The third episode of 1883 titled “River” starts off on their perilous journey across the plains after leaving Texas. The Europeans are struggling to push a stuck wagon and disobey Shea’s order to get to the back. Struggling but strong-willed to push it out they find themselves in more danger than they bargained for. One German man fell and was brushed under the wheel of the wagon.
"“Death is everywhere on the prairie. In every form you can imagine. And a few your worst nightmare couldn’t muster. Death hides in creek beds, posses animals. It hides in tall grass..waiting..With every death our father moved camp a little farther away. As if death was not the result of accidents and disease, but death was its own disease. And carelessness was contagious.”"- Elsa Dutton
There is no lie that the elements of America in this day and age could be tortuous and brutal in the past. You had to remain intelligent and quick-witted at all times to survive it. And sometimes not even that was enough.
Shea and James begin to clash with a difference of opinion on where they should travel. James thinks now is the perfect time to go west but Shea knows how rough west Texas is and still wants to go east. Now that the river is dried up it strikes James as the perfect chance to go west seeing as that’s the direction they are supposed to be traveling in. Shea is really against it almost in a confident way.
"“They won’t make it, the country’s too rough. No water. There’s bandits in every canyon, and there ain’t no wall around that reservation, neither.”"- Shea Brennan
Shea is still adamant about going east to Dennison for now knowing these immigrants will die of thirst if they go west now. Thomas replies with the fact they are already dropping like flies as it is. Winter is coming and the only options they have are to go east, west, or to the Brazos to cross. Shea doesn’t want to hear it but he knows he’s right.
The cowboys need a little more assistance in watching the cattle but James needs to hunt. You can see the sheer look of excitement on Elsa’s face when Wade asks for some help. Internally she is jumping for joy. Margaret decides to go along with her which is somewhat of a killjoy to Elsa. It’s hard to get your flirt on with Mama by your side. The only reason James isn’t thrilled about it is that he’s well aware of the flirting but knows Margaret isn’t. That’s an argument that will have to be put on hold for another time.
Thomas isn’t thrilled with James Dutton’s questionable nature. There is already way too much butting heads which happens when there are two leaders. But Shea knows he’s a capable man. There’s not much he can do about his stubbornly divisive attitude. He’s not on his payroll. This episode really depicts two sides who don’t get along but can still respect each other. Which is something missing from this world today.
1883: Meet Noemi
The gypsy is struggling immensely without her husband and Shea and Thomas take her under their wing. Noemi remains in such a frail state that her sons are growing weaker from lack of thirst.
Thomas and Shea begin to teach her how to tend to the horses and ways that she can survive without her husband, she just needs to learn. She’s in a depressive and needy state and tries to come onto Shea offering to be his wife. That time for him has come and passed. He promises to help her and to get to Oregon but that’s all he can do. Not a lot was expected from women at this time besides taking care of their husbands and family. When they lost their husbands it became a desperate time of the unknown.
Thomas makes some funny jokes to Noemi about marrying the ol’ crusty captain. He’s very warm to her and reassures her they will get her through out there and she’s got a whole life ahead of her. Many men will get in line to be with a beautiful woman such as herself. Not to trade herself for love but let love find its way to her. Noemi smiles and enjoys someone taking the time to be kind to her. For the first time not feeling as weak as she knew she was.
Noemi had not only been left without a husband but without all her supplies. A group of men stole from them and Shea and Thomas brought them to justice. Leaving them without a wagon and their horses. Having no leniency on stealing. They claim that her husband stole from them first but it does not matter in the eyes of Shea and Thomas. Stealing from a weak mother with two children is cruel in any world.
1883 Episode 3: Time marches on and so does a budding romance
Ennis and Elsa waste no time flirting with Margaret nearby. Even though Elsa may not be the biggest fan of her mother, the romance blocker this is an exceptional trip for the two of them. Elsa starts to see her mother as a woman who once had the hopes and aspirations to be as wild and free as her. Margaret has a strong presence on her horse and Elsa is in awe at the majestic way she rides. For once in her life feeling like she had more in common with her protective mother than she ever knew.
Back in reality James takes John out hunting and little man gets his first kill. They hunt down a deer miraculously even when John’s mouth running the whole time. James lets him pull the trigger for his first kill. It’s a beautiful bonding experience shared similar to the one with Elsa and Margaret. But it also shows the balance between man and beast. Though they may be taking life to live they do so as honorably as they can. James tells little John you must thank the animal. He’s far too young to understand but explains to him you must find the balance between man and animal. You thank their life for allowing you to live yours, in the great circle of life.
Shea and James’ argument did not end with traveling. It is time to cross the river and there was a battle at who would go first. James of course is smart enough to know going first means he’d have to clear out all the bandits first which was unfair, and he was not putting his family in jeopardy. Shea is a lawman so it only makes sense he does the protecting first.
The herd is all settled in and Margaret and Elsa travel back to James. They share a brief nice moment sitting by the fire. Margaret knows Elsa is turning into a woman. The two hate it but in reality, you can’t stop time.
Margaret does some sarcastic teasing with him about how she did not marry a gentleman either, so maybe Elsa is not that different from her after all. ”What would you change?” James asks her and with a sly smile, she says not a thing. But a house would be nice. He lovingly replies that he will build a house so big she’ll get lost in it. Later we learn he is a man true to his word because he helped create the Dutton dynasty you now see in Yellowstone today.
Episode 4 of 1883 will air this Sunday on Paramount Networks and continue the saga of the great Dutton adventure.