‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 Episode 8 Opening Flashback Introduces ‘1883’

Tim McGraw as James of the Paramount+ original series 1883.

Paramount+ Tim McGraw as James of the Paramount+ original series 1883.

At the beginning of “Yellowstone” season 4 episode 8, we see a law enforcement man and a mom and her family who aren’t normally part of the “Yellowstone” series. Who are they? As it turns out, they are major characters in the “Yellowstone” prequel series, “1883.”

This article has spoilers for the intro of “Yellowstone” season 4 episode 8. 

The Episode Begins With the Story of Tim McGraw’s James Dutton

The family at the beginning of the episode is the Dutton family featured in “1883,” but it appears that we’re seeing them at some point after the events of “1883” take place.

Tim McGraw is James Dillard Dutton, the law enforcement official chasing down a criminal in the introduction. Faith Hill is Margaret Dutton, the mom who is keeping the boys in check at the beginning. Charlie Stover is Spencer Dutton and Jack Michael Doke is John Dutton Senior. It’s worth noting that this apparently takes place before “1883” because in “1883,” Audie Rick plays a younger version of John Dutton Senior. The Western Series wiki speculates that Audie’s John is younger and his story takes place before this one. However, it appears that Charlie Stover plays the character in both the prequel and this introduction, according to the same wiki, so it’s not clear what interpretation we should take from this.

The Intro Leaves Fans With Questions About ‘1883’

The introduction to “Yellowstone” begins with a cold, snowy ranch. We’re back in time, getting a preview of “1883”. John’s asked to pray, and his mom chastises him when his first prayer doesn’t include his dad. Then when he prays for harm, his mom really reams him and says he should never pray for harm to come to anyone, but only for safety and health. He’s visibly shaken by his mom’s anger.

Next we shift to law enforcement officials chasing thieves on horseback. They all take on heavy casualties, with everyone dying but John’s dad. His dad writes “This is what happens to horse thieves here” in BLOOD on a dead man to leave as a warning to others and hangs him from a tree. And he tells the thief who’s still alive to tell “everybody like you” about him if he lives.

When he arrives home to the cabin, shot and bleeding, his mom asks Spencer to get water.  Then the mom says, “James Dillard, get inside.” We see him walk inside and then we hear him collapse while she screams.

Viewers are left with questions. It’s implied that James might have died in this scene. But as we’ve seen on “Yellowstone,” characters can sometimes look like they’re dying, but unless we are shown them being buried in the ground, it’s still very possible for them to survive and end up just fine. So it’s not known if James survived his shooting or not.

Also of note is that John and Charlie’s older sister, Elsa, who is known to be appearing in “1883,” is nowhere to be seen in this flashback. If it takes place after “1883,” this leaves questions as to whether something happened to Elsa or if she’s just not living with them anymore.

“1883” will air on Paramount Network tonight immediately after “Yellowstone.”

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