‘1883’ Bids Goodbye to More Characters as Tensions Rise [Spoiler Alert]
1883 brought the tension to the boil-over point during Episode 3, which bid farewell to several more characters while also offering a few tender moments.
Episode 3 opens with a wagon that's bogged down in a rut, and then one of the immigrants traveling on the wagon train that's headed West is accidentally killed after he does not listen to Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott). The next minutes are a montage of all of the various ways some of the travelers wind up dying along the way during the early days of the arduous journey, but as many obstacles as they have to face and overcome every day, there is one hurdle they cannot clear: They come to a river the wagons cannot cross, forcing them to make a decision to either turn West or East to find a place to ford or ferry, which will cost them valuable time as winter approaches.
Viewers see tensions start to rise between Brennan and James Dutton (Tim McGraw) after Dutton questions Brennan's leadership, but Brennan leaves absolutely no room for questions among the wagon train when he and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) come to the rescue of a widow whose husband died along the trail. They deliver some harsh lessons to a group of men who stole from her, but Brennan is forced to teach that lesson even more harshly when they don't leave after he tells them he'll kill them the next time he sees them. He imparts a hard truth to one of the men that provides some new insights into his character's dark past, explaining that he's killed so many people that one more means literally nothing.
Overall, Episode 3 ratchets down on the levels of violence we saw in the first two episodes while increasing the tension. There's also some sweetness to the episode as character arcs between James and the Duttons' son, John (Audie Rick) and Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill) and their daughter Elsa (Isabel May) reveal new sides to all of them. John shows a sweeter side as he takes his son on his first hunt, while Elsa comes away with a newfound appreciation for her mother after they ride herd together, forcing her to see her in a new light.
There's also a sweet scene between Margaret and John as they talk about Elsa's ongoing flirtation with one of the cowboys who's along for the ride. Looking back on their own life together, he asks her what she would change.
"Not a thing," she says before adding that she would like a house someday.
"I'm gonna build you a house so big you get lost in it," he promises her — a promise he seems destined to keep, if the Dutton Ranch on Yellowstone is any indication, but not without great challenges ahead.
Episode 3 of 1883 ends with James Dutton giving permission for one of the cowboys to court his daughter, and the way they banter and exchange glances tells us more is coming. But the episode ends with a menacing voiceover from Elsa that foreshadows something very bad is coming, so viewers might not want to put any money on Elsa's suitor being a long-term character.
Viewers are left with a series of questions going into Episode 4. Will John and Brennan get on the same page, or is trouble brewing? Will Elsa's new sort-of boyfriend keep his promise to James not to get "handsy"? How many more of the travelers will die on the journey? And will the men who were ejected from camp do as Brennan predicted and return with others to attack the wagon train?
1883 returns every Sunday via Paramount+.
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