1923 recap: Setting the stakes
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1923's penultimate season 1 episode picks up at the Dutton ranch, where it seems Jacob (Harrison Ford) and Jack (Darren Man) are preparing for a fight. They say goodbye to their concerned wives, grab their rifles, and join six more cowboys outside. The full posse of eight then cut through town on horseback, passing the sheriff (Robert Patrick) and his men on the way.
Cut to Banner (Jerome Flynn,) who's living like Hugh Hefner in the house Whitfield (Timothy Dalton) pays for. Sporting a fancy robe, the former sheepherder is indulging in expensive cigars, champagne, and a pair of prostitutes. His best life is cut short, however, by a knock at the door. It's the sheriff, who has come to arrest him on two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder.
To our – and Banner's – great surprise, the lawman is accompanied by Jacob and his men. It seems the Dutton patriarch took his wife's advice, forgoing the vigilante-justice path in favor of seeing Banner lawfully jailed and put on trial.
Banner's backer is having a better day, blowing up Montana's mountains to make way for his miners. As his workers prepare to reap the land's resources, Whitfield's approached by a man with an urgent message: Jacob Dutton is not only alive and well, but his would-be killer is behind bars. The man delivering this intel is none other than the former Chicago cop Cara (Helen Mirren) hired last week to join her fledgling force of Livestock Agents.
Whitfield responds to the mole's info by immediately sending a high-priced attorney to visit Banner in jail. The lawyer assures Banner – who's traded his robe for striped prison attire – he'll have him out on bail within a day. Banner informs the man of the two prostitutes he abandoned at the house when he was arrested. He asks the lawyer to remove them before they begin looting the place.
When Whitfield learns of the sex workers occupying his home, he decides to pay them a visit. Turns out the evil-doing mining mogul has an even darker side, as he demands one of the barely-dressed girls to beat the other with his belt, while he watches in delight.
Back at the ranch, Cara and Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph) are anxiously awaiting the return of their husbands. They're chatting and baking a cake to help calm their nerves. When Jacob and Jack arrive home safely, the four sit down to supper and, to Cara's displeasure, begin talking politics. She quickly shuts down the conversation, but not before it's revealed Whitfield is working with the government as vice chair of the very board in charge of mining regulations.
Jack's shocked this is even possible, but Jacob sets him straight, schooling him on government greed and corruption, and stressing the importance of putting the needs of your family and land above all else. He also asserts Banner's imprisonment doesn't mean much at all in the bigger picture, and that the battle for their coveted swath of Montana has only just begun.
The next scene introduces a new character, a Native American man who's just discovered the body of Teonna's grandmother. While inspecting the horse tracks the murderous lawmen left behind, he's approached by a young man on horseback. It's Hank's (Michael Greyeyes) son, bringing word of Teonna's trouble. The older man, it turns out, is Teonna's father, meaning the body he's just discovered is likely that of his own mother. Upon advising Hank's son to keep a low profile on his return trip, he buries his mother/Teonna's grandmother, straps a gun to his hip, hops on his horse, and sets off to find his daughter.
But he better haul hide, because we next catch up with the three priests – the same trio sent to capture Teonna (Aminah Nieves) several episodes back – closing in on their target. In fact, they've come across the camp of Hank's son. They interrogate, beat, and bound the boy with the intention of bringing him back to the boarding school. Two of the holy men press on with their search for Teonna, while the third begins a return trip with Hank's son.
Later that evening, the lead kidnapper lectures, disparages and, ultimately, attacks the boy. He grabs him, gets in his face, and begins reciting the Our Father. His prayer is cut short, however, by Teonna's father, who'd already discovered the boy's abandoned camp and had since been tracking the pair. He sneaks up behind the priest, scalps him, then slits his throat. He returns to the boy, who's preparing their horses for departure, and – with a blood-smeared mouth – informs him he's eaten the man's soul.
But he's not the last man of the cloth to meet an ugly demise. The other two priests have caught up with Teonna, though they don't immediately recognize her. Fearing their suspicion, she attempts to flee. One of the them quickly catches up with her and tears off her shirt, presumably to confirm her sex. Teonna counters accordingly, promptly gouging out one of his eyes with her thumb.
The now half-blind priest reacts by brutally beating her in the face, even as the other clergyman urges him to stop. But it seems it'll take a hot slug to stop him, and Hank's happy to oblige. He shoots the priest that's pinning down Teonna, then unloads his double-barreled sidekick on the other man.
Unfortunately, Hank didn't completely finish off his first target. As he's carrying Teonna to safety, the one-eyed priest grabs a rifle and shoots him in the back of the head. The wounded cleric then stumbles toward Teonna, reloading his gun with the intention of killing her too. Before he can ready the weapon, however, she's able to introduce his already-bleeding face to the business end of a large boulder.
With less than ten minutes left in the episode, we're treated to an update on Spencer (Brandon Sklenar) and Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer.) Upon bidding the kind captain who married them at sea a
fond farewell, they arrive in Italy. Alex is hungry, so they immediately head to a restaurant. Over drinks and food, they do their usual thing: Spencer broods and Alex teases him about his brooding.
This leads to her sitting in his lap and the pair enjoying a passionate kiss. But like so many of the couple's episode-capping moments, this one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. While the two are still attached at the mouth, someone calls out Alexandra's name. She comes up for air, turns her head, and sees the fiancé she abruptly abandoned way back in episode two.
The shocked man is flanked by a half-dozen members of his family, who are equally shocked – one older woman is literally clutching at the pearls around her neck. Of course, it's Alex who's sporting the most surprised expression, which we briefly glimpse before the episode cuts to black.
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