Character Development: Something’s Going on with Eva, Hell on Wheels “The Game”
Kara has already astutely covered Bohannon’s evolution in “The Game,” and aside from being overly concerned that Bohannon was going to lose his horse, the other thing that stuck for me about this episode of Hell on Wheels is that I think something is seriously going on with Eva, and it’s not going to get any better now that her baby is missing.
Eva’s been a compelling character since the jump. We’ve watched her evolve from a kidnap survivor and mistreated prostitute to a dutiful wife to a woman who decided to live openly with the man she’d loved all along, and begin a family. In the middle of all that, she’s been plagued by a sense of doom, and she articulated as much to Louise last week in “Range War,” when she said she worried about her ability to bring on bad things, especially in light of Mr. Toole’s suicide. That foreboding was compounded when Mr. Toole’s brother, Declan, arrived, essentially to stake his claim on her and her daughter. And now we have an Eva who is just short of terrified.
When last season closed out, and this season begin, we went with the notion that Eva was being truthful about the timing of her pregnancy–the child she was carrying was Elam’s. The baby arrived, and Eva explained her light skin as early days, so we didn’t question it. Last night, Declan proclaimed that the girl reminded him of Mr. Toole and his own son, and Eva didn’t protest. So, maybe, Eva fudged the timeline and her daughter is not Elam’s, or maybe she can see a silver lining in Declan’s offer to just whisk them out of Hell on Wheels. We don’t know.
While Eva’s been wrestling with all this, she’s been alone. Elam’s been away, putting himself in jeopardy (mostly at Bohannon’s insistence) pretty much at every turn. We know from what Elam has said that this worries Eva, and we saw her finally express those concerns to Mr. Durant, of all people–a man whose life she saved and with whom she shares an unlikely bond. He offers her and Elam a way out with stock on the railroad. And he confuses her further when he gives her the article Louise has written about her and her head swims.
Later, when she asks Elam to read it to her, she tells Elam she doesn’t recognize that person. He insists that she is, and then he gets bogged down in Louise’s description of him as Eva’s “freeman lover.” Elam misreads it as Eva wanting to be perceived a certain way in the big city, and maybe leave him. She tells him he’s her man, period, and goes after him, telling him it’s not about him or Declan. It’s about her, and her fear for herself and her actions, and what she might do to the baby, and that she’s not the same since the baby. And there it is–she doesn’t know herself anymore.
She shows him the stock and tells him she wants them to leave–together–so they can all be safe. Elam walks away from her and the argument isn’t finished. We segue to the scene with Bohannon and Louise and then we hear Eva screaming that the baby is missing. Everyone comes running and Bohannon finds a cut in the back of the tent where somebody has snatched her away. Next week, the search is on and Eva is incosolable.
So, my takeaway, and I’m thinking a few steps ahead–but this was where my brain went–is that Eva is likely suffering from Post-Partum Depression–and kudos to the show if they’re going to go there in the middle of a 19th century Western. I worry for Eva if that is what it is, because they can’t give it a name, and treatment is unlikely for a woman in that situation, time, and place, but it’s a great storyline for Robin McLeavy to play. She’s already done phenomenal work with such a wide-ranging character up to now, and I know she will completely deliver.
This season, we’ve seen Eva help others–she did what she could for Dick in the season opener, and she tried to help the young prostitute who’s dying–she kept her from bleeding out and she gave her the name of a doctor to see when Mickey evicted her. But she hasn’t been able to get a grip on herself. She tells Durant that she doesn’t feel worthy, or valuable, and he assures her that she is, but she can’t see it.
And when Declan comes calling and offers her a solution, and the tiniest bit of daylight is there because in the very least, she wouldn’t be alone, you can understand where she might rationalize his option as a plan B. I think she loves Elam. I think she wanted her daughter to be his, but I’m not so sure anymore that she is.
I hope the arc doesn’t play out that, within the fog of PPD, Eva had a hand in the disappearance of her child to force a resolution and a way out when she couldn’t see one clearly.Â The upside, if there is one, to a short season, is that we’ll get there soon enough. This continues to be such a good show. I’m so glad we got a third season.
Hell on Wheels airs Saturday at 9/8c on AMC.
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