In the finale of the first season of Hell on Wheels, we left Cullen (Anson Mount) fleeing with a bounty on his head, Elam (hip hop legend Common) saying his farewells to Eva (Robin McLeavy) and looking to move up in the ranks of the railroad company, Lily (Dominique McElligott) as a young widow teaming up with Durant (Colm Meaney), and “The Swede”(Christopher Heyerdahl) disgracefully debunked from his post as head of security.

As the second season begins, we find the same characters in very different places. For one, Durant’s payroll train has been hijacked again. Cullen has joined up with a group of bandits who have been robbing trains in order to fund a confederate colony in Mexico, and is still grappling with events from his past as he gets into it with ex-Union soldiers taking potshots at the South. Elam, who is hired by Durant to serve as protection for the payroll car, goes to Nebraska to visit Eva, now living with Mr. Toole (Duncan Ollerenshaw). While guarding the vehicle, Elam is spotted by Cullen and eventually they have a showdown in the car, which Elam uses to try to advance in the railroad company, although Durant isn't buying it.

The town is also dealing with rampant crime. A prostitute is found murdered in bed, which lands Sean (Ben Esler) a job protecting Nell (April Telek) and her girls, with the caveat that she also demands that Sean eliminate the murderer. Sean informs his brother Mickey (Phil Burke) about the deal, but is not happy with the idea of getting his hands dirty. Meanwhile, Lily is coming to terms with her new role in the company, and informs Durant that production is slow and the foreman is to blame. Lily also suggest that something be done about the death of the prostitute, but the unmoved Durant thinks no one in town will care because she was a lady of the night. The prostitute's death causes Lily to reevaluate her own life and her ascension in the company. There is a telling interaction between her and “The Swede,” who is now picking up trash and emptying chamber pots, which illustrates just how different a turn their lives have taken.

The second season promises substantial change: it will be interesting to see how far each of the characters are willing to go in order to achieve their desired goals. If the premiere is any indication, we’re in for a wild ride.

'Hell on Wheels' airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.

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