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1923 Finally Brings Death to the Yellowstone Ranch

Love and bullets are in the air

Lauren Piester

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the third episode of 1923. Read at your own risk!] 

1923 may have let us off easy with its second episode, but "The War Has Come Home" made up for it in spades in the worst way. John Dutton Sr. (James Badge Dale) is dead. Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) is basically dead. And poor, sweet Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph) is also on death's door, all because of a bunch of sheep. The war certainly has come home, and it has wreaked havoc on the Yellowstone ranch, leaving it in mourning and without a leader. Thanks so much, Bronn from Game of Thrones. You've ruined everything!

After Jacob punished Creighton (Jerome Flynn) for stealing grazing land for his sheep, Creighton returned with a vengeance, which feels like a real oversight on Jacob's part. Obviously, that man cares more about his sheep than other people in the same way that Duttons care more about their land and their cattle than other people, and he was going to retaliate after being hanged. (OK, yes, he was hanged, but Jacob even said he hoped some of the hanged men survived.) 

That retaliation came on the way home from a very pleasant overnight trip into town, where things were going a bit too well to be comfortable. Everyone had a lovely time, and Jack (Darren Mann) and Liz got to have a little premarital sex in a hotel room. Everything was a bit too joyful, so when they were on their way home and the shooting began, it was no surprise. A bummer, but no surprise. Liz got shot pretty immediately, but we didn't see her die by the end of the episode. We also didn't see Jacob die, but poor Cara (Helen Mirren) was pretty sure it was about to happen. We definitely saw James dead on the ground, with a shot directly through his eye. We also saw Cara unleash that fury we saw in the premiere episode, traipsing through the woods to shoot one of the sheep herders before he could shoot her. The episode ended with her letter to Spencer (Brandon Sklenar), begging him to come home to take care of what remained of his family.    

What the 1923 Premiere Tells Us About the Dutton Family Tree and the Family's Future

Helen Mirren, 1923

Helen Mirren, 1923


Spencer, meanwhile, was having the time of his life. His new lady friend Alex (Julia Schlaepfer) fairly immediately demanded a proposal, and he was happy to oblige. They also got into a jeep accident and got attacked by lions, but they're happily engaged despite having just met, and now I guess they're headed back to Montana to put the pieces of his family back together. How long does it take mail to travel from rural Montana to Nairobi? How long does it take two people to travel from Nairobi to rural Montana? It'll be months before Spencer and Alex make it back! Hopefully no one else dies in the meantime. 

Elsewhere, Teonna (Aminah Nieves) is still having the absolute worst time ever at school and is still being tortured in a myriad of ways (left in an outhouse for days, molested by a nun, etc. etc.), but we now have some backstory for her. Her mother is dead and her father is working, but her grandmother is desperately trying to get her back home to attend a nearby day school. But the laws against Native Americans are exceedingly cruel and complicated, and Teonna can apparently only legally be rescued by her immediate family. The history being highlighted here is very much appreciated, but these scenes are only getting harder to watch, and I'm rooting for Teonna to make an epic, violent escape from this house of horrors ASAP.

I'm also rooting for some sort of miraculous recovery for Jacob, even though that seems unlikely. I just was really looking forward to more than three episodes of cowboy Harrison Ford, but I'm also not going to complain about Helen Mirren being the true star of this show. It was true from her first scene in the first episode, and it's only gotten truer.                  

1923 continues Sundays on Paramount+.