1923 ushered in 2023 with a bang that absolutely nobody could have seen coming. In a shocking new year episode on Sunday (Jan. 1), the Yellowstone prequel said goodbye to one of the most important members of the Dutton family — and maybe even one of the stars of the show.

Who Died in 1923 Episode 3?

The episode began with Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford), John Dutton (James Badge Dale), Jack Dutton (Darren Mann) and the men who previous rode out returning home intact, much to the relief of their wives and girlfriends. But that turned out to be a ruse from series creator Taylor Sheridan, who lulled fans into a false sense of security with a fun group trip to Bozeman before delivering the storytelling meat of the episode at the end.

As we saw last week, Banner Creighton (Jerome Flynn) has survived Jacob's group hanging of his men, and as Episode 3 opens, he returns home angrier than ever. He clearly has a plan, but we don't see what it is until the end of the episode, when he and his men ambush the Duttons' coach as they return to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch from Bozeman.

In the ensuing gunfight, Creighton brings out a machine gun, shouting to Jacob that he keeps his promises before he opens fire, striking both Jacob and John. It's immediately apparent that John is dead, shot directly through the eye, while Jacob is gravely wounded in multiple places.

Jack Dutton is also shot in that ambush, and Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren) wreaks revenge on one of the men who carried it out by dispensing with him with the shotgun as seen in the opening minutes of the season.

Is Jacob Dutton Dead on 1923?

As 1923's Episode 3 draws to a close, it sure looks like Jacob Dutton is mortally wounded, and while we don't actually see him die, he basically tells Cara that he doesn't believe there's any way for the surgeons to save his life, and that she needs to send for Spencer Dutton (Brandon Sklenar), who will need to return home. The episode ends with her writing to Spencer and telling him that John is dead, Jack is shot and Jacob can be presumed to die, and that he needs to put aside whatever has been keeping him away and return to fight for the family's home.

What Happens With Spencer Dutton in Episode 3 of 1923?

Spencer Dutton spends the first part of Episode 3 of 1923 tracking hyenas in Africa, and he's accompanied by Alexandra (Julia Schlaepfer), who impetuously ran off with him at the end of Episode 2. Their love affair is developing quickly, and she seems to love the adventure of it all — that is, until they end up having their car flipped by an elephant and spend the night in a tree in the African bush, fighting off lions and hyenas with a rifle.

"I don't even want to feel that way again," she tells her now-fiance, indicating that she wants him to change his line of work if they are to wed and build a life together. It's a request that plays directly into the letter he's about to receive about returning home, so we won't be surprised when he returns to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch to lead the fight against everyone who wants to move in on the family in Jacob's absence.

But Wait ... 1923 Wouldn't Really Kill Off Harrison Ford's Character, Would It?

Seriously ... have you learned nothing from watching Yellowstone or 1883? The only rule is when it comes to who lives and who dies is, there are no rules. Taylor Sheridan is the kind of writer who doesn't give fans what we want ... he gives us what he wants us to have. Remember the end of 1883 last year, when everyone thought, 'There's no way Elsa dies'? And then remember the camera pulling back from James Dutton holding Elsa's lifeless body as everyone cried in their living room? Yes ... if it serves Taylor Sheridan's purpose as a storyteller, he'll absolutely take Harrison Ford off the board after building a show around him.

So Where Does That Leave Us for the Rest of 1923?

It would appear that 1923 is going to take an unexpected turn, one in which Cara is forced to move forward without her husband due to death or incapacity, and face down all of the various interests who are now going to try to close in on the ranch and encroach upon the Duttons' interests. How that looks going forward is anyone's guess at this point, but it will involve Jack, Spencer, Zane (Brian Geraghty) and more as the Duttons are forced to close ranks, as always.

Also, we predict bad things are coming for Banner Creighton, who has crossed a line he is going to sorely regret crossing.

1923 airs every Sunday via the Paramount+ streaming service. As part of Taste of Country's comprehensive coverage of all things Yellowstone and 1923, check out the Dutton Rules podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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