‘1883’ Teases Flashback of Shea Brennan’s Experience in Civil War

by Amy Myers
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The 1883 storyline occurs on the coattails of the Civil War, and many of the characters are still processing their own experiences from the battlefield as they travel westward.

James Dutton (Tim McGraw), himself, was a Confederate soldier who survived the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. But he wasn’t the only one among the pioneers that suffered from nightmarish flashbacks.

In Episode 4 of 1883, “The Crossing,” we begin to understand why Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) struggles to sleep at night. When he finally permitted himself to drift off into a deep slumber, his subconscious took over and launched him back twenty years prior when he was a Union soldier. His infantry platoon marched forward, and in seconds, Brennan realized the horror that awaited them.

At the top of the hill, the Confederate Army ambushed Brennan’s platoon, massacring them through cannon and rifle blasts. By the dozen, his men fell to the ground. And all he could do was watch and endure. Gone was the sense of pride and dedication he wore on his as they climbed the hill. Instead, he was filled with dread, sorrow and defeat.

As tears flooded his eyes, the 1883 soldier awoke from the dreaded dream, panting and physically distraught.

Beside him stood his partner, Thomas (LaMonica Garrett), who knew exactly what Brennan faced in his sleep.

‘1883’s Thomas Shares a Tidbit of His Own Trauma with Shea Brennan

Of course, as traumatic as Brennan’s experience during the Civil War was, we can only imagine the trauma Thomas suffered before he finally became a free man. And this was precisely what he told his fellow 1883 traveler when Brennan lamented about his nightmares.

We don’t know much about Thomas’ past just yet, but little by little, through conversations with Brennan and other pioneers, the 1883 character has begun to reveal his origin story.

Following Brennan’s night terror, Thomas politely reminded him that with the things he saw as a younger man and even a child, bad dreams were the least of his worries. In fact, the true nightmare was the life he was forced to lead. His only escape and his only sense of safety was sleep.

The profound moment between the former Union soldier and former slave was a profound juxtaposition of the experiences that pioneers on the Oregon Trail brought with them. For many of them, these past traumas were the reason they were willing to risk their wellbeing for a new life out west.

As the 1883 storyline continues, we’ll likely learn more about Thomas and Brennan’s pasts, as well as how their stories intertwined. With what we know about both men so far, there’s bound to be more tragedy.

Outsider.com