‘1883’: Full Recap of Season 1, Episode 6, ‘Boring the Devil’

by Jon D. B.

With “Boring the Devil,” 1883 indulges Elsa’s heartbreak while giving Margaret a bit of escapism courtesy of another A-list cameo.

“We moved towards Dome’s Crossing and the Red River, and tragedy’s next opportunity to ravage what’s left of us. My mother says the pain will fade and the good memories return. I suppose that’s true. Every person on this planet will endure this pain, until they are the cause of it for another. Someday I’ll die and shatter hearts, too. But that is not today. Today I am living. And I am a shadow.”

Picking up right where Episode 5 left off, 1883‘s wagon train moves on from the death of Ennis (Eric Nelsen). All except Elsa (Isabel May), who is utterly distraught. Through her, Episode 6 paints a solemn picture of the West; one marked by death and tragedy.

“Death is everywhere. It follows us like a stray dog. Waiting to devour us like scraps.”

Season 1, Episode 6: Shea Brennan’s Dream

Through personal means, we find out Elsa is most likely not pregnant with Ennis’ baby. But this drives her even further into grief, and she seeks out his grave in solace. There, she pulls out her revolver, rests it in her lap, and cries.

Knowing this pain, Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) comes to Elsa’s aid.

Pictured: Sam Elliott as Shea and Isabel May as Elsa of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“I know how you feel. A lot of people are gonna tell you that. Whether it’s truthful or not, I don’t know. But I know its true when I say it,” Shea tells her. “I’ll tell you a secret. I’ll tell you why I’m still sucking air today. I’m headed to the ocean. An Apache scout told me once, that when you love someone you trade souls with them. They get a piece of yours, and you get a piece of theirs. But when your love dies, a little piece of them dies with you. That’s why it hurts so bad. But that little piece of him is still inside you. And he can use your eyes to see the world. So I’m gonna take my wife to the ocean. And I’m gonna sit on the beach and let her see it. That was her dream. Then I’m gonna see her. That’s my dream.”

In the meantime, as Shea tells Elsa, “the herd could sure use its cowgirl.” And she abides. But a new Elsa walks the dry plains. She’s scarred. Weary. Hurt.

‘1883’ Approaches Oklahoma at Doan’s Crossing

The wagon train finally reaches the Oklahoma border by way of historic trading post, Doan’s Crossing. There, Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) moves to trade Noemi’s (Gratiela Brancusi) late husband’s things for her.

Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill) ventures into town with her daughter, and a sea of hard-edged men stare back at them. The town is mostly comprised of tents, but an impressive wooden structure stands at Doan’s center. On the way to it, a particularly creepy man takes to eyeballing Elsa. She’s not having it, and pulls her revolver. The man pulls his own, and James (Tim McGraw) steps in to settle the feud before his daughter shoots a stranger.

Disappointed in Elsa, James sends the fuming 18-year-old back to camp, and quick. Margaret makes her way to the store at Doan’s center, and inside the proprietor, Ms. Carol (Rita Wilson in another A-list 1883 cameo) is waiting for her. They discuss Elsa’s fiery outburst, and soon they’re bonding over a whiskey punch and the incredible presence of ice within; something Margaret hasn’t experienced since leaving the Duttons’ Tennessee home.

Meanwhile, Thomas finds himself a cook in town. He’s a spry, forceful but jolly fellow. Making his way into the store, the cook moves to “supply up” from Ms. Carol. Thomas finds himself a trade for Noemi’s things, and ends up returning cash to the merchant to buy her a gorgeous gilded hand mirror instead.

A New Cowboy, A New River

1883 hires a new cowboy in town, too: Colton (Noah Le Gros). He’s young and bright-eyed, but far less endearing than Ennis; a man he knew. After remembering him with Wade (James Landry Hebert), Colton approaches Elsa, but she’s not in the mood for any courtship attempts. Not yet. As Ennis tells Colton, “she is a widow.”

James, however, is concerned that Margaret isn’t back to camp yet. He and Shea ride into town, and there they find her and Carol drunk as skunks.

Pictured: Rita Wilson as Carolyn and Faith Hill as Margaret of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

After a good laugh at his expense, James moves on to study the next river crossing with Thomas and Shea. But the Red River is a far worse looking affair than the Brazos. It’ll take two days to get their party across; two days they don’t have. “We should be in Kansas by now!” Shea barks.

Moving back towards camp, an intoxicated Margaret unleashes on James for how this journey is breaking their daughter. After a few hurtful words, James moves off to talk to his seething child. He tells her a story, and she’s going to listen.

The Pain and Wisdom of James Dutton

“First man I killed was just a boy. Younger than you. The reason company’s have flag bearers is so soldiers know to stay with their group. And so generals on the hill can track the progress of the battle. So much dust and smoke in battle… Fighting in a fog. Hard to make out the enemy. Can’t tell their man from yours. But you can always look up and see the flags. So we shoot flag bearers first. And I did. That boy’s face was burned into my brain. The whole world seemed to stop as this boy’s lookin’ right at me. By the end of the battle… I killed so many men I couldn’t remember what that boy looked like. Still can’t.

“That man you shot was already dead. Whether we hanged him or he bled out, his time on this earth was done. You did not kill him. Understand? The meanest thing you can do to yourself is hate somebody else. I know what it feels like to hate the world. You don’t want to feel that, hun. Be sad, miss him! Cry yourself white. But you leave the hatin’ to me.”

‘1883’s Next Love Story: Noemi and Thomas

Back at camp, Nomei has prepared stew for Thomas, and he presents her with his gift: the mirror. “A present?” she asks, confused by the mixed messages he’s sending.

“You want me happy… You want me to feel safe… That’s love. Me letting you take care of me is not fear. It’s loving you back,” she declares.

Through their exchange, Thomas learns she’s every bit as tough as he is. And she explains to him that they are, in fact, in love with one another. Then, she disrobes. And with a passionate embrace, she finally breaks through the exterior of this historied, stoic man.

As 1883‘s Episode 6 closes, Elsa reminisces on her love with Ennis. “I can see color again,” she narrates, feeling his love. In this, she decides to give her name to Colton, alongside her permission to be flirted with. She’s aiming to move on, as her father suggested. Colton is more than happy to oblige.

The Duttons Leave Texas Once and For All

As the Duttons prepare to lead the immigrants across the Red River, James and Margaret sort out their differences over Elsa. Their daughter thanks Shea for talking to her about Ennis’ death, and the two share a tender moment as she moves the cattle towards the river. Joyful once more, Elsa leads her horse, Lightning, into the water.

Pictured: Isabel May as Elsa of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 MTV Entertainment Studios. All Rights Reserved.

“We were leaving Texas, entering the Indian territory and redefining our meaning of unknown. Far from the cities that have paved the world away, and the farms which had turned it into a resource. We were no longer under the cloud of civilization. Only sky above us now. No more walking over bridges. Out here, we swim horseback through rivers. There is nowhere to chain love to vows and ceremony. Out here, love burns through you like a fever. And when the devil comes to strip that love from you, there is no funeral or song or speeches that dull our senses and deaden our hearts. Out here, you turn towards the pain as it tears into you. And you let it. When you do, the devil gets bored. He sees another soul to eat.

“And you get to live again.”

1883 airs exclusively on Paramount Plus.