1883: “Racing Clouds” Recap

Stories have a way of catching up to themselves when narrated by one character or another, and as of now, 1883 has caught up and is moving onward. The initial episode of the show depicted Elsa willingly standing her ground against several very angry indigenous warriors that were attacking the wagon train, but we never did get a reason why. When thinking of how tensions were created between settlers and indigenous tribes back in those furious days one might have thought that it was a simple transgression such as the settlers passing through the wrong land and being seen as invaders. But the story goes into greater depth as the hardships of the trail, the audience gets to find out that (SPOILERS) the natives had a very good reason for being more than a little upset. As Elsa’s narration continues it almost sounds as though she’s still seeing the world through the eyes of a young woman that is on the verge of an epiphany but is still poking her way through the more complex truths that continue to surround her. 

Some might want to say that Elsa is coming to understand the world around her, while others might want to claim that she’s looking at the world through the eyes of a romantic that has yet to fully understand the world and how truly savage it can be. The truth lies somewhere in the middle to be completely honest since Elsa has been through several hard lessons at this point and, as a result, has discovered how tough the world around her really is, and how little it cares for those that can’t survive. The discovery of a Lakota camp becomes the driving reason behind the panic that grips the dwindling wagon train, as does the need for a surgeon and doctor after Josef and his wife suffer the effects of a rattlesnake attack. The unfortunate attack on the horse that Josef’s wife was riding started a quick chain of events as the woman landed hard on her neck, possibly creating a very serious spinal issue, while Josef was bitten shortly after. 

While an effort was made to suck the poison out of Josef’s wound, the truth is that out in the open, away from any hope of treatment, the chances of survival after suffering any serious trauma drop in a dramatic fashion with each passing minute. This is where the most unfortunate part of this tale comes in as the Lakota warriors, who were out hunting and therefore left their camp open to the murdering horse thieves that slaughtered everyone, did eventually return after the wagon train had moved on, thinking it best not to stick around lest a misunderstanding thrust the settlers into a fight that they shouldn’t have been able to survive. If not for Elsa it feels as though the entire wagon train would have been lost, rather than just a small handful that was killed, such as the cook and a woman that was scalped and left to suffer for the last several moments of her life. Thankfully, Colton showed mercy by putting her out of her misery, no matter how much that disturbed his state of mind. 

Elsa’s predicament however, the moment that really drew the audience into the story, is what was finally caught up to as she witnessed the cook’s death, as her showdown with the Lakota warriors played out in the same manner as it did in the first episode. She killed a couple of warriors, she took an arrow through her torso after initiating the fight, and she eventually convinced the remaining warriors of her marriage to a Comanche warrior, Sam, and explained what had happened to their people, and that they had come upon them. Her explanation was punctuated by the words she spoke, which were well-received. Upon encountering James, the warriors relayed what had happened, as did he. The understanding between them allowed the wagon train to keep moving, as James made it clear what had happened to the thieves, and where the warriors could find their stolen ponies. In short, things are moving forward to the finale, and certain truths have been revealed that are going to be hard to take once the final curtain falls on season one. 

The arrow wound is a supposed death sentence for Elsa, and while her mother doesn’t want to accept it, her father knows too well that a wound such as hers is bound to fatal without treatment, and it might very well be the end of her anyway. Elsa’s strength and determination has been well documented at this point, but one has to wonder if such qualities will be enough to see her through and past the first season, or if season 2 will see the Dutton family struggling to deal with her loss. Only time will tell, since the show has been renewed for a second season, meaning that the Dutton’s are far from done when it comes to telling their story. 

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