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1923 Theory: Could John Dutton And Thomas Rainwater Be Related Via Spencer?

Fans of the "Yellowstone" universe have been looking for hidden links in the show's lore for some time now. In a world where bonds and loyalties are crucial to survival and there is no greater bond than family, it makes sense that viewers would be looking for reasons why those who don't share a family tree have such strong loyalties. This includes, perhaps inevitably, a search for some hidden familial relation. 

So it is with John Dutton III (Kevin Costner) and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham). Some viewers have suggested, going back to at least Season 3 of "Yellowstone," that the powerful white rancher and wealthy Native American casino owner might, in fact, be related somehow, given that the two seem equally dedicated to keeping the Yellowstone ranch out of the hands of developers. And while we at Looper thought that such a theory might have been a little bit too in the vein of a soap opera for Taylor Sheridan's flagship series, we did leave open the possibility that "1883" might reveal some hidden connection between the Rainwater and Dutton clans. After all, Thomas' backstory — apart from never actually knowing his parents and having been adopted — is mysteriously vague.

As we know now, "1883" showed nothing of the sort. While the strong-willed Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) does end up falling in love with Comanche warrior Sam (Martin Sensmeier), and while both Elsa and James Dutton (Tim McGraw) are assisted by the Crow elder Spotted Eagle (Graham Greene) in her final moments, there is no indication that either of them or any other indigenous character is necessarily related to Rainwater. 

Now, however, with yet another "Yellowstone" prequel series under our belts, the theory seems to have reemerged, albeit in a somewhat altered form.

Spencer and Teonna?

The idea that Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar) might be a thus far missing link in the Dutton-Rainwater sagas is, at first glance, rather implausible. Yes, unlike "1883," "1923" does introduce a character with the same last name as Thomas in the figure of Teonna (Aminah Nieves). It is also true that, though her own story has yet to cross over with the struggle for control over Yellowstone, she is headed its way by the end of Season 1 of "1923." Clearly, the stage is being set for the two stories to converge. 

The theory, put forward by u/Affectionate-Pound20 at the r/YellowstonePN subreddit, involves Teonna and Spencer falling for each other. That seems far-fetched given how utterly devoted Spencer is to Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer), but as the Redditor elaborated, she has also told Spencer that she never wants to feel how they did that night when both were stranded up a tree surrounded by lions in Kenya. With both now headed into a low-level warzone in Montana, it may be some time before the lovers can escape. "So basically," they wrote, "Alex either dies or leaves Spencer and Spencer ends up with Teonna."

The theory was elaborated further by u/Affectionate-Pound20, pointing out that Spencer's distaste for racism has already been established, a distaste that endures through the present day in the Dutton family with Kayce's (Luke Grimes) marriage to Monica Long (Kelsey Asbille), granddaughter of Broken Rock Reservation elder Felix Long (Rudy Ramos). While all the above is plausible on its own terms, it does not account for how it is that the Duttons — not exactly a family to lose track of their family tree — could have just somehow forgotten about their blood relation to the Rainwaters, or simply not mentioned it up until now.