Angela Zhou as Fong - Hell on Wheels _ Season 5, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Michelle Faye/AMC

Season 5, Episode 9

Return to the Garden

Cullen faces life-changing decisions in Utah as Truckee adapts to life without him. Durant's lies compromise his new partner.

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Full Recap

Cullen drinks from a stream. He looks up to find a Ute Indian in war paint on the opposite bank. Both men rise, silently sizing each other up. The Ute sees Cullen's leg injury, and Cullen sees a bloody wound on the Ute's shoulder. They cautiously depart in opposite directions.

Cullen arrives back at the Hatch homestead and asks for Naomi. He tells her the Swede is dead. Isaac puts a protective arm around Naomi as she invites Cullen for supper.

Over a tense meal, Isaac explains that they'll be leaving soon for Zion. He asks where Cullen is headed. "That ain't settled," Cullen responds. He abruptly stands, thanking them for dinner. He'll sleep in their barn.

Later that night, Isaac accuses Cullen of abandoning Naomi, nullifying his marriage oath. Isaac reveals that he and Naomi also swore an oath. "The difference is," Isaac says, "I'll never ride away from her." Still, Isaac thanks Cullen for saving them and "dispatching that monster."

In Laramie, a crowd spills out of the railroad office. Durant's carriage pulls up and Eva welcomes him home. She says the crowd started gathering when the morning newspaper arrived bearing word that Cheyenne -- not Laramie -- was named the railroad hub.

Inside the office, Maggie does her best to handle the irate victims of Durant's land scheme. Durant enters, deflecting blame onto the railroad board, and offers to buy back all Laramie land at 10 cents an acre above the going rate. The grumbling crowd leaves, unsatisfied.

Naomi plants flowers on her family's graves. Cullen approaches. "I never knew you was looking for me," she says. Cullen tells her of his search. "I was planning a house," he reveals. Once, Naomi admits, those words were all she wanted to hear, but that time has passed and she loves Isaac. Cullen is too late.

Cullen helps Isaac work on their wagon. Isaac says Naomi is afraid Brigham Young will turn them away. Cullen offers to use news of the Swede's death to help, and insists on seeing them safely to Salt Lake City. He promises to leave as soon as that's done.

In Mickey's saloon, Durant orders a bourbon and a thousand more Irish workers. Knowing that Durant is short 900 Mormon graders after double-crossing Brigham Young, Mickey requests payment in Union Pacific stock. When Durant refuses, Mickey does too.

Psalms comes to Durant, wanting to sell back his worthless Laramie land. Durant says he warned Psalms and refuses to apologize.

Camped in the wilderness, Naomi tends to Cullen's leg. Isaac sets up barbed wire around the perimeter. Standing guard that night, Isaac tells Cullen about his life with Naomi. Isaac observes, "All of it melts from her eyes whenever she looks at you." They're interrupted by a noise from the tripwire. Cullen investigates, finding a torn and bloody piece of buckskin clinging to a barb.

Strobridge descends into the Central Pacific tunnel and tells the workers that Huntington is back from Utah. Mei asks if Cullen is also back, but Strobridge says Cullen's found his family and won't be returning to the railroad.

Mei collects Tao's wages from Chang in the opium den, as ordered by Cullen. She hands back one of the coins and requests a room and a pipe. Chang grabs her face and asks if she plans to exact vengeance for her father's death. "I only want to smoke a little, shut my eyes and dream of home," Mei pleads. Chang releases her.

Cullen, Naomi and Isaac travel in the darkness. Suddenly they're surrounded by injured Indians on foot. Naomi realizes the Indians want their horses. Isaac protests, but Cullen warns, "Lose the riding horses or lose your scalps." Cullen cuts the horses loose and shoots into the air. The Indians chase the bolting horses and Cullen jumps in the back of the wagon as it speeds away.

Mei smokes, lost in an opium haze. Chang watches. Wai-Ling, a prostitute, approaches and offers her services. Mei allows Wai-Ling to lead her upstairs. They sit on the bed and Wai-Ling begins to caress Mei's leg. Mei catches her hand and asks for a song instead.

Isaac drives the wagon up to the Lion House in Salt Lake City, Cullen beside him. The doors swing open to reveal Brigham Young in a wheelchair, surrounded by wives. Brigham calls the Hatches apostates, but Cullen insists they're good Mormons. He informs Brigham of the Swede's hanging. "It's good the snake is dead," Brigham declares. He invites Cullen inside and allows the Hatches to stable their horses until their fate is decided.

Sitting with Brigham by the fireplace, Cullen defends Naomi and Isaac. "They're just stray sheep in need of their flock," he says. Brigham declares family a gift from the Heavenly Father and calls Cullen an apostate for "returning His gifts." Brigham lectures Cullen on the saving power of love, without which Cullen "will die a lonely, wretched thing." Overcome with emotion, Cullen asks if Brigham would deny stray sheep the love of their shepherd.

Cullen comes to Naomi bearing news that Brigham hopes to see her and Isaac in church on Sunday to have their marriage blessed. Naomi kisses Cullen and says her father would have wanted her to keep her vow to Cullen. She leaves Cullen to pray on it.

In Laramie, Psalms oversees a resentful and lackluster line of freedmen working on the cut. Almost to himself as much as to the men, Psalms angrily acknowledges they've been "tricked by the devil," but "freedom ain't easy" and the only thing they have left is their job. He steps into the cut and channels his rage into shoveling.

In the railroad office, Delaney tells Durant and Maggie that Mickey is their only resource for additional labor -- they've failed to pay the current freedmen's bonds so the prisons have refused further business. When Delaney leaves, Durant explodes in anger. Maggie stops him with a kiss. In Durant's startled silence, she reminds him that they have no remaining allies. "You need McGinnes if you want the coal fields in Ogden," she says.

Durant pays Mickey 400 shares of Union Pacific stock for 1,000 fresh workers -- and acknowledgment of additional responsibilities suited to "a man unafraid of back alleys."

Cullen packs a fresh horse for the trip back to Truckee. Isaac thanks Cullen for keeping his word. Naomi joins them, tears streaming down her face. Isaac steps outside. Cullen can barely talk, blinking back tears himself. He turns to William and tells the toddler to "Forgive. Forget. Speak true." Overcome with emotion, Cullen limps to his horse and rides away, leaving his family behind. "I hope you find love, Cullen Bohannon," Naomi calls after him.

In Laramie, Eva is transfixed by a white horse Bendix brings back from the Indian wars.

From his desk, Chang watches Mei give Wai-Ling her mother's dress outside. "Thank you, little sister," Wai-Ling whispers, "You can fool 15,000 men, but you can't fool a whore."

Cullen rides into Truckee, worn out and weary.

Mei knocks on Cullen's door. "I thought you no come back," she says cautiously. "I thought so myself, for a second," Cullen replies, "But it's all done now." Mei walks toward Cullen and drops her coat. She stands naked before him. Cullen rises from the bed and kisses her passionately. They embrace, and Cullen tosses his cane away.