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Yellowstone 1883 star calls 1923 death reveal “smack in the face”

Speaking in a new interview, 1883 star reflects on learning about a certain Yellowstone character's fate in the 1923. She wasn't happy with Taylor Sheridan.

1923 cast: Isabel May in Yellowstone 1883

For many Yellowstone fans, the first spin-off series 1883 remains the best TV series in the whole franchise. That’s right, arguably, it’s even better than Yellowstone itself as it lays the foundation for what we see throughout 1923 and on the modern Yellowstone ranch.

This earlier point in the Yellowstone timeline introduces us to a new cast of characters, including Elsa Dutton, James Dillard Dutton, and the matriarch Margaret Dutton – great-grandmother of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton. Unflinching and brutal, 1883 is harsh to its characters, and young Elsa Dutton, played by Isabel May, is killed by a poison arrow as the series comes to an end.

That isn’t the end of the story for May herself, though, who goes on to narrate the story of 1923 as Elsa. In the first episode of 1923, May’s Elsa Dutton reveals the fate of the characters who we came to know in 1883. Let’s just say it’s not a happy ending, and May was particularly upset to learn about the death of Margaret Dutton, calling it a: “smack in the face.”

“Oh, brutal! Brutal! So sad,” said May, when asked THR about her reaction to learning the fate of her 1883 Yellowstone cast. “What really what hit me was Margaret [Dutton’s death], she was so wonderful. But yeah, a smack in the face I suppose. He’s going to make it brutal, because that’s what life looked like then,” concluded May, reflecting on Taylor Sheridan’s choices.

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Perhaps what May found particularly upsetting about the death of Margaret Dutton was the manner in which it unfolded. Rather than dying of illness, age, or sacrifice, 1923 reveals that Margaret freezes to death in an especially harsh Montana winter.

It’s all rather grim, which is, as May says, exactly Sheridan’s intention. Throughout his series across the Yellowstone timeline, Sheridan has been dedicated to showing the past and present exactly as they are, grittiness and darkness included. It’s part of what makes Yellowstone so gripping.

While 1883 won’t be returning for another season, the 1923 season 2 release date should be coming at some point in 2024. That’s when we’d also expect Yellowstone season 5 part 2 to also return, as the story of John Dutton concludes with the departure of Kevin Costner.

A Matthew McConaughey-led sequel series will continue the adventures, though, as will the 6666 series and the Bass Reeves spin-off. For more on those, check out our guide to the 6666 release date and the Lawmen: Bass Reeves release date. Or, keep up to date with Sheridan’s other projects by learning about the return of Tulsa King season 2 and The Mayor of Kingstown season 3.