1923 Finale Recap: A Dark Age in Dutton Family History — Plus, Grade It!

Banner Creighton’s bullets couldn’t stop 1923‘s Jacob, but the series’ Season 1 finale finds a weapon even more likely to put the Dutton family patriarch in the ground: Donald Whitfield’s pen.

Because with just a few strokes and his signature, Whitfield pulls off a backhanded move that threatens to deliver all of the Yellowstone’s land right into the greedy miner’s hands. The look on Jake’s face at the end of the hour, when he realizes what he’s poised to lose, is far more gutting than when his gunshot wounds were bleeding buckets onto the kitchen floor.

Elsewhere, Teonna makes for Wyoming, and Alexandra and Spencer hit another sizeable bump in their road back to Montana. Geez, we’ll be lucky if they make it there by the end of Season 2.

Read on for what goes down in “Nothing Left to Lose,” then make sure to check out Brandon Sklenar’s thoughts on the newest roadblock in Spencer and Alexandra’s path to Montana.

‘I BELIEVE IN RIGHT NOW’ | Teonna’s father finds her inside Hank’s shelter; Hank and the two priests who came for her lie dead outside. She’s sore but otherwise OK, so he leads her to her horse, saying they’ve got to go before more people come looking for her. On the way, she sees he’s dressed Hank’s body for burial and written “Child killer” in blood on the priests’ bare torsos. Hank’s son, Pete, introduces himself just before the trio rides off.

The detectives who are looking for Teonna have Father Renaud join them on their ride. Eventually, they find all the dead priests and surmise that Teonna and her helpers are heading for the Comanche reservation. The white men plan to take the train, so “when they get there, we’ll be waiting.”

That night, Pete and Teonna flirt by the fire, and her father sternly tells them to postpone that nonsense until later, after they’re safe. “They’ve been trying to kill me since they took me,” she says, making a point of taking Pete’s hand. “I don’t believe in later. I believe in right now.” After her father goes to bed, Teonna kisses Pete on the cheek and snuggles into his side when he extends an arm. But it becomes a bittersweet moment when she starts to sob, and he holds her while she cries.

1923-finale-recap-season-1-episode-8CREIGHTON GOES FREE? | Jacob and his men ride into Bozeman and are irked when they see that the hitching post outside the courthouse has been taken down in favor of parking spaces. There’s a bit of “Grumble grumble progress grumble grumble” as they go inside to sit in the gallery as Banner Creighton is arraigned. He pleads not guilty. Then his lawyer approaches the bench and asks for a dismissal, citing a lack of evidence as well as the Dutton gang’s hanging of Creighton and his men. There’s a slight legal complication with the warrant, as well, and so the judge releases Creighton without bail.

The cocky Scot taunts Jacob and Jack Dutton on the way out. “This don’t end in court. It ends in a field in front of your f–king house,” he says. “If that’s where you want to die, I’m more than happy to help you out,” Jake tells him. Later, when Creighton rails against the Duttons, Whitfield advocates for patience. “If you think about it, generational wealth is the closest thing a man can have to immortality,” he says, advising that Creighton think logically. “Dutton loves his land. He loves it. And we will take it from him,” the mogul says — but via the pen, not the gun.

Then Whitfield goes upstairs, where he’s apparently keeping the two sex workers we met in the previous episode. “The pleasure is in the power,” he counsels Lindy, the woman he’s tasked with using a belt to hurt her friend, Christy. And when she goes back to her task, she seems to take his words to heart. Then he has the women swap places, and Christy goes to town on Lindy with a vengeance.

LOAN RANGER | When Jake rides into town to go to the bank, Zane asks for — and gets — the night off so he can spend it with his family. While he rides off (and is observed by Clyde, the livestock agent in Whitfield’s employ), the bank turns down a loan for Jake, who wants the money to buy hay for his cows. Instead, the banker suggests a mortgage, an idea which Dutton soundly refuses; he doesn’t want to leave his family with debt after his death. The banker points out that Jacob’s kin will be left with debt either way, but Jake stomps off without money (or a plan). As he leaves, one of the tellers surreptitiously makes a phone call.

Zane eats supper with his wife, Alice, as well as his son and daughter, then spends some time in the shower with his missus before they retire to the bedroom. Unbeknownst to them, however, Clyde is creeping around outside, peeking in on the proceedings. And the next day, some law-enforcement officials show up at the door and arrest Alice, who is Asian, for miscegenation. When Zane steps in, the men beat him unconscious.

1923-finale-recap-season-1-episode-8TWO HITS IN QUICK SUCCESSION | Back at the Yellowstone, Elizabeth is having belly pain; when she starts bleeding, it’s not long before she miscarries. “It’s my one purpose on this planet. If I can’t do it, then what the hell am I here for?” she cries to Jack later. But he points out that Cara doesn’t have children, but she raised him and Spencer nevertheless. “I look at my aunt, and all I see is purpose,” he says gently. “Maybe that’s your purpose, too.”

The next day, Cara finds Jacob sitting outside, squeezing a towel. When she questions him about it, he sheepishly admits that he can’t feel his fingers and was hoping the exercise would help. “You’re lucky I love you so much. If I didn’t, I’d ride out into those mountains with a bottle of whiskey, and I’d sit under a tree, and I would not come down,” he says. “That’s how much I hate getting old, watching my body betray me.”

They’re interrupted by the arrival of Whitfield and two men, whose visit soon turns into an armed standoff between the Dutton and Whitflield camps. Cara marches into the middle of it and yells at the miner to have some decency; he laughs in an incredibly punchable way and instructs his men to stand down. Jacob grudgingly does the same. Then Whitfield gets down to why he came: He and the Duttons hold the most land in Montana, but he knows the family is behind on the first of its property-tax payments for the year. “I took the liberty of paying it for you. Hefty penny you owed,” he says smarmily, handing Jacob the bill and informing him that if the Duttons don’t repay him by the end of the year, “the deed reverts to me.” When Cara angrily questions why Whitfield would do such a thing, he says, “Because I can. I’m a businessman. The word ‘decent’ doesn’t apply to me.” As Whitfield drives away, Jacob is bereft.

Cara writes to Spencer, telling him he’s the family’s only hope and that he must hurry home “or there will be nothing left to fight for.” But she crumples the paper and, looking miserable, slowly walks back to the house.

1923-finale-recap-season-1-episode-8STORMY SEAS | Spencer and Alexandra board the Majestic, a massive ship bound for London. And as it turns out, her former fiancé, Arthur, is also going home on the same boat. The new Mrs. Dutton is rather seasick, so she heads up on deck and runs into one of her former bridesmaids, who reports that Arthur is a wreck and warns that things with Spencer won’t last. “He’s a hunter, Alexandra. And when the chase is done, he will find something else to hunt,” she says. Alex holds up her left hand, showing her friend her wedding band. “The chase is done,” she replies, smiling. Her friend is scandalized, saying that everyone will turn their back on her. “They won’t get the chance,” Alex says. Her pal struts away soon after, but Alex is galvanized.

“Tonight we dine in the grand hall,” she announces to Spencer. “I’m done hiding.” So they use credit to procure a suit for him and a shiny, beaded dress for her. Arthur is incensed to see them at the meal that evening. “The girl is lost, son. Don’t lose your dignity with her,” his father whispers. Young Arthur doesn’t listen. When he and the bridesmaid accidentally collide with Spencer and Alex on the dance floor, Arthur makes a loud scene. Spencer gets real close to him and whispers, “You’ve got about 30 seconds of bulls–ting me, then I’m going to mop the f—king floor with you.” Then Mr. and Mrs. Dutton continue their dance, deciding that Arthur won’t shape the rest of their evening.

Unfortunately, no one gives Arthur that memo. So after staring daggers at the couple all night, he marches over to Spencer and slaps him with a glove, challenging him to a duel. “I kill for a living. You do not want him to fight me,” Spencer tells Arthur’s dad. “No, I do not,” the older man agrees. (Ha!) It seems like that’s settled… but then Arthur calls Alex a “whore” in front of the entire dining room, and despite her plea for Spencer to ignore him, he can’t. He punches him to the floor and agrees to the duel, allowing Arthur to choose the weapon. “What a lovely mess you’ve made of my family,” Arthur’s dad says to Alexandra as he exits. “And what an embarrassment you’ve become to yours.”

Everyone goes up to the deck for the fight. Arthur chooses swords, an instrument with which Spencer has zero experience. But Dutton swiftly and surely hands the Brit his behind, anyway. But Arthur won’t yield, and even when Spencer has bloodied him twice, he grabs a gun and comes after him again. Spencer is standing near the rail and, in a terrible combination of pushing Arthur away but also using his momentum against him, winds up pitching Alex’s former fiancé over the rail and into the water. And when the ship’s officials arrive, at first, no one assembled will speak up to back Alex’s assertion that Spencer had put down his weapon and was merely protecting himself from Arthur and his pistol. Eventually Jennifer, the former bridesmaid, finds the courage to speak up. Still, Spencer is taken to the brig, and Alex is held in her quarters.

ANOTHER BUMP IN THE ROAD TO BOZEMAN | The next day, Spencer is brought before the captain and told that the charges are being dropped… but he’s also being ordered off the ship. Alex, however, has to stay, because Arthur’s father questions the legality of her marriage. Also, she’s some sort of royal? Jennifer helps Alexandra escape from her room, but it’s too late: Spencer’s already getting lowered in the dinghy that will carry him to shore. He shouts his love for her, she screams hers back. Then she waves one of Cara’s letters in the air and hollers that she’ll meet him in Bozeman.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the finale? What are your predictions for Season 2? Grade the episode via the poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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