Season 3, Episode 6
One Less Mule
Cullen's position is threatened after Durant files an injunction against the Union Pacific. Elam deals with a dangerous newcomer.
The Swede prepares for his Mormon baptism. In the river, Joseph Dutson blesses The Swede and dips him underwater, but then The Swede stabs Joseph and breaks his neck. When Eleanor Dutson runs into the river, The Swede kills her too. Ezra runs away.
At Hell on Wheels, Cullen shoots a mule with a broken leg. Durant arrives with Louise and General Ulysses S. Grant. "One less mule, one more jackass," Cullen says. Durant says all railroad operations will cease pending an investigation into Cullen's actions as Chief Engineer.
Elam receives a package by mail.
The Credit Mobilier Board holds a competency hearing for Cullen in the saloon. Oakes Ames accuses Cullen of "souring public opinion of the railroad." Cullen says, he has no time for a "kangaroo court." Durant shows Cullen a copy of Louise's article in The New York Tribune. The headline is "Railroad Run by Murderer." Durant names the men Cullen killed, including Buckton Prescott. Cullen blames Grant for the murder of Cullen's family.
During a break in the proceedings, Louise confronts Cullen about the truth of his accusations against Grant. Cullen replies, "What truth? Yours, mine or theirs?"
Jasper Prescott disembarks the train and follows Cullen. Elam stops Jasper from drawing his gun.
Sean worries about his future. "A man who is encumbered by what's right and what's wrong will never achieve anything," Durant says.
Louise, Major Bendix, Ruth and Mickey are called as witnesses. Durant questions them about the Mormon boy's hanging and Cullen's murderous actions. Cullen accuses Durant of "a total mis-retelling of events."
In the police office, Jasper tells Elam he's looking for railroad work. Elam looks at Jasper's hands and deduces he's lying. Jasper admits, Cullen murdered his brother and "there needs to be a reckoning." Elam takes the bullets from Jasper's gun and puts him on a departing train.
In the witness chair, Elam admits he's seen Cullen kill a man. The board clears the room to vote on whether Cullen should be relieved of duty.
Cullen gives Elam a contract securing Elam's job on the railroad even if Cullen leaves.
In the church, Ruth apologizes to Cullen for testimony which could lead to his dismissal. "I am who they say I am," Cullen says. Ruth says, Cullen can't be saved until he lets the past go.
In Durant's room, Metcalf worries Cullen won't be fired. Metcalf says, if his son-in-law, Delaney, doesn't take over, "We'll both end up in Hudson Prison." Durant writes what he calls "a backup plan" and hands Metcalf the document that he believes will make Cullen resign.
Back at the hearing, Cullen reviews Durant's document which publicly denies Cullen's involvement in the murders. He refuses to sign it. Speaking to Grant, Cullen says, "Killing ain't that easy to put behind." Cullen tells the board, "I'm a killer and a railroad man. You can't pick one without choosing the other."
That night in the saloon, Cullen tells Mickey he's quit the railroad: "Durant will finish it. He started it."
In Durant's car, Louise questions Durant's motives for getting her to write the story on Cullen. "History is never kind to men like Bohannon," Durant says. Durant also reveals he knows why Louise has been "excommunicated" to Hell on Wheels: an "unrequited indiscretion" with Tribune editor Horace Greeley's daughter. Durant declines Louise's request to help "hasten my return back to New York."
Drunk, Cullen dances at the saloon. He buys Louise a drink and toasts "to the truth." Cullen pulls Louise onto the dance floor then kisses her.
In their tent, Elam tells Eva about the contract Cullen gave him: "I got a future, but I want more than that." He pulls out a ring and proposes. She accepts.
Urinating outside the saloon, Cullen spots Jasper between train cars. Cullen points his gun at Jasper. Jasper explains, Cullen killed his brother so now he's come to kill Cullen. Cullen asks, "Anything I can say to talk you out of it?" Jasper says no. Cullen shoots him in the head.
Cullen pours Grant a shot of whiskey and invites him out for a "snipe hunt."
The Swede, dressed in Mormon attire, rides off in Joseph's wagon past Joseph and Eleanor Dutson's bodies.
Sharing a bottle of whiskey on a hilltop, Grant says Cullen can keep his job if he brings the railroad to Cheyenne (formerly Durant, NE) in 20 days. Grant adds, this will help him secure the presidency: "Northern general, Southern solider, working together to unify these United States."
The town prepares to move. Cullen stops Sean from boarding the train: "This train's for railroad employees only. You're fired." Cullen nods to Grant as the train pulls out of the station.