By Matt Zoller Seitz
The most powerful image from Sunday's "Deadwood" episode was among its outwardly mundane: saloon owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) and sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) walking side-by-side down the main thoroughfare, talking about the impending war with the town's biggest immediate threat, mining magnate George Hearst (Gerald McRaney).
In the previous week's episode, "A Two-Headed Beast," Hearst, a fearsomely powerful man contriving to spread chaos in a place that has become progressively more orderly, suffered public humiliation at the hands of both men. He lost his chief henchman in a brawl with Swearengen's right-hand man, Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown)—the first incident since Hearst's arrival that suggested he wasn't invincible.
Later that night, the grieving Hearst cursed Bullock in public and got arrested; Bullock dragged him off to jail by his ear, like a brutal dad making an example of an unruly brat. Now Hearst is angry, and there are intimations of a coming war between Hearst's organization and the town of Deadwood itself—a prospect that ironically recalls a Swearengen line from season one when, fearing the discovery of one of his criminal schemes, he prophesied "Pinkertons descending in swarms."
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