'Deadwood', to those who watched its three seasons, know that prestige and gilded accolades were never what it was about.
For all the flowery language and Shakespearean verse that percolated every scene, there were twenty-seven varieties of cursing mixed in. It never strayed from its own path, decidedly lacking in "world-building", and its characters were flawed and human. While it had flavours of Western tropes, 'Deadwood' made clear that its taste were unique - and never failed to remind the audience as such.
The third and final season saw the emergence of the future, signified by Gerald McRaney's blank-faced arch capitalist George Hearst. Now, a decade after the ignominious cancellation, we see that Hearst has returned and with him, the promise of more violence and bloodshed - and that the future will take Deadwood no matter how hard it resists.
At a tight hour fifty, 'Deadwood' keeps the plot thin and lets the characters breathe in and out to let them remind us why the show was so good. Each and every actor fits into their role, but not in a way that sees them repeating the same, but advancing their characters to new and unexplored realms. Ian McShane's snarling Al Sweargen is now an elderly, sickly man. Timothy Olyphant, now in his middle-ages, wears his years like a cloak and calls to mind the likes of Tommy Lee Jones with his stillness.
The years and the passage of time are as much about 'Deadwood' as is the reality that their ways, such as they are, cannot continue. The whole crux of the movie / feature-length episode centres on Hearst attempting to buy up land so he can continue the march of progress (and telephone lines) through Deadwood. It's not that the story rails against it, more that progress - as that determined by Hearst, anyway - comes with bloody hands and is rarely worth the cost of it.
David Milch's script glides easily and naturally, with its ornate dialogue never missing to draw out a scene with exquisite ease. There's not a moment lost in 'Deadwood' to vanity, or even sentimentality - except for the ending, which feels not only earned but needed for what's come before it. It's not rushed, nor does it linger on the note for the sake of itself. When it ends, it ends as it should - on it's own fucking terms, with a small measure of dignity.
'Deadwood' airs on Sky Atlantic tonight at 9PM.