1923 Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Ghost of Zebrina

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How much death and destruction can one family take?

1923 Season 1 Episode 5 broke my heart into pieces, and after what we've come to know with the Yellowstone prequels, it would be silly to hold out hope.

The light of the family may be gone before anyone even got a chance to see it.

Spencer and Alex Continue Their Journey

Things at the Yellowstone are dour. Everyone is on high alert after the massacre.

Cara's daily trips to the post office, hoping for word from Spencer, are done with armed guards. Those trips are mostly futile.

Cara Takes a Ride - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

The family is barely holding on. Emma died with her husband and snuffed out her traitorous body when dragging it along no longer mattered to her.

Before she died, Emma had nasty words for Cora.

Become a mother before you lecture me about sons and what they do.


Mary Shelton barely got anything to do on 1923, but those biting words packed a wallop. Cara was there for her husband's nephews more than Emma could be for Jack in the end.

We knew so little about John and Emma that they barely left an imprint on us, but for Jack, their deaths sucked the life out of him and replaced it with simmering anger.

This isn't what you promised. You haven't lost anything that I haven't lost. I'm an orphan, too, now. All we have is each other, and I don't even have that. You know, our wedding day came and went with no mention of it. We don't speak. You don't even touch me. I've got just as much right to hate the man as you do, but I don't because hate takes your whole heart, every bit of it. It leaves no room for love. I choose not to hate him, so there's room in my heart for you. If you won't do the same for me, take me to town. Send me home, Jack.


Cara Supports Elizabeth - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

The women in the Dutton family line have had more strength than all of the men combined, and Elizabeth lives up to it. She was left with nothing, but she's driven by her desire to love and will to survive.

Jack is only moved by Elizabeth's strength. Without that, Jack would still be seething with anger, forgetting to live when others would give anything for the chance to breathe and love again.

Elizabeth's pregnancy gives everyone left something to hold onto and pushes them beyond the limits of the pain that permeates their existence.

Jacob's recovery has been slow, which could become more problematic as Banner's plans to teach them a lesson continue to bear fruit. Donald Whitfield is just a greedy businessman willing to do anything for money and power, but Banner might be biting off more than he can chew.

Elizabeth and Jack Share a Moment - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

When someone is willing to give you the world for your services, you need to pay up. Honestly, I can't even be angry at Banner for teaming with Whitfield.

Banner was struggling to survive, unable to feed his flock, and now he's got a mansion with state-of-the-art enhancements that have only just begun entering the region. Without his deal with the devil, he'd never experience running water, electric lights, or a gas stove.

In the end, Banner will likely suffer. But for now, it makes sense that he's drawn to what Whitfield is offering.

It seems like Whitfield is going to push the agenda with Cara and Jacob, and if he comes to the house, he'll see that things are not as they should be. Their vulnerability would be the final nail in their coffin.

Banner's Gift - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

Jack wants to stand up and be the man of the family, but all hopes are pinned on Spencer's return. Well, it doesn't look like Spencer is returning, and the pieces add up to any sliver of hope in my silly mind being just that, silly.

Cara, with her daily trips to the post office and Jacob telling Jack he's not ready to lead, will be meaningless when Spencer fails to return. They only have a limited time to set things right at the Yellowstone, and one person who is there now can make the difference.

Jack may be young and inexperienced, but so are we all until the first time we have to stand on our own. But while Jacob could use the time to impart wisdom to his grandnephew, he'll use Spencer's cable as a reason not to.

Is there any hope that Spencer and Alex will arrive at the Yellowstone?

The Dutton Future - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

Elsa's voiceover spoke specifically to her brother and the last journey he would ever take. That it could have ended so soon is too much for this gal to bear.

My heart first skipped a beat when Spencer met with Lucca about his passage to the Suez Canal without any mention of Alex. He wasn't able to sneak out of the room without her, though. She laid it out for him. There would be no coming back for her. She accepted him once and wouldn't do it again. For her, it was forever or nothing.

Even that wasn't the fatal flaw in the plan. Spencer would have still taken the trip with Lucca. But he wouldn't have planted what might be false hope in Cara's mind with the cable.

Spencer: Why are you smiling?
Alex: I'm extraordinarily pleased with myself. You should be smiling, too. I've proven quite resourceful on this journey, and we haven't even left yet. No telling how I'll save the day next.

The title of the episode, "Ghost of Zabrina," didn't alert me to anything. Shame on me for not doing a google search. The Zebrina was a 100-foot three-masted schooner weighing 189 tons that transported meat between countries.

Spencer Makes a Deal - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

That they would encounter two such vessels in such a short span of time seems unthinkable. How many ghost ships are there, anyway? Google says that as of 2020, there were 438 worldwide. That's crazy. And impossible for a tugboat with an inexperienced captain to outmaneuver once in its wake.

One minute, Spencer and Alex were in love and making the most of their odd journey. The next, they are on their own and the victims of a terrible fate.

Spencer: Your vacation's over, I'm afraid.
Alex: But the adventure is just beginning.

The only way they didn't die was if that ship wasn't a ghost ship, and that seems far less likely than I'd otherwise imagine.

My analytical mind wonders, "yes, Alex, how are you going to save the day next?" That's followed by chiding that salvation is impossible.

Alex Wakes Up Unexpectedly - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

As stories go, and if 1923 is following in the same footsteps of 1883, the first two deaths of undeveloped characters were teaser deaths. The real shocker comes from developing characters who quickly solidify in our hearts and then wiping them off the map, as was done with Elsa.

Their journey seemed arduous, for sure, but it didn't seem impossible. Little did I know.

It's still hard to fit Teonna into the story, but I believe we may have met Hank when they received the sheep. So, perhaps the worlds will collide when Hank gets Teonna back to relative safety.

Have we seen the end of the Indian school? God, please say yes. They're so brutal and offer no hope. I'm embarrassed to have been raised Catholic. Did anyone else scream at Father Renaud as he was beating that poor girl?

Booking Passage - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

Fear is the stench of guilt, child, and you reek of it.

Father Renaud

Fear was a reasonable and expected reaction to the treatment the girls receive at their hands.

It was also the second (or maybe third) time that the writing took a swipe at Canada. Hank warned Teonna that escaping to Canada wouldn't be good as they are worse than the US. It was good for a chuckle.

The good news is that 1923 is getting a second season. The bad news is that it was pretty much announced as a 16-episode series from the get-go, so that's not a surprise.

The bad news is that Spencer and Alex are likely gone, and they had become favorites of many, myself unabashedly included.

Taking to the Water - 1923 Season 1 Episode 5

How do you feel after the multiple gut punches during "Ghost of Zebrina"?

How long will Cara and Jacob wait before handing the reins to Jack as the leader of the dwindling family?

Share your thoughts below!

Ghost of Zebrina Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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1923 Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Fear is the stench of guilt, child, and you reek of it.

Father Renaud

Become a mother before you lecture me about sons and what they do.