The new HBO series Deadwood is the richest source of economics and management insights that the legacy media have ever produced. It also won two Emmys and has been renewed for a second season. No word when that will be or whether the first season will be out on DVD.
BTW: no intention to offend anyone ... the show repeatedly uses the words whores and pussy, so I will too where it follows the show.
Here's what I got out of the fourth episode, which originally aired last spring and in repeats this past summer.
After finally winning at poker, Hickock tells Bullock that "It looks like the camp is a good bet. They'll get the Sioux making peace. Pretty quick you'll have laws here and every other thing." Bullock remarks that I'd just settle for property rights" to which Hickock responds "Would ya?"
Swearengen now wants to bid on Garrett's claim, and Farnum can't figure out why. Swearengen tells him that it is worth losing the $20K on the claim if it keeps the Pinkerton's away. Farnum continues to act as the middleman and offers Alma Garrett $12K for the claim. She defers, and secretly enlists Wild Bill Hickock to evaluate the claim instead. Farnum is optimistic that she will sell, but Swearengen is nervous that she did not accept right away. He pushes Farnum as to whether he offered her the whole $20K, and when told that only $12K was offered he is angry. But Farnum negotiates to keep $2K if he can get Alma Garrett to settle for $12K.
Alma Garrett suspects foul play in the death of her husband. She asks the doctor for confirmation, but he declines. She confronts him: "Do other considerations constraint you? Other men?".
Alma Garrett wonders if she should "View [her] time here as one experience bought at a single price". If that is the case, then it would be optimal to leave.
But, she is concerned about the value of the claim - a claim apparently worth killing over. Further, why kill her husband, rather than just buy the claim from him?
After Alma Garrett hires and pays Wild Bill Hickock, he immediately goes to discuss the matter with Swearengen. He pockets a payment from him as well to report back to Alma in a "favorable light". Hickock recommends to Alma that "Unless you need the money right away Mrs. Garrett, I'd defer a decision until someone honest and competent did a second reconnoittre.". Hickock recommends Bullock, and gives both payments to him.
After finally meeting Wild Bill Hickock in The Gem, Swearengen wonders why he hasn't graced the place before. "No poker" says Hickock. Swearengen opines that he sticks to "liquor, pussy, and faro, anything else slows down the joint".
This meeting provokes a visit to Swearengen from Nuttall, who owns a small competing saloon that pays Hickock to gamble there. Swearengen assures him they made no appearance deal.
Opportunity Costs of Lives
Ellsworth knows his life isn't worth much since he saw Dority kill Garrett, and he presumes that Swearengen was behind this. But, he isn't sure if Dority knows he was a witness. So, he asks Dority for advice, and indicates that he would flee town if given a high sign that his life was in danger. Dority asks Trixie for advice, and she advised Dan to neither kill Ellsworth or tell him to run. She must think that Ellsworth's information is too valuable for him to divulge.
See my earlier posts about Deadwood.