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Deadweek: Tactics and True Position—The Rise of Silas Adams

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Deadweek: Tactics and True Position—The Rise of Silas Adams

It had to be one of the quickest seductions in the history of television.

When Silas Adams (Titus Welliver), the emissary for the territorial government in Yankton, comes face-to-face with the cunning ambition and focused mercilessness of Al Swearengen in season one, he’s already half wooed. When they consider the problem of corrupt Yankton magistrate Clagett, Adams’ boss, who’s extorting Swearengen—and the town—with an old murder warrant from Chicago, Adams sees the light.

“Maybe the magistrate needs to die,” Swearengen muses.

“Maybe he does,” Adams agrees.

“And the person who did it,” Swearengen adds. “It would only be the beginning of his usefulness to me.”

“If that person didn’t come back with the warrant on you quashed, he’d be a fool not to think he’d be the next one killed.”

“That’s why he’d be so useful to me,” Al says. “Thinking that far ahead.”

It’s a dance, both men taking each other’s measure, but recognizing their kindred spirits. They disagree on the price: Al offers two thousand for the magistrate’s murder and the quashing of the warrant. Adams asks for twenty.

“Do it for two,” Al says. “You gotta believe the job would open the door to your future.”

And it does. Despite being a bit of a dandy (“shorn and groomed to a fucking fare-thee-well,” Al opines) and having the best hair in the camp, Adams quickly becomes Al’s right-hand man in matters of deception and strategy. But this romance was already off to a good start. When they first meet, Adams is the only one in town willing to answer Al’s insults and profanity with his own. But he also realizes he’s in the presence of a master, especially when he watches Al drown one of his own men, the hapless junkie Jimmy Irons, as both a troubleshooting measure and an object lesson to those present. Adams recognizes Al as the patriarchal powerbroker he is, someone adept at both strategy and the knife.

Once he joins Swearengen, Adams (a totally fictional creation, with no historical equivalent) fills a role that seems to have been waiting for him all along. Al’s henchmen, Dan Dority and Johnny Burns foremost among them, are loyal to a fault but more than a little thickheaded—and shortsighted. But Adams is capable of supplying key information to Al to help formulate his plan to deal with the annexation of the camp, as well as personally hammering out an agreement in writing with the territorial authority. He’s a sharp mind as well as a strong hand, both of which Al requires if he—and the town—are to evolve. Al needs him, and Adams knows it and isn’t afraid to crack wise with his mentor. After the bruising fight between Seth Bullock and Swearengen in season two, Adams reveals that Bullock’s well-being could strongly affect whether South Dakota or Montana—where Bullock most recently hailed from—hold sway over the camp.

“In the thoroughfare, as I readied to stab the cocksucker,” Al asks. “Did you have no impulse to hinder this?”

“Moment didn’t seem right,” Adams answers.

“Over time, your quickness with the cocky rejoinder must have gotten you many punches in the face.”

“Depends what you call many.”

Al also trusts Adams because he’s not afraid to give him an answer he may not want to hear—or no answer at all. His desire to make Al happy doesn’t obscure his reading of the events around him.

This competition for Al’s fatherly affections naturally causes friction between Adams and Al’s other “son”—barkeep and bodyguard Dan Dority. Dan, who’s genuinely brave as well as ruthless, almost comes to tears when he feels Al is favoring Adams over him. But despite the jealousy Dan feels toward Adams (“There’s another fucking clever one” Dan pronounces at one point), they gradually come to terms, especially during the brutal Chinatown raid in the season-two finale. In that fight, intended to consolidate Swearengen’s power, Adams saves Dan’s life—on the same day he helps finalize the annexation agreement. “A day’s full course,” Al compliments him. “Inside and out.”

But Adams isn’t simply an opportunist. He does have his own ragged moral code. He seems to genuinely want Dan’s acceptance, or at least some sort of uneasy truce (”’Any chance you and me don’t end in blood?” he asks ), and is clearly pained when he realizes the extent of Al’s illness at the beginning of season two. And it’s his chivalrous nature that allows Miss Isringhausen (Sarah Paulson), the undercover Pinkerton agent working as a tutor for little Sofia, to play him so expertly. When she first approaches him, he looks away and shuffles his feet like a schoolboy. It’s only when she says she’s in fear for her life that he snaps to attention and offers her his protection and the use of his room (“I can sleep anywhere,” he says. “I’m like a dog in that regard”). And though he’s soon, as Al would put it, “cunt struck,” he quickly catches on that Isringhausen is using him to help forge a deal with Al. As he sits in on that meeting between these two master schemers, he realizes how out of his depth he is. When it comes to women, it seems, he’s half smart at best.

But misguided chivalry aside, Adams is a man of his times, smart, crafty and tough, forward-thinking and bloody-minded. He’s uniquely equipped to serve his own interests and Swearengen’s. And as Swearengen’s destiny entwines with that of the town, Adams becomes a key player in a much bigger picture, whether he realizes it or not.

Wallace Stroby is an editor at The Star-Ledger, author of the crime thrillers The Barbed-Wire Kiss and The Heartbreak Lounge, and publisher of the blog Live at the Heartbreak Lounge. For more on Deadwood, see “The Deadwood Columns” in the sidebar at right.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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