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:
- 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.
- Thought question: what is the significance of “Jewel”1 in light of saloon’s name (i.e., “the Gem”)?
- 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.
- Thought questions: what’s the importance of the symmetry of the blood-stain scrubbing?
About Rob FrieselSoftware 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
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.
@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.