Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Episode 2 of 1923.
When you think of the Yellowstone universe, one thing typically comes to mind: Beautiful. I’m speaking cinematically, of course. The series as a whole is beautiful, with sweeping landscapes of Montana that feel like something out of a painting of rural America and what the West has that appeals to the masses. But after so many seasons on the Yellowstone Ranch with the Dutton family, it can feel like more of the same. Not to say that it isn’t breathtaking to look at, but we know it so well that when we see the ranch come to life in 1923, it’s not that incredibly different.
What is our masterpiece to watch unfold in 1923, you ask? Well, that would be Spencer Dutton in Africa. Played by Brandon Sklenar, the storyline now includes a potential romance with Julia Schlaepfer‘s Alexandra, but what makes that B-plot so beautiful in comparison to the rest of the series is that it gives us a glimpse of a world far beyond the Yellowstone Ranch. — and when we do check in, there is always some action going on.
Why Is the Africa Storyline So Compelling?
The end of 1923‘s first episode bleeds into the beginning of the second, where Spencer took on a leopard and won all on his own. It’s so cinematic in comparison to what is going on back at the ranch that it feels so fresh because we’re used to the old way of life. Again, not that that is a bad thing, but it is just what we know about the series. If 1923 started off the Yellowstone universe, we might be thinking differently — but because Yellowstone Ranch is our home base, the Africa arc is so exciting.
The truth of the matter is that it is fresh and new and that’s why it is the draw. With a show like this, we know the ins and outs of the Dutton family and even as we’re meeting new characters, it is still more of the family we’ve come to spend our time with throughout the years. Spencer up and leaving the United States to go to Africa, though? That’s interesting, because it seems to have ties to the trauma he suffered during the war.
We don’t know what the future holds for him because we know that he’s Kevin Costner‘s John Dutton’s uncle, but that’s what we have information-wise about his future. He could be fine with a family that John just hasn’t checked in on but given how the family works in both 1883 and 1923, it’d honestly be weird if Spencer had a family and one that was close to John and his kids. If anything, they’d be estranged and maybe that’s the point: Introducing him and his future, and we’ll see it connect to the modern arc in Yellowstone.
The Africa Storyline Is a Welcome Change of Pace on ‘1923’
Checking back in on Africa and seeing what is going on with Spencer is, currently, a nice change of pace from what we do know of the series. We’re treated to a new place with new characters while all still falling under the umbrella of the Dutton family. I just do worry that it means that something is going to happen to Spencer — because as we watch this series and learn more and more about these Dutton kids, they all seem to just peter out with no kids because we don’t see them existing in Yellowstone at all.
Spencer and Alexandra’s storyline is just getting started, and I do hope we see more of it and that the series keeps returning to it before it ends up converging with the main plot back home as it inevitably will. Until we know more about Spencer, though, I will happily keep checking back in because this part of the series feels more like its own movie and a completely separate world from the Yellowstone Ranch. The show can, at times, feel very much the same drama mixed with new people thrown in, and the Africa arc introduces a different terrain for the Duttons to tackle, even if it is just Spencer there on his own at the moment. (I wouldn’t hate if it meant that at some point, Harrison Ford ends up there with Helen Mirren, though.)