*** Caution, spoilers for the season 1 finale of 1883 are ahead ***
“1883” ended its first season in brutal fashion. The “Yellowstone” prequel starring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw wrapped its 10-episode season by killing off both their onscreen daughter, Elsa Dutton (Isabel May), and Pinkerton agent Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott).
It was the former death that really struck a chord with fans, and they weren’t shy about their shock and sadness when they took to Twitter to mourn the loss of the show’s narrator.
“I’m traumatized,” one person wrote of Elsa’s death, which came after she was hit with an arrow in a previous episode.
“I’m unwell. I’m shattered,” another person tweeted, with a third adding that “tears were shed tonight.”
“#1883 is a near-perfect stand-alone series,” one fan wrote. “I sobbed watching the brutality, but also the journey of 18-yr-old Elsa Dutton’s untamed spirit.”
#1883 was a beautiful standalone. Looking forward to seeing what they have in store for 1932. Loved Elsa as a narrator. Tears were shed tonight. pic.twitter.com/qRwSADrEv1
— Hope Ortego (@HopeOrtego) February 28, 2022
McGraw and Hill had the same reactions as fans.
“When we got the final two, we literally couldn’t read them to each other because we were crying so much—I mean, ugly, boohoo crying,” McGraw told Variety. “I was a blubbering idiot.”
The two had to read the script to each other since they couldn’t get through it without crying.
“He [McGraw] couldn’t read it because he was bawling,” Hill said. “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.”
Even though it was hard to make it through it, they both knew it would make for great television.
“I know fans are gonna hate it and love it at the same time,” McGraw said. “That’s what good TV, good music, good movies, good art, good books, all those things, do. They bring out those emotions in you. It’s going to be a good thing that they hate that ending, because it has to be that way and they know it. It’s gonna be devastating.”
Hill added, “I cannot. It’s really hard, even now, to talk about, because once the tears start coming, I can’t stop them. I would tell the directors, if we start going, it’s going to be hard for me to stop. It’s painful.”
As for why Elsa had to die, “1883” creator Taylor Sheridan explained to Deadline, “To me, she represents the innocence and hope that is unique to Americans and it has to do with the fact we’re such a young country.”
“I wanted her to be that one vibrant thing, and never lose that as she became wiser through the journey,” he said. “Even at the very end, she clings to it, she sees the world in colour, through these dreamer eyes and they never quit dreaming.”
“I wanted that beacon, whereas everyone else in the entire thing has experienced extreme hardship,” he continued. “At that period of time, you’re coming out of one of the darkest periods of our nation’s history. And that’s still so ingrained in everyone.”
When it comes to how May felt about her character’s ending, the actress took to Instagram on Monday to share a black-and-white photo of Elsa, which she captioned with a yellow heart emoji.
ET spoke to May after her onscreen love, Ennis, died in an earlier “1883” episode. At the time, May explained why, as an actress, she liked exploring heavy topics like grief and death.
“I may sound like a masochist but I like stuff like that. I have a very nice, wonderful, happy life — I’m so fortunate to live that life — and therefore it’s really interesting to me to have to put yourself in that kind of situation where you’re experiencing such raw emotions,” she said. “I certainly hope I never find myself in that position personally, selfishly, but it is very fun to dip your toes into that.”
May’s on-set experience certainly differed from her character’s time on screen. In a joint interview with Hill, May gushed about sharing the screen with the country star.
“She’s one-of-a-kind. She’s the loveliest person I’ve ever met,” May told ET, before telling Hill directly, “I’m very lucky to work with you.”
While May was killed off of “1883”, Sheridan told Deadline that he’s eager to work with her, and Elliott, again in the future.
“She’s a remarkable actor, a generational talent, and I would love to find other things to do,” Sheridan said of May, before adding of Elliott, “There’s an icon, someone I’ve admired my whole life, and to get a chance to work with him is a treat, just really special.”
Season 1 of “1883” is now streaming on Paramount+.
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