1883 (2021) s01e01 Episode Script


I remember the first time I saw it.
Tried to find words to describe it but I couldn't.
Nothing had prepared me no books, no teachers, not even my parents.
I heard a thousand stories but none could describe this place.
It must be witnessed to be understood.
And yet I've seen it, and understand it even less than before I first cast eyes on this place.
Some call it the American Desert, others, the Great Plains.
But those phrases were invented by professors at universities surrounded by the illusion of order and the fantasy of right and wrong.
To know it, you must walk it.
Bleed into its dirt.
Drown in its rivers.
Then its name becomes clear It is hell, and there are demons everywhere.
I said no.
- Will you let me go? - I will sell you.
Or I will kill you! - You speak English.
How can you do this?! - You speak English.
And no, your people did this.
But if this is hell, and I'm in it then I must be a demon too.
And I'm already dead.
- Captain.
- Yeah.
- We're ready.
You coming? - I'm thinking about it.
- Think on it quick.
If I'm digging a hole, I'd rather do it before the sun's high.
- I'm coming.
- Come on! Whoa! Ya! Ya! - Pretty smart.
- They won't fall for it again.
Pretty soon they'll just shoot the horses.
- Horses is probably what they're after.
Farmers ain't got nuthin' else worth taking.
- They'll shoot the horses anyway.
Then the farmer.
- Ya! Ya! - What's he doing? - I don't know.
I don't give a shit.
- Good shot.
- Yep.
- So y'all just sat up there and watched? - You looked like you had it figured.
- Well, thanks for the fucking help.
Don't take the horse.
- Well, I figure I earned it.
- Thieves run in pretty big packs around here.
If one of his pack sees it You'd just be advertising for the next gunfight.
Come one, come all! I've got an Indian scalp today for sale.
The genuine article! Comanche! Kiowa! Kickapoo! Scalps! For sale today! - Linson's magic elixir cures consumption - $10.
- Whoa.
Try and figure it out.
- Can you take a wagon and a team? - How many in your team? - Four.
And I had two shipped here by train.
A yellow and a buckskin.
- Yellow and buckskin.
You James Dutton? - Yep.
We got them in back.
Most keep their wagons out back.
See what you got here.
Excuse us.
- Excuse us, gentlemen.
Hey, all this shit'll be stolen by morning.
- You ain't go no place you can keep it? - I'll keep it in the hay barn for ten dollars.
Of course, can't make no promises it won't get robbed there either.
- Well, it's the promise I'm paying for.
- For twenty, I'll have someone sit with it.
- And how much for the horses? - Two apiece.
- All right.
There a decent hotel? - Just yourself? - Got my family.
Six total.
- Yeah.
You don't want your family here.
You should go to Dallas.
- Well, here's where they're meeting me.
- Best bet's the Calhoun.
- All right.
- You're 77, 78, 79 81 and 82 for the two already here.
For the wagon.
If you ain't settled up in thirty days, everything goes to auction.
- What's the rule about firearms in this town? - This place'll pick you apart if you ain't got one.
But if you pull your pistol in this town, mister You'd better know how to use it.
Hey, handsome! Is it my lucky day? Come on in for a shower and bath.
Hell, I might let you bathe me.
- Forget about the bath, baby.
You can come climb mama like a tree.
- Watch where the hell you're going.
- Give it back.
- Give what back? - My wallet.
- I didn't take your fucking Pickpocket! - Put that back! - He took my goddamn wallet.
- Farmer ain't scared to use that shotgun.
- Farmer's gonna pick a fight he can't win before long.
Thomas, stand by that door.
Don't let any of that bullshit spill in here.
That should answer any questions about how dangerous this journey will be.
It will be that and worse, all the way to Oregon.
Does anybody speak English? - I I speak English.
- Does this group have a leader? But he doesn't speak English.
- No.
No English.
- You have wagons? - And ox to pull them.
- Ox Ox won't make the trip.
Heat and no water will kill them.
Sell the ox.
Get horses.
- We don't know horses.
- Where's your gear? - Gear? - Your supplies.
Your suitcases.
What you take with you.
- In the room.
In in the back.
- Show me.
What is all this shit? - Everything we brought from home.
- Well, you should have left it there.
It won't make the trip.
- It must.
This is everything we have.
- How am I supposed to load this on a wagon and float it across the fucking river? And over mountains? - Captain.
He ain't even got a pistol.
- No.
- Against your religion? - Against our laws.
We were not allowed.
- None of you have firearms? - Do we need them? - Do you need them? We're going to have to hire more men.
To protect you.
To help you hunt for food.
Talk it over with your group and see what kind of money they can come up with so we can hire them.
- More money The price is two hundred per family.
- There's a new price.
- The church warned us about people like you.
You change rules.
You You try to rob us.
You think we're fools, just because - You have no horses.
No guns.
You can't ride.
You are a fucking fool! For thinking you can travel two thousand miles with no skills to survive it.
- Captain.
- Take the train to Portland.
You won't make this trip.
- We We can't afford the train.
- Then I suggest you buy farms around here.
- Here is hot.
Here is dry.
We come from mountains.
Mountains we know.
How much do more men cost? - Maybe a hundred apiece.
Maybe more.
Let me check around.
- Okay.
We we leave in the morning? - We leave when you're ready and you won't be ready in the morning.
- All is okay.
- You're staring out that window like there's a prize to be had.
You ain't half-wrong.
- Never seen a sunset.
- Sun don't set where you're from? - The pine trees block it.
- Tennessee - How'd you know? - I know the pines.
And I know the accent.
Where you headed? - West.
- All by yourself? - With my family.
- I don't see much family.
Just see you - They're, um Our seats are in the back.
I just wanted to look out the window so I - Sit here as long as you like.
Then just a little bit longer I question your father's judgment, though.
If had a daughter as pretty as you, she would never leave my sight.
Don't do that.
Don't hide from it.
Beauty is meant to be admired.
Let me look Yeah.
Look at you.
Ah! All right, ma'am Ma'am, I get your point, ma'am.
All right, ma'am.
- Elsa, let's go.
Good day to you, sir.
You're going to be the death of me, I swear.
- I was just looking out the window.
- Mm-hmm.
Window sure wears a fancy suit.
- Excuse me.
Excuse me, sir.
Oh, excuse me.
Excuse me, sir.
- Where's John? - With your aunt.
- You left him with them? - YOU left me no choice.
- Someday I'll only ride in the front of the train.
That's a child's goal.
A woman's goal is never ride a train again because she has a home she never wants to leave.
- I guess we're both a ways from our goal.
- Ought not let her talk to you like that.
If she were my daughter - If you think you can make her listen, be my guest.
- Traipse off into harm's way and then back-talk your mother for saving you? I wasn't in harm's I'm sorry.
Ah! - It didn't worry me.
You apologize to her.
- I'm sorry, Mama.
Tell her to stop.
- You proved your point.
- You'll hit a stranger, but not your own daughter, when it's exactly what she needs.
Spare the rod, Margaret, and the freedom will ruin her.
If it hasn't already.
- You had it coming.
- How's the pay? - Hundred a month.
- It'll take four months to get there, then we're stuck in Oregon for the winter.
We'll burn through the money waiting to get home.
- We can send you back on the train.
- Look, Captain I've pushed cattle all the way to Omaha and come across a fair amount of these immigrant wagons: these sons of bitches are trying to die.
They can't swim.
They can't ride.
Bandits gonna plague you all the way to Nebraska and when you get to the Indian country whew! - Indians are on reservations.
- They're on reservations till they ain't.
And when they see you coming 'round the bend, they gonna saddle up and pluck y'all like chickens.
- Mm-hmm.
- It's dangerous enough around here.
I ain't gotta go two thousand miles looking for trouble.
All the trouble I'll ever need is right outside that door.
Thank you for supper.
- Mm-hmm.
- We could have a look in The Elephant.
- If they're in The Elephant when we find 'em, I don't want 'em.
Look who it is.
- That farmer's everywhere at once, ain't he? - Mm-hmm.
- Mind if we speak? - Whatever you're selling I ain't buying.
- Mind if we speak? For your supper.
For the intrusion.
- I can pay for my own dinner.
- Four horses to your wagon.
What are you hauling? Moving pretty fast.
My guess, it's empty and you're filling her up in town.
Then headed - Mister, if we wanted to rob you we'd have done it long before now.
We're leading a wagon train north.
Figured you might be headed the same way.
We could use some capable men with us.
And you seem to be that.
- That's all we're asking.
- My family's meeting me here tonight.
We're headed up north tomorrow.
- North where? - Don't know.
- You don't strike me as a man who travels without a plan.
- I got a plan.
- You will make a man work for an answer, won't you? - I ain't got the answer myself.
You got all these folks hauling ass west and north and they ain't never even seen the country and they don't even know if it's worth the journey.
Not me.
I'm gonna keep heading north till I find land that's worth the journey.
- How many in your group? - Six.
- How many men? We could help each other.
- I ain't looking for help.
I'm worried enough about my own family to be worrying about somebody else's.
- You got lucky in that field.
You got lucky on the street.
Hope you got enough luck left for those coming with you.
- Next, stop, Fort Worth.
Next, stop, Fort Worth.
- Elsa! - I'm just looking outside.
- The air was different.
The air at home is heavy, like a musky soup.
Here it is light.
With a strange scent of pollen and smoke, like burning flowers It smelled wild.
It was beautiful.
- Just wait for everyone to get off.
- Have you seen Elsa? - You lost her again.
- If "possible" can describe a feeling, that's how I felt.
The whole world felt possible.
And I was ready for it.
- Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! - How did you get up there? - There's a door.
- Well, then go back through it.
- Too many people now.
I have to wait.
Oh, I can't wait.
- Oh my God.
- Be careful.
- Woo! Come here.
- Ah! If you don't stop growing I'm gonna stack bricks on your head.
- You need a shave, Daddy.
Mama's gonna throw a fit.
She might like it.
- That girl How did you get down here? - I jumped.
- She is your daughter and you can have her.
- Hey, babe.
I missed you.
- You look like a ruffian.
- I was planning on a shave.
- You should've planned harder.
- I'll get one first thing tomorrow.
- Well It's okay for now.
- Well, it looks like you survived the journey.
- Barely.
The man beside me shit hisself in Mississippi and I had to smell it all the way here.
That doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun.
- James, your children are feral.
Absolutely feral.
- Hello, Claire.
- Hi.
Sorry to hear about Henry.
He was A patient man.
- Nothing to be sorry about.
It's the Lord's will.
Can't believe in heaven then be sad when people go there.
- Yes, ma'am.
Mary Abel.
- Thank you.
- Elsa.
This is a dangerous town.
I don't want you to wander.
- I don't wander.
- Honey, that's all you do, is wander, and I don't want you doing it here.
You promise me.
- I promise.
- All right.
- Baby.
- Calhoun.
- Yes, sir.
Whip his fucking ass! Eat dirt, you asshole.
Get him! - What did she say? - Nothing, honey.
You call me a whore again, you son of a bitch.
- You staying in Fort Worth long? - Not if I can help it.
- You know There's some real nice parts.
You just ain't in one of 'em.
Yeah, I can see that.
- Hotel Calhoun.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
- Here we are.
- Claire, this is you.
- Mary Abel, let's go.
- Losing her husband didn't soften her much.
- Hmph.
You could soak that woman in buttermilk for a month and not even soften her a bit.
All right.
John, this is you and your sister.
- Where are you? - Right next door, son.
- Look after your brother.
- I will.
- Yes, ma'am.
- I said I will.
- I know what you said.
What you didn't say is "yes, ma'am.
" - Women don't say that to each other.
- Oh, so you're a woman now? - Aren't I? - Oh - That child - She ain't wrong.
- Oh, so you're ready for her to start courting.
- Not a chance.
- Mm-hmm, that's what I thought.
- How much did you spend on this room? - It's the last room we'll see for a while.
You deserve it.
- A bath.
- Imagine that.
- I wonder if there's hot water in the lobby.
- There's hot water.
- I read about a hotel in New York where they pipe hot water straight into the room.
You turn a faucet on and it comes right out.
Can you imagine that? - For now, you're gonna have to imagine me hauling buckets of water up those stairs.
- Mmm.
Well I can do that.
- All right.
I'll be right back.
- Absinthe? - Soda water.
- Hm.
I don't know this water.
- You probably use it to remove stains.
- Why do you drink it? - Because I don't drink alcohol.
- Why not? - Just don't.
- You don't gamble either.
- Do you dance? - Not anymore.
- Well, maybe you should go home and sleep.
You don't sleep either.
- Not much.
- So you sit here and drink your drink that isn't a drink and you watch the people do all the other things you don't do.
- That's a fair observation.
- Why? It's not money.
Poor men stare across this room like little puppies hungry for scraps.
But you You have money.
- I have enough.
- You don't want to be alone with your memories.
It's why you don't sleep.
It's why you sit here until you are too tired for memories.
- You're too smart to be working here.
- I make more money than bankers.
I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
What was her name? - Helen.
- You've known no one since? You can call me her name.
You can close your eyes and you can call me her name and you can be with her again.
I can give that to you - Get the fuck off me.
- Is he causing you problems? - He pushed me.
- You know what I'm doing here? Looking for a reason.
You want to be my reason? - No, I do not.
- Then sit the fuck down.
Didn't work.
- All I knew of sex was rumors.
Stories traded among friends as we tried to imagine what that word really meant.
Now I knew - I've read a lot about Wyoming.
- Well, there's not enough rain in the east, there's too much snow in the west.
- So No to Colorado No to Wyoming.
- Oregon.
Plenty of rain.
Not much snow.
Cool summers and mild winters.
- Kind of sounds like a song.
- To you it sounds like a song.
- James - You don't think that I hauled 40 gallons of water up those stairs just to get clean? - I'm wooing you.
- Mm.
Whoo, those buckets of water sure must have been heavy.
- They were, honey.
- Mm, poor thing.
Woo! - So much I don't know about life.
We learn to read, we learn rules, learn scripture and manners, and how to avoid saying or doing things that make others uncomfortable.
All those things seem to be the opposite of life.
Seem to strangle it.
But now, I'm sleeping on the edge of civilization, and soon we leave the edge behind.
Then no rules.
Then, only life.
What an adventure.
What an adventure for all of us - She's a wild one! My turn.
Mama! - Anybody else want to fuck with my family? You? - What the hell am I gonna do with these? - Sell 'em.
- To who? - Farmers.
- Farmers don't use ox no more.
They got these steam engines now that can pull a plow all day.
All you gotta do is feed the furnace.
- Never seen one.
And neither have you.
Swap me even.
- I'll swap you for mules.
- We need horses.
- These folks can't handle mules.
They're real green.
- Green's their problem.
Not mine.
- I'll take a mix, but it needs to be half horses.
- All right.
But don't give me lip about the horses, they are what they are.
They cowboys got all the good ones these days.
When you want to pull out? Let's see what we can teach them first.
I want to give them a chance.
- It's a job, Captain.
And we took it.
All I got's my word and gonna see it through, but half these folks ain't gonna make it, and we both know it.
It's a free country and hell, this is what they chose.
We're doing what we can, but we need to get moving or winter's gonna kill us all.
- They're not ready.
- They ain't ever gonna be ready, Captain.
- Just 'cause they won't survive doesn't mean we can't try.
- Never say it did.
- All right, mister.
This right here, that's for the soil.
And this, that's for the bank.
- Thank you.
- This is a rattlesnake.
They hide under logs, and under rocks.
At night if it's cold they will look for warmth, and if you are sleeping on the ground that warmth is you.
A bite will kill you.
- This is poison oak and poison ivy.
It won't kill you, you'll just wish you were dead.
Do not touch it.
Do not walk in it.
- What else? - Water.
- Do not drink water from the ground.
When we camp, we will choose a latrine away from our water source.
- What is a latrine? - Powder room.
Water closet.
Thomas, help me.
- Toilette.
- What in the hell is a toilette? - It's French for shitter.
- When did you learn French? - I don't know French, I just know the French word for shitter.
- How do you know the French word for shitter? - I used to fuck a girl from France! - Fine.
That's all you had to say.
Don't have to get angry about it.
- We should check them.
- I know.
- All of them.
- I know.
- The farmer.
- You need help, I'll give it.
- I'll take it.
Thank you.
Pays a hundred a month.
- No, I don't want your money.
I ain't working for you.
I'm just riding with you.
- Fair enough How many women in your group? - It's all women in my group.
And a five year-old boy.
- May need to borrow one of those women.
- Borrow them for what? - Next.
You're done, step over there.
Come on.
Take it off.
Arms up.
Turn around.
Lift your hair.
Oh, Lord.
You're done.
- Turn around.
- Hey.
- Captain.
- Put your clothes on.
Do you have a wife? - Bring her here.
- What? - Nothing.
- What did I do? - You didn't do anything.
- What did I do? What did we do? - No! - What did we do? - You didn't do anything.
You have smallpox and you're going to die.
In three days you'll give it to everyone you meet.
If you have a soul, you will leave the city and find a river, and lay down beside it and die in peace.
If I see you again, I'll kill you myself.
- I don't have this thing you say.
- Get the fuck out of town! - Go on, get out of here! - I don't have this thing! - You ready to travel? - I've spent my last night in this town.
I'm leaving now.
- We head north in the morning.
We'll camp on the Trinity.
See if we can teach these people how to drive a wagon.
- Where on the Trinity? - There's a big oak bent over like an old woman.
Big boulder up against the trunk.
Looks like it's crying over a grave.
We'll meet you there.
- All right.
I remember stories of the great War, how it seemed man had lost all reason.
That we'd become animals, or perhaps we just surrendered to the fact that animals is all we've ever been.
But there are moments where I feel we are more.
Where we have evolved beyond a search for the next meal or the dominance to breed who we choose.
Where we breathe fresh air deep and can almost taste its maker.
I wish I could freeze this moment.
I would live in it forever swimming in the possible while the mud of the real is stuck to the shore.
We weren't poor.
We weren't desperate.
The road west is filled with failures but failure isn't what drove him.
It was a dream.
And the dream is coming true
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