Season 4, Episode 1
The Elusive Eden
Cullen awaits the birth of his baby, laboring under The Swede's thumb at Fort Smith. Durant deals with the fallout from a railroad accident.
Hell on Wheels returns to AMC in 2016.
Thomas Durant watches Chief Engineer Martin Delaney drill into the Crow River ice to measure its thickness. Delaney protests against moving ahead, but Durant insists the railroad has crossed larger rivers before. Psalms and the freedmen place bets on how far the train will get before the engineer jumps out. The train moves slowly along the tracks laid across the ice until, halfway across the river, the wheels begin spinning and the train stalls. Already buckling from the train's weight and now heated by the boiler, the ice cracks open. The engineer leaps out, and the train falls through the ice and sinks.
Cullen and Aaron Hatch sit at the bottom of a well Cullen is digging for the Mormon fort. They discuss Cullen's upcoming departure, and Hatch concedes that Cullen has honored his word to stay until the crop is in and Naomi's baby is born. With Naomi due any day, Cullen says the only thing that will keep him there is Bishop Dutson (The Swede).
Cullen greets Brother Dultey at the fort gates. Dultey slips Cullen a newspaper and quietly passes on the latest word from Cheyenne about the railroad: It's "stuck and busted."
The Swede approaches as Dultey leaves, complimenting Cullen on his work on the well and encouraging him to "enjoy God's peace within these walls." When Cullen calls the fort a prison, The Swede tells Cullen he is a free man.
In Cheyenne, Durant tells Delaney he doesn't have the money to replace the material lost in the river. Durant waves to Mrs. Delaney through the window, but she turns away. Delaney mentions his wife thinks Durant killed her father.
Durant sees an exhausted Eva kneeling on the ground, washing sheets in a tub. When he comments she should be able to find something more suitable to do, she replies, "Either this or go back to whoring, and my heart ain't in it no more." Durant tells her to pick herself up.
Durant visits Mickey's casino to ask him for advice on the railroad's financial problems. Mickey points out Durant's credibility has taken a hit after the sinking of the train, and advises he sell anything of value he has. Durant convinces Mickey to buy several acres of Durant's land at auction. As he leaves, Durant tells Mickey to "get Eva out of the mud."
Naomi tends to Cullen's bleeding hands and says she knows how much the railroad means to him. Cullen tells Naomi, "You're married to a killer," to which Naomi responds, "You're just trying to scare me into not loving you so you can leave."
At the Mormon mid-day meal, The Swede tells Cullen to let go of his former life in Cheyenne. When Cullen says he had a vision of leaving the fort, The Swede becomes distressed.
General Ulysses S. Grant sends Reconstruction leader John Campbell to Cheyenne to serve as provisional governor of the Wyoming Territory and restore order to the Union Pacific. Campbell assigns his cronies to their frontier assignments: Jessup will be provisional marshal, Webber will be judge, and Atwood will be treasurer.
As Durant leads the land auction, the men grumble about losing open range for their cattle. Maggie Palmer challenges Durant's right to auction the land and tries to outbid Mickey. Mickey ultimately succeeds in purchasing the land, but uses all of his money to do it. Durant deems Mickey his partner and says the purchase is "merely moving money from one ledger to another."
As Cullen works inside the well, The Swede pulls out Cullen's ladder and questions Cullen's desire to leave, saying, "God has put me on earth to save your soul." In the background, Naomi goes into labor and screams for Cullen. Cullen asks for the ladder back, but The Swede leaves.
Dultey helps Cullen out of the well, but Hatch and other elders block Cullen from Naomi's quarters. Naomi continues to scream, and The Swede says softly, "There seems to be a difficulty with the birthing." Finally, Cullen is let through. Naomi asks Cullen to pray for her, and Cullen recites the Lord's Prayer and hold's Naomi's hand. The Swede enters, speaking in tongues.
Eva is assaulted by an Irish worker after inadvertently splashing mud on him while dumping a tub of dirty laundry water.
Mrs. Hatch hands the baby, a boy, to Aaron Hatch and thanks The Swede for his saving prayers.
Durant orders Delaney to wire Omaha for new rails and ties. Delaney hands Durant a confidential telegram from General Grant about Campbell's arrival. Durant complains, "First my own company sends you to spy on me, then the government sends an overseer." When Delaney suggests Durant is a criminal, Durant grabs Delaney and sneers, "I am capable of anything, as your wife so clearly intuits." Delaney responds, "I never said killing her father was a bad idea."
Naomi names the baby William, after Cullen's father. Cullen tells Naomi the three of them are going leave the fort together and that she must keep it a secret. Mrs. Hatch beckons Cullen outside and informs him that she wants him to leave the fort so Naomi can raise the baby as her brother and Cullen's name can be forgotten.
Mickey finds Eva's unconscious body and revives her in a warm bath. She cries as Mickey says her suffering results from her involvement with Elam. Mickey says Eva shouldn't have stopped whoring because "all women are whores by nature," and reaches between Eva's legs. She grabs his hand, holds it in place, and asks, "Is everything where you thought it would be?" Mickey stumbles backwards, shamed.
Angered by the land auction scheme, Maggie Palmer hands Durant a bill and evicts him from her hotel.
Cullen prepares to leave the fort. "Once outside those gates, I cannot guarantee your safety," The Swede says. When Cullen reveals he's taking his family with him, The Swede signals for the fort gates to be closed. Cullen asks if it's Bishop Dutson or The Swede who isn't allowing him to leave. Getting right in the Swede's face, Cullen threatens, "Whoever you are, you better shoot to kill or I'm coming back to finish this once and for all."