1923 has a sweeping feel. A large part of that has to do with the breakout performance of Brandon Sklenar. The Sheridan universe is expanding its horizons with the addition of a new romance.
We recap the Paramount+ series 1923 season 1 episode 2, “Nature’s Empty Throne,” which contains spoilers.
The last time we saw Spencer in the 1923 premiere, he was malled by a leopard at Mount Suswa. Immediately as “Nature’s Empty Throne” starts, we see the beast on top of him. Spencer manages to stop it by stabbing it. As the wild cat backs away and is ready to strike again, he reaches for his rifle and gets off a shot. But the leopard is so strikingly fast it appears to almost disappear – like a ghost. Spencer looks around and sees his friends, the guides Kagiso (Raymond Watanga) and Linda (Kondwani Phiri), running for him and announcing that there are two. That’s when Spencer sees the leopard leap and attack Kagiso. Linda and Spencer run after him as the animal drags him by his neck. They manage to kill it, but Kagiso is dead.
1923 has a sweeping feel. A large part of that has to do with the breakout performance of Brandon Sklenar. The Taylor Sheridan universe is expanding its horizons with the addition of a new romance.
1923 season 1 episode 2 recap
The Duttons have reached the part of their land where they had not grazed their cattle. Once they reach the top of that mountain (I’m surprised they didn’t name it “Paramount”), Jacob (Harrison Ford) hears a gunshot. The last time we saw the Duttons, his nephew, Jack was being shot at, and they found him stuck under his horse, where the bullet landed.
Jacob is furious and brings his crew of virile cowboys to race down the mountain to herd the sheepherders. The leader of the shepherds is Banner (Jerome Flynn), and Jacob beats him furiously with his pistol. To make a statement, Jacob tests the loyalty of their horses. He strings them up by their necks, ties their hands behind their backs, and places them on their primary form of transportation, including Banner.
Jacob is his own shepherd and is tending to his flock. He tells John (James Badge Dale) and Jack that people taking other’s land has been going on for centuries. You will find cities built over towns and villages. This is ironic considering the land they currently “own” and Thomas Rainwater‘s claims to the Dutton family land. This is an exciting piece of writing by Sheridan here. It points to a consideration of a “white” narrative to control the story.
He doesn’t want that to happen to his family. He tells Jack that he hopes a couple has survived so they can spread this story across the area known as big sky country. Do any of the five men persist in the “short drop”? Yes, of course. More importantly, is one of the men Banner? Yes. How does Banner survive the hanging? By having a loyal horse, of course. Now, if I were Jacob, I’m not sure you’d want Banner to be that one because he will seek revenge. The other four men are now dead.
However, his loyal horse comes over to him, and he can pull a knife from a pouch on the horse’s side. He cuts the rope from his wrists. And just before the current horse he sits on makes a run for it, Banner’s wrists are free. He grabs the rope attached to the tree and manages to free himself before meeting an abrupt end.
Teonna is still living a nightmare in the Christian-managed “Indian school” in Montana. She continues to speak her native language, and Sister Mary physically assaults her over it. She slams her head against the table, and four other nuns tackle Teonna. Unfortunately, now Renaud is involved. He and two other priests drag her to a “hot box” – a form of torture and penal punishment by imprisoning a person in an overheated cell/cage – for a couple of days. The sadistic priest warns her that he will bury her alive in the ground if she speaks that “filthy” language again.
She is kept there for a couple of days and is finally carried from the box. Teonna can hardly stand and lift her arms. She is placed in a tub where she is sexually assaulted by the nun cleaning her. Sister Mary walks in and sends Sister Alice away. Mary berates Teonna and tells her she swore to kill the “Indian in you.” Sister Mary then assaults her by hitting her with a stick and warns her never to touch her again.
Spencer has a doctor clean his wounds because a leopard has so much under their fingernails. If not done correctly, he will get gangrene in a week. He is never told about his prey hunting in pairs and blames the man who hired him. He travels back to Nairobi to recover. There, drinking his whiskey in his dirty clothes among the very rich, a beautiful young woman approaches him. It turns out Spencer is a bit of a celebrity. The American war hero has turned into a famous African hunter.
The young woman’s name is Alexandra, and there is a noticeable electric charge between the two. She tells him there is “romance” in what he does. Of course, he disagrees. Then why does he do it? Because dying is the most alive you’ll ever feel, he says. “You don’t see the romance in that?” Spencer has a look on his face as if he just fell in love for the first time. Unfortunately for him, she has a fiance. Fortunately for him, she is unhappy and feels like a real estate transaction.
The episode ends with Spencer heading off on a new hunt – a spotted hyena killing engineers in Tanganyika. Before he leaves, he catches Alexandra’s eye. He tips his hat to her from a distance, and she pretends to do the same and smiles at him. As he drives off, she grabs her bags and runs after his car. They stop, and she jumps in and wants to go with them. Spencer tells her where they are going is dangerous. Her response?
“Let’s look death in the eye, shall we.”
What did you think of 1923 season 1 episode 2? Comment below.
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