Duttons past is set up for future problems in Prequel series

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Taylor Sheridan’s Recent Yellowstone Spin-off/prequel doesn’t waste time in putting a shotgun into one of its stars. But it’s not Harrison Ford’s Jacob Dutton is seen hunting down a man wounded in the woods. But, rather Helen Mirren’s Cara Dutton, who is serving up some lethal frontier justice.

The explosive opening unfolds without much context and gives way to a familiar face: 1883‘s Elsa Dutton’s child was doomed (Isabel May() calmly narrates about the family’s unfortunate penchant to be followed up by violence. These thoughts lead her to an unexpected scene in Africa where a big-game hunter is almost killed by a lion.

1923

Emerson Miller/Paramount+ Harrison Ford portrays Jacob Dutton, Jerome Flynn plays Banner Creighton

The first five minutes of confusion are followed by a close up of Jacob, brother of 1883James Dutton, a member of the’s James DuttonTim McGraw). Ford’s rugged character can be seen as he surveys a land plagued with drought and locusts. He and other men on horseback – including his nephew John Dutton Sr. (James Badge DaleLast seen as a baby boy in 1883 – have discovered that much of the Dutton herd has succumbed to these hard times.

As you can see, there are streets filled with women who support prohibition and madder cattle and sheep ranchers. These two groups meet in a town hall meeting where Jacob and other livestock officials discuss a simmering tension in which Dutton is involved. Desperate to feed their starving animals, the sheep herders – led by Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn) – have allowed their flock to cross into private land, including some of Dutton’s, reserved for cattle.

Bottom line: Both sheep and steers have to eat, but there isn’t enough grazing land. This has resulted in an increase in “ranch warfare”, with cowboys trespassing on sheep. Jacob and Banner fight over the matter outside, shortly after the meeting. Before the sheriff breaks down their argument, a pistol-packing Jacob said that “stealing a man’s grass is like taking his steers.”

1923

1923

Emerson Miller/Paramount+ Harrison Ford plays Jacob Dutton. James Badge Dale is John Dutton Sr.

John and Jacob meet next with Montana Livestock Association members. The ranchers then decide to put their cattle together, and move them onto greener pastures. It’s a risky and necessary, all-hands-on deck affair. John’s young son Jack (Darren Mann) will be helping with the move.

Jack’s fiance Elizabeth (Michelle Randolph), doesn’t like the news that her big day must be postponed in order for her future husband to run cattle up a mountain. He might even propose to marry a cow and christen their union on the summit. Soon, Cara arrives to impart some wisdom to the bride-to be and teach her the ups & downs of being married as a rancher. The girl settles down and accepts that the cattle will always win. Jack then runs after her for a passionate reunion.

Banner was still not learning his lesson that evening. Banner and his large herd find a fence blocking some fertile ground. With barely a thought to the potential consequences – or the pistol Jacob put in his face just hours before –  he orders his men to cut an opening through the fence and let the animals feed.

1923

1923

Emerson Miller/Paramount+ Helen Mirren plays Cara Dutton; Brian Geraghty plays Zane

The seeds of future conflict are planted and we’re transported back to Africa. Here, the hunter is now asleep on a train. An attendant wakes him up after a nightmare about his time in World War I. He pulls his gun again on her and quickly apologizes. He has arrived to do a job that involves hunting and killing a “leopard as big as a sofa”, which is terrorizing high-society camp members on a safari vacation.

This mysterious hunter’s exploits are matched by Jacob’s ranch war woes. 1923 The story takes a confusing and long detour. We’re introduced to Teonna Rainwater (Aminah Nieves,) a young native woman – and presumed ancestor of Yellowstone‘s Thomas Rainwater –  who’s forced to attend an American Indian boarding school, controversial institutions established at the time to assimilate Native American children into the white man’s world.

She was verbally and physical abused at school by Sister Alice (Kerry o’ Malley), a ruler-wielding nun; then Father Renaud, (Sebastian Roche). After the brutal encounters, she tells a friend that they have never heard from their family or friends who left the school since. She believes they have all been murdered and suggests that they escape, unless they wish to be the same fate.

1923

1923

Emerson Miller/Paramount+ Helen Mirren plays Cara Dutton

We return to Dutton land and meet Jacob and his cowboys, as they move the cattle up the mountain. Jack continues on and spots the Banner-permitted grazing sheep. Jack is spotted by a horseback rider who watches the herd and raises his gun. However, the episode cuts back towards the ranch and we are left wondering where the bullet came from.

This is one of the two cliffhangers that we are presented with in the premiere’s final minutes. The leopard hunter finds himself in a, um, hairy predicament. The hunter has found his target but not before the beast makes a meal of a tourist. This was a woman who had been in a relationship with the hunter. One of his tracker partners shouts that the leopard is actually on the prowl. The second leopard leaps towards him just as the screen goes dark.

Here’s what really matters. We learn the identity of the man via a letter Cara writes to him shortly before all this happens. Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar), the hunter, is the youngest son of 1883James and Margaret are the authorsFaith Hill(,), who was born after the series ended. Spencer is the only survivor of John Sutton Sr. 1883‘s Montana-settling clan. Cara writes to her “Dearest Spencer” asking for her return to the Dutton ranch. Spencer apparently went to Africa after the war.

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