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The 1883 Season 1 Episode 4 Scene That Left Fans Scratching Their Heads

While Paramount Network's modern day cowboy drama "Yellowstone" is famously a huge hit on cable TV and cable TV alone, such is not the case with spinoff prequel series "1883," which is a Paramount+ original. In fact, "1883" is not only thriving on Paramount's flagship streaming service, but upon its premiere, its first episode was watched the most of any original series to air on the platform.

Plot-wise, "1883" follows the great-grandparents of "Yellowstone" protagonist John Dutton (Kevin Costner) departing Fort Worth, Texas, eventually culminating in their establishment of the Dutton Ranch in Montana. Based on its streaming numbers, it appears audiences are plenty interested in this origin story of sorts for the characters and principal location showcased throughout much of "Yellowstone" proper.

Episode 4 of the first season of "1883," titled ""The Crossing," largely focuses on a river crossing — the perils of which back in the 1800s are well familiar to anyone who spent time playing "Oregon Trail" in their elementary school's computer lab. However, while the titular river crossing makes for riveting viewing worthy of its streaming success, one particular detail mentioned in the episode left some viewers confused.

Swimming was once illegal in Germany

As leader Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) is contemplating how to transport his caravan across a formidable river early on in "1883" Episode 4, German immigrant Josef (Marc Rissmann) mentions that he doesn't know how to swim, because in his home country, swimming was illegal. This has led some viewers online to question the veracity of this claim, including Reddit user HomesteadSeeds, who asked the 1883 subreddit, "I must know what country it was illegal to swim in an[d] why?!"

While some users left comments similarly wondering whether or not such a thing could have ever been true, user OhSassafrass shared in a reply that Germany did indeed once ban swimming in response to widespread death by drowning. That said, as user Shawmattack01 shared in a later comment, this was the case at one point in Germany but was no longer law during the period of time in which "1883" takes place.

So, while the statute Josef references is historically accurate, the fact that Josef claims such a thing to still be true seems to remain a point of contention for viewers with knowledge of German history, compounding the overall confusion over this scene.