‘1923’: The Time Gap Until Spencer’s Arrival Explained

Spencer and Jacob Dutton 1923 Collage

Spencer (Brandon Sklenar) is already the fan favorite Dutton in 1923, even though he hasn’t done anything to help the Duttons keep the ranch as of the end of the first season. His struggles with PTSD after the war forced him into a self-imposed exile in Africa which kept him behind on the news of events back home. His aunt’s last letter to him was already two months late when he read it, which means there was a time gap between the scenes in Montana and those in Africa/Europe.

When Alexandra read Cara’s last letter to Spencer, the stamps were over two months old. It meant the scenes preceding Spencer’s departure from Africa were months behind those in Montana. Sending a Telegram from the ship helped update Cara about his return, but that doesn’t put any timeline on his return journey. Being ejected from the London-bound liner further delays his arrival, meaning the Duttons must survive much longer without his help.

Spencer has had the toughest journey of any major character in the story, but there is still more of him to see before the Yellowstone prequel concludes. He started the show half the world away from Montana, and since he hadn’t read any letters from home for two years, he was far behind events. Many fans are now wondering how far behind Spencer is and whether he will ever make it to Yellowstone in time to save his family’s legacy.

How long will it take Spencer to reach Yellowstone?

Spencer in a Dinghy in 1923

Spencer already made it to Europe by the end of the first season of 1923, which means he will be less than one month away from reaching the US once he gets onto a ship across the Atlantic. However, Spencer had already got ejected from the RMS Majestic, and he may not be allowed to board another royal liner.

The first season didn’t say exactly which port Spencer would land after being forcefully evicted in a dinghy, but it is not anywhere close to London because the ship was only a few days into its three-week trip to London.

Unless he finds a ship bound for the US, putting an exact timeline on his return trip is impossible. His return home is still certain since Cara’s words about him being the last hope for the ranch played in his mind in the finale while he was detained on the dinghy.

With the Earl of Sussex determined to avenge Arthur’s death, Spencer might have to fight to survive in Europe long before he makes it to the US. He will also have to seek other unconventional means for traveling to Montana just like he did in Africa, which will be more dangerous but worth it if he makes it to Yellowstone in time to save it.


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Why didn’t Spencer read Cara’s letters?

Alexandra and Spencer Dutton in Italy

Spencer told Alexandra that reading letters from home caused soldiers to become distracted in the war leading to their deaths. He said that they removed enough letters from the bodies of dead soldiers to make furniture.

As far as Spencer was concerned, failing to read letters from home was the only reason he survived the war. He may have survived the war physically, but the high body count and trauma from his survival haunted him afterward.

Having failed to read Cara’s letters for two years during his deployment, Spencer saw no point in reading them when the war ended. As far as he was concerned, hunting man-eating animals in Africa was another war, and letters from home were just as distracting as they would have been in Europe.

With no one to help him with the PTSD, Spencer resorted to drinking heavily to numb the memories of war and hallucinations. His methods were not working, though, as he was an emotional wreck. He felt too damaged and guilty to read Cara’s letters.

Alex changed him totally when she said that she would not fight with his demons. She read the letters to him, with her voice reminding him of Cara, which made it much easier until she read the last letter containing the news of his brother’s death and the ranch being in danger.

What happened to Spencer during the war?

1923 spencer dutton

Spencer denied war as “insanity you could touch” while explaining his trauma to Alex. He was struggling with hallucinations, with events on the frontlines playing back in his mind.

It is unclear why Spencer went to war, but he obviously wasn’t mentally prepared for what he encountered there. He would have been in his early twenties when he deployed, which meant he had the innocence of youth.

He said there were enough letters from dead bodies to make furniture with. That description paints the picture of countless bodies that Spencer had to handle.

Flashback scenes from WWI in 1923 also show Spencer on the battlefront, shooting while all the soldiers around him are dead. That suggests he had to kill many people during the war and couldn’t get their faces out of his head.


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Why did Spencer go to Africa?

Brandon Sklenar as Spencer Dutton in 1923

The end of WWI coincided with the increase in the number of victims to man-eating lions in Africa, and Spencer saw it as an opportunity to keep his mind occupied. He was already struggling to keep a straight mind after the war, and he thought hunting animals was the perfect distraction.

In an interview with Reel School, Brandon Sklenar said that the high body count made Spencer feel guilty, leading to his PTSD. The innocent boy that left for war was lost, and Spencer felt too guilty to go back home and face his family.

Having disconnected himself from the family for over two years, he didn’t see life on the ranch as the home he would fit in anymore. His skills at tracking and shooting could only be used in another war.

He told Alex that the thrill of living on the edge while hunting dangerous animals was the one thing that made him feel most alive. However, his love for Alex made him feel responsible for someone else’s life other than his own, which is why he finally chose to quit hunting.

Will Spencer save Yellowstone?

Jacob Dutton and Donald Whitfield confrontation in 1923 season 1 episode 8 finale 1.jpg 1 1

Paramount hasn’t released the plot direction for Season Two of 1923, but all clues already point to Spencer being the savior of Yellowstone. Brandon Sklenar said in an interview that the second season would be explosive, and Spencer’s tone would change.

“The man we meet in Episode One of Season Two is a much different man from who we see at the end of this season…” Sklenar said while talking about his character’s appearance in the second season.


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His comments suggest that Spencer will be forced to abandon part of his emotional connection to the war and become a fighter the Duttons can rely on. Sklenar agreed that so much relies on Spencer’s return and that it would be a ‘powerful homecoming,” in Sklenar’s own words to Esquire.

A powerful homecoming can only happen if Spencer takes out Banner Creighton and Donald Whitfield. It is still unclear how Jacob Dutton and Cara will keep the ranch safe until his return. The Duttons still get to keep the ranch in the end, though, so it is not a question of whether Spencer saves the ranch but how he does it.

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