Now, that we’ve had a little time to digest the first and only season of the Yellowstone prequel series, 1883, it’s time to take a look at how it relates to the overall Dutton story.
If you haven’t seen all of 1883 yet, you might wanna scroll on through to the next article.
A few more episodes of 1883 have been ordered so my guess is that Taylor Sheridan and company might answer a few more questions, bridge a few gaps, but as we already know, the Yellowstone prequels, both 1883 and the upcoming 1932, are not meant to be all-encompassing stories.
As Taylor Sheridan put it, it’s just a peek through time in the greater Dutton family narrative.
“I created this peek through time to show you this one specific journey. I’m not someone who likes to tie everything up in a bow and explain how everyone lived happily after, or didn’t.
I’d rather you imagine it, and wonder what Thomas and Noemi made of their lives. You never get to see how James and Margaret move on. You did seem them in a flashback as having moved on, and so that’s what I cared to explore. On to the next peek through the window.
I also wanted to create something you could watch and be completely enthralled and fulfilled, having never seen Yellowstone. Let it live on its own merits. Yes for those fans of ‘Yellowstone,’ there are some real Easter eggs and understanding you can take away from that, that informs the way you watch Yellowstone.
I like that model. For me, as a storyteller it feels close ended. I’m going to peek through the window of a different era and see what I see then.”
I dig the approach…
However, what does the peek through the window of 1883 tell us about the fate of the Dutton family?
That they’re fucked…
The 1883 finale was heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, but also unapologetically honest about just how brutal settling in the American West was. I mean hell, if you ever played Oregon Trail as a kid you know how damn hard it was to get to Oregon without everybody dying.
And that’s exactly what we saw at the end of 1883.
Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) dies from a Native American attack, but throughout the show we see people fall off wagons, drown, get bitten by snakes, succumb to disease, get shot by bandits, and we’re not even talking about the struggle to find food, clean water and battling the elements.
And then of course, Sam Elliott’s character Shea Brennan shoots himself in the head… so don’t underestimate the mental toll that this journey, and life in general, could take back then.
However, one of the most important scenes in the entire show was a rather subtle one. James Dutton (Tim McGraw) has made it to Montana with his dying daughter and stumbles upon an Indian tribe who offers to help, but to no avail.
Elsa is gonna die and James needs to find a place to bury her because that’s where they are going to settle, so Spotted Eagle, a Crow elder, recommends a spot called the Paradise Valley.
But, there’s a catch… the Duttons can’t have it forever.
“Yes, Paradise. Good name. But you know this: that in seven generations, my people will rise up and take it back from you.”
To which James says:
“In seven generations, you can have it.”
There’s some debate about where we are in the Dutton generational timeline, and I suppose 1932 will help us figure that out, but in that 1893 flashback from Yellowstone Season 4, we see that James has two sons with him, John and Spencer… Generation Two.
They should be in their fifties or so by the time 1932 rolls around and will have children of their own (Generation Three), and John and Spencer might even have young grandchildren (people got married pretty young back then), so that’s Generation Four.
Now here’s where it get’s interesting… John Dutton (born sometime in the 1950s) of Yellowstone could be Generation Five, which means Kayce, Jamie (adopted), the late Lee Dutton, and Beth Dutton would all be Generation Six, and young Tate would be Generation 7.
So when Kayce “saw the end of us” during his vision quest, was he talking about him and Monica or the entire Dutton empire? Very interesting…
There’s also the possibility (seems to be the more popular one on the internet) that John Dutton of Yellowstone is Generation Four (his father would’ve had to have been born pretty late) and that Tate is Generation Six.
Either way, it brings the story back to what I’ve suspected all a long.
John Dutton will give his land to the Broken Rock Tribe, it becomes federally protected land, and the Duttons live out their remaining years on the land that is given back the tribe. Tate is half Native American so he becomes the link between the Duttons and the Native American people.
Of course, as soon as we think we know what’s gonna happen, Taylor Sheridan hits you with the kind of curveball that makes you question everything, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Either way, the Yellowstone universe is just getting started.