TV REVIEW - 1883 (2021)
Updated: Mar 11
Series Directed by
Ben Richardson...(5 episodes, 2021-2022)
Christina Alexandra Voros...(4 episodes, 2021-2022)
Taylor Sheridan...(1 episode, 2021)
Series Writing Credits
Taylor Sheridan...(created & Written by) (10 episodes, 2021-2022)
Sam Elliott...Shea Brennan
Tim McGraw...James Dutton
Faith Hill...Margaret Dutton
Isabel May...Elsa Dutton
Audie Rick...John Dutton Sr.
James Landry Hébert...Wade
Jordan Walker Ross...Mikel
Noah Le Gros...Colton
SPOILER ALERT: THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
For fans of Yellowstone, the idea of a prequel series was very intriguing. It is no secret, I was a late viewer of the Yellowstone series but then became completely obsessed with the series from the moment I saw the first episode. My favorite character is Beth. I get super excited when someone enters her cross hairs. My second favorite character is Rip, I’ve been a big Cole Hauser fan back since Dazed and Confused. My third favorite character is John Dutton. I believe most people would agree with that ranking. Why do I bring up the characters of Yellowstone when beginning my 1883 review? Simply to establish that 1883 shows where characters like John and Beth Dutton come from and why exactly why John Dutton wants to protect his land so badly.
I am not going to bring up the flash back scenes from Yellowstone that initially introduced James Dutton and his family because they took place in 1893, ten years after this series. The series begins with a battle between natives and a group of Americans. We quickly meet Elsa Dutton and see her get shot with an arrow. We are thrown into the series but it really is not the beginning of the series. My wife found it confusing, but I knew what they were doing. It was a taste of what’s to come. We are then taken back to a time before this and we meet James Dutton and the rest of the 1883 Dutton family seperately. James is already in Fort Worth, Texas looking to set up his family’s move up north. James did not have a true destination planned out yet. He was aware of Oregon but really wanted to head towards the land bastion of America. This was to be a new beginning for him and his family.
As history has told , this fresh new start would not be an easy one as it would be surrounded in death. James Dutton was joined by his wife Margaret, daughter Elsa, son John (the great grandfather of John Dutton from Yellowstone), sister Claire and niece Mary Abel as they were to set on and begin their journey north. James then met Shea Brennan and Thomas who were taking on a large immigrant group, lead by Josef, who also looked to travel to Oregon for the land grab. They aimed to get James to join them since he and his family were heading in the same direction and he was a skilled soldier. Shea and Thomas’ job was to not only take the immigrants north but you also keep them alive. This journey would not just be rough terrain, but they also had to worry about rattlesnakes along with other wild life but also bandits and the natives. Shea and Thomas had made this trip before and knew the lay of the land. James only agrees to join the group as long as it’s understood that he does not fall under the command of Shea. The exchange is simple. James would help to keep the group safe as long as his family has the security of traveling with the large group. The thing is that the immigrants have zero fighting ability or riding for that matter. They would have to be taught these survival skills during the journey.
Unfortunately trouble begins for the group before they even leave Fort Worth. While on the outskirts of the town the group runs into a group of bad cowboys and James’ sister Claire quickly gets on their bad side. This ends in deaths of members of the group as well as Claire and her daughter Mary Abel. This happens pretty fast while James, Shea and Thomas are away. They get their revenge trust me but it sets the tone of the series even more. Shea even says it as he acknowledges that they even haven’t left Forth Worth yet.
The series then continues to be one hell of a Cowboy drama. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are amazing in their roles. I honestly had no idea that they had this sort of acting ability and hope to see more of them. They’re portrayal of these characters tells you a lot of where the Dutton family’s roots begin. Sam Elliot is fantastic as Shea Brennan. He has so much pain from how he loses his family and you see it in every scene. You feel for him. LaMonica Garrett as Thomas was a welcomed addition to this cast. He has a great sense of right and wrong and will do anything to keep those safe around him.I only really know LaMonica Garrett from CW’s Crisis Event and enjoyed him there. The character of Thomas is such a great role for so many reasons and I feel LaMonica Garrett was a perfect choice as he definitely had the opportunity to stretch his range and he killed it.
The true star of this series was Isabel May as Elsa Dutton. We meet her and she is a typical teenage girl of the era. She has a wise cracking mouth on her and has to be reminded of her place. However once she embarks on this journey and is needed to help tend to the cattle on horseback, you see this character emerge as one of my favorite bad ass cowboy characters out there. Yes I called her a cowboy because they is what she is. Her spirit and drive is unmatched by anyone else in the series. As a Yellowstone fan, you see that she is the perfect ancestor to Beth Dutton as Else is where Beth gets it from. If you watch the show, you know what I mean. Elsa is also the reason why John Dutton of Yellowstone fights so hard to keep him land.
You see as the series ends and we see the fruition of the first scene of the series play out where Elsa gets shot with an arrow. She has grown into a woman who cowboys and Native Americans respect equally. So do those that she travels with especially Shea. They all respect her as the bravest warrior and mourn her before her death as she stays strong. James decides that he and his family will stay and build a ranch at the very spot that she dies. They end of making it to Montana as Elsa wanted to pick her place of death. James take her there and she dies in his arms.
Notice that I didn’t really talk about James’ son John. He is very young in this series and is in hiding throughout a lot of the battle scenes. I am excited to see how this all effects him when we see him again at some point in the future.
I don’t think that I have to tell you how I felt about this series. I believe it’s obvious but I will say it anyway. If you have not scene 1883 you need to. It’s a beautiful series and has a lot a great moments That only add to the Yellowstone universe. Elsa as a character only elevated Yellowstone for me because of what she meant to the family and changed why the ranch is so important to the Dutton Family. If you have seen it, comment and let me know your thoughts. If not, enjoy it when you do.