‘1883’: Tim McGraw Was Honest With Taylor Sheridan About James Dutton’s ‘Doubts’

1883 episode 10 is on its way, and that means fans are nearing the end of the road for the Dutton family. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill play James and Margaret Dutton, the husband-and-wife duo trying to bring their two kids, Elsa and John Dutton, to settle on northern land. James seems unflappable as a fearless husband and father, but McGraw said he told show creator Taylor Sheridan that James certainly has “doubts” about the journey.

[Spoiler alert: 1883 episode 9 spoilers ahead.]

Why did the Duttons leave Tennessee in ‘1883’?

Tim McGraw as James Dutton, Faith Hill as Margaret Dutton, and Isabel May as Elsa Dutton in '1883.' The Dutton family pose for a formal photo.
Tim McGraw as James, Faith Hill as Margaret, and Isabel May as Elsa | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

By the time 1883 episode 10 airs, the Duttons are close to approaching Oregon, their final destination. Throughout the first season of the series, viewers watched as James and Margaret Dutton led their family from Tennessee to Texas and then further up north. Shea (Sam Elliott) and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) assisted them in their journey, and a number of other hopeful immigrants joined, too.

So, why did the Duttons leave Tennesse in 1883? What was waiting for them in the north? The Duttons hoped to find land to call their own by traveling away from where they were from. The immigrants who traveled with them were also traveling to find a more hopeful future wherever the Duttons led them. Unfortunately, the road hasn’t been easy. Crossing difficult terrain in wagons proved deadly, and bandits, as well as Native American tribes who viewed the pioneers as a threat, weren’t welcoming.

Tim McGraw told Taylor Sheridan that his character, James Dutton, had ‘doubts’ about the journey

Tim McGraw as James Dutton, Sam Elliott as Shea, and LaMonica Garrett as Thomas sitting on horses in '1883' episode 9
Tim McGraw as James Dutton, Sam Elliott as Shea, and LaMonica Garrett as Thomas | Emerson Miller/Paramount+

James Dutton appears to confidently lead his family through the Oregon Trail. But by 1883 episode 10, tragedy strikes. Elsa Dutton gets shot with an arrow by a Native American tribe, and the seemingly-unflappable James is rattled by the filthy arrow. He warns Margaret Dutton that Elsa will very likely die from infection.

1883 episode 9 shows James starting to crack under the weight of what he knows. Tim McGraw talked to TVLine about his character, too. He said he told Taylor Sheridan that his character actually doubted the journey the entire time, as he feared for what could go wrong.

“I think James doubted it every single day and every single moment,” McGraw noted. “I [told Taylor Sheridan], ‘You know, I can’t imagine a scenario where James ever sleeps in this entire show. With all the decisions he had to make, all the worry that he had, all the doubt.’”

“I don’t think it was in the Dutton genetics to turn around and stop,” McGraw continued. “Certainly there was doubt every day about what he had gotten his family into, and you read it in his eyes a lot of the time when things were going badly …. He’s a tough guy, but he cared a lot about everybody that was on that trip. He may not have shown it, but you could see by his actions, he put his life on the line for everybody, constantly.”

Do the Duttons make it to Oregon in ‘1883’ episode 10?

Do the Duttons make it all the way to Oregon in 1883 episode 10? Viewers will have to wait and see where they decide to settle. James tells Margaret Dutton in 1883 episode 9 that where they bury Elsa will be where they stay. And Yellowstone fans know the Dutton family ranch resides in Montana. Putting all the clues together, it seems James and Margaret don’t make it to Oregon and instead stay in Montana.

With that in mind, Sam Elliott told Esquire that production shot scenes in Oregon. “That’s where our last days of production are,” he explained. “We’re going to be on the Oregon coast to shoot just a small portion.” This could mean Shea and Thomas continue on their travels while the Duttons stay behind.

1883 episode 10 airs Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, on Paramount+.

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