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1923's Season Finale Solidifies The Duttons' Biggest Enemy (& It Isn't A Person)

Contains spoilers for "1923" Season 1 finale

"1923" ticks all the boxes for a good "Yellowstone" show. It features a bunch of unflinchingly brave and fiercely combative members of the Dutton family; a number of people who are willing to tear down their empire; a cast of both sympathetic and abhorrent side characters; and, of course, plenty of breathtakingly beautiful scenery to offset all the violence, cruelty, and general backstabbings. 

On the surface, it seems clear who the antagonists in the Dutton Ranch storyline in particular are. Donald Whitfield (Timothy Dalton) is the exact kind of mega-rich antagonist generations of Duttons have had to wrestle with before, while sheepherder leader Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn) provides an imposing, immediate, hands-on threat. However, by the time of the Season 1 finale, it's started to become clear that the Duttons are fighting a far bigger enemy than any individual person. Here's what the family is really up against. 

Progress and the people who abuse it are the Duttons' biggest enemy

By the time the "1923" season finale is over, the show has fully revealed its cards on what the Duttons are up against this time. Instead of any single enemy, the family is fighting an uphill battle against the very concept of progress, and the way powerful people and bureaucracy are able to turn tables against them.

On the home front, Jacob Dutton's (Harrison Ford) main enemy is villainous tycoon Whitfield, who's now managed to indebt Jacob to him by taking care of his land taxes ... thus making sure that the land goes to him if Jacob can't pay him back. Meanwhile, Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) and Alex (Julia Schlaepfer) are separated because a confrontation with a literal aristocrat, Arthur (Rafe Soule), gets Spencer thrown from the boat. Even people who aren't Duttons wrestle with similar themes. Dutton Ranch foreman Zane's (Brian Geraghty) wife falls victim to the less savory legal intricacies of the era and gets arrested for marrying a white man, and Teonna Rainwater (Aminah Nieves) and Pete Plenty Clouds (Cole Brings Plenty) continue their struggle against the clergy and lawmen.  

This isn't a new concept in the "Yellowstone" franchise. In fact, much of the modern-day Duttons' toil and turmoil stems from the fact that progess and powerful forces that are (almost) beyond their control conspire to take away what's theirs, which they fight with their own tendency to stick to Old West ways. The "1923" finale merely shows that members of the family have been fighting this same fight for generations ... which, come to think of it, is actually pretty impressive, since they're still holding their own on John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) watch.