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1883's LaMonica Garrett Offers the Heartbreaking Reason Thomas Fell Quick for Noemi

He warns that no one stays happy on the Oregon Trail for long

Lauren Piester

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from 1883 Episode 6. Read at your own risk!]

With every episode, 1883 just keeps getting better. Episode 6, "Boring the Devil," both made good on some promises the show had been slowly making in its first five episodes and gave me a storyline I simply did not know I needed: Rita Wilson and Faith Hill getting fall-down-drunk on whiskey. I didn't even know that was a thing to think of needing, but boy, did I need it. Of course, the reason Margaret practically drowned herself in alcohol this week was a dark one, but the result was iconic. 

Most of "Boring the Devil" centered around a trip to a trading post, where everybody had some business to do. Margaret needed supplies, and some time alone with her grieving daughter Elsa (Isabel May), who had sunk into a deep depression after losing her boyfriend and killing his killer. Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) and Shea (Sam Elliott) had some hiring to do, and Noemi (Gratiela Brancusi) was hoping Thomas could sell some of her late husband's things. Plus, there was another river that was about to need crossing, and apparently, this one is going to be worse than the last. After Elsa nearly murdered a guy who dared to look at her the wrong way, Margaret went into the store by herself and quickly made friends with the shopkeeper (Wilson). They drank themselves silly until James (Tim McGraw) had to accompany his sad drunk wife, devastated over the state of her daughter, back to camp.  

Elsa and Thomas are sort of on parallel journeys right now. Elsa was quick to love and ready to throw herself into it completely and seems to be a natural flirt, but she was not prepared for the devastation of losing that first love. She was ready to kill a random man, and only stopped when her father intervened. Thomas has seen how hard the world is, has had to kill before, and was reluctant to see any potential with his widow friend, even when he literally spent a fortune on a present for her. While Elsa is toughening up, Thomas is softening, and both stories are beautiful and a little devastating. They also both ended relatively happily this week, which makes me worried for everyone involved.  You can't stay happy on the Oregon trail for long! 

Basically, pep talks from Shea and James helped Elsa see the light in her despair, while Thomas and Noemi accepted their chemistry and hooked up, creating the warmest and fuzziest ending of any episode yet, which is...concerning. In celebration of Thomas' newfound romance, TV Guide chatted with Garrett over Zoom and learned just now much more eventful the rest of this season will be. 

LaMonica Garrett, 1883

LaMonica Garrett, 1883


So what was it like to build this sweet little romance amidst all this danger and death and dirt? 
Garrett: The show as a whole, every time someone thinks they have the show pegged, and they think, "Oh, I've seen this a million times," the show turns itself on its head and gives you the unexpected, [like] Black cowboys with this kind of story arc. To me, the men in this show start off hard and kind of gruff, and they turn a little softer as time goes, and the women start out in these traditional time period [roles] and then they're [wielding shotguns]. And Thomas and Noemi's storyline, they've been like Hansel and Gretel. Pieces of bread have been dropping along, and [Taylor Sheridan] wrote it so well, pieced together from early on. It wasn't just thrown in like, "Okay, Ennis is gone, here's the new relationship." It's been there, and Thomas has been a little reluctant to give into it. 

How big of a deal is it that he has now given into it and opened himself up like this?
Garrett: I think it puts more pressure on Thomas, because when you're not worried about anyone in particular, just the group as the whole...Me and Shea, we're brothers. We look out for each other and we're worried about the group. Now you have a woman and her two children, so when I'm saving people over here, I'm looking around being like, "Where's Noemi? Where's the children?" It just makes that much more stress and pressure moving forward, because the first five episodes have been setting up this travel, this journey, and you're learning about certain characters, but it's the foundation that Taylor was setting up, and now you're in the journey. As soon as we got in the journey, bandits came, and the next five episodes are going to be much faster paced, much more action, and for Thomas, now that he has this--not a family, but more responsibilities and liabilities–it's a bit trickier for him. 

One thing I've really loved about this show is how emotional all the men are, like how Thomas and Shea are with each other over the losses they've suffered so far and how responsible they feel for these people. What has it been like to explore that side of those characters?
Garrett: I think it's beautiful, and I think it's something that a lot of westerns shied away from in the past, that vulnerability of men. That was there. And you might not show it, but everyone has their moments where life catches up to you, and some people might take longer moments but some people might live in it a little more. And I think showing that vulnerable side of these men is something refreshing that people weren't expecting, and I think it serves the greater story well because of it. 

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What does it say about how Thomas is feeling and what he's going through that he was so quick to spend so much money on that mirror for Noemi? 
Garrett: Thomas has been going through this world as this large guy who's this big presence, but he's not really seen. A Black man in the 1800s, you could physically put eyeballs on someone but he hasn't really been seen. And Shea was one of the first people that saw Thomas as a person, for who he was. And that's why they had this bond from the time they were fighting together in the war to this present-day brotherhood. And I think the more that Thomas and Noemi spend time together, she sees him and he recognizes that. The little campfire talks that they had, he's learning things about women. Like men never ask what women want. They're learning from each other, they're building this bond together. I don't think he went into town to trade with the intention of buying her anything, but this mirror caught his eye when he was just looking around and about to get his money. And even him giving it to her, it was an awkward explanation. As well-rounded as he is with a gun and on a horse and how he handles himself, and how he knows the terrain, he's as awkward with women. He's not used to dealing with women. He says, "I sleep outside and I bathe in a river, and women don't want that." I think he's almost content with just being by himself, so when he finds someone that sees him and knows him for who he is and still wants to be with him over time, he gets into that. 

It was so cute, the way he tried to explain why he was giving it to her.  
Garrett: It's not a silver tongue by any definition, but it was something. 

Can you talk about what's to come from this romance? I feel like I'm now way more worried about the both of them. We've seen what can happen to romance on this show. 
Garrett: It's tough, the trail. As soon as someone's happy, it's like nope, they're too happy. The land's gonna get rid of 'em. No one should be happy in this world. But it's going to be interesting to see how it materializes. I think the one thing with Thomas, especially Thomas and Noemi, they both know how hard it's gonna be. They were both there to witness Ennis getting killed by the bandits. But I think Thomas, coming from where he came from, especially in this world, he's seen a harsher side of the world than pretty much anyone else in this group. He knows what the land is as a Black man in the 1800s, and he still chooses hope. It's a choice. Yeah, everything's against us, and he even tells Shea once, "Hard times are the only times. You gotta laugh at 'em to get through." He knows the harsh environment, but he's the humanity. He chooses to open himself up to this, even though he knows it could just all go south within hours. But that's a choice he's made, and I think he's made a lot of choices to stay positive and to be the hope of the show. So this is just another way of showing that. 

LaMonica Garrett, 1883

LaMonica Garrett, 1883


How jealous were you of Faith and Rita's little drunken adventure? It looked like they were having the most fun. 
Garrett: I haven't seen it yet and I wasn't there when they filmed it, but I read it and I can't wait to see it on Sunday. But why are they having so much fun and Thomas is over here with red dirt in my mouth? I still got dirt in my ears. Gratiela went and saw it [being filmed], and she was like, "It was amazing, it was so great to see that energy and the fun." You're not used to seeing that in this world, especially what we've built so far. So yeah, let's lean into that a little bit. Let's have a smile, because at the end of all these episodes, it seems like you have Kleenex with you. We're gonna have those moments, but let's laugh for a minute while we can. 

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So what can you say about what's coming up and how worried we should all be, especially now that they've got to cross another river? 
Garrett: I think in general, the first five episodes were setting up this world...We're in the journey now, and the journey is treacherous. So if you think it was hard in the beginning, the journey is where everything and anything is trying to kill you, and I think it's going to be a much faster-paced five episodes. There's going to be more action, more of everything happening, as well as the happy moments, the one-on-one moments, the mushy, the fly-on-the-wall moments, the quiet talks and relationship-building moments. There's just gonna be more of it, and I think the audience is gonna respond to it. 

I'm excited, and happy Thomas has found someone to love, but now I'm so worried one of them is going to get hurt. 
Garrett: Yeah, that's the chance, you know? If you're too happy on the Oregon Trail, a snake's gonna come and bite you, so we'll see. 

New episodes of 1883 debut Sundays on Paramount+.