Before 1923‘s death-soaked first season is even complete, the prequel’s main-character kill-count is already far higher than Yellowstone‘s. Beware of spoilers ahead as we dive into Season 1, Episode 7.
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Teonna’s storyline has been a tough, but necessary, watch. More than any connection to Yellowstone‘s Rainwaters, Teonna’s journey is paramount to 1923‘s time. This is a chapter of American history that is rarely – if ever – included in films or television. And it should never be forgotten.
Representing such horrific historic tragedy means 1923 must step into deeply violent territory, however. And many of our favorite characters are getting claimed along the way.
In Season 1, Episode 7, this means the death of Hank (Michael Greyeyes). A stoic yet warm shepherd, Hank managed to keep kindness intact amid the suffering inflicted upon his people by Anglo-American settlers. It is this kindness that moves him to help Teonna (Aminah Nieves) as she escapes her hellish Christian boarding school.
From harboring Teonna to gifting her the clothes of his own child and sending word to her father then protecting her with his life, we come to know Hank through this kindness. Which makes his death all the more heartbreaking.
Hank’s Death is ‘1923’ Season 1’s Greatest Sacrifice
As Episode 7 nears its end, Teonna is discovered by priests from her school. She remains close by Hank’s flock out in the Badlands and appears to be alone. But Hank, ever-watchful, is hiding close by as these “Men of God” interrogate her, then recognize her.
A brutal battle ensues. Teonna drives her thumb into the eye of a priest, and as they prepare to beat her to death, Hank takes his chance. Using a double barrel shotgun, Hank shoots both priests, downing them.
Teonna is heavily battered, but thanks to Hank, she is alive. And so he carries her from the bloodbath in moving silence. Yet as he does, their quiet resolve is broken as a shotgun blast rings out. Hank is shot in the back by one of the priests who clings to life…
Teonna struggles to her feet, grabbing a rock as the priest struggles to reload. Striking first, she bashes his skull in, collapsing onto his body (the latest 1923 death on Teonna’s hands). She screams in horror as she discovers Hank’s own body beneath, lifeless and cold.
Further out into the Badlands and unbeknownst to them both, Hank’s own son, Pete (Cole Brings Plenty) was also taken captive by the priests. But the young man will not have it, and fights for his freedom. Right before Pete is to be killed, Teonna’s father arrives, scalps him, slits his throat, then “eats his soul” by consuming his heart.
Hank ultimately sacrificed his life to save Teonna. But 1923 bonds these families by Teonna’s father saving the life of Hank’s son, Pete. And this will ensure a bond that lasts well into Yellowstone a century later.
1923‘s finale (Season 1, Episode 8) airs next Sunday, February 19, exclusively on Paramount Plus.