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1923's James Badge Dale On The Stunning Death Teased In The Series' Opening Scenes

Paramount is all-in on Taylor Sheridan's "Yellowstone" franchise, showcasing the surprisingly drama-filled farmlands of Wyoming. The Western premiered in 2018 and found such immense success that Paramount decided to expand the world with numerous spin-offs detailing the history of the Dutton family.

"1923" takes audiences back to the Great Depression, with award-winning actors Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford playing Cara and Jacob Dutton, further expanding the Dutton family tree. The spinoff gets off to a strong start, opening with Cara hunting a fleeing man. After she catches up to him, the man pleads for his life before attempting to shoot her. She sees through the deception and quickly kills him with her double-barreled shotgun before letting out a massive scream in the forest, promising a masterful performance from the Academy Award winner. A voiceover then teases that more death will plague the Dutton family.

It isn't until a few episodes later that "1923" reveals the other Dutton destined for death, John Dutton Sr., played by James Badge Dale. The show also reveals that the series's opening scene featuring Cara and her shotgun was a flash forward as she looks to get revenge for the nephew she raised like a son.

Sheridan's non-linear storytelling set up John Dutton Sr.'s death from the spinoff's first minutes, resulting in a surprising death for the character fans watched grow up in "1883." Thankfully, Dale knew what he was getting into from the beginning, so he didn't get his hopes up.

1923's story starts with John Dutton Sr.'s death

While the "Yellowstone" franchise made a name for itself with surprising character deaths, no one expected to see John Dutton Sr. meet his end so quickly in "1923." "1883" first introduced the character as a young boy, so when James Badge Dale signed on to portray an older version of John in "1923," many expected him to play a significant role throughout the spinoff. While that was the case, it wasn't in the way anyone could see coming, as his death in Episode 3 serves as the spark for the Dutton family.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Dale reflected on what it was like playing John Dutton Sr., knowing "1923" teased his death in the show's opening moments. "It's such a beautiful moment," the actor admitted. "That's the way I look at it: is that the first three episodes are kind of a prologue. This is where the story starts. With the first scene you see in episode one, that's the beginning of the story. Cara is willfully involving herself in the violence to end things. And that's where we are now." He also reminisced about what filming was like that day, casually mentioning arriving to ride horses and do "a couple of gunfights with Harrison Ford." That was his last day on set, and it's hard to imagine a cooler sendoff.

In another interview with Deadline, Dale said he felt honored to play even a tiny part in Taylor Sheridan's greater story. He understands that John Dutton Sr.'s death is the catalyst that gets Spencer to come home, but if Sheridan wants him back as a ghost, Dale is on the first plane back to Montana.