Yellowstone Prequel 1923: Series Premiere Review

Yellowstone Prequel 1923: Series Premiere Review

1923 Premieres Sunday, December 18 on Paramount+, with new episodes weekly.

In five seasons and 45 episodes (and counting), Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone has told a comprehensive story chronicling the inner and outer hardships of the Dutton family, led by patriarch John (Kevin Costner), on Montana’s vast Yellowstone ranch. With a strong script coupled with great performances and high production values, it quietly became one of the biggest hits on the modern TV landscape – and spawned something of its own franchise, which debuted the prequel in 1883 last year and now in 1923. Armed with a big budget and a cast to match, 1923 adds texture and context to the mothership while telling a compelling story in its own right.

40 years after 1883 we now follow Jacob and Cara Dutton (Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren). Jacob, brother of James Dutton (Tim McGraw) from 1883, is the great-great uncle of Costner’s John Dutton III. After his brother’s death, Jacob raised James’ sons John (James Badge Dale) and Spencer (Brandon Sklenar) as his own. But even though Yellowstone is now one of the largest cattle ranches in Montana, the family finds itself in a dire situation due to ongoing wars and economic difficulties from the later Great Depression.

In one of his first major TV roles, Ford shows equal parts compassion and unwavering determination as Jacob, a man who has lived through the loss of his family and made it his mission to keep her working life alive. Mirren, with an Irish brogue to match her shotgun, is a perfect partner for Ford. The pair first teamed up in 1986’s The Mosquito Coast, and their quiet scenes together in the premiere offer the simple pleasure of seeing two consummate professionals that play off each other.

Of course, being a Yellowstone project, there’s more to see here than quiet character moments, with plenty of rough riding and gunfights. The first episode sets up several storylines that will likely intertwine as the season progresses, including Dutton’s son Spencer (last seen as a 10-year-old in 1883, now played as an adult by Brandon Sklenar) who deals with recurring trauma , having fought in World War I and now working as an animal hunter in Africa.

Spencer’s story runs parallel to the family, as does that of Teonna (Aminah Nieves) and her teacher, Sister Mary (Jennifer Ehle). Her introduction – with a ruler and lots of rapped knuckles – is quite startling, but she neatly sets the marks for what is presumably a continuous arc. Of course, the upcoming range war, which sees Jacob at odds with sheep farmer Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn), will likely serve as a thematic thread for the remainder of the season (the series is set to span two seasons of eight episodes). one piece). And because of what comes before it and where it’s going, longtime Yellowstone fans will have some sense of where it’s headed, but 1923 offers enough to welcome new fans, who the star-studded cast might tempt them to look at it .

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