Through one of Season 1’s most gripping episodes, 1883 lays the groundwork for the future of the Duttons – a future that leads directly to Yellowstone. Be warned of significant spoilers for 1883 ahead.
1883 Episode 8, “The Weeps of Surrender,” cements James Dutton (Tim McGraw) and Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott) on opposite sides of the tracks. And as it does, James’ Dutton-born fire comes to the forefront. We’ve known his perseverance and grit throughout, but as he stands up to Shea, the patriarch embodies everything we’ve come to know of the Dutton family.
“Where they go ain’t up to you. You even ask them what they want?” James spits directly at his fellow captain. The argument? Where to lead their immigrant pioneers now that winter is coming and they’re far behind schedule. Shea wishes to compromise their dreams of Oregon paradise in order to ensure the survival of all. He’ll settle for heading back, or Denver. But James will not. Not on his life.
In return, we learn that James is heading North, and he’s willing to lead any immigrant pioneer who’ll follow. The Dutton patriarch may not know how this alters his fate of yet, or his end destination, but we do. And it’s Yellowstone‘s Montana.
Elsa’s Heart Belongs to the Land
Yet as 1883 continues to illustrate, Elsa (Isabel May) is the heart of this family and their journey. When we saw a glimpse of the ancestral Dutton’s Montana home in Yellowstone Season 4 flashbacks, however, she was nowhere to be seen. James and Margaret’s eldest son, John, had grown into a pre-teen, and a little brother sat beside him, too. Yet the Dutton’s log household felt empty – and 1883 Episode 8 reveals why.
In Episode 8, Elsa fully embraces the freedom of her narration. As she has for the majority of the series, she joins the men to round up a wild herd of mustangs. But now she does so with Sam (Martin Sensmeier), the captivating Comanche who holds her heart – and she his.
“That girl’s starting to ride like a Comanche,” Shea tells Elsa’s father. But the look on the patriarch’s face is far from approval.
“That is a compliment, James,” Charlie (Taylor Sheridan) reassures him.
A compliment it is, indeed. But James already knows where this is going. Elsa has given herself to Sam in every way. And he knows his daughter’s heart will never belong to his dream again. She has grown into her own woman; one destined to travel the wilds of the world forever.
Elsa will never be the housewife her mother thought society would trap her into, either. Not if she can help it. As 1883 Episode 8 powerfully demonstrates, her story will be her own; one that will diverge from the Duttons who pave the way for their Yellowstone descendants in that Montana home.
From ‘1883’ to ‘Yellowstone: The Rise of John Dutton
Instead, the future of this family lies in a little boy with an infamous name: John Dutton.
“That’s where she gets it from,” Margaret (Faith Hill) smiles of her husband on horseback.
“Where who gets what?” her tiny son, John (Audie Rick) asks.
“Your sister,” Margaret replies.
“What does she get?” the 5-year-old continues. His mother has an immediate answer:
Through this exchange later in Episode 8, 1883 delves into its heaviest foreshadowing yet. As the camera slowly zooms into John and his mother, an orchestra powered by the aura of destiny swells behind.
“What’s a spirit?” John asks.
“It’s the thing that drives you,” Margaret offers.
“What drives me?”
Margaret pauses. “I don’t know yet, honey,” she ponders. But we do. This John Dutton is not the same we come to know, love, and fear on Yellowstone; a patriarch played to perfection by Kevin Costner. No, this is his grandfather as a 5-year-old. A young mind that will blossom through the hardships and bounties of growing up a true Western pioneer.
And as he does, he’ll fall in love, have a son some time in the early 1900s, and name him John Dutton, too. And that John will one day have himself a son in the mid 20th century, passing down a name sacred to this fascinating story.
1883 streams exclusively on Paramount Plus.