'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (2022)

With its opening moments, 1883 offers a stirring glimpse of Elsa Dutton’s tragedy. But it would take the entire season to reveal the truth. Be warned of significant spoilers for 1883 ahead.

As the premiere of prequel series 1883 hit, audiences were expecting a historical Western akin to Yellowstone. But what we got instead would prove far more powerful.

At the heart of it all is Elsa Dutton (Isabel May), daughter to. And it is her words that pull us immediately back into the past:

“Some called it the American Desert. Others, the Great Plains. But those phrases were invented by professors at universities. Surrounded by the illusion of order. And the fantasy of right and wrong. To know it, you must walk. Bleed until it’s dark. Drown in its rivers. Then its name becomes clear. It is Hell. And there are demons everywhere.”

'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (1)

From the epic’s first scene, Elsa cast us into this Hell that was the Westward Expansion – a time scarred by the war between Indigenous Peoples and the continuing onslaught of European settlers. Behind her, a wagon we assume to be her family’s burns fiercely. Elsa herself is face-down in the field; her freckled skin caked with dirt and ash.

She gathers her strength, dragging herself up from the dry grass. Carnage unfurls around her as Indigenous warriors shoot down her immigrant party. As she comes to, she is met with a fierce Indigenous warrior. He aims to sell her. But if 1883 shows us anything, it’s that Elsa Dutton was never going down without a fight.

‘1883’s Premiere Opens On the Tragedy of Elsa Dutton, But It Takes the Entire Series Before We Learn the Truth

The Dutton daughter scrambles for the gun of a fallen man. She aims the pistol at her attacker in protest. A bow and arrow is raised from his horseback to match her.

(Video) The Truth About 1883's Heartbreaking Ending

“I said no!” he shouts to her.

“Will you let me go?” Elsa asks.

“I will sell you. Or I will kill you,” he spits in return.

“You speak English! How can you do this?” she screams amidst the smoke and falling bodies.

You speak English. And all your people do this,” the warrior replies.

In a rage, Elsa manages to right herself, landing a fatal blow through the skull of her attacker with the revolver. But as she does, an Indigenous arrow lets loose, piercing the girth of her torso.

A blood-curdling scream escapes her lips as she marches into her attackers – arrow intact -firing wildly at those who remain. This is how 1883 begins. And it is the beginning of Elsa’s end.

8 Episodes Later, ‘1883’ Shows What Truly Happened to Elsa Dutton

“But if this is Hell, then I must be a demon, too. And I’m already dead.”

(Video) 1883 Finale: Why Yellowstone Fans Should Be Very, Very Worried + 20 More Burning Questions

'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (2)

Through this captivating opening, audiences are left wondering for the remainder of the season. Will Elsa Dutton die? Or was this simply some sort of fever dream, and not premonition?

As the show races on, it becomes clear that 1883‘s opening scene was, in fact, to come true. And the details are laid out for all to see.

ByEpisode 9, ‘Racing Clouds,’the Duttons are crossing Comanche and Lakota territory. There, Elsa’s father, Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott), and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) come upon a Lakotacamp made up of traders their wagon party has traded with peacefully prior. Or so it was. Every Comanche – women and children – is dead.

“Whoever did this did it for sport…” Shea scowls. James Dutton surveys the area, but Shea rages for him to stop.

“Whoever sees this now is going to think we did it!” the old captain curses. Lakotahorses ride un-horseshoed. Settlers do not. And now, the horseshoe tracks of the white man’s horse are all over the Indigenous camp.

As Shea predicted, the Lakotawarriors come for their slain women and children. They hold nothing back, and in the carnage,flashes of Elsa’s horrifying Episode 1 opening come true.It is in this moment that 1883comes full circle to the tragedy – and fate – of Elsa Dutton.

As the Wagon Burns…

The Lakotaunleash utter Hell onto 1883‘s wagon train, and all Elsa Dutton knows. A familiar sight takes hold as the warriors set fire to a wagon, but it is not the Duttons’. Instead, it is their party’s cook,Cookie (James Jordan), who is shot aboard his wagon before it is set to blaze.

'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (3)

Vengeful Lakotacut down every immigrant they can find, scalping them. What little of the wagon party is left is decimated as the warriors lash out. And then they come for Elsa.

(Video) The Elsa Scene That Went Too Far On Yellowstone's 1883

Spotting her over the horizon, the full band of warriors come for her lightning yellow hair. Brandishing a mallet, a painted-face burning with fury comes directly for Elsa as they both race on horseback. The blunt stone mallet strikes her in the back of the skulls, and 1883 goes black with her consciousness.

When Elsa awakes, it is to a familiar scene. We’ve seen this before. We know how it goes. Carnage unfurls around her as she comes to. Regaining her strength, Elsa runs for the gun of a fallen warrior, but she’s stopped as she readies the pistol. And 1883 drops us right back into the premiere’s riveting opening moments.

“You speak English! How can you do this?” she screams.

You speak English. And all your people do this,” the warrior replies.

'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (4)

And the Lakotaarrow pierces her stomach. But now, the rest of the story is to unfold.

Elsa Dutton Proves the Defining Tragedy for The Dutton Family

Elsa’s rage takes her directly into the rest of the Lakotawarriors as she fires every last bullet from her revolver. Yet before she can be gunned down, she screams the words her Comanche husband,Sam (Martin Sensmeier)taught her. It is this that saves her life. For now.

“You fight like Comanche! What is your name?” the Indigenous warrior facing her asks. She tells him “Lightning with the Yellow Hair” in Comanche. For this, they spare her. And the warriors ride off, leaving her broken and fatally wounded.

“I felt no pain. Perhaps it was the fever of the fight. But it didn’t hurt. I thought of pushing it through. I thought better of it. As my father would say, ‘The one good thing about problems, is they’ll still be problems later. Don’t have to deal with them right away.’”

(Video) The Yellowstone 1883 Spoiler We Flat Out Missed

What follows is one of the most moving finales ever to grace the small screen. AsEpisode 10 Finale, ‘This Is Not Your Heaven’unfurls, Elsa’s condition only worsens. Her father, James, is able to bring her to the healers of a separate Indigenous tribe. But as their leader, Spotted Eagle (Graham Greene) tells him, Lakotawarriors lace their arrows with the dung of buffalo. And Elsa’s arrow pierced her vital organs. The “rot” of Lakotaarrows aim to kill any they pierce. And Elsa’s will be her end. There is nothing that can be done.

'1883': The Tragedy of Elsa Dutton Explained (5)

But Spotted Eagle offers the Duttons one last salvation. It is a piece of “paradise” in a nearby valley; one where they can lay her to rest and settle along side her.

And it is to this very place James takes his daughter to breathe her last.

Elsa Lives to Choose the Dutton Family Ranch

After saying her final goodbyes to her mother and friends, Elsa rides off into the distance with her father – until she can ride no more. Beneath a canopy of golden trees, Elsa asks him to stop.

“This is the spot,” she cries to her father.

James gently removes his daughter from Lightning, and together they walk to a fine old tree of her choosing. There, her father places his back on the tree, cradling Elsa in his lap.

There, these two Duttons who share a soul, will breathe together for the last time. A father and daughter share their earliest memories of life as their tears meet the soil.

“I know what it is. I’m not scared. I’m not scared, daddy,” Elsa says as the light leaves her eyes. And the Dutton daughter breathes her last.

(Video) 1883 Episode 10 Season Finale Review - Ending Explained!

There, on the future site of the Dutton Yellowstone Ranch,Elsadies in her father’s arms.

And the stage is set for one of television’s most powerful legacies.

The story of 1883 will continue with spinoff 1932.

FAQs

Why is Elsa telling the story in 1883? ›

Isabel May's narration was needed before she filmed '1883'

May had auditioned for Sheridan's The Mayor of Kingstown but did not get the part. However, she inspired Sheridan to create the role of Elsa Dutton. By the time he finished 1883, Elsa was telling the story.

How is Elsa Dutton related to John Dutton? ›

Elsa Dutton - John's great aunt

Elsa is the sister of John Dutton Senior, but her relationship with Costner's character is more complicated. As John Dutton Junior came into the mix, Elsa is Costner's character's great aunt.

What did the last scene in 1883 mean? ›

A life fully lived. Paramount+ Finally realizing that she is not getting better and is going to die, Elsa feels betrayed that her father lied to her. All she asks of him now though is that she be able to choose the spot where she is to die.

Is Elsa buried on the Dutton Ranch? ›

Whether or not fans felt the scene a fitting end to elsa's. Story it was as some have noted a

Does Elsa Dutton have a baby? ›

Elsa's Baby is Spencer

The Dutton family in 1893, 10 years after the events of the prequel, is shown in a flashback. Spencer Dutton, John Dutton's younger brother, is now a teenager. Some fans, however, believe Spencer is really Elsa Dutton's son. Elsa's future appears dismal in the opening scene of 1883.

What does Elsa say before she dies in 1883? ›

I'm not scared, Daddy.” Then, she dies. So, why were these Elsa's final words? Prior to spotting the bird before her death, she tells James her first memory involved seeing a flock of birds “in the field behind the house.” She saw the birds picking at the soft earth after it rained to easily get to the worms.

Is Elsa Dutton John's grandmother? ›

The couple has been acknowledged as John's great-grandparents in the Yellowstone series. With John (Costner) being the grandson of James and Margaret's son John, you can conclude that Elsa is, in fact, the Yellowstone character's great aunt.

Who is John Dutton's favorite child? ›

So much has happened in Yellowstone's first few seasons that it's easy to forget John Dutton had four children in the series pilot. His oldest son Lee was his favorite, and he was the heir to the family business.

Who is Spencer Dutton? ›

Spencer Dutton is the son of James and Margaret Dutton of the Dutton family that appears in Yellowstone and its prequels 1883 and 1923. He is played by Charlie Stover in Yellowstone and Brandon Sklenar plays Spencer Dutton in 1923.

Who was James Dutton to John Dutton? ›

First Generation: James Dutton

James Dutton is played by Tim McGraw. Per Yellowstone and 1883 creator Taylor Sheridan in The Road West special, he is the great-great-great grandfather to John Dutton, played by Kevin Costner.

Is Elsa ever mentioned in Yellowstone? ›

The slightly extended episode confirmed Elsa's fate, and in a way that concretely set up the origin story of Yellowstone's namesake ranch, while also displaying other interesting connective tissue to the flagship series and its characters.

Why did the Duttons leave Tennessee? ›

1883's Dutton family got out of Tennessee in order to seek out greener pastures in a land which they know to be highly dangerous – despite this, they seem to have no clear route or plan in mind.

Does Elsa in 1883 get pregnant? ›

Unfortunately, the cowboy died during a conflict with bandits. This series of events has led many fans to believe that Elsa is pregnant with Ennis' child. However, a subtle comment from Elsa in episode 6 of the Yellowstone prequel debunks this theory.

Does Elsa Dutton survive? ›

By 1883 season 1's ending, Elsa finally succumbs to the infection and dies. Elsa's last wish was for her to pick where she'll be buried, and James and Margaret decide to settle whichever land Elsa chooses – the birth of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

Why did the Duttons settle in Montana? ›

Because they know that killing all of those men will eventually catch up with them, Shea, James and Thomas know they need to move on. For their own safety as well as for Elsa. James tells his wife that wherever Elsa passes, that's where they will settle down so that they can be with her forever.

Does Elsa Dutton get married? ›

Congratulations are in order: 1883's Miss Elsa Dutton has gotten herself hitched. And because this is one of the few shows in which that phrase might be taken literally, allow me to clarify: Elsa gets married in Sunday's episode.

Is there going to be a 2nd season of 1883? ›

After some confusion surrounding the future of the 1883 television series, we finally have some clarification. There will be a second season and it will revolve around real-life lawman Bass Reeves with David Oyelowo in the lead role.

Is James Dutton John Dutton's great grandfather? ›

“In seven generations, you can have it.”

A lot of the family trees on the internet seem to say that Tate is a 6th-Generation Dutton, making James Dutton the great-grandfather of modern day John Dutton (Kevin Costner).

Does Elsa see Sam before death? ›

After one of the most heartbreaking episodes of TV in recent memory, 1883 gave its viewers one final scene to bring a smile to those watching. With one final piece of narration, Elsa explains that she is now in Heaven and we see her reunite with her Comanche husband, Sam, after the pair got married in episode 8.

Who married Elsa in 1883? ›

Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone prequel, 1883, shows life on the Great Plains — and it hasn't been easy for the Dutton family or the immigrant travelers.

How old is Elsa supposed to be in 1883? ›

"She is stated to be 18 years old in the title year of 1883. Which would make her born in the year 1865 (maybe 1864 if she has a birthday later in the year...).

Who is John Dutton's mother? ›

John Dutton Sr., originally known as John Dutton, is a main character in 1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story. He is the eldest son of James Dutton and Margaret Dutton of the Dutton Family. He is one of at least three John's in the family, the others being his son, John Dutton Jr., and his grandson, John Dutton III.

Who are the 7 generations of Duttons? ›

Members
  • James Dutton (Patriarch)
  • Margaret Dutton (Matriarch)
  • Elsa Dutton (James' daughter) †
  • John Dutton Sr. ( James' eldest son)
  • Spencer Dutton (James' youngest son)
  • Claire Dutton (James' sister) †
  • Mary Abel Dutton (James' niece) †

Who is Elsa Dutton in Yellowstone? ›

The show's breakout star is 21-year-old Isabel May, who plays Elsa Dutton, the elder daughter of pioneers James and Margaret Dutton.

Why is rip so loyal to John Dutton? ›

His abusive father killed his mom and brother, which led to Rip killing his father. But instead of ending up as a ward of the state, John Dutton took Rip in and gave him a second chance at life. As he grew up on the ranch (and lived in the bunkhouse), Rip became extremely loyal to John.

Does Beth Dutton wear a wig? ›

Well, Yes. Beth Dutton does wear a wig in Yellowstone. The ombre blond wig with front bangs is the signature look of Beth Dutton. Thick golden shoulder-length hair covering Beth's face goes hand in hand with her 'villain-ish' character in the drama.

Who was Beth pregnant by on Yellowstone? ›

The third season episode titled 'Cowboys and Dreamers' shows how Beth was about fifteen years old when she became pregnant. Beth was hooking up with Rip at that time and it is implied that the baby was his. She wasn't very sure of how her father would react so she reaches out to her brother, Jamie, for help.

Is Spencer Dutton Elsas son? ›

John Dutton Sr. John Dutton Jr. Spencer Dutton is the youngest son of James and Margaret Dutton. His birth year has not been made clear yet in the 1883 series.
...
Portrayed by.
First appearanceLast appearance
"Half the Money""No Kindness for the Coward"

How is Claire related to James Dutton? ›

Claire Dutton was the sister of James Dutton. Claire and her daughter, Mary Abel, joined her brother, James, and the rest of his family in Fort Worth, Texas, after her husband, Henry, passed away.

How many kids did James Dutton have? ›

Click here for the main page of the Dutton family. James and his wife Margaret were farmers in Tennessee. When they set off for their journey northward they had two children: Elsa and John.

Is Tim McGraw John Dutton's grandfather? ›

“1883” starts in Ft. Worth, TX and takes you on an epic journey with the Duttons, the most infamous family in “Yellowstone.” McGraw is James Dutton, the great-grandfather to Kevin Costner's John Dutton.

Who was Claire to James 1883? ›

1883 introduced two Dutton family characters. Dawn Olivieri portrays Claire Dutton, a pious, sharp woman with no patience for disobedience. She is the biological sister of James Dutton and sister-in-law to Margaret. Claire's husband Henry died before the start of 1883, leaving her a widow.

Is Casey really a Dutton? ›

Kayce John Dutton is a main character on Yellowstone. He is John and Evelyn Dutton's son, albeit the two have a complex and tense relationship, with regrets from John for driving Kayce away. Kayce is married to Monica and together, they have their son, Tate.

Is Kevin Costner's daughter in Yellowstone? ›

Kevin Costner

Who is Elsa Dutton's husband? ›

Through 1883 Episode 10, “This Is Not Your Heaven,” viewers finally learn how the Duttons end up in Montana — and we learn of Elsa Dutton's fate, as well as what happens to the rest of the immigrants, Shea, and Thomas. The ending has fans questioning what happens to Elsa's husband, Sam, though.

How do the Duttons make money? ›

Property taxes and high expenses required to run such a vast family ranch have made John Dutton a bit cash poor, which is why his daughter Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) and son Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) see the value in accepting a major cash offer for the land in season 4.

What did Kayce tell Monica he saw? ›

In a new interview, actor Luke Grimes, who plays Kayce Dutton on the hit show, opens up about Kayce's vision quest, which ended with him telling his wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille), "I saw the end of us."

Why are the Duttons going to Oregon? ›

It seems the Duttons are in search of land to call their own, and they're hoping to leave the impoverished states of Texas and Tennessee behind. They settle on Oregon as the perfect destination for their future lives. The immigrants, as well as Shea and Thomas, also wish to travel there.

Are the Duttons Mormon? ›

The Duttons are an extremely talented family from Branson, Missouri who are now international touring and recording artists. The Duttons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Does Elsa in 1883 get pregnant? ›

Unfortunately, the cowboy died during a conflict with bandits. This series of events has led many fans to believe that Elsa is pregnant with Ennis' child. However, a subtle comment from Elsa in episode 6 of the Yellowstone prequel debunks this theory.

Who tells the story of 1883? ›

The narrator in 1883 is Elsa Dutton, the daughter of Tim McGraw's James Dutton, and is played by 21-year-old actress Isabel May, best known for her roles in Alexa & Katie and Young Sheldon.

Is Elsa ever mentioned in Yellowstone? ›

The slightly extended episode confirmed Elsa's fate, and in a way that concretely set up the origin story of Yellowstone's namesake ranch, while also displaying other interesting connective tissue to the flagship series and its characters.

How old is Elsa supposed to be in 1883? ›

"She is stated to be 18 years old in the title year of 1883. Which would make her born in the year 1865 (maybe 1864 if she has a birthday later in the year...).

Is Elsa Dutton John's grandmother? ›

The couple has been acknowledged as John's great-grandparents in the Yellowstone series. With John (Costner) being the grandson of James and Margaret's son John, you can conclude that Elsa is, in fact, the Yellowstone character's great aunt.

Who is Spencer Dutton? ›

Spencer Dutton is the son of James and Margaret Dutton of the Dutton family that appears in Yellowstone and its prequels 1883 and 1923. He is played by Charlie Stover in Yellowstone and Brandon Sklenar plays Spencer Dutton in 1923.

Does Elsa Dutton survive? ›

By 1883 season 1's ending, Elsa finally succumbs to the infection and dies. Elsa's last wish was for her to pick where she'll be buried, and James and Margaret decide to settle whichever land Elsa chooses – the birth of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch.

Why did the Duttons leave Tennessee? ›

1883's Dutton family got out of Tennessee in order to seek out greener pastures in a land which they know to be highly dangerous – despite this, they seem to have no clear route or plan in mind.

How is James Dutton related to John Dutton? ›

The Yellowstone prequel series 1883 introduced us to the original Dutton patriarch, James Dutton (Tim McGraw), and his wife Margaret (Faith Hill). Though it hasn't been specifically laid out, we can safely guess that James is meant to be the great-grandfather of Kevin Costner's John Dutton.

What year did the Duttons settle in Montana? ›

'1883' Recap: The Duttons Make it to Montana But Nearly Lose Everything.

Does Elsa Dutton get married? ›

Congratulations are in order: 1883's Miss Elsa Dutton has gotten herself hitched. And because this is one of the few shows in which that phrase might be taken literally, allow me to clarify: Elsa gets married in Sunday's episode.

Is there going to be a second season of 1883? ›

In May 2022, it was revealed by Deadline that 1883 season 2 would focus on a real historical character, Bass Reeves, rather than continuing the saga of the fictional Duttons. Bass Reeves was a legendary lawman and the first Black deputy of the U.S. Marshals.

Is Kevin Costner's daughter in Yellowstone? ›

Kevin Costner

Is Faith Hills daughter in 1883? ›

Faith Hill

Who married Elsa in 1883? ›

Taylor Sheridan's Yellowstone prequel, 1883, shows life on the Great Plains — and it hasn't been easy for the Dutton family or the immigrant travelers.

How did the Duttons end up in Montana? ›

It was founded by James Dutton, a Tennessee farmer who relocated with his family from Fort Worth, Texas to Montana during the Western Expansion, while the caravan was making the trek to Oregon.

Videos

1. 1893 Flashback | Yellowstone | Paramount Network
(Yellowstone)
2. The Untold Truth Of 1883
(Looper)
3. Yellowstone 1883 family tree: Who are James and Elsa Dutton to John Dutton?
(Levy Aguiar)
4. Why shooting 1883 was not an easy experience according to Elsa actress
(Current News)
5. 1883 Episode 9 Review - Elsa's Death Will Change Everything!
(Nextfilm)
6. 1883 Episode 6 Ending Explained | Recap
(Media Breakdown)

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