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Spencer is finally on his way home from Africa, but the journey is not going well.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the fifth episode of 1923. Read at your own risk!]
All things considered, life could be a lot worse on the Dutton ranch on 1923. Jacob (Harrison Ford) is horribly injured, but he's still alive and occasionally basking in the sun, even if he can't walk up the stairs alone. Jack (Darren Mann) is mourning the death of his father and the suicide of his mother with his intent on revenge. But he and Liz (Michelle Randolph) will soon be distracted with a baby and a backdated wedding date. And while other ranchers are desperate to encroach on Dutton land with Jacob's status unknown, Cara (Helen Mirren) is finding some bright spots in the darkness. She's thrilled that Liz is pregnant, and even more thrilled to receive a cable from Spencer (Brandon Sklenar). He's coming home! But also maybe not!
As it turns out, journeying from Africa to the United States is no easy feat. There's no direct route, and no trip that won't take months, and that's time he doesn't have. With new fiancee Alex (Julia Schlaepfer) in tow, he has maneuvered his way onto a tugboat that will take them to the Suez Canal. Unfortunately, that tugboat is captained by a man who is clearly sick, so it's no surprise when Spencer wakes up and discovers that the man has died at the wheel, leaving the tugboat drifting directly into the path of a ghost ship—the very eerie phenomenon the captain had just been telling him about the night before. He tries to steer away, but the gigantic, unmanned ship collides with the tugboat, and the last moments of the episode show just the overturned boat alone in the ocean. This simply cannot be the end of Spencer Dutton, especially with a second season on the horizon, but things are not looking good!
What the 1923 Premiere Tells Us About the Dutton Family Tree and the Family's Future
Elsewhere, Teonna (Aminah Nieves) was also on a journey home. She nearly got attacked by a wolf, but woke up the next morning surrounded by sheep who were being herded by a nice, understanding indigenous man who immediately spoke Teonna's language. She explained who she was, where she had come from, and what she had done, and he offered her protection and a ride home on his horse. Hopefully, he is as kind as he claims to be, because she's gonna need that protection. The priest from her boarding school (Sebastian Roche) is positively furious that she murdered two nuns and escaped, and has sent men chasing after her. He also stomped on Teonna's friend's head when she wouldn't reveal where Teonna was going, but her moment of defiance made me wonder if the other girls might also rise up against their abusers. Maybe Teonna left behind a revolution of sorts, or maybe things at the boarding school, which are already so distressing that I often can't watch, will get even worse.
While this episode was an exciting step in the right direction, I'm beginning to worry that it's going to take longer than I want it to for all of the storylines to come together. It's going to take an incredibly long time for Spencer and Alex to get to Montana, and now that we know there's a second season coming, it feels possible that he won't even get home until the end of the first season. And that's if he gets home at all, because he currently appears to be floating in the ocean. As fun as this show has managed to be despite all of its death and destruction so far, we can't spend the whole season watching Spencer travel. Now that we know how important it is for him to take up the responsibility of running the ranch, we need to see it happen. Boat adventures are fun for a minute, or a different show, but this show needs Spencer Dutton on the Dutton ranch, regardless of how many time jumps that requires.
New episodes of 1923 premiere Sundays on Paramount+.