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"Plague" is the sixth episode of the first season of Deadwood. It is the sixth episode of the series overall. It premiered on April 25, 2004. It was written by Malcolm MacRury and directed by Davis Guggenheim.


Bullock encounters native resistance in his quest to bring a murderer to justice.[1]


On the trail of Hickok's murderer Jack McCall, Seth Bullock is ambushed. Though he manages to kill the Indian who attacked him, Bullock is beaten and bloodied and soon collapses.[2]

Back in Deadwood, a john falls ill at The Gem, showing the same symptoms that felled Andy Cramed. Worse news follows when Joey, Cy Tolliver's messenger, arrives back at the Bella Union without having made Nebraska. He, too, is becoming ill and was not able to bring back the smallpox vaccine. Doc Cochran tells Swearengen about the outbreak, but the news is kept quiet for the time being.[2]

Smallpox is not the only thing on Swearengen's mind; he is still determined to steal Alma Garret's gold claim. He sends E.B. Farnum to spy on the widow to find out if Trixie has succeeded in re-addicting her to dope, but Farnum reports back to Al that she's not high. Al confronts Trixie and makes it clear that she is to dope the widow--or else.[2]

Knowing that Swearengen means business, Trixie tells Alma to fake intoxication whenever Farnum shows up. Alma understands, playing the part perfectly, and Al is immensely pleased when he gets the report.[2]

Calamity Jane returns to Deadwood, and heads to Cochran's office to get an update on the Metz girl. The doctor doesn't want to deal with Jane, but is surprised when she tells him that she knows about the smallpox. Jane explains that she's been caring for Cramed, and Cochran realizes she may be immune to the disease.[2]

Despite the growing number of smallpox cases, it's business as usual at the Bella Union, where Whitney Ellsworth is spending a lot of time at the craps table. Tension grows between Tolliver and Joanie Stubbs, and when she shows a soft spot for Ellsworth, the boss makes it clear that she needs to improve her work in the Union or he'll give her a reason to be morose.[2]

Outside of Deadwood, Charlie Utter finds Bullock, still unconscious from the attack. Charlie cleans him up, and when Seth regains consciousness, he tells Utter about Hickok's death. Utter is eager to chase down John McCall, but Bullock presses him to carry the corpse of the Indian to a proper resting place as a show of respect before proceeding.[2]

Back in Deadwood, realizing the growing smallpox threat, a small group of town leaders meet at the Gem. It is decided that they will put together money to pay for riders to get the smallpox vaccine. They also decide to set up a tent for those afflicted.[2]

In his newspaper, A.W. Merrick with heavy editorial influence from Swearengen--tries to minimize the fears that will not arise any doubts when the rest of the town learns of the outbreak. The tent is erected for the sick, staffed by Cochran, Reverend H.W. Smith and Calamity Jane.[2]



  • Tess


  • 1 unnamed Lakota Warrior



Guest Starring


  • Juddson Keith Linn as Lakota Warrior
  • Bree Seanna Wall as Sofia Metz
  • Everette Wallin as Joey
  • Toni Oswald as Bella Union Whore
  • Parisse Boothe as Tess


  • Ashleigh Kizer as Dolly
  • Candice T. Cain as Gem Whore
  • Jeff Feuerhaken as Prospector
  • Michael Keyes as Gun Store Owner
  • Unknown as Milliner

Cast notes[]

  • All thirteen starring cast members appear in this episode.
  • As of this episode Keith Carradine (Wild Bill Hickok) has been removed from the opening credits.

Memorable Quotes[]



Episodes of Deadwood
Season 1 "Deadwood" • "Deep Water" • "Reconnoitering the Rim" • "Here Was a Man" • "The Trial of Jack McCall" • "Plague" • "Bullock Returns to the Camp" • "Suffer the Little Children" • "No Other Sons or Daughters" • "Mister Wu" • "Jewel's Boot Is Made for Walking" • "Sold Under Sin"
Season 2 "A Lie Agreed Upon: Part I" • "A Lie Agreed Upon: Part II" • "New Money" • "Requiem for a Gleet" • "Complications" • "Something Very Expensive" • "E.B. Was Left Out" • "Childish Things" • "Amalgamation and Capital" • "Advances, None Miraculous" • "The Whores Can Come" • "Boy-the-Earth-Talks-To"
Season 3 "Tell Your God to Ready for Blood" • "I Am Not the Fine Man You Take Me For" • "True Colors" • "Full Faith and Credit" • "A Two-Headed Beast" • "A Rich Find" • "Unauthorized Cinnamon" • "Leviathan Smiles" • "Amateur Night" • "A Constant Throb" • "The Catbird Seat" • "Tell Him Something Pretty"