Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched the latest episode of 1883, so be warned!
Despite telling a largely standalone story that isn’t beholden to constant callbacks and references to its parent series Yellowstone, Paramount+’s prequel 1883 does have the interesting duty of setting up not only familiar locations but also branches of a family tree that eventually leads to Kevin Costner’s John Dutton and his strong-willed offspring. There will likely always be dots that remain unconnected between the two timelines, but the latest episode, titled “The Weep of Surrender,” seemingly shined some vital new light on the personal history between the Dutton family and nearby native tribes.
1883 has not overtly set up the origins of Yellowstone’s Broken Rock Reservation, and it’s not at all clear if that will actually happen at any point, but Episode 108 introduced a more direct line of connection between the ranching family and the franchise’s indigenous communities: Elsa Dutton and Sam (played by Yellowstone vet Martin Sensmeier) are now in wife and husband mode, even if they’ve only known each other for roughly half a minute.
Despite only falling in love for the first time with Ennis just a handful of episodes ago, Elsa was immediately smitten by the Comanche warrior Sam, to the point where he was having new pants made for her, as well as asking James for his marital blessings. (Not to mention banging it out in the tall grass on multiple occasions.) And before the episode was through, they were hollering about their love to one another on horseback, with Sam sticking around in Colorado as Elsa set off to accompany her parents and the rest of the group to Oregon, with plans to return to her new love at a later time.
So how might that surprising turn of events factor into the current-day storyline happening on Yellowstone? Considering how thrown off Faith Hill Margaret Dutton is by her daughter’s relationship, it’s entirely possible that Elsa and Sam’s marriage introduces irreconcilable differences between the two women, and that the younger Dutton becomes an estranged member of the family outside of their eventual Montana home. Such tensions would likely be passed down from generation to generation, also, giving James and Margaret’s sons a potential bias to adhere to, whether it be siding with or against other natives.
Granted, the very first flashback scene that Yellowstone introduced in its Season 4 premiere featured James and his two sons having a somewhat cordial exchange with tribe members aiming to bury an elder on the Duttons’ land. That conversation might have been more hectic had Margaret fielded the request, though I’m not going so far as to say I think Hill’s character is outright prejudiced on the whole. I think that, depending on how the rest of the journey goes between Elsa and her mother, Margaret might foster some foul feelings towards Sam and his tribal family, potentially sparking more serious issues down the line. After all, we seemingly saw James’ death play out in a Yellowstone flashback (though it wasn’t fully confirmed), meaning Margaret was likely the outspoken head of the family at the time when her children reached adult age.
As such, she likely had a big part to play in how the Dutton’s land grab was achieved, thus making her something of an enemy to any tribes in the Montana area whose ancestors lived among those thousands of acres. So even if Sam’s Comanche tribe doesn’t actually connect with the Broken Rock Reservation familiar to Yellowstone fans, the native character’s relationship with Elsa could have still served as an influential factor regarding John Dutton and Thomas Rainwater’s strained relationship, which has largely been held together by their shared focus on keeping the land pure and untouched.
Of course, not everything that happens in 1883 is automatically tethered to the overarching universe, and not all of the moments that play out on screen are meant to be references to anything.
With two episodes left to go in its initial season, 1883 drops new installments on Paramount+ every Sunday, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more Yellowstone easter eggs in those final eps. In the meantime, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way soon.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.