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The Elsa Theory That Proves She Might Survive The 1883 Season 1 Finale

As the "Yellowstone" prequel series "1883" nears the end of its first season, it's hard to believe just how far the Dutton family has come in their journey out west. The Paramount+ series has never shied away from just how tough life is on the frontier or how easy it is to meet a violent end at the drop of a hat. The danger that surrounds Dutton patriarch James Dutton (Tim McGraw), his wife Margaret (Faith Hill), and their children Elsa (Isabel May) and John (Audie Rick), as well as their traveling companions, means that seeing everyone make it to the end of a new episode from week to week is nothing short of a victory.

With the Season 1 finale getting nearer (it's set to air on February 27, to be exact), one of the biggest questions on fans' minds is how exactly Elsa Dutton (played compellingly by newcomer Isabel May) will survive what appears to be a fatal wound she sustained at the end of the ninth episode. Luckily, fans on Reddit have more than one good reason to believe she'll make it out alive.

Episode 9 of 1883 leaves Elsa's fate up in the air

Episode 9 of "1883," titled "Racing Clouds," brings the Dutton family's story full circle by showing the events that led up to the wagon attack we see in the "Yellowstone" prequel's very first episode. The "1883" pilot episode opens abruptly on Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) lying beneath a burning wagon in the aftermath of an attack from a group of Native American warriors. With her companions lying dead all around her, the eldest Dutton child acts quickly, grabbing a gun for protection. Still unsteady on her feet, Elsa begins firing wildly at the men on horseback and watches as one scalps a dead settler. As she prepares to fire another round, she takes an arrow in her gut.

In this penultimate Season 1 episode, we discover the tribe we see in the first episode attacked the Dutton's wagon train after mistaking them for the group of bandits who massacred their village. After gunning down one of the warriors on horseback, Elsa manages to explain that James Dutton (Tim McGraw) is hunting down the real bandits, and the two sides quickly put aside their fight in an effort to find the real aggressors. Unfortunately, the damage is done where Elsa's injury is concerned. We learn her arrow wound is infected, and James privately admits that she will die from it no matter what they do. 

"Racing Clouds" ends with Elsa looking into her father's eyes and realizing that this wound will kill her. This shocking turn of events seemingly indicates to "1883" viewers that the series is preparing to reveal her heartbreaking death in the Season 1 finale. However, there are plenty of fans who still believe that Elsa will pull through, though their evidence for why she might survive is (admittedly) not the most reliable.

Fans believe Elsa will survive simply because she is a main character

This week, "1883" fans congregated on the r/Y1883 subreddit to discuss what the show's Season 1 finale has in store for Elsa. Folks chiming in on the post kicked off by u/DietFoods claim that her death being so certain (insofar as her father says she will die) all but guarantees that she will find some way to survive, like most of the main characters in the series have up to this point. The consensus amongst Reddit users discussing Episode 9 seems to be that Elsa will survive somehow — no matter how unlikely it may seem — simply because she is one of the series' main characters, and it's very likely that many fans will be disappointed if Elsa does indeed die from something as mundane as an infection.

"They leaned into Elsa dying so much that I'm suspicious she makes it,” wrote u/Tejas_nomad. "This is a show, not real life. She will live we will see her meet up with Sam, and then she dies." They to point out in a separate comment that Elsa's narration throughout Season 1 has been in the past tense, implying she survives the events of Episode 9.

The primary belief amongst fans is that Elsa will be saved by Sam (Martin Sensmeier), the Comanche warrior that she becomes romantically involved with in Episode 8, "The Weep of Surrender." On this note, Redditor u/ChaserNeverRests wrote, "My guess is that Sam will somehow find them again and take her to his tribe to heal her. (Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part...)."

Of course, as u/Ninnevah jokingly put it, "If Beth Dutton can survive an explosion that's about eight feet away from her with just burn wounds, I'm sure Elsa will survive with just a light scar."