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1923: Spencer's Duel With Arthur Mirrors One Of Firefly's Greatest Fights

Contains spoilers for "1923" Season 1 finale

Taylor Sheridan's "1923" breaks the general "Yellowstone" neo-Western mold by taking its action to some extremely faraway locations, courtesy of big game hunter Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar). The show's Season 1 finale, "Nothing Left to Lose," raises the stakes on the character's story arc when Spencer is challenged to a duel with love interest Alex's (Julia Schlaepfer) blue-blooded former flame, Arthur (Rafe Soule). While the aristocrat is far more proficient with the blade, Spencer's raw power and grit ultimately win the day. However, despite Spencer's attempt to spare his opponent's life, Arthur's spiteful last attempt to get back at him sends the antagonist plummeting overboard. 

The blade-based swashbuckling duel is an exciting one, but for fans of sci-fi classic "Firefly," it may also seem rather familiar. Let's take a look at why Spencer's duel over Alex in the "1923" finale mirrors one of Firefly's greatest fights. 

The 1923 finale duel is very similar to Mal's duel with Atherton in Firefly

The fourth episode of the sole season of space Western "Firefly" is called "Shindig," and features a prominent fencing duel between protagonist Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and nobleman Atherton Wing (Edward Atterton). Apart from the obvious fact that both this duel and the one in the "1923" finale are fought between a cowboy-like main character and a blue blood type over a woman's honor, the two scenes share numerous similarities. Both Mal and Spencer are completely fine with whatever weapon the opponent chooses, and as a result, have to fight an expert swordsman opponent with little to no familiarity with the weapon themselves. What's more, both main characters eventually manage to win the day by using brute force to their advantage — more accurately, by knocking the opponent down with the hilt of the sword. 

Of course, there are also marked differences with the scenes. For instance, the "Firefly" fight doesn't take place on a boat, Mal has a somewhat harder time with Atherton than Spencer does with Arthur, and Atherton's fate is different (but not necessarily less awful) than Arthur's. The duels are also both fairly reasonable takes on how a blue-collar protagonist with inferior fencing skills might survive an encounter with a trained upper-class foe, so the similarities are likely entirely coincidental. Still, it's fun to know that Mal Reynolds managed to telegraph the "1923" finale duel a cool 20 years before the episode aired.