The Yellowstone timeline is like a puzzle. You’d think the popular cowboy drama wouldn’t get too complicated, but creator Taylor Sheridan’s output of spinoffs, prequels and prequel-sequels has audiences treating the Dutton family tree as seriously as Game of Thrones lineages. There’s the 1883 limited prequel series, the upcoming 6666 spinoff—which sadly does not send John Dutton into the far future to fight aliens in space—and now the Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren 1923 prequel.
Following the Duttons through a period of famine, economic depression, and big game-hunting in Africa, 1923 acts as both a prequel to the Yellowstone main series and a pseudo-sequel to the 1883 prequel. Got all that? Like I said! Puzzle. In fact, 1923 has so much going on that Sheridan announced back in October that it might take two eight-episode seasons just to sort through the Duttons’s hard-fought history in Montana. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he’ll get just that, thanks to a quick Season Two renewal. Following that shocking season finale, let’s take stock of the series—and where it’s heading.
What Happened in 1923 Season One?
Harrison Ford’s Jacob Dutton is on the mend following an attack from sheep-herder Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn), which occurred in Episode Three’s shocking ending. Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren) asked her nephew, Spencer (Brandon Sklenar), to quit hunting big game in Africa—and come home to defend his family’s ranch. One of his brothers, John Dutton Sr. (James Badge Dale), was killed in the attack—while his nephew Jack barely survived. Meanwhile, Creighton is bolstering his forces as well, thanks to some help from Timothy Dalton’s evil Donald Whitfield.
In the season finale, Spencer and his new wife, Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) are separated following a duel with her ex-fiancé. It’s a major hitch in their plans to return to Montana, especially as turmoil continues to plague his aunt and uncle back home. Meanwhile, Jack’s fiancée, Elizabeth Strafford, suffers a miscarriage, Teonna Rainwater is on the run after escaping a corrupt Indian boarding school, and the bank has refused to help finance the Duttons through the winter. Dejected, Cara Dutton tears up her latest letter to Spencer, pleading for him to come. “It’s going to hurt,” Sklenar told Esquire about the finale. “Just from an audience standpoint, from a fan standpoint… Yeah, it’s agonizing. It’s going to fire people up to be counting the days till the second part airs.”
What Will Happen in Season Two?
Though not much is known about the direction for Season Two, we now know what lies in store for the Duttons when we return. The harsh winter has placed many financial hardships on the family—and they don’t have the men to fight against Whitfeld until Spencer’s return. Calling Spencer’s story “essentially Homer’s Odyssey
and the hero’s journey,” Sklenar told Esquire that “the final act is sure to be explosive.” There’s a lot riding on Spencer’s return home. “It’s going to be a powerful homecoming,”Sklenar teased. “The man we meet in Episode One of Season Two is a much different man from who we see at the end of this season. So, it’s going to be exciting to get into that new version of Spencer.”
The 1923 cast also discussed Sheridan’s unconventional sentence structures with The Hollywood Reporter. Helen Mirren said, “Why danger gives men such pleasure, I’ll never understand,” recalling that Sheridan once noted, “I never want to see a horse walking [on set].” The actress continued, “Sometimes you get a weird sentence construction and you go, ‘Why does it go like that?’ Because it’s not the obvious or the straightforward way to say something. But I always found there was always a really good reason for it that you could find, and I found it really important to do the lines exactly as written and not the ‘easy’ way. You get so much richness out of it.” Sklenar agreed, commenting, “There’s definitely a musicality to it. There’s a rhythm to the way the characters speak.”
Season Two will reportedly run for another eight episodes when it premieres, which will end the tale of the 1923 Dutton family. “It’s bookend. It’s still limited, but I think of it as one piece,” Sklenar told THR. “There’s just a split in the middle, but it’s all one piece. It will conclude.” But don’t fret. Sheridan always has more Yellowstone cooking up. Matthew McConaughey is still set to make his debut and the drama-filled flagship Yellowstone series is also rumored to return sometime in November 2023—with or without Kevin Costner.