1883: Is Elsa Dead? How She Can Survive The Lethal Arrow

1883's protagonist and narrator Elsa Dutton has suffered a grievous wound that's slowly killing her. However, there are many ways for Elsa to survive.

1883 season 1, episode 9 “Racing Clouds” sees Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) getting shot by an arrow that impales her torso and threatens to slowly kill her with an infection – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the character is bound for death. This scene finally explains what led to the violent opening scenes of 1883’s pilot episode, during which Elsa grabs a pistol and shoots a mounted Indigenous American warrior, who simultaneously shoots and impales Elsa’s stomach with an arrow. After resisting the urge to commit suicide following the death of her first love Ennis (Eric Nelsen), and then surviving a hurricane only to leave her Comanche husband Sam (Martin Sensmeier) behind so she can be with the Duttons, Elsa once again faces yet another seemingly insurmountable challenge. This time, as an actual physical infection threatens to kill Elsa, her chances of survival are slim. That said, no one on the entire cast of 1883 is tougher than its protagonist and narrator Elsa Dutton.

Rubbing salt on Elsa’s potentially lethal wound is the fact that the skirmish stemmed from a huge misunderstanding. The band of Lakota warriors that brutally attacked Elsa’s caravan mistook them for horse thieves who slaughtered a nearby Lakota settlement next to the Oregon Trail. James Dutton (Tim McGraw), Shea Brennan (Sam Elliot), and Thomas (LaMonica Garrett) manage to find and kill the thieves, but are too late to stop the Lakota from gravely wounding Elsa, who barely survives the skirmish. Fortunately, Elsa’s wearing pants again and has healed up enough to be able to get back on her horse.

1883‘s finale is on the horizon, and Elsa’s fate will determine whether or not fans will want to tune in for 1883 season 2. In the last scenes of 1883 episode 9 “Racing Clouds,” Elsa narrates how she sees past James’ smile, and that her father looks at her “As if he were already mourning. As if I were already gone.” That said, Elsa’s mother Margaret (Faith Hill) also confirms that Elsa isn’t running a fever, suggesting that the arrow wound isn’t infected and that Elsa is getting better. In fact, there’s even more evidence to suggest that it’s not the end of the line for the toughest Dutton. Here’s why Elsa may well survive in 1883

Is Elsa Dead? Why 1883 Won’t Kill Her Off

1883 can’t kill off Elsa for the same reason that John Dutton (Kevin Costner) made it to Yellowstone season 5 despite getting even more severely injured – they’re the protagonists of their respective westerns. The role typically comes with preternatural toughness and grit – the only way to survive in the Wild West. Elsa is the John Dutton of 1883 – not James – making her the very heart and soul of the series. Considering Elsa’s prominence and popularity as a character, and the fact that 1883 has been confirmed to be renewed for a second season, it’s highly unlikely that Elsa will die in the 1883 season 1 finale. Despite any understandable concerns for her well-being, on a practical level, it would seem a strange narrative decision to dispense with such a central figure.

The Doctors At Fort Caspar Could Save Elsa

Depending on what the Duttons find at Fort Caspar, they could be convinced to let the residents attempt to save Elsa. As James explains, the doctors there are bound to have medicines and other methods for dealing with infections. Indeed, while doctors were in short supply in the late 1800s, they could typically be found at military forts, treating diseases like smallpox and cholera as well as infections and wounds from battle. Like James, Shea is also on the lookout for doctors who can tend to the German and Romanian migrants in the caravan, as nearly everyone who survived the attack also suffered terrible injuries. Although penicillin wasn’t discovered until the early 1900s, military doctors in the late 1800s were already vaccinating soldiers for diseases and developing specialized methods for treating battle wounds. They could conceivably save Elsa and the others who were wounded in the attack.

Elsa’s Comanche Husband Sam Could Save Elsa With Peyote

Another way for Elsa to survive would be through the use of peyote, which has been a staple in various Indigenous American rituals since ancient times. Elsa’s husband Sam could decide to go after Elsa and catch up to the caravan in Fort Caspar, and Sam could either have peyote with him or know how to find fresh peyote nearby. In the same way that the Yellowstone season 4 ending tapped into a sacred Lakota ritual to save Kayce, Elsa could be saved by indigenous healing methods associated with the Comanche. While more commonly known as a psychedelic, peyote has well-documented healing properties. In the late 1800s, Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanche, survived getting gored by a bull after he was given a strong peyote tea by a Mexican curandera. In later clinical studies, an extract of peyote was found to have antibiotic properties against several penicillin-resistant bacteria. As the wife of a Comanche warrior, Elsa could be healed by the same method that saved the last Comanche chief – congruent with how Indigenous and white cultures are intertwined in Taylor Sheridan’s neo-Western universe.

Elsa Could Be Healed By The Yellowstone Springs

1883‘s caravan has come a long way since Fort Worth, Texas. By the end of 1883 episode 9 “Racing Clouds,” the caravan is just hours away from Fort Caspar in Wyoming. The Duttons may not have a route or plan, but it’s clear that they’re headed towards the future site of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, which is several hundred miles from Fort Caspar. This means that it’s conceivable for Elsa to still reach Yellowstone and experience the natural healing properties of the hot springs. Again, this echoes John Dutton’s own experience in Yellowstone, in which the hot springs within the Dutton property help John recover from his injuries. Moreover, as James is convinced that Elsa will die, he might not even plan to stop at Fort Caspar. James and Margaret could follow through with their plan to show Elsa the beauty of the world and ultimately find a place where they can bury Elsa and visit her grave – only to discover the healing properties of Yellowstone’s many hot springs. This could be what convinces the Duttons to settle, setting the stage not just for Yellowstone, but also for the upcoming spinoff 1932. While the idea of Elsa surviving such a lengthy journey might seem scientifically farfetched, it would add a poetic symmetry to the events of 1883.

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