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Why Yellowstone's 1932 Prequel Has Me Even More Emotionally Invested In 1883's Finale

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the latest episode of 1883, so be warned!

 At last, 1883’s “Racing Clouds” delivered on the doom-laden foreshadowing set up in the Yellowstone prequel’s earliest minutes, with Isabel May's Elsa Dutton suffering an arrow through the torso. All season long, fans have wondered when that potentially deadly moment would resurface, and how things would play out in the immediate aftermath. Now we know that things aren’t looking too good for Elsa, who appears to be just outside death’s door, with both of her parents already preparing for her death. And while I’d like to be as optimistic as Elsa about things, Paramount’s recent 1932 prequel news now seems all the more ominously prophetic regarding her fate.

As on the nose as it was, 1883’s penultimate episode ended with its eldest Dutton offspring plainly stating that she knew she was going to die. And credit to Taylor Sheridan for setting things up so that her survival would require events bordering on miraculous to occur, with fans given the faintest amount of hope to hold onto. But it’s possible that Paramount+ had already poisoned those hopes a few days prior to the episode’s debut, with its big announcement video for Sheridan’s expanding narrative universe heading directly for the service’s subscribers.

In the video, when addressing the newly revealed existence of the timeline-jumping 1932 spinoff, Taylor Sheridan explained it as such:

With Yellowstone, I had built out this backstory of where the Dutton family came from, and with 1932, I chose that moment in time to peek back in because you’re seeing the children we’ve met in 1883 now attempting to raise another generation of Duttons at a time of the wild west becoming a playground for the elite from the East.

However, the video clips that were chosen to run during the 1932 section of the video did not specifically feature the “children,” but rather just li’l John Dutton Sr., making it seem as if the other main characters from 1883’s world won’t have survived long enough to make appearances in the follow-up prequel. Although if we’re playing solely by these rules of semantics, viewers technically haven’t yet been introduced to James and Margaret’s third child, Spencer Dutton, who has only appeared so far in Yellowstone’s Season 4 flashbacks. But considering Season 2 is on the way, I think it’s safe to assume Spencer will show up at some point during this show’s timeline. 

Surely, this could have just been a peculiar editing choice, with the person putting the clip together trying not to show too many details for a show that has yet to start filming. But it would have been incredibly simple to have instead used a shot of both Elsa and John Sr. together when 1932 came up, unless there was a specific, speculation-friendly reason to avoid doing so. 

How much will Elsa’s death, as well as her impromptu marriage to Comanche Sam, play into the future of the Dutton family’s story in both 1932 and Yellowstone proper? I cannot wait to see where things go next, especially if it means Elsa invents a magical cure for arrow wounds.

1883’s Season 1 finale will drop on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Sunday, February 27, with presumed answers to all our “She dead?” inquiries. While waiting, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

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.