Five Moments of Honesty in Television – Number Five: Reverend Smith and Doc Cochran in Deadwood
David Milch’s Deadwood captured a gritty 1870's Dakota Territory and the citizens existing within its nearly lawless terrain. Milch's ensemble of captivating actors helped drive his dense dialogue, often exploring themes of corruption, misogyny, and violence. With so many deviant characters deliciously dominating the screen, it was often refreshing to watch a few purely good citizens surviving within the ranks. Two of those characters were Reverend Smith and Doc Cochran, portrayed by Ray McKinnon and Brad Dourif, respectively.
Reverend Smith begins to suffer from a medical condition that gradually causes his mental and physical collapse, and it is devastating to watch his zeal progressively diminish. In this scene, Smith is examined by the prickly yet always sympathetic Doc, and the Reverend confesses his agony over the mental anguish in which he is subjected. However, always a man of faith, Smith attributes this torment to the Will of God. He says, “This is God's Purpose, the not knowing the purpose is my portion of suffering.” Not understanding Smith's relentless devotion, Doc replies, “If this is His will, Reverend, He is a son of a bitch.”
The always altruistic Reverend takes little offense to Doc’s blasphemous remark, and the two share a moment of silence. It is deafening.
So many layers exist within the stillness of this scene, which is akin to watching two quiet flames fiercely flickering in the night.
Leave a Reply.
Some thoughts on art, life, and theatre. Stay positive.