1883 has captured fans’ attention since before the very first episode and with every new release, viewers get more and more attached to certain characters.
While James Dutton (Tim McGraw), Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill), and Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) were bound to steal the show from the outset, it’s the budding romance between Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) and Ennis (Eric Nelson) that’s left so many fans reeling after episode five.
As a refresher, Elsa is James and Margaret’s 19-year-old daughter. She met Ennis, a kind-hearted cowboy, when she joined her father to herd cattle. Almost instantly, sparks flew. While James and Margaret kept watch over the evolving relationship—and even gave their blessing—once James found out that things had turned physical between the couple, he confronted Ennis, punching him square in the jaw, successfully knocking him off his horse. If Elsa hadn’t positioned her horse in front of Ennis and told her father that she loved him, James may have taken it further. Thankfully, no more punches were thrown but James made it clear that Ennis was to protect his daughter (and her heart) at all costs. Little did we know, later in the episode, he’d have to do just that.
After seeing smoke plumes in the distance, James and the crew had a sneaking suspicion that the bandits weren’t far away. They created a plan in case they were to return but sadly weren’t equipped for the standoff. While they were able to kill and chase off most of the bandits, one got away and charged straight for Ennis. Wanting to protect Elsa, he did the same and hit his target. Unfortunately, the bandit did as well, and Ennis met his ultimate demise. But, before fading away, he used his last breath to tell James that he loved his daughter.
Needless to say, fans—like Elsa—are in mourning.
“I can’t get over how powerful this episode was. Ennis brought a lot of love and life to this series. I hate he is gone,” one fan commented on a clip from episode five on Instagram. “I am so upset! Why didn’t you make their love last forever! I was rooting for a happily ever after! I’m sick,” another fan exclaimed. “And then our hearts shattered into 10 million pieces,” someone else chimed in.
Heartbreaking as it may seem, Eric revealed that it was necessary for the plot of the show. "Once I read all the scripts, I ran to Taylor and I was like, 'Why? Why? This is who we were rooting for the whole time.' We're rooting for this couple and we finally get them there and then it all falls apart," he shared in an interview with Newsweek. "And he's like, 'You'll see. Keep reading. It has to happen this way.'”
Only time will tell why. Thankfully, we have five more episodes left in the season.
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