“The War has Come Home” is a clever name for this week’s episode, as the title “war” is being fought on a couple of different fronts for the Duttons. For Spencer, it means the battle of having to open his dying heart to anyone other than the drink and darkness he has been letting in. Their torrid love affair is reminiscent of the classic story of Jane and Tarzan – an English woman of means meets a savage wild man, yet the two awaken something primal within each other to foster an unbreakable love.
Schlaepfer and Sklenar should be commended for how they say so much in just a look. Sklenar especially embodies what a Dutton man is known for within this universe – someone who loves deeply, but often hides it within a stoic exterior. The glances between the two actors are enough for the audience to be caught up in the passion, even if the love story is somewhat overplayed already at this point.
As much as there is something to be said about being ‘finite,’ Sheridan should be careful to ensure he is giving his subplots enough time to breathe. The unbridled lust between Alexandra and Spencer is as steamy as the parts of Africa the show portrays, but often it bordered on the melodramatic nature of a Danielle Steel novel. This also doesn’t seem like a relationship that is built to last. After a harrowing situation where the two are stranded in the middle of the savannah, sleeplessly hanging onto a tree with one hand and a rifle with the other to fight off predators, it seemed that Alex was already second guessing her choice to join Spencer. It made this reviewer question if she has already had too much of the dark reality a Dutton man could bring, as well as questioning the logistics of making love when you’re 12-feet up in the branches of a Marula tree.
Yet, while the acrobatic coitus is certainly the most adventurous story of passion within the history of this family so far, the rest is somewhat familiar. The locale has changed, but the character dynamic or family characteristics certainly haven’t. Avid fans of the Yellowstone universe quickly recognize how hard and fast (stay with me) the Duttons fall in love. We’ve seen it with Spencer’s older sister when Elsa fell madly in love, twice within 1883’s 10-episode arc, and before she was finished being a teenager.
Sheridan needs to be careful, as there is a very thin line between homage and recycling. It is one thing to mirror the adventures of different generations of the Duttons – to show a genetic predisposition to these torrid love affairs, but considering we’ve had 4 and half seasons of Yellowstone, an entire limited run of 1883 and now three episodes of 1923, Sheridan must ensure the pool from which he draws these Dutton stories is not too shallow.
Similarly, when we last saw Jerome Flynn’s Banner Creighton, he was dangling precariously out of a tree, next to his hanged compatriots. Jacob (Harrison Ford) promised Creighton that he may still live if Creighton has the will, mirroring the type of cowboy justice his ancestors brought down on future enemies of the ranch.