What happens in the season finale of 1883?

Isabel May shines as the fate of Elsa unfolds in the 1883 season finale “This Is Not Your Heaven.”
Pictured: Sam Elliott as Shea of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson
Pictured: Sam Elliott as Shea of the Paramount+ original series 1883. Photo Cr: Emerson /

The season finale of 1883, "This Is Not Your Heaven," ties up the storyline and connects it with the greater Yellowstone universe. We break down the biggest moments of the episode below.

In the finale, Elsa makes it to the fort but, unfortunately, collapses upon arrival. James carries his daughter inside to get examined but what little hope he had left quickly diminishes, as her liver is swollen and there’s not much they can do for her. The major suggests they take her to Fort Laramie. Their fort has been abandoned and even if they get her to Fort Laramie and she survives, the sepsis will get her shortly after. They’ll be lucky if she even gets to say goodbye.

"The numbing shock of war is behind me now. Pain has taken its place. Hurts to move. Hurts to breathe. The back of my head throbs with every step of my horse. I look at the world through the hazy lens of fever and somehow see it clearer."

Elsa Dutton

James walks with his wife and explains to her that they can wait out the last of Elsa’s days there. The deputy they killed is connected to this fort and soon they’ll be on the end of another hunt for their lives. They must go north towards Bozeman and take their chances in the Montana winter.

"We ain’t gonna lay her to rest here. We keep heading north. Where she dies, that’s where we stay. She’ll be with us. And you can visit her anytime you want.”"

James Dutton

In a compelling moment, Margaret replies to her husband, “Oh, I’ll be there everyday. Until you put me in the ground beside her.”

What happens to Colton and Wade in the 1883 finale?

The cowboys no longer need to push cattle for the caravan, so there's no use for them to stay and travel with them. The time has come for them to head back home to Texas., so they share a somber goodbye with Elsa. Colton teases her and says she will always be the one who got away.

"I wonder what became of them. Wonder if they staked their claim in Wyoming and built sod houses, bought cattle, and tried to scratch a life from this place. Or perhaps they fought the winter and braved their way to Oregon, laying stakes in the emerald fields of the Willamette Valley. But I’d seen too much of this world, knew too much about the nature of man to think either would be their future. Another future awaited them, and it lay in the abyss of unmarked graves along the Oregon Trail."

Elsa Dutton

Does Josef ever make it to Oregon in the 1883 finale?

Josef does manage to escape the Oregon Trail with his life but he has to leave his leg behind. The infection and sepsis from the snake bite were killing him, so the only way to save his life was for Thomas to take it. His wife Rissa unfortunately is not so lucky and she succumbs to her injuries. He goes on to fulfill their dreams without her and a year later he takes off his wedding ring. This, perhaps, is an act of allowing himself to move on.

Elsa and James ride along the Montana trail. Elsa takes in the beauty and says they should have aimed for Montana from the start. They don’t know what Oregon looks like; only its own settlers will know that. But where they are now is sure hard to beat. Elsa’s greatest fear about dying is being forgotten. It terrifies her. But Elsa does wonder if the others will make it to Wyoming. James doesn’t think they’ll make it out of Wyoming.

Does Elsa Dutton survive in the 1883 finale?

Three natives on horses come galloping towards James and Elsa. They are only there to aid, but Elsa doesn’t know that at first. She has been through so much trauma and even though she’s getting weaker by the hour, she sprints off with her horse. Shea comes upon them. They are from the Crow Tribe and wish no harm. The leader, Spotted Eagle, calls for a doctor after Shea lets them know she was shot by a Lakota arrow. They place her in the creek to try and stop the bleeding in the ice-cold water.

Spotted Eagle speaks to James informing him that the Lakota dip their arrows in manure so a hit is fatal. James knows what is coming and they both know she’s going to die. A hit to the liver alone without poison is hard enough to come back from. James knows they will have to find a resting place fast, and the place they will spend the rest of their days. The Native American tells him he knows a place for them in a valley a little south of the river. The winters are harsh but in the summer they can thrive. The valley is called paradise. But in seven generations, his people will rise up and take it back. He only asks that James lets his family hunt in the valley. James has no reservations about that.

Elsa has been through so much in her short life. She has come to terms with the fact she knows she’s dying. All she wishes is that she gets to pick the spot where she will be buried and the spot she will be forever remembered. Soon Elsa picks the perfect spot for her against the tree that overlooks the glorious view of Montana. James holds his daughter and sits for a while. They talk about their very first memories before she passes on. Her memory is of a bird and how smart they were. It becomes her first and last memory. Elsa's very last words are that she understands it now and she's not scared to die. She understands it's her time and she's ready.

Do Noemi and Thomas end up together in the 1883 finale?

In a moment by the fire, Noemi finally asks the burning question of what is going to become of them when they reach Oregon. Thomas says they will find a valley with some good water. A place with no people to stake it out and make it theirs. Once the journey is over, everything will go back to normal and they will create a new life and new family. They do, in fact, make it to Oregon, and Thomas stakes land by the river. Noemi's boys are extremely excited to finally have a place to call home after the perilous adventure.

1883: She has outlived us all

"I’ve lost a daughter too. Time will come when you blame yourself. Think it’s your fault. For giving her some much rein. Maybe it is your fault. But I’ll say this: I’ve watched this girl for the last six months and she has outlived us all. I’m 75 years old and she has out-smiled me, out-loved me, out-fought me. She’s outlived me. She’s outlived all of us."

Shea Brennan

The scenes between Shea and Elsa have been one of the best joys of 1883. And together they share one last scene goodbye in their life after Margaret says goodbye to her. She can’t make the trip with them in time enough for Elsa to pick a resting place. It would take the wagon a week to get there. The last thing she ever says to Elsa is that she will see her in the valley. Shea hopes she proves them all wrong and somehow survives her wounds, because if anyone can, it would be her. But if she can’t, Elsa tells the old cowboy that she’ll meet him on the beach and he will save her a spot. He keeps the rest of the Duttons protected.

Shea makes it to the coast like he always promised his wife. He takes in the magnificent beauty of the sunset and the waves crashing toward him. After seeing a hummingbird fly in his face, it comes to a standstill longer than any hummingbird should. This suggests that Elsa really does meet him on the beach. Shea takes his life from the barrel of his own gun. It’s time for him, too. He’s lived long enough without his wife Helen. It's time for him to come home.

"There is a moment where your dreams and your memories merge together, and form a perfect world. That is heaven. And each heaven is unique. It is the world of you. The land is filled with all you hold dear. And the sky is your imagination. My heaven is filled with good horses and open plains and wild cattle and a man who loves me. "

Elsa Dutton

Elsa Dutton’s heaven shows Sam there and the two racing off together for all of eternity. It’s always sunrise in her world, with no storms. She is the only lightning. Her life may have been cut short but she lived life in a way that so many can only dream of. Elsa had such an impact on all the lives she came in contact with. There will never be another.

Elsa's body remains buried in the spot she had chosen that fateful day and the Dutton family has built an empire around her. Fate has a strange way of working out in the end despite all the turmoil it took to get there. 1883 depicts the story of the Dutton family's origin and how they came to the land of Montana. It shows the risks, their strife, and their cost. Elsa is their ultimate cost and in the end, it’s the way it was always meant to go. Her spirit still carries on through the generations of the Dutton family. Elsa is anything but forgotten.

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