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redux: Deadwood as creation myth

by Rob Friesel

Coming to Deadwood‘s anti-climactic finale last night, I decided to append a few follow-up notes and thought questions to my earlier assertion that the show was David Milch’s attempt at a purely American creation myth:

  1. Upon further reflection, Milch is attempting some important inversions on the creation myth paradigm.  We’ve already discussed how his women do not give birth; instead, their quests would have less to do with “pure creation” and more to do with resisting destruction, fending off entropy.  In particular here, focus on Alma’s trials and tribulations.
  2. Thought question:  what is the significance of “Jewel”1 in light of saloon’s name (i.e., “the Gem”)?
  3. Though “Wild Bill” Hickcock dies in the first season2, his presence stays with us through — even making a reprise in the final minutes of the series finale.  He’s there to humanize mortality — on account of we have quite a bit of seemingly mechanistic killing and dying.
  4. Thought questions:  what’s the importance of the symmetry of the blood-stain scrubbing?
  1. As in “Jewel’s name being ‘Jewel'”. []
  2. And relatively early on, for that matter. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

2 Responses to redux: Deadwood as creation myth

Pete says:

My read has always been that Milch is providing a portrait of a community as it goes through various stages of development, from anarchic frontier town to established community / oligarchy within these United States. Swerengen’s “wants me to tell him something pretty,” with its bloodstain scrubbing, wraps it up for the audience: this is the story of the American experiment. Amalgamation and capital.

If you haven’t, read The Misfit, the New Yorker’s profile of Milch from 2005.

found_drama says:

@Pete— that’s a good read on the blood-stain scrubbing and one I’d subscribe to. The “portrait of a community” angle definitely works but that’s the veneer for a narrative otherwise operating as myth.

And yes, that’s a good article.

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