Warning, spoilers ahead for 1883.
If you thought you had any idea what was in store for the Dutton family on the first season of 1883, creator Taylor Sheridan has proven that it's anyone's guess what his plan is for our favorite characters. So far, they've dealt with bad weather, bandits, animals and more life-threatening roadblocks on the trail. But episode nine, "Racing Clouds," might be the most tragic yet. You really can't plan for what you see out on the trail and a simple misunderstanding can cost the lives of dozens of people.
Here are our seven biggest takeaways from episode nine of 1883.
1. A snake attacks Josef and his wife Risa
After a rattlesnake bites Risa's horse, she falls to the ground getting seriously injured. Immigrant leader Josef hops down to help his wife and gets bit himself. Colton, the new cowboy, has to suck out the venom from Josef's leg, but they are both in such bad shape, they really need a doctor's assistance.
2. Thomas, Shea, and James come across a camp of murdered Lakota women and children
It's a tragic sight when Thomas, Shea and James happen upon a camp torn apart by horse thieves with no one left alive. Women and children who have been ruthlessly murdered scatter the area. Unfortunately, the men realize that they left their tracks everywhere so once the warriors come back to camp, they could track them. The original culprits didn't even leave a shoeprint so this is not good news for our trio or the rest of their wagon train.
They quickly decide that the best plan of action is to try to stop the men who originally did this. If they can kill those responsible for the Lakota deaths, they could let the Lakota men know what happened before they think they were responsible and strike back.
3. Cookie scares the immigrants into following him to the fort
As soon as the cook, who had been traveling farther behind the group, catches up and hears the new plan, he immediately refuses. He has no interest in staying behind to wait for James, Shea and Thomas to find the responsible bandits because he thinks the Lakota will kill them anyway. He proposes to keep going to the fort just a few hours to try to beat the warriors who are out on a hunt.
The Dutton wagon ends up being the last standing so they decide that there is safety in numbers and they need to go with the group. Margaret's one request to her daughter is to put on a dress. You quickly realize that this is the dress Elsa is wearing in that emotional opening scene at the beginning of episode 1.
4. Shea, Thomas and James find the thieves
They kill every last one of the horse thieves who claim they are self-appointed deputies from Wyoming. The thieves admit they killed the women and children to bait the Lakota men and kill them. Unfortunately, by the time they wipe out the criminals, the men are already significantly behind the wagon train as well as the Lakota men, who already discovered their destroyed camp of families.
5. We're full circle from the series opening scene
We now understand that the Lakotas killing the wagon train were there to seek retribution for their murdered women and children. Seeking revenge, they caught up with our immigrants before Shea, Thomas and James were able to stop them and clear up the situation. We see them kill Cookie, shooting people left and right and taking scalps off men and women.
6. Elsa saves the day...kind of
Elsa was able to use Commanche words that her new husband Sam taught her to gain the attention of the murdering Lakota. They had circled her, with an arrow through her stomach, but her words stopped them in their tracks. She explains they didn't kill their families and so they ride off. She at least saves herself and is able to ride back to catch up with Wade, Colton and her mother and the other survivors ( Noemi made it!).
Elsa has a pretty severe arrow injury, though, and it requires a surgeon at the fort's attention. The leader of the Lakota warriors tells James Dutton as they briefly cross paths that his daughter was "the best warrior of all" after she stopped the war he thought they had started with his people.
7. Elsa is dying
Margaret had been a nurse during the Civil War so she has seen her fair share of injuries. The group continues heading towards the fort but James pulls his wife aside to discuss what they are both thinking -- their daughter is dying. She gets a fever, a sign of infection, but they both decide to treat her like everything is fine so that they don't ruin her passionate spirit. They want her to enjoy every day that she has left, although she picks up on their worries and is very aware that her health is seriously at risk.
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