1923’s People We Care About body count climbs two, possibly three notches in this week’s episode. Sheesh, being attached to the Duttons really isn’t good for one’s longevity.
Read on to see who definitely doesn’t make it through “Ghost of Zebrina” (and who might not be around come next Sunday).
POOR EMMA | Cara drives to the post office — with two guards — and sees newspaper: Electricity is coming to the valley. There’s no cable, but Mrs. Dutton turns down the post mistress’ offer to have any message ridden out to the ranch to save her the trip. “The carriage allows me to remove hope early so I can get on with my day,” she says flatly.
“Life had become a series of melancholy routines,” Elsa’s voiceover informs us. Jacob is still struggling, still in bed. Emma is deep in grief. Jack has grown distant from Elizabeth, “choosing revenge over passion.” One night, Cara bustles into Emma’s room and announces that she’s sent for the doctor, because she doesn’t approve of how John Sr.’s widow is barely making it through her days. She tries to rouse her with the notion that Jack needs her, but Emma says he’s an adult. And when Cara pushes, Emma doesn’t hesitate: “Become a mother before you lecture me about sons and what they do.” WOW. Later, we hear a gunshot coming from the house, and the next thing we know, all of the remaining Duttons (save a bedbound Jacob) are standing in the graveyard at Emma’s funeral. “We were going extinct,” Elsa says.
SHIP SHAPE | Spencer and Alexandra take a boat to Mombasa; he warns her to stay close after they disembark. “Montana is the magnet now, it is the next journey,” Elsa voiceovers. “And for my young brother, it will be his last.” Which probably just means he settles in that state — after all, thanks to Lightning Yellow Hair’s premiere voiceover, we already know he’s going to live at least long enough to see his own children grow — but man, it sounds OMINOUS when she says it, right? (And maybe, given the end of the episode, it should? But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
Spencer leads his lady through the city to an office where they try to book passage to the United States… except there are no direct voyages there from Kenya, passage to London will take roughly a month, and their ship won’t leave for three weeks. Spencer says that won’t work, and they leave to find another option.
He finds that option in a man named Lucca (played by American Gods’ Peter Stormare) looking for deckhands for a trip to the Suez Canal. Spencer offers to pay and makes a deal to work for the man, as well; he doesn’t mention Alex. The man notices the mustard-gas scar on Spencer’s arm, coughs up some bloody phlegm and then says the next day “we’re going to make a sailor out of you.”
The next morning, Alex wakes up as Spencer is attempting to leave her behind. She calmly asks if he was going to leave a note — there is, indeed, one addressed to her on the dresser — and he explains that the trip is too dangerous and that she should book passage to London and he’ll send for her when it’s safe. “There is no sending for me, Spencer. We have a life together or we live our lives apart,” she says. “Can you do that? Can you live your life without me?”
“You only get to choose me once,” she says, resolute even though she’s crying. “The choice will not be offered again.” And c’mon, she’s AMAZING. What else is he going to say but: “Get your things”?
SHIP SHAPE? | Before they board their ship, they climb on another (fancier) one and ask the captain to send a message to his family in the states; doing so by cable to the U.S. is not possible in Africa.They have some very adorable banter as they walk to their actual transport, which is a ROUGH-looking tugboat. “Spencer, I don’t think those are supposed to leave the harbor,” she says. “This one’s leaving the harbor,” he says. And it does! “Your vacation’s over, I’m afraid,” Spencer warns her. “But the adventure’s just beginning,” she says, grinning.
They haven’t even gotten to lunch on the first day when their little vessel comes dangerously close to a ghost (aka abandoned) ship listing about in the channel. Lucca gets them by safely, but the encounter shakes Alex’s confidence a bit.
That night, she and Spencer take first and second watch at the wheel. She tells him never to doubt her again. He clarifies that it was worry, not doubt, but agrees not to do so again. “It’s settled then: You can be my love slave,” she says, looking very pleased with herself.
She’s dozing later when his watch is up; he wakes her and brings her down below. He gets her settled in the bottom bunk and, seeing all the bloody effluvia on Lucca’s pillow and beard, offers to take the captain’s watch, as well. But Lucca angrily informs him that it’s his boat, and he goes upstairs to pilot the ship.
Slight problem, though: He dies while at the helm. Spencer wakes to realize that the engines aren’t running, and he rushes upstairs to find Lucca has hemorraghed or something equally gross and bloody during the night. Spencer calmly puts out a mayday call on the radio and makes contact just as he realizes that THE GHOST SHIP IS UPON THEM. He fires up the engine and desperately spins the wheel, but they get clipped by the larger vessel anyway; belowdecks, Alex is thrown about like a daisy in a hurricane. This is so extremely not good.
‘MY COUSIN WILL REACH HER HOME’ | At the School From Hell, Father Renaud is alerted to the deaths of Sister Mary and Sister Alice, who killed with an envelope opener to the chest. He has the girls lined up for questioning; Teonna’s friend Baapuxti is crying, which earns her a slap from the priest and several more when she says she doesn’t know where Teonna went.
Eventually, in his office and after a lot more violence, she quietly says that Teonna went “home.” But he doesn’t believe her, given the hundreds of miles between the two points. Then he says a lot of ugly stuff about the devil, and Baapuxti has had her fill. “I am Otter from the Kills Many Clan,” she says in her native language. “My cousin will reach her home. And then the Kills Many Clan will come to kill you.” That makes him so angry he punches her in the face, knocking her backward. Then he angrily stomps on her. (The shot is from her perspective, so we’re spared seeing the actual hit. Then again, I am very worried that he crushed her skull under his boot.) Renaud then leads a group of priests and nuns in a search for signs of Teonna; a nun finds footprints, and that’s all that the (un)holy man needs to send a team of priests on horseback to “bring her back to me.”
Later, a shot of priests burying a wrapped body confirms that Baapuxti didn’t survive.
‘THEY HAD IT COMING’ | That night, Teonna is hiding when a wolf sniffs her out. She screams and it startles it, but it returns, snarling. She manages to escape by climbing… is this a butte? Is this too small for a butte? Rock-inclined people, help me out! Anyway, she manages to escape by climbing a flat-topped rock formation, then she cries as the wolf sits and seems prepared to wait her out.
She wakes the next morning surrounded by a herd of sheep. A man on horseback approaches and addresses Teonna in her language. “Long way from the Rez,” he says. She tells him she ran away from the school, and he’s sympathetic: “I’d run, too.” He says her home is the first place the school will look. She tells him her name is Teonna Rain Water, and he switches to English. “Your father is Runs His Horse,” he asks, and she confirms. His English name is Hank. It’s not long before the poor girl is sobbing that she’s in big trouble. “I killed the nun who beat me, and I killed the nun who raped me,” she says.
He gets off his horse and draws near. “They did this?” he asks, and she nods. “I’d say they had it coming.” He instructs her to come home with him, and he’ll send word to her dad. She climbs up behind him on his mount, and they ride off.
WHITFIELD’S PLAN | Banner Creighton informs Donald Whitfield that Elizabeth’s mother has packed up and moved East, and her ranch borders the Yellowstone. “I don’t know much about mines, but if I was building one, I’d build it there,” the sheep man says. He adds that most of the ranches leveraged their land to build up their herds; they owe the banks a lot. Whitfield commands Creighton to run off other skittish ranch owners, so they can “choke this Dutton out.” Banner wonders how much land he wants? “I want it all,” Whitfield says. “I want the whole valley.”
That understood, Banner marvels at the house they’re in, which Whitfield owns. The place has a gas stove; the Scot is stunned to learn that the gas is piped into the home. He’s also agog at demonstrations of the electric lights and running water. “No more log and sod for you,” Whitfield says, tossing him the keys, and for a minute there it truly looks like Creighton might cry.
JAKE IS UP! | Jack comes home from selling part of the herd to find the doctor and some nurses helping Jacob — who’s wrapped in a blanket and walking with a cane — downstairs. “Doctor says he needs sunlight,” Cara says. Once Jake is settled outside, he notices that Jack is radiating anger. (In his defense, he’s taken a lot of hits, and both of his parents just died!)
Jack fights tears as Jake tells him he’s too young to lead the ranch, and then they both acknowledge that Jacob is an old man — a fact that seems to bother a grieving Jack more than Jake. After he leaves, Jake advises Cara not to let their great-nephew go into town anymore. Then they talk about how she’s got to be aware of Creighton and his sneaky ways, particularly when it comes to the person bankrolling him. “I find it hard to believe that anyone would support that monster,” she says disdainfully. “It would take another monster, that’s for sure,” he says. As they talk about who’d benefit from the ranchers’ departure, they decide it’s got to be someone who’s mining gold.
Inside, Jack breaks a glass against a wall, which brings Elizabeth into the kitchen. And she’s MAD. “This isn’t what you promised,” she says, saying they’re all each other has — and what about their wedding day, which came and went with no mention? “We don’t speak, you don’t touch me,” she says, warning him against hate, which “takes your whole heart, every bit of it.” She’s actively choosing not to hate Banner because she wants to have room to love Jack, but if he won’t do the same, she says, “take me to town. Send me home, Jack.”
He follows her outside and says he’ll stand in front of God and marry her right then and there. Then he recites vows, she cries and they kiss. Cara sees them from a distance on her way into the house to get some dinner — yay, solid food! — together for Jake. She cries a few happy tears when Jack and Elizabeth kiss.
STORK’S COMING! | Cara is smiling even wider at some point later, when Elizabeth informs her that she and Jack are going to get married sooner rather than later, because she’s pregnant. “That is the first good news these ears have heard in months,” she says, beaming as she hugs a very relieved Elizabeth.
While Cara is out in the carriage later, she runs into Don Whitfield, who introduces himself as her new neighbor and who asks for a good time to swing by and meet Jacob. She’s standoffish, and he’s simultaneously patronizing and threatening as he talks about how he’ll just come whenever he likes.
She’s unsettled by the encounter, but that falls by the wayside when she stops at the post office and reads Spencer’s cable: “I received your letter and I am coming home.” However, the final shot of the episode is of the tug, completely upside down in the water with no visible survivors, bobbing in the vastness of the sea.
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Alex is a goner? Sound off in the comments!
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, dial “988” for the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
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