'1883' Episode 9 Recap: The Beginning of the End for Elsa Dutton

1883 fans have more heartbreak in store as Episode 9 sets up a tragic finale on Paramount+.

The Yellowstone spin-off took us back to the beginning of the series as we finally revisited the opening scene of the series which showed a flashforward scene of Elsa (Isabel May) shooting a Native American. Those events seemed incredibly far away considering she'd just married a Comanche warrior in the previous episode, however, a misunderstanding escalated into a deadly shootout.

As has become a theme with 1883, there were more deaths within the episode, reducing the already dwindling numbers of pioneers even further. By the end of Episode 9, "Racing Clouds," there looks to be even more tragedy on the way.

Death, Revenge and Misunderstandings

The episode already started in perilous form for some of the travelers as Josef's wife Risa (Anna Fiamora) was knocked off a horse, and Josef (Marc Rissmann) was immediately bitten by a snake. Luckily, they sucked the poison out of his leg, but Risa looked in bad shape.

The traveling group are moving fast to try and avoid the oncoming winter weather, but they're all stopped in their tracks by an atrocious sight. Shea (Sam Elliott), Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) and James (Tim McGraw) come across the wreckage from a Native American campsite that had been ravaged by bandits, who killed women and children, and seemingly had their way with at least one of them, before stealing their horses.

While investigating the scene, Shea realizes their horse tracks will lead the returning husbands to believe they committed the atrocities. To clear up any misunderstanding, Shea, James and Thomas vow to hunt down the bandits for themselves so that they don't get blamed.

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Episode 9 of "1883" sees the group suffer a deadly misunderstanding Emerson Miller/ViacomCBS

As they set off, they instruct the rest of the camp to stay put, but Cookie (James Jordan), who was lagging behind, gets cold feet and instructs everyone he's going to set off to the nearest town for safety. Everyone sets off with him, but Elsa, who is still wearing her Comanche garbs, is told by Margaret (Faith Hill) to put on a dress in case they run into the bandits themselves. Eagle-eyed viewers will instantly recognize this white dress that Elsa feels uncomfortable in from the first episode of 1883.

While out hunting for the bandits, Thomas, Shea and James come across another trio who are self-appointed deputies from the area. As the conversation escalates, the men reveal they killed the Native American women and children to goad their husbands. After one of the men insults the dead one more time, Thomas shoots the first shot. He, James and Shea deal with the three facing them before the ensuing bandits are quickly dealt with too.

The group of travelers left behind has less fortune as the tribe's husbands see the devastation of their campsite, and immediately set out to catch the perpetrators.

It doesn't take long for them to find the nearest group of cowboys, which unfortunately contains Elsa, Margaret and James Sr. Dutton, as well as the traveling immigrants. Cookie is the first to go as his wagon is set on fire and he's hit with a myriad of arrows. Elsa, who had followed him, is then spotted by the Native Americans. They start chasing her down as the wagons take formation and try shooting at the warriors who are in pursuit of Elsa.

In an act of self-sacrifice, Elsa veers off course in the hope that some of the wagons will be saved.

She's eventually caught and bludgeoned off her horse. When she wakes, we are now seeing the scene from Episode 1 as Elsa takes a pistol from Cookie's dead body and threatens one of the Native Americans. They have their exchange before Elsa shoots him as he fires an arrow through her stomach.

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Isabel May as Elsa of the Paramount+ original series "1883." Emerson Miller/ViacomCBS

The scene continues and Elsa manages to talk the Lakota warriors down by explaining that her husband is Comanche, and she speaks to them in their language. They let her live and she wanders back to the wagons, still with an arrow lodged in her midriff.

She claims it doesn't hurt but when Wade (James Landry Hébert) cauterizes the wound, she eventually passes out from the pain.

After the Lakota warriors leave, Colton (Noah Le Gros) arrives to inspect the damage, and comes across one of the group's women who is still alive somehow after being shot with an arrow and scalped. She's running around and screaming with her skull exposed, so Colton puts her out of her misery with a bullet.

Later we see the emotional impact this has on him as he struggles to build a grave for her. Shea arrives to tell him he did the right thing, and that he'll get a shovel to help him.

Back with the trio hunting the bandits, James sees the Native Americans traveling away from the fight and boldly approaches them. Their leader (Tokala Black Elk), who spoke to Elsa, explains how his daughter saves everyone's lives, while James informs them that they caught the bandits, and their bodies are theirs to deal with. The leader of the tribe encourages James to take his daughter to the remains of his family so that they can pray together.

Later that evening, Elsa wakes and finds James looking over her. She tells him she wants to save the arrow so she can show her husband Sam, while James talks to her earnestly about how she might develop a fever and develop an infection.

Outside, James calls on Margaret to investigate the arrow that shot through his daughter's body. Upon seeing it, he comments how filthy it is and tells her that they must accept that their daughter is going to die from her wound.

Sure enough, the next morning Elsa wakes and complains of pain and a fever. Her parents don't have to tell her, but she can see from the look in their eyes that she's going to die.

The next episode of 1883 will air on Paramount+ on Sunday, February 27.

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Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in Paramount+'s "1883" Emerson Miller/Paramount+