‘1883’ Episode 8: Opening Scene Hints at Elsa Dutton Ditching James and Margaret Dutton to Be With Sam

Taylor Sheridan’s 1883 Episode 8 showed Elsa Dutton getting even closer with Sam. After Ennis’s death, Elsa wasn’t sure how she’d move forward — but her new love life is blossoming. However, with only a few episodes left, viewers know Elsa gets shot with an arrow by Native Americans who live on the land she and her family are traveling through. Does the opening scene of the series point to Elsa ditching her parents to marry Sam, and is that how their travels go awry?

[Spoiler alert: 1883 Episode 8 spoilers ahead.]

Is Elsa Dead? The ‘1883’ opening scene shows her getting shot with an arrow

Elsa Dutton in '1883' Episode 8 sitting in a field with a blanket covering her
Elsa Dutton in ‘1883’ Episode 8 | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

The opening scene in 1883 Episode 1 shows everything going wrong for the Dutton family. The scene begins with Elsa Dutton on the ground seemingly waking up from an unconscious state. The wagons around her are on fire, and she witnesses the Native Americans around her shooting some of the immigrants she traveled with. She runs around the area until she comes face to face with one of the attackers as she’s removing a gun from a dead body.

“Will you let me go?” Elsa asks the Native American.

“I will sell you, or I will kill you,” he answers.

“You speak English,” Elsa notes. “How can you do this?”

“You speak English — and no, your people did this,” the Native American answers.

Then, when Elsa draws the gun to shoot the man off of his horse, he shoots her in the stomach with his bow and arrow. Elsa then goes on to shoot others, but it’s clear she won’t make it out alive.

Does Elsa ditch her parents, James and Margaret Dutton, to be with Sam? She discusses it in ‘1883’ Episode 8

James Dutton and Margaret Dutton sitting next to each other and looking out in '1883'
James Dutton and Margaret Dutton | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

The opening scene shows Elsa Dutton, but it’s missing James and Margaret Dutton, her parents. Given what happens in Yellowstone, we know James and Margaret Dutton don’t die while traversing the Great Plains, so it seems they’re separate from Elsa during the opening scene. So, what happened?

In 1883 Episode 8, Elsa discussed the possibility of leaving her parents behind to stay with Sam. Elsa receives pushback from James and Margaret for this, of course. In an emotional scene between mother and daughter, Elsa reminds Margaret that she’s woman enough to pick herself back up if she gets hurt — and this means her parents should let her go with Sam so they can complete their journey.

Ultimately, Elsa decides to ride with her parents and the rest of the crew all the way to Oregon. She then will return to stay with Sam once her parents arrive. “I’ll ride with you to Oregon,” Elsa tells Margaret. “Then, I know where to come if I ever need a place to start over.”

With only two episodes left, it’s unlikely Elsa goes all the way to Oregon and then returns to be with Sam. It’s more likely she begins the journey with her parents and then leaves them somewhere along the way. Perhaps she and a number of the immigrants make a diversion from James and Margaret and that’s why a number of wagons surrounding Elsa are set aflame.

In the opening scene, Elsa’s wearing her traditional garb, too. She might make the decision to leave James and Margaret after getting back into the clothes they want her to wear. It could be then that she knows traveling to Oregon isn’t the journey meant for her.

Isabel May talks ‘violent’ end for her character

Elsa Dutton actor Isabel May talked about the “violent” ending fans see in 1883 Episode 1. During an interview, she couldn’t say too much about how Elsa ends up where she ends up, or if it connects to 1883 Episode 8. But she might’ve left a clue that only Elsa is the only Dutton who faces the Native American attackers.

“It’s a little bit up in the air about how we get to that place and what happens to get them to that place — or her to that place,” May tells Jon Interviews. “It’s obviously very violent. What happens next is kind of the big question. So, I can’t talk too much about it because I want it to be a surprise.”

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