Hell on Wheels: Season 3 (DVD) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Western, Drama
Director: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton
Distributor: eOne

Hell on Wheels: Season 3 (DVD) – Series Review

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Good: Great acting, interesting plot, new characters
Bad: Some scenes are not very convincing/believable
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A series where one of the main characters is a railroad can’t possibly be interesting enough to watch you say? Well, Hell on Wheels is a series that makes you change your mind pretty fast. This AMC series sure knows how to turn apparent dull things like a train and a work camp into the most interesting subjects.


If you’re not familiar with the series, here’s a little catch-up: Hell on Wheels is a mobile railroad camp (hence the name) which is in charge of expanding the Union Pacific Railroad and connecting the Far East to the Far West. There’s a fellow named Cullen Bohannon, whose family got murdered by Union soldiers and since then, he wants nothing more than make an end to the lives of the ones responsible for this horrible crime. Eventually, he gets hired by the Union Pacific Railroad where he hopes to get his revenge while being responsible for the railroad expansion. Besides Bohannon, there’re of course a lot more characters, but they mostly seem to be connected to this main character so as the story of this particular guy progresses, you’ll see a lot of growth with everyone involved.


At the start of season 3, we see how Bohannon gets back in the game after being stuck with his train and doing his very best to gain the leadership of building the railroad while his rival, Thomas C. Durant isn’t enjoying his stay in prison much. Meanwhile, Elam Ferguson (currently the chief of police in Hell on Wheels) and his lover Eva Toole are expecting a baby. Besides those main story lines, there’s still a lot more going on and this is one of Hells on Wheels’ strongest suits. This series keeps mixing events with each other while still maintaining a certain connection between them. In this manner, it’s comparable to HBO’s Game of Thrones, but less complex and overwhelming, which can be either a good thing or a less enjoyable one, depending on your taste.

While Bohannon and Durant are constantly arguing with one another over every little thing, the progress of the railroad gets disturbed by a number of situations like natives who don’t want to make room for the sake of future transport or a bloodthirsty sociopath on the loose. Solutions for these problems aren’t easy to come by so hard choices have to be made throughout the whole season and not only by Cullen Bohannon. Almost every person in the series has secrets or a past that messed them up pretty bad.


The series keeps a steady pace throughout the ten episodes and knows a good alternation between action scenes and more dramatic ones. One small remark which is worth mentioning is that some of the more action oriented scenes are not always very convincing and/or believable. To give a quick example: there’s a scene where a town gets raided by tugs and at a certain moment, Bohannon succeeds in walking (with a pretty slow pace) from one end to another without getting shot once. It’s understandable that the directors chose to do this for entertainment purposes but it makes a small dent in the credibility of such events.

The cast of Hell on Wheels does a great job of representing how the world worked in times where cowboys and Indians were roaming around. It is nice to see how some of the characters from previous seasons got a more prominent role this time around. New cast members like MacKenzie Porter (Naomi Hatch) and Damian O’Hare (Declan Toole) fit in the moment you see them. Of course, I can’t do anything else than to speak highly of the performance from the main characters like Anson Mount (Cullen Bohannon), Colm Meaney (Durant) or Common (Elam Ferguson).


Hell on Wheels season 3 comes with some extras on the discs. First of all, there’s a “Behind the scenes” documentary which is always interesting to watch and a perfect opportunity to get to know the cast and crew a bit better.

In “A Look at Season 3”, possible viewers get teased for season 3. The different themes which occur in the season are explained and this will give you a great idea of what to expect. As most of us watch these extras at the end of a season, these don’t really add a lot to the experience. Although, if you know friends or family members who might enjoy Hell on Wheels, this is a great way to get them acquainted with Bohannon and his crew.

Thirdly, viewers will get the chance to watch a recap of season 2 which is quite handy if you’re new to the series. The previous events concerning the main characters are shown which makes you understand certain things in this season better than before. For veteran watchers, there’s nothing new to see here.

Finally, the meaning and history of the song “I’m building me a home” is explained by Common (Elam Ferguson) and Dohn Norwood (Psalms) in the last extra. As this song is certainly one of the highlights in season 3, I can surely recommend watching this.


Hells on Wheels season 3 is a good follow-up season for the previous one and doesn’t fail to keep the viewer interested throughout all ten episodes. Sometimes, certain scenes fail in keeping this series a more realistic one with believable situations but that’s the price to pay if you want to witness some awesome screen time. All in all, you shouldn’t hesitate to pick this season up and if you’re new to the series, buy the whole lot while you’re at it.

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