On “1883”, Eric Nelson’s Ennis met a terrible fate, one that tugged on all our heartstrings. But, he had a great run up until then, even going so far as to find the confidence to stand up to James Dutton.
It started out with James knocking Ennis off his horse. Ennis stands up and says, “I’ll take your licks if you got more to give! I’m a man and I’ll take ’em.” He’s in love with Elsa, and he’s standing up to her father, proving himself as a man. Nelson spoke about that moment, calling it Ennis’ “turning point.”
“Yeah, it’s a powerful moment,” said Nelson. “It’s one of the turning points in Ennis’s arc on the show. Up until then we see him submissive to James, but Ennis has reached his breaking point. Before that confrontation, Ennis just wants James to like him and give him his approval to be with his daughter.”
Before that, Ennis has acted in a way that he thought would please James, and get him James’ blessing. But that’s not what James was looking for. All Ennis wanted was to be with Elsa, but he had to contend with her father. Nelson continued, “Ennis is unsure of everything—is he saying the right things? Is he looking at Elsa respectfully? However, after Ennis gives his heart and soul to Elsa, the only thing that matters to him is her.”
‘1883’: Eric Nelson Discusses Ennis’ Motives and His ‘Turning Point’
Then, there was that moment on “1883” where Ennis boiled over. James knocks him on the ground, and Ennis has had enough. “When James has him on the ground,” said Nelson, “Ennis no longer cares what James thinks of him. He loves Elsa, and James is either going to accept it and or they’re going to have to go somewhere else.”
Ennis spent so long on “1883” trying to prove himself to James in the ways he thought James wanted. He should have just gone with his gut; he didn’t have to show he was confident in himself, because all that mattered was that Elsa knew it. She knew his heart and knew him to be a man.
“That scene showed Ennis’s strength and his development in a powerful way,” said Nelson. He also had a message for all the “1883” fans out there who could relate to Ennis and Elsa’s stories. “I hope Ennis can be an inspiration to all the young lovers out there. Follow your heart and who cares what other people think? If you know it’s right, you know what you need to do.”