Is Spencer Dead in 1923? Is Brendan Sklenar Leaving the Show?

spencer dutton dead alive featured

WARNING: Potential spoilers for 1923 Episode 5 and beyond throughout the article. If you haven’t seen the episode, or don’t want anything else potentially spoiled, skip this article in its entirety.

1923 is finally back after a short mid-season hiatus – and boy did Episode 5 take us on a whirlwind. From all the horror happening at the Yellowstone ranch, even bigger horror is happening to Spencer Dutton and his spouse-to-be, Alexandra, as they’re trying to get to Montana and save the ranch. So, is Spencer dead after Episode 5 of 1923?

It looked as if both Spencer and Alex were going to die of drowning after their tugboat crashed with another huge ship at sea. However, it’s highly unlikely that the couple will die, as their arrival in Montana is crucial for the story and has already been hinted at numerous times in the show.

We’ll go through all the hints that suggest Spencer and Alex will survive their perilous journey to the United States, from Elsa Dutton’s narration to Brendan Sklenar’s (the actor portraying Spencer) comments in several interviews regarding 1923. On that note, let’s see what’s going on with Spencer and why I believe he’ll survive at least until the end of Season 1 of 1923.

What happens to Spencer Dutton in 1923?

We’re only five episodes into the first season of 1923 (I’m saying first season because it was just recently confirmed that the second season of 1923 is set and will certainly happen). However, there’s already so much going on, and so much has happened to Spencer Dutton even though he’s not even in Montana – yet.

To refresh your memory after the short mid-season hiatus, Spencer Dutton is a World War I veteran that was hired as a big game hunter in Africa, hunting down wild and dangerous animals that have been endangering people’s lives. 

His aunt Cara (the woman who raised Spencer and his brother John as her sons) called for his help with letters in agony, stating that there’s an all-out war going on at the ranch, prompting Spencer to finally come home. However, as things are going for him right now, it will be a very hard, very long, and very deadly journey home.

Already in the show’s first episode ended on a cliffhanger where we didn’t know if Spencer was alive or dead – eaten by a huge leopard. Then, we find out he had survived. Then, his car is almost trampled by an elephant, but he survives yet again before Alex and Spencer are attacked by a pack of lions – which they inadvertently survive again.


Yellowstone Series in Chronological Order: Including All Spin-offs

All that, however, happened before they decided to take the journey back to the US. Now, in Episode 5, we see Spencer and Alex trying to find a ship back to the States, but no ships are going directly from Africa. Instead, they’d have to travel to London first and then wait three weeks for a ship to the States – which simply isn’t an option for Spencer.

Instead, he hires an aging, sick tugboat Captain named Lucca to take them to the States. While traveling across the sea, a huge ghost ship appears in their path, and Captain Lucca barely saves their lives. That is until he suddenly passes away from his illness, and Spencer and Alex are left on the tugboat alone – neither knowing anything about boats nor sailing.

Their tugboat crashes into the ghost ship, and the episode ends with both of them struggling to stay alive, almost drowning in the restless waters in the middle of nowhere.

Is Spencer Dutton dead in 1923?

spencer dutton boat
Emerson Miller/Paramount+

As I’ve mentioned, episode 5 ended on yet another cliffhanger, leaving us wondering if Spencer is dead or alive, as well as his companion, Alexandra. Well, fans may sigh of relief because it seems Spencer will survive this terrifying fate, and his journey back to Montana will continue.

The first hint about it comes from the narrator, Elsa Dutton. In the middle of Episode 5, we hear Els say that ‘only four Duttons will survive to see the next generation.’ John Dutton Sr. – Spencer’s brother – passed away, and his wife Emma followed, dying out of grief and heartbreak.

That leaves their son, Jack, along with Cara and Jacob, on the ranch, while Spencer is the fourth Dutton that ought to stay alive for Elsa’s narration to be true. Surely, Liz Strafford will eventually become a Dutton – Jack and Liz married, but unofficially, since they were the only ones around to hear the vows. Alex will also likely become a Dutton, but not yet, at least.

That being said, Elsa did say, ‘to see the next generation.’ Perhaps four Duttons will survive until Jack’s son is born, as we learn that Liz is pregnant, and after that, nobody is safe yet again.


Is Spencer Dead in 1923? Is Brendan Sklenar Leaving the Show?

We know that Spencer will survive to get back to Montana, though firstly because it’s crucial for the story’s further development. But, secondly – and probably more importantly – because the actor himself said so.

First, in an interview with Den of Geek, Sklenar shared:

“Spencer comes home in a big way, and he’ll potentially be making up for (the) lost time.”

Then, in an interview with Deadline, Sklenar was asked will Alex, played by Julia Schlaepfer, settle well in Montana, to which he replied:

“She’s definitely got it in her. Cara [Helen Mirren] and her will really get along.”

Long story short – no matter how perilous this journey back might be for Spencer and Alex, they will both survive to get to Montana.

Ergo, the answer is – no, Spencer is not dead, and Brendan Sklenar isn’t leaving the show. He’s not going anywhere, at least until the end of Season 1, I believe.

What will happen to Spencer Dutton in 1923 Season 1?

spencer dutton dead alive
Emerson Miller/Paramount+

So, we know Spencer will survive the perilous journey back to Montana. But what will happen to him later on in the series? Well, we know that it’ll be tough, as Sklenar shared in the same Deadline interview: “I don’t think it gets easier for anybody. That’s as much as I can say as the journey unfolds.”

So, this particular rough situation at sea where Spencer and Alex are struggling to stay alive likely won’t be the last hiccup on their journey to Montana. And, when they do get back, things will just go from bad to worse, seeing how gloomy things are now at the Yellowstone ranch.

We will, however, see Spencer become more open and vulnerable:

“The layers do come off, the walls come down. The audience and Alex will learn more about him.”

I believe that, seeing what an accomplished soldier and hunter Spencer is, he’s coming back to settle some stuff that’s been going on against Banner Creighton and the rich tycoon trying to buy off the entire Paradise Valley, Don Whitfield. Will he survive to see the end of Season 1, though? I believe he will, but nothing’s certain. As Brendan shared:

“Spencer is pretty resilient, but no one is off the table. If you know Taylor’s writing, anything can happen at this point.”

I would love to see him in the show’s second season, as he’s currently my favorite character, not named Cara Dutton, aka Helen Mirren, but all remains to be seen. The next episode of 1923 premiers on February 12, 2023, exclusively on Paramount Plus.

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