There's no denying that laying tracks across the country transformed it, but does the fact that settling the West meant today's citizens can battle over water rights but shop at their big-box stores and wolf down their Big Macs in peace justify the railroad guys' grand pronouncements? Discuss amongst yourselves. It is interesting to note, however, that yesterday's glorious trains became today's underappreciated and oft-maligned Amtrak which I have to give a plug to since going up or down the West Coast on the rails means a beautiful ride with an ocean view while you laugh at all the jammed-up cars on the Interstate.

But man, does the heartbreak continue this week or what? As I've said before, anyone who knows anything about Manifest Destiny and the history of the American West knows what's coming on this show, but that doesn't make it any easier to see. The slaughter scenes were particularly tough to watch and were well handled for the most part, though I do think the shattering photos were a little over the top. Historical-point time: That incident with the bugler's body being spared mutilation was based on a real event covered in (if memory serves) the excellent Ken Burns-Stephen Ives documentary The West. And the observation made that noble people like Robert and Clara represented America's future (our present) rather than whorehouse/casino owner Daniel? Well, I suppose that's true, so long as you ignore the entire city of Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. The nicest touch of the whole two hours for me, though, was the final shot of Black Kettle, on horseback, sitting by the newly joined railroad tracks. That visual told the whole sad story from his point of view.