I’d heard about this series for a while before dipping my toe in. Once I did, I was engaged. Taylor Sheridan is a master storyteller. Between this and 1883 he can certainly spin a yarn. Not at the level of Larry McMurtry with characters, but damn good plots.
There’s a worrisome edge to Yellowstone though. As noted in the title, is there anyone in this story who is redeemable? Is this a reflection of the “American dream”? Is so, it’s more a nightmare.
My favorite character is Beth Dutton. Good acting. But, as even her father says, she’s evil. They all have good reasons to go to the dark side, if that’s a justification, which it isn’t, but it is reality. Her backstory with Jaimie is horrifying. Also, you DO NOT want to be her assistant.
The body count is ridiculously high. Who knew there were raging gun battles with automatic weapons in the modern west? Having spent some time out there I am aware there is a very different spirit in that part of the country than elsewhere. The law is viewed as a secondary thing to people’s own “God-given” rights. It’s the spirit that ruthlessly conquered that country from the Native Americans and survived the brutal weather. Which leads me to the only possible redeemable people: the Native Americans.
Spoiler alert: I see the ending. The land will go back to the Native Americans. Remember the prophecy from 1883: seven generations. It’s the satisfying conclusion. It can’t remain in the hands of the psychopathic murderers of the Dutton clan, nor should it go to the greedy developers.
I will say that the makeup team for this show definitely deserves an award. The various bruises and batterings are accurately displayed, although the characters do recover from such, and getting shot, relatively quickly. But, hey, it’s TV.
As a story-teller myself, I’m a big fan of keeping all the loops in a story tight and closing them out. So, I do have one minor gripe. What about the bomb that Kayce (an ex-SEAL, of course) put in the Beck’s plane? The Beck’s both die, but that bomb is still there. Is someone in for a big surprise when they test fly that sucker?
In a way, though, the lack of closing that detail out touches on what bothers me a bit about Yellowstone overall. Not only was it written as if the Dutton’s don’t care, I get the sense the writers don’t either. The thought that it’s okay to act like the Dutton’s do. That they have this special right to impose their will against everyone. Yes, they are threatened but John Dutton gets a half-billion dollar offer for the land. That would take care of his family, I think. And, as Beth points out, if he doesn’t take it, he’s not going to get much of anything and his family is screwed. Sure, seven generations in the land, but that didn’t bother them taking it from a people who were there for a lot longer. Yes, I know. The code. The land. Yadda yadda. But didn’t the Native Americans feel that way about the land? We live in an age of narcissism and there are few role models in this show.