Lightning Yellow Hair
Episode 7 of 1883 starts with the caravan on the move, navigating across the vast expanse of dry, flat plains. There’s been nothing but grass for them to look at in over a week. The plains are also ominously littered with bones; an eerie bit of foreshadowing, given the skeletal remains of animals and the makeshift gravestones.
This land belongs to thee Indians though and as the caravan crosses, they pay their tax on the land. Thomas decides to make camp where they are, partly thanks to there being water in the land. And if that earlier chat about skeletons wasn’t enough, the new resident cook kills a buffalo and starts prepping it for the caravan.
His use of the F word doesn’t go down too well, especially with Margaret, and Shea is quick to remind him not to overstep his boundaries.
Interestingly, Elsa starts talking with one of the Indians, a charismatic chap by the name of Sam. He chose this name as that’s the name of the man who killed his wife. He took his name as a reminder of what happened. Elsa admits her horse is called Lightning. Why? Well, apparently that’s how fast her horse is.
In order to prove that theory, Elsa decides they should race. James claps his hands together in delight, while Elsa ends up winning. After, she cuts off some of her hair and hands it over to Sam, a memento after he called her “Lightning Yellow Hair.” In return, he hands over a trinket of his own given she won the race.
That night, Shea gets talking to the Indians. Apparently there are a lot of bandits up ahead and even worse, their caravan is going to be the perfect pickings for them.
It’s an ominous warning nd it doesn’t take long for a storm to swell and cause the wind to pick up. That wind becomes ever-more ferocious, and James encourages the gang to hitch the horses quickly. The cattle are also gone, leaving them all stuck in a desperate situation. If that wasn’t enough, a tornado arrives. It’s tense, and as everyone drops to the ground to ride this out, Sam and Elsa end up kissing.
When the tornado finally passes and the storm lifts, James heads off to try and find Elsa, while Margaret helps the caravan. The thing is, Sam joins Elsa on a horse as they head out to try and find the horses. When Sam returns to his horse, he shouts down to Elsa that she’s free to come and go in his land at any time.
There are massive problems for the caravan though. A lot of the wagons have been destroyed and in the middle of nowhere, they may well have to double back and find more. Even worse, they haven’t got any food either. The cattle are miles back and they need men to try and round them up, especially as six bandits have rounded them up.
Elsa demands she be taken alongside the men. Of course, Margaret is less than happy when she finds out and charges off to catch up and bring her daughter back. Unfortunately for Shea and the others, there aren’t six men there. There are 13.
Thankfully Sam shows back up, alongside one of Shea’s old friends Charlie, and not only save Elsa’s life, but also help fend off the bandits around James and the others.
All three of them take gunshots for their troubles. Thankfully James’ goes through his belt and is wedged near his butt. For Thomas, he has a ricochet in the stomach while Shea ends up shot (see: grazed) across his forehead. A dribble of blood drips onto his shoe.
As the episode closes out, Margaret is stopped by a bandit. She demands the woman hand over her horse but instead, he receives a shotgun to the chest for his troubles. This traumatizes the poor woman, and as narration from Elsa tells us, she ends up sobbing that night.
However, there are bigger problems afoot and with the caravan scattered, little food and wagons smashed up, how on earth are they all going to survive?
The Episode Review
1883 returns with its best episode yet; an absolute masterclass in nail-biting tension and dramatic storytelling. The whole chapter is perfectly positioned to take advantage of not one but two dramatic fallouts.
The tornado works really well to show the unpredictability of the land itself and the inhospitable territory the caravan are trekking across. Juxtaposing that is the bandit attack at the end, which is another reminder that there are more manmade horrors to tackle alongside tornados and natural disasters.
The opening parts of this episode work as beautiful tools of foreshadowing; the gravestones and the animal carcasses eerily depict what’s to come. Thankfully everyone comes out of this alive, albeit with cuts, bruises and scratches to show for it.
This episode is just such an amazing roller-coaster ride of emotion and I genuinely can’t see how any show is going to top this one for best TV show of 2022. Will the final episodes of this season manage to live up to the high bar set by this episode? We shall see.