Season 5, Episode 6
Cullen and Mei take a dangerous journey through the California wilderness, escorting precious cargo. Eva nurses Louise back to health.
Mei kneels over Tao's body and closes his lifeless eyes. Disbelief turns to anguish and rage. Mei glares at Chang. "You," she seethes. Chang wipes Tao's blood from his face and promises to do everything he can to find the murderer. Mei lunges at Chang, but Cullen grabs her and wrestles her to the ground. He carries her out the door, as she struggles to get at Chang. Chang watches calmly.
Cullen tosses Mei into her tent. She tries to get past Cullen to leave, but soon breaks down and sobs, as her rage turns to grief. Mei sits on Tao’s bed. "He wanted to go home," she says softly.
The next morning, Cullen demands that Chang pay Tao's wages to Fong. Chang pauses to consider. Cullen prompts, "Give me an affirmative so I can walk out of here with a clean shirt." Chang agrees.
While hammering nails into Tao's coffin, Mei refuses Chang's money. Cullen advises her to accept it: "Pride ain't gonna bring him back. Won't ease the hurt, neither." Defiant, Mei declares, "I take my father to China."
Cullen tells Jim he's headed to San Francisco for a replacement translator. Jim asks Cullen to pick up a few things for Hanna and Janie.
Mei struggles to load Tao's coffin onto the train to San Francisco. Cullen is about to help when another man lends her a hand. Cullen turns away and steps aboard.
Brigham Young arrives in Laramie. His way into the railroad office is blocked by a taxidermy bear two men are having difficulty maneuvering through the doorway. Young shouts, "Step aside!" and single-handedly slides the bear inside. Durant is surprised to see Young. "You owe me half a million dollars for the Mormon graders," Young barks. Durant pleads poverty, but Young gives him one day to pay.
The train comes to a screeching halt in front of a bridge that's under repair. The delay will last several days, so Cullen sets off on a work road towards Sacramento where he'll catch another train to San Francisco. Mei begs to join Cullen -- the heat is bad for Tao's body. Cullen refuses. He starts to ride away when he's stopped by sounds of Mei struggling to unload Tao's coffin. "Oh, hell," Cullen mutters, and heads back.
Cullen and Mei tow Tao's coffin towards Sacramento on a supply wagon. They meet Stagecoach Mary headed in the opposite direction. After exchanging reports about road conditions -- Mary warns the river ahead is dangerous -- Mei barters for some bacon.
Over a campfire, Mei tells Cullen she's bringing Tao home. Cullen shares his own experience going home: "Sometimes I still wake up with ashes in my mouth." Mei turns in for the night. As Cullen unrolls his bedroll outside, he sees her silhouette in the tent, undressing. He watches for a moment, then turns away.
In Laramie, Durant briefs Maggie on Young's ultimatum. She points out that they're "flush," but Durant insists they have better uses for the U.P.'s money. Maggie suggests Young might accept information from Samuel's C.P. map instead.
Young approaches Eva, smoking on the Parlor House porch. She reveals her Mormon heritage and dreams of living "spittin' distance" from the Lion of the Lord, lost when she was abducted by the Yavapai. A moment passes between them. Young catches Eva's hand, takes a drag from her cigarette, and says it's never too late to return to the fold.
Cullen gets the wagon halfway across the raging river when a wheel breaks off, pitching everything into the water. Mei is swept along next to Tao's coffin. Cullen dives in after her.
The current carries them over a waterfall. Exhausted, Mei grabs hold of a large rock. Cullen drags her to shore where they both collapse. Tao's coffin, caught in debris, breaks free. Mei struggles to jump in after it, but Cullen holds her back. She eventually gives in.
Inside the Parlor House, Eva tries to get Louise, who heard Young outside, back in bed to let the slippery elm do its work. Looking pale, Louise insists on dressing -- she hasn't had a decent scoop in months. Eva warns her to respect the slippery elm.
Louise interviews Young in the hotel. He explains Mormon interest in the railroad -- it "will allow the faithful safe passage to the promised land." Young has "assurances from both railroads" that Salt Lake City will be the terminus. Louise clutches her head, thanks Young for his time, and walks haltingly out the door. Once outside, she slides down the hotel wall. Blood pools between her legs.
Cullen follows Mei, searching for Tao's coffin along the riverbank. Mei spots Tao's body on the shore. Cullen helps her drag the corpse out of the water. She sits next to it and cries.
They dig Tao's grave together until Cullen tells Mei to rest. "It is son's duty to bury father," she insists. Cullen says, "Just be his daughter." Mei relents. Cullen has dug many graves, she observes. He admits the worst were the ones he couldn't dig. Mei says she never buried her mother; now her father's ghost will also wander alone. "Maybe they'll find each other," Cullen offers.
Durant and Maggie show Young the C.P. map with Huntington's railroad bypassing Salt Lake entirely to the north. Durant, however, unrolls Delaney's bridge plans and announces his intent to bridge the lake. "We are both victims of Huntington's treachery," Durant asserts, promising payment as soon as the railroad is complete. Young stands firm, threatening to withdraw his men. Durant will withhold payment and terminus if Young proceeds. Or, Maggie offers, Young can have the C.P. map -- "proof of the Central Pacific's dirty dealings" -- as down payment. Young takes the map but threatens to "make short work" of Durant if he lays one track north of Salt Lake City.
Louise, delirious with infection, awakens in the Parlor House as Eva cares for her. Overwhelmed by emotion, Louise sobs.
That evening, Mei emerges from her tent dressed in her mother's clothes. She asks Cullen to join her at the riverbank. Mei sings a lament, then sends off two floating lanterns: one for her father and one for Cullen's ghosts. "When light goes out, they will be home," she says.
Back at the campsite, Cullen starts to turn in. Mei pauses at the entrance to her tent. "The night is cold," she says, "Too cold to sleep outside." She steps inside. Cullen follows. They lie back-to-back. "I lost my wife and boy," Cullen confides. "I'm sorry," Mei whispers. Cullen thanks her in Cantonese: "Mhgoi." "Thank you. For everything, Bossman," Mei replies. "It's Cullen," he says. Mei repeats, "Cullen." She blows out the candle.
Cullen wakes late the next morning. Mei, dressed again as Fong, has already made breakfast. "Long journey today," she says, smiling.
Phineas excitedly brings The Swede a telegram from Salt Lake City: Brigham Young has called a work stoppage because of Huntington's deception. All Mormons are to return home. The Swede declares it a great blessing, asking if Phineas is ready for his ascension. "With your help, and by the grace of Heavenly Father," Phineas answers. The Swede warns of "Hatchites" along their path: Aaron Hatch and his clan, "unholy creatures" lurking in the Utah hinterlands who will "destroy us with their hideous lies." Phineas promises to ask his father about them.
Louise, feeling better, thanks Eva with a deep kiss. "You're an angel," she whispers. "No one's ever cared for me like you."
Louise types an article titled "Road to Nowhere" exposing the U.P.'s deliberate falsification of plans in order to deceive the Mormons. She calls Durant's bridge over Salt Lake a "boondoggle," suggesting the two railroads may never even meet "in the greatest swindle of our time." Reading it, President Grant throws his paper to the ground.
Cullen returns to Truckee with Mei. Jim shows him Louise's article. Huntington is already on his way to a meeting called by Grant in Salt Lake City. Cullen starts for the train, leaving Mei with Jim. He stops and turns: "Mhgoi," Cullen says. Mei smiles.