‘1883’ Episode 4: Tension Flares Between Two Characters in Heated Stand-Off at the River

by Amy Myers
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Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2021 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

In the journey to Oregon, there are two alpha males – Shea Brennan and James Dutton. And neither of these 1883 men like answering to someone else.

From the moment the two met, they recognized the strong will and sense of survivalism in the other. Although they agreed to help each other along the way, it was clear that there was no friendship. There was only an alliance.

Throughout the first few episodes of 1883, we’ve seen the relationship between Brennan and Dutton evolve from distant cordiality to very direct disdain. Dutton, himself, has disobeyed “Captain’s” orders, and Brennan has made it clear that the former Tennessee farmer gets to him like a rock in his weathered boot. Regardless, the two need each other in order for the group to reach their destination, and so, they continue to put up with the admittedly strained relationship.

Tensions continued to rise when the travelers finally reached the perilous river. They seemed to come to a plan that satisfied both men, but then Brennan found Dutton took matters into his own hands, making the river only the second most unpredictable element in his path.

‘1883’s James Dutton Puts His Family First

As we know, James Dutton, much like his later descendants, prioritizes his family before anything or anyone else. So, when he and Brennan agreed upon waiting until midday to cross the river, Dutton left out the fact that he, his wife, and his youngest son would make the journey the night prior.

For Dutton, this decision was primarily for the sake of his family. Obviously, he didn’t want to be a part of the herd of inexperienced pioneers that didn’t know how to swim, let alone cross a river on a wagon. And this was exactly how it seemed when Brennan found his family making breakfast on the other side of the trail.

The group’s navigator watched patiently on horseback, clearly fuming at the site. To him, this was an act of betrayal – a sneaky trick to get ahead of the pack. As a former Civil War officer, the 1883 character knew he was responsible for the group’s wellbeing, and a disobedient member could dismantle the group quicker than any force of nature could.

However, Dutton assured that his actions weren’t merely for personal gain. After all, Elsa was still back on the other side of the river, waiting to herd the cattle across. And, this way, Dutton could tie a rope to their wagon that reached across the expanse of the water to act as a handrail for the passengers that couldn’t swim or ride across.

The answer seemed to satisfy Brennan, for now, but something tells us the tension between the two 1883 men will soon come to a head.

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