The first episode of Taylor Sheridan’s epic new “Yellowstone” prequel, “1923,” dropped Sunday, and it was absolutely stunning, setting us up for what looks like a superb limited series.
“1923” tells the story of the Duttons’ legacy following the premature deaths of James and Margaret Dutton (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill). Harrison Ford plays James’ brother, Jacob Dutton, with Helen Mirren as his absolutely terrifying wife, Cara.
The first episode introduces us to the new caretakers of the Dutton-Yellowstone Ranch as plagues of locusts destroy Montana through the drought and battles echo throughout the state over our greatest resource: land. Even with the introduction of an all-star cast and so many storylines, we also gain insight into how the last caretakers concluded their stewardship of the ranch.
Through a flippant comment, we learn James died, so Jacob was called in to run the ranch. When he arrived, he found Margaret frozen to death and her sons half-starved. Those sons are now grown up, and are set to inherit the ranch from a volatile, angry Jacob.
The show is likely to continue with Sheridan’s long-standing theme of the wrong child inheriting the Dutton-Yellowstone ranch. In “1883,” we all knew Elsa should have become the matriarch instead of her brothers, but Native Americans shot her down before she had the chance.
In “Yellowstone,” Lee Dutton was killed in the premiere episode, setting up the battle for the land between Kayce, Beth and Jamie Dutton. My gut tells me this series will be no different.
The most important new storyline in “1923” is that of Teonna Rainwater, the victim of a government- and Catholic-run “boarding school” — really a camp where Native American women had their true, God-given heritage ripped from them. This part of American and theological history is often ignored by the history books, so I’m glad we get to see Rainwater beat the living sh*t out of a nun. It was oddly calming.
Aside from the niche plot lines, it’s quite humbling to realize the entire story takes place almost exactly 100 years ago. With that in mind, it’s hard not to see how far we’ve come in terms of development, but also how pathetic our species is when it comes to hardship.
If you took any modern, city-dwelling man, gave him all the money in the world, and sent him back to 1923, he’d be dead by sunset, if not sooner. (RELATED: ‘Yellowstone’ Creator Casts Three Faces Many Viewers Have Seen For His New CIA Drama)
One thing is for sure, though: there is no limit to the violence already ripping through this series. I am more than stoked to see it continue, even though I bet the woke patrol will absolutely hate how great this retelling of American history really is.