Summary The 1883 ending of the Yellowstone prequel series provides important insight into the difficulties the Dutton family faced in establishing their ranch. Elsa's death in the 1883 ending marked the end of one chapter for the Dutton family and foreshadowed tensions between Indigenous American communities and the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch in present times. The 1883 ending sets the stage for future series in the Yellowstone franchise, including the spinoff 1923, and explores the roots of conflicts that drive the Yellowstone universe.
1883's ending painted a stark picture of how those who were part of the Westward Expansion survived, loved, and died along the journey. Heartbreakingly, Elsa was mortally wounded and picked the spot in Paradise Valley where she wanted James to bury her. Meanwhile, a year after Josef's (Marc Rissmann) wife died and his leg had to be amputated, he finally removed his wedding ring and prepared to rebuild his home. Additionally, Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) and Noemi's (Gratiela Brancusi) family also find a spot in Oregon where they settle. As for Shea, he finally reached the beach, and there, he took his own life.
Elsa's death signaled the end of the first chapter in the story of the Duttons of Yellowstone. Elsa wasn't just the narrator – she was the very heart and soul of 1883. In short, it was simply time for Elsa to die, which heralded the beginning of an entirely new chapter for the Duttons.
In the end, Shea Brennan fulfilled his personal quest to see the ocean before he died. Amid the crashing of the waves, Shea admired the ocean while remembering his wife, who died of smallpox during the pilot episode of 1883. Like Elsa, Shea is one of the 1883 characters who can't be in the 1923 cast, because he also died in the finale. After a hummingbird appeared and hovered around Shea for some time before flying away — implying his wife was there to enjoy the beach with him in spirit — Shea followed through with his plan to shoot himself.