HomeEntertainmentTVYellowstone1923 Season 1 Explained: Full Recap of All 8 Episodes

1923 Season 1 Explained: Full Recap of All 8 Episodes

by Jon D. B.
1923 Season 1 Recap
Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton and Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton in 1923, streaming on Paramount+ 2022. Photo credit: James Minchin III/Paramount+

Need a summary of 1923 Season 1 and that raucous finale? Here’s everything you need to know in one place. This, of course, means major spoilers ahead.

Alright, let’s nail down the Duttons first. Like Yellowstone proper, the main plotline of 1923 is the fight to keep the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, but in the 1920s under patriarch Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) and matriarch Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren). The pair inherited the ranch after the death of 1883’s founding Duttons, James and Margaret.

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Times are hard and there’s nothing for cattle to graze throughout 1923 Season 1, putting Jacob at odds with shepherds led by Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn). In the premiere, Creigthon cuts Dutton fencing, allowing his sheep to graze on Yellowstone land. So Jacob and his men hang them all above their horses in Episode 2, allowing for a slim chance of survival. Banner is the only one to survive, and becomes Jacob’s arch nemesis hell-bent on revenge.

Episode 3 sees a horrific ambush in which Banner and his men gun down Jacob and his nephew, John Sr. (James Badge Dale). John dies at the scene, and Jacob becomes bed-wridden for months as Cara nurses him back to health.

James Badge Dale as John Dutton Sr. in the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

John Sr.’s wife, Emma (Marley Shelton), their son, Jack (Darren Mann), and Jack’s fiance Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph), all survive their gunshot wounds, but Emma takes her own life after weeks of anguish following John’s death. And it is all of the above that leads Jacob and Cara to create the Livestock Commission of Montana.

Meanwhile, Banner has secured the wealthy Donald Whitfield (Timothy Dalton) to bankroll his plan to destroy the Duttons by the end of 1923 Season 1, Episode 4. And a dangerous partnership ensues.

1923 Season 1’s Surprise Hero: Spencer Dutton

On the other side of the planet, the late John Sr.’s younger brother, Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar), has become a big game hunter in Africa. A veteran of World War I, Spencer keeps himself on the move to distract from the horrors of his past. While in-between jobs in Episode 2, a young lady approaches him that will change him forever – Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer).

Julia Schlaepfer & Brandon Sklenar on Set '1923'
1923 Season 1: Julia Schlaepfer as Alexandra. Brandon Sklenar as Spencer Dutton. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Alexandra abandons her fiance, Arthur Jr, (Rafe Soule) whom she does not love, to run off with Spencer. These two fall madly in love and consummate said love often. And we do mean often.

Throughout it all, Spencer’s great-aunt Cara writes to him of their own horrors at home. Eventually, Alexandra convinces Spencer to read all the letters. He does, and decides they must return to Montana with haste to save his family and Yellowstone legacy. And so Spencer and Alexandra’s Oddysey-like journey to America begins.

1923 Season 1’s Great Fake-Out: Jacob Dutton Lives

Back home, Cara summons Sheriff McDowell (Robert Patrick) to come see Jacob for himself. Her husband is now up and walking, and Cara wants Banner Creighton arrested by the book. And so he is, but Whitfield secures a lawyer. Within 24 hours, Banner walks free.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has become pregnant, and she and Jack are thrilled at the prospect of continuing the Dutton Family Tree. Elizabeth’s gunshot wound to the stomach ails her, however, and by the end of 1923 Season 1, she has a miscarriage in the tub.

Jack and Elizabeth Dutton 1923 Finale
Darren Mann as Jack and Michelle Randolph as Elizabeth of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Christopher Saunders/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Fearing she may never be able to have children, our attention turns to the possibility of Spencer and Alexandra carrying on the Dutton name when they return to Montana.

And their journey proves beyond perilous. 1923 Season 1 Episode 5‘s ill-fated tugboat ride leaves Spencer and Alex stranded in the open ocean, but a distress call allows for a British Naval ship to discover them both. Safe and sound, the couple wed under the authority of the ship’s captain. The good captain gifts Alexandra his late wife’s ring, and a ring to Spencer from one of his fallen sailors.

The Saga of Spencer & Alex Continues

In Episode 6, the newlyweds eventually reach port in Italy, where they book passage for America. But none other than Arthur Jr. has booked the same ship, and another vicious rivalry ensues that takes over the 1923 Season 1 finale.

Julia Schlaepfer as Alexandra, Brandon Sklenar as Spencer and Rafe Soule as Young Arthur of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It is onboard this vessel that we find out that both Arthur and Alexandra are of noble British stock. Arthur, the Earl of Sussex, challenges Spencer to a duel over Alexandra’s hand. After goading Spencer past his limit, Spencer agrees, and the two face off with sabers on deck. Arthur is readily defeated in humiliating fashion. Enraged, he pulls a pistol on the disengaged Spencer. Spencer grabs his arm and flings him in self-defense, throwing the Earl of Sussex overboard into the frigid Atlantic.

With Arthur Jr. dead, Spencer is taken to the brig and Alexandra to her quarters, before her dear friend Jennifer vouches for their self-defense claim to their present captain. This spares Spencer prosecution, but he must still disembark the ship. After traveling thousands of miles together, Spencer and Alexandra become separated in 1923’s heartbreaking Season 1 finale.

At the last moment, Alexandra looks to Cara’s letters, seeing the Dutton’s home address on the envelope. “I will meet you in Bozeman!” she screams. Now Spencer and Alex will have to find their way to America separately in Season 2.

Donald Whitfield May Own the Yellowstone After 1923 Season 1

Back in Montana, Donald Whitfield now owns the land bordering the Yellowstone and is already mining it. In the Season 1 finale, the villain shows up at the Duttons’ front door with an incredibly unexpected move: The Dutton Yellowstone is the only ranch to have survived World War 1 and the 1920s without falling into debt, and there is just one payment Jacob owes on: 1923’s property taxes. And Whitfield has paid them in full.

Helen Mirren as Cara, Harrison Ford as Jacob, Darren Mann as Jack and Timothy Dalton as Donald Whitfield of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But this is no good will. If the debt is not repaid by the end of the year, the Dutton deed reverts to Whitfield, and all will be lost. As Jacob is unable to secure another cattle loan in town, Cara writes a final Season 1 letter to Spencer informing him that he is their only hope.


I fear everything your parents fought so hard to build is being ripped from us. You are it’s only hope! You are our only hope. You must hurry, Spencer, you must hurry. Or there will be nothing left to fight for.

Cara Dutton’s letter, 1923 Season 1Finale

1923’s Linear Story Places Spotlight on Indigenous American History through Teonna Rainwater

1923’s linear story also tells of the origins of the Rainwater family. Through brutal but true history, we meet Teonna Rainwater (Aminah Nieves) as she is submitted to horrific abuses at the hands of nuns in her North Dakota Catholic boarding school. Refusing to be assimilated, she fights back, eventually killing her abuser, Sister Mary (Jennifer Ehle), alongside the nun who raped her.

Jennifer Ehle as Sister Mary and Aminah Nieves as Teonna of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Emerson Miller/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Escaping her confines, she sets out into the Badlands on her own – wanted for two murders.
There, she meets Hank Plenty Clouds (Michael Greyeyes), who agrees to take her in and becomes a surrogate father. Hank also knows of her true father, Runs His Horse (Michael Spears), and so Hank sends his own son, Pete Plenty Clouds (Cole Brings Plenty), to find Teonna’s father.

Sent by her ruthless school leader and abuser, Father Renaud (Sebastian Roche), lawmen are also out looking for Teonna. When they arrive to her home, they find her grandmother, Issaxche (Amelia Rico), accidentally killing her in their Episode 6 raid.

Teonna’s journey only becomes more tragic as priests then find her on the run. Teonna and Hank kill two of them, but not before one rises from the dirt to shoot Hank in the back.

Death Marks the Rainwater Ancestors of 1923 Season 1

Hank meets a tragic end in Episode 7 as a result. Teonna is the only one left alive.

Michael Greyeyes as Hank and Aminah Nieves as Teonna of the Paramount+ series 1923. Photo Cr: Christopher Saunders/Paramount+ © 2022 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Back in Montana, her father, Runs His Horse, discovers the corpse of his mother days later. Outside, Pete is waiting for him with a message: His father has found Teonna, and she is alive. As they ride to meet her, Pete becomes separated and is found by the surviving third priest. A horrific battle ensues, with Runs His Horse killing the priest just in time to save Pete’s life. From there, they ride to Hank’s home together.

Soon, Teonna is discovered in the late Hank’s abode. As they leave to evade the lawmen, Teonna and Pete quickly fall in love, much to the displeasure of her father.

After informing the young ones that Canada is worse for Indigenous people, Runs His Horse decides they are to head south to a Comanche reservation where he has friends. And the trio ride off into the horizon.

1923 Season 2 is Confirmed! Catch Up on Season 1 with Full Episodic Recaps Below

All in all, 1923 Season 1 sets up a gripping story for the already-confirmed Season 2. It’s also heavily hinted at that Alexandra is pregnant, and that she and Spencer will carry on the Dutton Family Tree. For more on this, be sure to see our previous coverage.

And for full, in-depth coverage of each episode, see all 1923 Season 1 episodic recaps below: