1883 episode 7 recap: Tornado and multiple gunshot wounds destroy caravan

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Season 1, Episode 7 of 1883. Read at your own risk!]

What’s a girl to do when she’s trapped in a tornado with a sexy new friend? Go out with them, of course. It was Elsa Dutton’s (Isabel May) coping mechanism of choice this week as 1883 introduces a few new dangers to the journey west, perhaps worse than those rivers they must cross. Wind? Wrong. Tornadoes? Wrong. Cattle rustlers with guns? Really bad. But a small bullet in the ass? Not too bad, apparently.

The caravan now travels over land owned by the Comanche tribe, which means they must pay a tax to that tribe to graze their cattle there. One of the men (Martin Sensmeier) who comes to collect the tax quickly notices Elsa, and she notices right away, much to the chagrin of new guy Colton (Noah Le Gros). Elsa wins a horse race against him and then learns that his name is Sam. He explains that he killed the man who killed his wife and then took her name. Since Elsa also killed the guy who killed her almost-husband and Sam is, to put it bluntly, very sexy, she’s intrigued. Their flirtation, however, is interrupted by the arrival of an intense storm and an accompanying tornado. Everyone is forced to abandon their wagons, horses, and even cattle as they head for cover, and Sam protects Elsa with his own body. She screams in terror for a second (about the tornado, not about Sam), then rolls over and kisses him as the eye of the storm passes over her head. She’s a weird duck sometimes, but I guess if you think you might die in a tornado, there’s no reason not to distract yourself by kissing the nearest sexy person.

As they all regroup after the storm, new cowboy Colton is a little pissed about losing a girl to a Comanche, but voice of reason Wade points out he never had the girl first. Sam, meanwhile, tells Elsa she’s always welcome on Comanche land before he leaves, for now.

Martin Sensmeier, Isabel May, 1883


The horses are quickly retrieved and it seems everyone survived the storm even though their supplies didn’t survive (including Noemi’s broken mirror), but then Shea (Sam Elliott) learns that cattle rustlers are gathering the herd about a mile away, so he, James (Tim McGraw), Thomas (LaMonica Garrett), and Elsa all come out to tend to them. Wade (James Landry Hebert) and Colton then find themselves with the no small task of telling Margaret (Faith Hill) that her daughter has gone after the cattle rustlers, so she leaves them bug hunting with little John (Audie Rick) while she alone takes a horse and a shotgun.

The thieves are obviously dealt with, but the group does not come out unscathed. James is shot in the butt, Thomas is shot in the side, and Shea is shot in the head, but they almost laugh it off and think about how their luck is running out. Elsa wins another race on her very fast horse, and Sam sweeps at the right time to take out some of the thieves with her hatchet, while Margaret murders her own rustler as he tries to steal her horse. Little John Sr. is now, as Margaret says, the only remaining member of the family who could enter Heaven, while Elsa is pretty sure they are already in Heaven and Hell at the same time.

All the events of this episode have me worried about what’s to come. Both Thomas and Shea seem sure that their minor gunshot wounds are the last time they’ll get so lucky, and I’m a little concerned that Colton isn’t the type of guy to accept rejection, or what he perceives as a rejection, fine. We also can’t forget that scene that opened this series, with Elsa unleashing some fury on a group of Native Americans after what appears to be a massacre. It seems like a very different Elsa than we’re getting to know now, but she’s definitely headed in that direction, and I’m nervous about how we’ll ultimately get there. In the meantime, I’m having a good, albeit anxious, time.

New episodes of 1883 airs Sundays on Paramount+.

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