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SPOILERS BELOW FOR VARIOUS EPISODES OF 1883
1883 contained many emotional scenes. One of the first moments that tore viewers apart was when Ennis died at the end of Episode Five. He was killed during a conflict with a bunch of bandits.
Ennis’ death was made all the more heartbreaking since he and Elsa had just been intimate for the first time. They were loosely engaged to be married when he died.
Elsa was understandably devastated over Ennis’ passing. She retaliated by killing one of the bandits who survived.
The Dutton daughter spent the next episode deeply grieving Ennis’ death. She was only able find some comfort after she fell asleep outside and had a dream about him.
Elsa eventually found new love with the Comanche warrior Sam, who she considered to be her husband. Episodes later, it was Sam who Elsa saw in her version of heaven after she died at the end of the series’ finale.
Our beloved narrator’s death was hinted at from the first scene of Episode One. The flashback scene showed her being shot through the stomach with an arrow during a battle against a bunch of Lakota men.
We finally revisited this scene in Episode Nine. Elsa was shot in the liver and developed an infection from the wound. Realizing her death was inevitable, James and Margaret made the decision to settle wherever she died.
That place ended up being the home of the future Yellowstone ranch. Elsa asked to choose her own burial site, and she selected a place under a large tree in the Paradise Valley. She died in her father James’ arms.
“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.”
Another actor who was left in tears over the finale was Eric Nelsen, who played Ennis.
He and Isabel May (who played Elsa) hopped on a video call after the finale to chat about their experiences filming the show. Although Nelsen did not appear in the finale, he did get the chance to read the script.
“It was a two-part death that made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried reading something in my entire life,” Nelsen said.
Nelsen says he doesn’t cry easily, but the scripts for Episodes Nine and Ten left him “breaking down and bawling like a baby.”
Elsa’s death hit Nelsen extra hard since he can place himself in James and Margaret Dutton’s shoes. Nelsen has a two-year-old daughter in real life, and can’t imagine what it would be like to lose her:
“As a father of a little girl, I couldn’t help but imagine picturing myself in James Dutton’s shoes,” Nelsen said. “And thinking about what it would be like knowing I only had a matter of hours or days left with my baby girl.”
Nelsen went into further detail about how Elsa’s death made him feel. “It truly ripped my heart open,” he said. “And of course my tissue box too, that thing was destroyed.”
You can listen to Nelsen and May’s full conversation in the video below. It’s interesting to hear their thoughts and feelings about their characters and 1883 as a whole.