Eva joins a poker game in Mickey's casino, using the money she took from the body of the cheater McGuire killed.
Cullen joins a line of freedmen digging on the grade as Psalms leads the men in song and Delaney watches from his caboose.
At lunch with the freedmen, Cullen tells a joke about a poodle. Monroe, one of the freedmen, asks what a poodle is. The other freedmen laugh at Monroe, who smirks.
At the general store, Naomi has no money to pay for the flour she wants to buy. Campbell covers the bill for her, noting “I’m sure Mr. Bohannon’s good for it."
Eva loses all of her money at poker when her full house is beaten by four kings. When the winning gambler departs the casino, she catches up with him and exchanges sex for cheating lessons.
Cullen overhears Delaney order double the blasting powder for the rock wall. Cullen explains that blasting a shale wall, which contains methane, will create shrapnel that’s likely to kill everyone within 100 yards. After Delaney disregards Cullen's warning, Cullen and Psalms turn the lunch tables on their sides and order the men behind them for protection. Delaney remains standing out in the open. Just before the blast goes off, Cullen grabs Delaney and pulls him to safety. The men survive the blast, but the shrapnel kills their horses.
Eva tells Cullen she's been having dreams in which she's a bear looking for Elam.
Campbell and Jessup watch Durant's men building chicken coops on the hill.
As Cullen sits down to supper with Naomi, Campbell knocks on their tent door. Campbell asks Cullen to come work for him, offering to pay three times what he makes laying rail. “Work for a carpetbagger? No way in hell," Cullen replies, and shuts the door in Campbell's face. When Naomi notes it's the second good job that Cullen's turned down since they arrived in Cheyenne, Cullen explains, "All the death and destruction I put my hand to, and was put to me, all that is for naught if I don't finish this road."
Louise asks to interview Cullen for a story she’s writing about his return. He declines.
Cullen visits Ruth and Ezra in their church. Through tears, Ruth says she and Ezra will be staying in Cheyenne when the railroad moves on. Cullen asks Ruth to look after Naomi and the baby while he's working, even though he knows Ruth's feelings about Mormons. Ruth says, "Should your wife and child ever find themselves at my door, they, like everyone else in this town, will find it open."
Outside, Ezra thanks Cullen for saving his life. Cullen replies, "You would've done the same for me."
As Cullen walks home from the church, Jessup and Heckard blindside him. They beat Cullen with clubs and leave him face down in the mud, unmoving.