The Duttons’ family tree slowly becomes clearer in 1923. While the Taylor Sheridan series has kept things muddled (actors across the Yellowstone franchise can’t even figure out how their characters are related), 1923 The shocking ending of Episode 3 seems to have clarified things about the family line.
1923 Episode 3 saw the bitter end of James Badge Dale’s John Dutton, Sr., who until now was presumed to be the great-grandfather of Kevin Costner’s John Dutton III. His death calls that into question, and Dale told TV Insider he was just as confused as the rest of us, saying he had “no idea” who John, Sr. was for John III. “If anyone understands it, they can let me know [laughs].”
“We talked about it all the time on set, and we couldn’t figure it out,” he said. “I know Luke Grimes [Kacey Dutton in Yellowstone], and he would call me and say, ‘I don’t know how we’re related either.’ We were trying to understand. I think Taylor probably planned a few more curveballs.
John’s death itself was a curveball that made the narrative in 1923 Episode 1 makes sense. The second scene of the prequel premiere features a narration of the tomb of 1883is Elsa Dutton (Isabel May). His words speak volumes about the fate of his two younger brothers, John and Spencer (played by Dale and Brandon Sklenar in 1923).
Elsa, John and Spencer are the children of John and Margaret Dutton (the characters of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill in 1883). In her 1923 narration, Elsa said that of her parents’ three children, “only one would live to see his own children grow up. Only one would carry the fate of this family through depression and all the other hells the 20th century threw at them.
The voiceover came as viewers watched Spencer walk through an African landscape carrying a dead lion with her hunting partners. It was the first hint that it would be Spencer to carry on the family name. And now that Elsa and John, Sr. are both dead, it seems even more likely.
But John’s son, Jack (Darren Mann), could also continue the line. Who made John a Sr.? Here we break down the possibilities.
Who is the father of John Dutton III?
The birth of the second John Dutton could probably be seen in 1923. We initially speculated that Emma Dutton (Marley Shelton) would reveal she’s pregnant after John’s death, or that we’d learn that Jack is a nickname for John and Mann’s young cowboy is actually a Jr.
Then we remembered one key thing: John III’s father was not John, Jr. He was John II (played by Dabney Coleman in Yellowstone Season 2). A junior is named after their parent, but an “II” can be a niece/nephew, grandchild, etc. of a family member.
Who is the father of John Dutton II?
It seems very likely that Spencer or Jack, who are both currently in the throes of heated romances, will have a son and name him John Dutton II after the late John. If Spencer is the father of John II, that would make him the grandfather of John III. If Jack is John II’s father, that would make John, Sr. John III’s great-grandfather.
The shooting that killed John, Sr. injured Jack and his fiancee, Elizabeth Strafford (Michelle Randolph), but it didn’t seem fatal (and despite his numerous injuries, we really doubt Harrison Ford’s Jacob Dutton will die from so soon), but we don’t yet know if Elizabeth’s gunshot wound will affect her ability to conceive.
Helen Mirren’s Cara Dutton wrote to Spencer urging her to return to Montana from Africa after her brother was murdered. If he comes home, he’ll probably have his new fiancée, Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer) on his arm. Either of these marriages could result in the birth of John II.
Elsa’s narration says it will be one of James and Margaret’s children who will carry on the family legacy through the years. Although it seems very likely that it’s Spencer now, it’s not impossible that she could have been referring to John’s son, Sr. But given how 1923 positions Spencer as a more important character than Jack, our money is that Spencer is John III’s grandfather.