Hell on Wheels: The Complete Third Season DVD Review

     Actors: Common, Colm Meaney, Anson Mount
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: July 15, 2014
  • Run Time: 412 minutes



            Many complained about the pacing of “Hell on Wheels” when it was first released, which is something I don’t exactly agree with. Compared to some of the best western television series of the past, this one seems on-par with what I would have expected. It may not have the same punch as HBO’s “Deadwood,” but it plays somewhere between that and “Lonesome Dove.” Violence and death is certainly not shied away from, even if there is also a slow enough pace for the realism of the setting to take precedence over the spectacle. If anything, it isn't as slow as "Mad Men."


            Season three shows some of the biggest shifts in the narrative since the pilot episode, with the season finale of season two resulting in the death of a major character and the removal of several others. Opening with an uncharacteristic winter sequence, we gradually return into the world of the railway with its new leader, Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount). Despite his departure, Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) remains a constant threat to Bohannan and the railroad, determined to win back his prestigious place in the making of history.


            With the early departure of Lily Bell at the end of season two, Bohannan becomes singularly obsessed with the construction of the railroad. Despite the help of Elam Ferguson (Common) and being in a place of power, this is more difficult a task than ever before. On top of competing with Durant and his scheming, the crew has to worry about the Indian Territory they are passing through. There are also Mormon settlers in the railway’s path who are more willing to kill than they are to leave their homes.


            There are ten more episodes in season three, leaving the storyline in a cliffhanger that is sure to switch up the narrative and power struggle between Bohannan and Durant once again. All ten episodes and extras are included in this three-disc DVD set. There are a few throwaway extras, such as a season two recap and a summary of season three, as well as occasionally impressive featurettes for each of the episodes and four behind-the-scenes featurettes.

    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance:  7/10

    Special Features: 7.5/10

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