1883 finale leaves fans, and stars, in tears

1883 season 1 episode 10 Faith Hill Isabel May
Faith Hill and Isabel May in 1883. (Image credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount+)

SPOILER ALERT: if you are not caught up with the entirety of 1883 season 1, don't read on.

The 1883 finale wrapped up the journey of the western TV show’s first season on Sunday, Feb. 27, treating fans to an emotional and beautiful episode. Fans on social media revealed that many of the moments brought them to tears, but it wasn’t just viewers — series stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, who play James and Margaret Dutton, also revealed they were a wreck when they first read the ending.

In 1883’s episode 9, Dutton tells Margaret that he does not think Elsa (Isabel May) will be able to survive being shot with an arrow. Despite holding out a bit of hope, their fears are ultimately proven right, as Elsa dies in Dutton’s arms at what will become the Yellowstone ranch. 

Here’s how many fans reacted to the finale:

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You can read What to Watch's in-depth recap of the 1883 season 1 finale right here.

Many fans were swept away by the gorgeous production of the show and quickly became attached to the character of Elsa, wonderfully brought to life by Isabel May. Even though her fate was teased in the penultimate episode, her final moments were incredibly touching and well done.

It wasn’t any easier for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to read the ending to 1883 season 1 than it was for fans to watch it. Speaking with Variety, McGraw explained what it was like for him and Hill — who are married and have three daughters — to read the scripts and learn of Elsa’s fate.

“When we got the final two [scripts], we literally couldn’t read them to each other because we were crying so much — I mean, ugly, boohoo crying,” said McGraw. “I was a blubbering idiot.”

“He couldn’t read it because he was bawling,” added Hill. “It took me about an hour to read it to him because most of the time, I couldn’t catch my breath I was crying so hard.”

Through the tears, McGraw could see why this ending was so special.

“It was just so well-written, so devastating and heartbreaking, but at the same time, so on point and poignant for what Yellowstone turned out to be. It just gives you all the reasons in the world why they fight so hard for that land and why their family fights so hard for to keep what they have. It just made perfect sense.”

All episodes of 1883 are now available to stream on Paramount Plus1883 season 2 is confirmed to be on the way.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.