As fans of the original contemporary Western will recall, the “Yellowstone” pilot concluded with a similarly heartbreaking moment between Kevin Costner’s John Dutton and his recently-deceased eldest son, Lee (Dave Annable). After lowering Lee’s corpse off his horse, the Dutton patriarch drags his body over to a tree so he can share a final embrace with his son, rest awhile, and choose a spot for his burial. A small, loud bird interrupts their time together and serves as a kind of symbolism for the themes of the scene.
As user PiranhaKisses pointed out on the series’ subreddit, John and his great-grandfather are “both sitting against a tree with their deceased children, both with a bird.” Other fans were quick to note the similarity, with u/Heart_Spirited adding that both scenes involve a character saying they want to “rest for a bit.” There are some differences (Lee has been dead for hours when John pulls him to the tree, whereas Elsa is in the process of dying), but for the most part, right down to the physicality of how both fathers carry and hold their children, the scenes are almost perfect replications of one another.
By ending the first 10 episodes of “1883,” a prequel to the events that take place during “Yellowstone,” on the same exact note upon which the latter essentially begins, the creators of the series have once again foregrounded — as they so often do in “Yellowstone” — the cyclical nature of life, death, and the struggle that lies in between.