In the fifth episode, '1883’ picks up from the caravan's difficult river crossing experience. While many travelers grieve the loss of loved ones, some are struggling with hunger. Thomas and Shea are determined to make matters worse and warn everyone about the dangers ahead. The greatest danger is presented by ruthless bandits that will not stop trying. Ending with deadly consequences, the episode features a dramatic confrontation between bandits and cowboys. Check out episode 5 of '1883! SPOILERS BELOW!
Episode 5 of "1883" titled "The Fangs of Freedom", opens with Elsa reflecting about the long and difficult journey she's taken. Ennis informs Elsa they're in an area overrun with bandits. She must stay put. Shea and Thomas are discussing the situation at Camp while Shea grieves for all the deaths. James and Margaret speak about Elsa just before Margaret goes to visit her daughter. Shea decides that the group should keep moving so they don't waste their limited resources.
Josef is confronted by Thomas and Shea but reminded that it is the group who are responsible for their sad situation. The wagon carrying the supplies and food for the group was lost in the river while crossing. Most immigrants were left hungry. Josef said that they had been trying to protect their resources because some caravan members were taking advantage of others. Josef agrees to go with Shea to meet the thieves. Shea breaks off all ties with the thieves, and seizes back his supplies. He warns them to not cross the group's paths again.
Margaret and Elsa converse about Elsa’s relationships with Ennis. Margaret tells Elsa that she will not allow her to go over the limit. Elsa breaks Margaret's command and goes out with Ennis at night. Margaret discovers their actions and becomes furious with Elsa. Margaret's reactions prompt Elsa and Ennis, to propose marriage to her. Ennis is happy to marry Elsa, so Elsa goes and tells her dad. Wade informs the group about the bandits' presence. James later beats Ennis down for sleeping with Elsa. Elsa, however intervenes to declare her love for Ennis. James takes Ennis. The cowboys then gather to face the bandits. James and Shea set up an elaborate trap to fight the bandits.
Shea Thomas, James and Wade prepare to confront the bandits. Most of the group move their wagons to avoid the bandits' sight. Josef's wife Risa is left as a decoy to lure them into the open field. Josef is hidden in his wagon as Risa makes outside food. A bandit approaches the woman. She tries to get him shot. Josef, however, kills the man using a shotgun. Risa missed her chance. Josef and Risa are attacked by the bandits, but Josef counters them. James, Shea Thomas, Wade and Thomas are soon back and ambush these bandits.
They quickly move towards the other travellers as the gunfight escalates. Margaret must shoot the bandits for protection and kills some of them. Elsa and her cattle are being pursued by the remaining bandit. Ennis however decides that he will take down the bandit. The bandit is thrown off the horse when Ennis sprints towards him. Ennis was shot in the chest, and he dies. Elsa arrives at the scene to find Ennis gone. Elsa is distraught and, in an act of rage kills the bandit. Elsa lies beside Ennis's corpse.
Final results show that the cowboys triumph but one of their fellow comrades is lost. Josef is also reminded by Shea about the importance of working with others in this episode. The ending of the episode shows, however that cowboys are not able to save everyone even when they appear united. This episode highlights the reality of American West living. This episode also confirms that traveler are always more successful when there is more of them. Due to recent losses, however, their numbers have been dwindling, leaving them vulnerable to further attacks.
Ennis proves that he loves James by giving his life to save Elsa. It is a tragedy of the American West that Elsa suffers from and the fate of the cowboy. Margaret's warnings were an indication of what Elsa would experience. It is certain that Elsa will become cold and enclosed when she realizes the loss of her love. Elsa could lose her normal optimism and follow a darker path. The episode's end reiterates that worst lies ahead for the travellers.
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