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1883 3.1
Photo: Emerson Miller/Paramount+

Television

‘1883’ episode 3 review: A slow start to a dangerous journey

In this week’s 1883, Brennan has early conflicts with the Duttons and his group.

Last week, the two-episode premiere of 1883 was released. The Yellowstone prequel gave the audience a look into the past when John Dutton’s grandfather, James, first set out to Montana to earn the family fortune. It’s a perilous trek and there can be safety in numbers so the Duttons travel with an expedition of immigrant settlers lead by former American Civil War captain, Shea Brennan.

The journey has barely begun and it is already taking a toll on the group. If you played The Oregon Trail as a kid, you know what kind of dangers they encounter including wolves and rattlesnakes. Pushing a stuck wagon the wrong way can get you killed. Having so many deaths similar to what you experience in the educational game takes away from the graveness of the situation and makes it difficult to take seriously. Especially when one woman is bitten by a rattlesnake while using the restroom.

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The episode of 1883 receives its name when Brennan and James contemplate fording a river. It’s a source of conflict between the two because they have differing ideas of how to proceed and emphasizes how both sides see the benefits from each other but in the end, the Duttons aren’t technically a real part of the caravan.

Shea takes the disagreement as a shot at his leadership skills. As we see in the episode, he runs a very tight ship with set rules to abide by. Sam Elliott continues to shine in the role balancing various emotions and he has a presence that you can’t look away from.

1883 3.2
Photo: Emerson Miller/Paramount+

The early deaths of his of his fellow travelers impact his morale considering they could have all been easily avoided. His commitment and love to his dead wife come up again as he helps a recent widow manage the hard trip. Then his hardcore menacing side comes out when confronting members who stole from the widow. His hard-nosed approach may not be earning any brownie points, but maybe he can rely on fear keeping his group in line.

1883 does have a problem writing its female characters. When they’re not a daydreaming teen romanticizing the Old West and threatened with rape as a plot device like Elsa, they are helpless women using their sexuality to survive in this world. First there was the prostitute that propositioned Brennan back in Fort Worth and now there is the caravan member that he helps in “River.” They all seem like one-sided extremes with little depth. Faith Hill’s Margaret Dutton seems to be the only normal woman we’ve seen, but she hasn’t been given much to do so far.

The caravan member does introduce an interesting dynamic for the traveling settlers. There’s a clear hierarchy amongst them with the Americans on top, the European immigrants following, and the gypsies on the bottom. We’ll have to see how well they all work together when times become rough since the series enjoys focusing on rugged individualism. There’s also an established sense of urgency for the trip since they are trying to make it to their destination before winter. The expedition could be doomed if they must spend extended amount of time traveling in the unforgiving cold.

The star power of Sam Elliott and an interesting group dynamic make the third episode a worthy watch but the series is still bogged down by uninspired plotlines and one-dimensional female characters.

New episodes of 1883 are released Sundays on Paramount+.

'1883' episode 3 review: A slow start to a dangerous journey
1883 E 3 Review: 'River'
The star power of Sam Elliott and an interesting group dynamic make the third episode a worthy watch but the series is still bogged down by uninspired plotlines and one-dimensional female characters.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The show is a perfect vehicle for Sam Elliott's talents.
Interesting group dynamics and hierarchy with the settlers.
The female characters lack depth.
Hard to take the dangers seriously when they are the same ones found in a children's educational game.
6.5
Good

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