Season 1, Episode 1
First Son of Texas
"First Son of Texas" Eli McCullough must survive a frontier Comanche attack in 1849 and lead his family's empire through difficult times in 1915.
It’s 1849 in central Texas. A young Eli McCullough shoots a turkey on a river bank. A Comanche quietly watches from the woods.
That night, young Eli eats dinner with his mother, sister and brother, Martin. A Comanche war party gathers outside their cabin. Eli shoots a Comanche as his mother opens the door. A Comanche knocks him unconscious.
Eli wakes up in his cabin. A Comanche drags him outside, where the Comanche are killing his mother. He sees his sister, Lizzie, dead on the ground. The Comanche light the cabin on fire and ride off with Eli and Martin as captives.
Flash-forward to 1915 in south Texas. Grown Eli stands next to a truck and gazes at a body hanging from a tree. His son, Pete, insists on cutting the body down. Eli takes his granddaughter, Jeannie, for a walk.
Eli and Jeannie stroll in a field while Pete drags the body onto the truck.
Pete speculates on the man’s killer. Eli lists a number of possible suspects.
At the McCullough ranch, Pete’s wife, Sally McCullough, oversees preparations for Eli’s birthday gala, which is also the anniversary of the Republic of Texas. Pete tells Sally that somebody killed one of Pedro García’s ranch hands.
Jeannie serves Eli a drink on the veranda. Eli points to his oil derrick in the distance and predicts that, after the gala, they’ll have enough money for six more rigs.
Pete drives into town and brings the body to the sheriff’s office. Maria García joins the crowd gathered around Pete’s truck and recognizes the body as Armando, one of her father’s hands.
In Gilbert’s Saloon, Pete confronts the bartender, Niles Gilbert, about killing Armando. Niles justifies his actions by insisting that Armando helped Mexican Sediciosos steal Pete’s property. He adds that Eli colluded in Armando’s death.
At home, Pete confronts Eli about Armando’s death. Eli calmly explains that he asked Niles to investigate who was stealing their cattle.
At the García house, Cesar blames the McCulloughs for Armando’s death and asks his wife, Ana, to stay home from Eli’s birthday party. Pedro García, the family patriarch, privately accuses Cesar, his son-in-law, of helping the Sediciosos and warns that his actions will endanger the family. Cesar proclaims that Texas belongs to Mexico. Pedro goes to Eli’s party with Maria, Ana and his wife, Lourdes.
Phineas McCullough, Eli’s older son, arrives at the party. He gives Sally a gift to thank her for organizing the party.
In Eli’s office, Phineas tells Eli that he rounded up a good crowd of potential investors at the party. Pete argues that they are swindling people into investing in land that has no oil and proposes they instead focus on their cattle business. Eli declares that cattle ranching is a stagnant venture.
Pete welcomes the García family to the party. Pedro asks to speak with Eli in private, but Eli tells him to speak with Pete instead.
Outside, Pete assures Pedro that his family played no role in Armando’s death. Pedro says he would rather hear it from Eli and points out that Eli is a man untroubled by his conscience.
Back to 1849: The Comanche war party rides across a field with Eli and Martin. Martin tells Eli that Lizzie was killed by Comanche gunfire — and that the only reason the Comanche fired at them was because Eli fired first. “You got Lizzie killed,” he says.
Comanche order Eli and Martin to drink water. Toshaway addresses them in Spanish and says he also speaks some English, revealing he can understand everything they’re saying.
Martin refuses to eat during a rest stop. He proclaims to the war party that they will soon be vanquished from the earth. A Comanche kills Martin, as Eli is forced to watch.
The war party wraps Martin’s body in a blanket and buries him. “Your brother died with great honor,” Toshaway tells Eli.
In the present, Eli smokes a pipe and nods in acknowledgment at two Comanche guests sitting outside his home.
Maria informs Pete that she’s temporarily living at home after her husband passed away two months ago. She thanks Pete for taking care of Armando’s body.
Eli gives a speech to his guests and praises south Texas as a haven for oil. Everyone toasts.
John Kirby, a potential oil investor, compliments Eli on his speech. Eli invites Kirby to talk business.
On the porch, Eli sings the praises of south Texas to Kirby. He’s interrupted by a fiery explosion in the distance. The crowd watches as Eli’s oil derrick erupts in flames.
Eli, Pete, Phineas and ranch foreman, Tom Sullivan, ride to the derrick. Eli spots the saboteurs’ tracks.
Eli and his group follow the tracks and capture Cesar, one of the saboteurs. Eli beats Cesar and holds a gun to his head. Pete warns that killing Cesar will start a war. “The war is already here,” says Eli. He orders Tom to get some rope and leads Cesar away.