1883 is cranking the action into high gear as the show's first season heads into its final episodes. Episode 7 of the hit Western includes a devastating storm, shootouts and a new relationship for Elsa (Isabel May) that nobody could have seen coming.

Episode 7 is available to stream as of Sunday morning (Feb. 6), and it begins with the new hand who was hired to replace Elsa's lover, Ennis (Eric Nelsen), Colton (Noah Le Gros), taking an avid interest in her, but it quickly becomes apparent that, as he ruefully puts it, he may have overestimated his appeal.

As the wagon train forges a new path into unexplored lands in the Oklahoma territory, Elsa forms an unlikely new relationship with a Comanche warrior named Sam (Martin Sensmeier), while the wagon train's new cook, the aptly-named Cookie (James Jordan), runs afoul of Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill) after going off on an expletive-laden tirade in front of her son. Little John (Audie Rick) gets another scene-stealing line when he innocently asks the question every parent dreads, but knows is coming one day: "What does f--k mean, Mama?"

Hill also gets to play another remarkably convincing scene in mama bear mode when she admonishes Cookie, "You use that word in front of my child again, I'm gonna stab you with this f--kin' fork," prompting a bemused James (Tim McGraw) to observe, "That could have gone a lot worse."

The episode centers on a storm that pops up on the sweeping plains where the wagon train of mostly inexperienced immigrants are already struggling. When a tornado suddenly forms from out of the clouds, they have to abandon the wagons, horses and cattle to save themselves by laying low, and while no one is killed in this particular disaster, they lose several wagons and will have to double back to re-supply, losing even more crucial time before winter finds them unprepared along the trail.

May also gets another key scene to play in Ep. 7, when Elsa and two of the hands are separated from the group and caught by the storm. They take cover on the ground as it rages overhead, and in the heat of the moment, she rolls on top of a stunned Sam and begins kissing him fiercely, much to the chagrin of Colton.

Fans will be happy to see that the budding romance between Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) and Noemi (Gratiela Brancusi) does not spell her doom this week, but of course, it's 1883, and happiness is fleeting along the trail. Though she survives the episode, her belongings do not — including the beautiful mirror Thomas gave her in Episode 6, which has been shattered.

Even with all they've endured, the would-be settlers still have more challenges in front of them, as cattle thieves have gathered up the cattle that scattered during the storm — which will serve as the travelers' only source of meat during the later months of their journey.

Another classic Western showdown ensues, with Shea (Sam Elliott), Thomas and James taking on more than a dozen armed men, while Elsa rides for her life when they realize how badly outgunned they are. Four bandits pursue her, and they very nearly catch her when Sam shows up once again, killing them one by one as she watches in stunned awe of his fury, which she calls "magnificent."

1883 creator Taylor Sheridan also appears in Episode 7 in a brief, almost unrecognizable cameo as Charles Goodnight, an acquaintance of Shea's who shows up at the last minute to help expel the rest of the bandits. In the end, both Thomas and James are wounded, but not seriously, while Shea later discovers he has taken a glancing shot to his forehead that would have surely killed him had it hit differently.

The episode ends with yet another key scene from Hill, who has ridden out with a shotgun to find her daughter. She encounters the final living bandit, who is already wounded, and when he tries to confront her with a pistol and demand that she give up her horse, she dispatches him handily with her shotgun in a scene that her character evidently believes condemns her soul, leaving young John as the sole Dutton who might get into Heaven.

With just three episodes left in the first season of 1883, the action is getting more intense, but so is the suspense. Will Elsa really begin a seemingly forbidden romance with Sam? Will the wagon train be able to pick up the pieces, literally, and carry on? Will Sam die just as suddenly as Ennis did? And since Sheridan is so fond of foreshadowing ... will Sam end up saving Elsa further down the line, when she takes an arrow in the scene that opened the show? And will we even see the wagon train leave the Southern territories before the end of the season?

Those are just a few of the questions that are in front of viewers as 1883 closes in on the final episodes of the season. New episodes of 1883 stream every Sunday via Paramount+.

Stay tuned to Taste of Country as we provide ongoing coverage of both Yellowstone and 1883, including episode analysis, news on the shows, cast interviews and more. As part of our comprehensive coverage, check out the Dutton Rules podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Subscribe to the Paramount+ streaming service to make sure you don't miss out on future episodes of 1883.

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