We knew from the start that Elsa Dutton’s (Isabel May) life was in jeopardy in the Y:1883 Series. A Lakota warrior shot her with an arrow in the penultimate episode of the series. Furthermore, anyone who has seen Yellowstone knows that Elsa was absent from any of the flashbacks involving her parents, James (Tim McGraw) and Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill). But, after serving as both the narrator and emotional core of the tale thus far, would 1883 really ends Elsa in its first season?
Dutton appears to think Elsa doesn’t have much longer to live at the end of episode 9. He tells Margaret that their family will live wherever Elsa dies, which we know will be the Yellowstone Ranch in Montana in the end, so Elsa will very certainly have to make it there. Despite the fact that the wagon train seemed to take an eternity to leave Texas, the Duttons appear to be close to finding their new home, at least geographically. In the penultimate episode, the action takes place in Wyoming. The real-life setting for Yellowstone, Paradise Valley, is not far from the Wyoming/Montana boundary. Elsa has proven her strength throughout the season, so there’s a possibility she’ll survive the finale and make it through at least half of season 2, but the opportunity for a stunning first-season finale is likely too good for 1883 to pass up.
Some fans, on the other hand, are pointing up hints that point to Elsa’s survival. Every Dutton since 1886 has been buried on the Yellowstone ranch, according to John Dutton (Kevin Costner). The ranch was also founded in 1886, according to Yellowstone. If this is correct, Elsa may be alive for another three years in the setting of the show. Of course, Taylor Sheridan could use some historical revisionism. While there’s a case to be made for Elsa surviving, and we’d love to see it, we believe Elsa will die from her wound in the finale, as the Duttons uncover the acreage that will become the Yellowstone Ranch.
TVLine turned to Tim McGraw (Though we’re not sure why, given that James said of his injured adolescent daughter in last week’s episode, “She’s the light of my life, and she’s my soul. She’s going to die.”) despite being a pessimist, could James hope that Elsa will outsmart the odds and survive her gruesome injury? McGraw gave a rueful chuckle. “I don’t think he has any hope at all,” he remarked.
It’s uncertain if Elsa will die or make a miraculous recovery by the end of the first season. Her character also serves as the series’ narrator, so one would expect she’ll make it, but if she doesn’t, perhaps young John Dutton Sr. (Audie Rick) or another Dutton will.
“1883” finale Episode 10 is set to air on February 27, 2022, at 3 am ET on Paramount+.