Warning: This recap contains spoilers.
After a five-week hiatus, the Yellowstone prequel series 1923 is back with its latest episode, “Ghost of Zebrina.”
As the episode opens, we watch as the Duttons grapple with the reality of their recent tragedies and losses. Emma mourns John, Cara continues to tend to Jacob’s healing wounds as he remains bedridden, and the passion of Elizabeth and Jack’s relationship wanes as the latter devotes all of his time to patrolling the ranch for any further threats. Cara tries to convince Emma not to continue moping in bed, because Jack still needs her. But unfortunately, Emma doesn’t see it that way, not anymore. She takes her own life that night. And thus only four Duttons remain to carry on the family legacy …
Spencer and Alex’s journey to America begins
Meanwhile, Spencer and Alex begin their journey to leave Africa and return to Montana after receiving Cara’s letter. However, they hit a snag when they discover there isn’t a boat that can take them directly to America. Their best option is to head to London first, but the journey will take a month, and that boat isn’t leaving for another three weeks yet.
Spencer manages to find another option, though he’ll have to work as a deckhand for passage. The next morning, Spencer tries to sneak out, though Alex wakes up before he can leave. The journey is too dangerous, so he intended for her to go to London, and he would then send for her once it’s safe. But she’s not having any of it. Alex bluntly asks him if he can live his life without her — he only gets to choose her once, the choice will not be offered again. Spencer tells her to get her things.
Before they leave, Spencer gets on another ship and asks if they can radio a message back home to his family to let them know that he’s coming (thanks to a tip from Alex about an advancement in worldwide communication). Though she was insistent on coming, Alex deflates slightly when she sees the state of the small tugboat they’ll be travelling on. Though the captain makes note of the fact that Spencer’s brought a woman along with him, he ultimately doesn’t make much of a fuss.
At the sight of a large, looming ship up ahead after they set sail, Lucca looks nervous, and he explains that it’s a ghost ship. That night, Lucca teaches Spencer and Alex how to pilot the boat, as they’ll each need to take three-hour shifts. When Spencer goes downstairs to the cabin and sees how much blood is on Lucca’s pillow, he offers to take the next watch as well, but the captain refuses.
Later, once the sun has risen, Spencer wakes up with a start when he realizes that the engines aren’t burning. He runs up to the bridge to find Lucca slumped over dead at the wheel. Spencer radios for help, and without the engines burning, they end up crashing directly into the ghost ship.
At the American Indian boarding school, Sister Mary and Sister Alice’s dead bodies are discovered the morning following Teonna’s escape. Father Renaud beats Baapuxti in an attempt to find out where she went. In a scene that feels eerily reminiscent — yet under completely opposite circumstances — of a season 3 episode of Yellowstone, the church members head spread out in a search party to sweep the grounds.
Elsewhere, we see Teonna momentarily stop to rest as she drinks from a nearly dried up stream. Later, when she stops for the night, she’s attacked by a wolf and forced to climb up onto higher ground for safety. She wakes up in the morning to find herself surrounded by a herd of sheep, and a Native American man, Hank, approaches her on horseback. When he notes that she’s a long way from the reservation, she admits that she ran away from the Indian school. When she tells him what she did to the nuns, Hank fiercely tells her that they had it coming. He offers to bring her home with him, and he’ll get word to her father.
At the Yellowstone
After far too much bed rest, Jacob finally makes his way outside under the doctor’s orders that he needs sunlight, though he’s still very weak. He speaks with Jack, noticing how angry he still is, and he tells him that they need a leader, before they lose everything. Jack still wants revenge, he won’t let it go — not yet. Jacob warns Cara to keep Jack close and not to let him go to town anymore. In the meantime, she needs to start hiring livestock agents.
Upset that they wedding day came and went with no mention of it, Elizabeth confronts Jack. They barely talk now, and he doesn’t touch her. Hate has taken over his heart, leaving no room for love. She gives him an ultimatum — if things don’t change, he can take her back to town. He follows her outside and tells her that they don’t need a wedding in order to get married. They exchange their vows right then and there. Later, Elizabeth casually asks Cara if they plan an official wedding fairly soon, as her and Jack’s consummation of their theoretical marriage has seemingly resulted in pregnancy.
Mirroring the stubborn determination of John Dutton III in Yellowstone following the attempted assassination on the entire family at the end of season 3, Jacob struggles to get back upstairs to his bedroom, but he refuses to give up.
Banner and Donald take a trip over to the Yellowstone, and Donald tells Cara that he’s acquired the Stafford ranch. He tells her that he’d like to meet Jacob, but she refuses to offer him a time for a meeting just yet. Later, Cara goes to the post office, and she’s relieved to have received Spencer’s wire message — he’s coming home.
But as the episode’s final frame pans to a shot of the capsized tugboat … Spencer and Alex’s fates are left up in the air.
Catch the next episode of 1923 exclusively on Paramount+ next Sunday, February 12. In case you missed it, the series was recently renewed for a second season!