“Don’t let ‘em take it away from you,” a dying John Dutton Sr. (Dabney Coleman) tells his son (Kevin Costner) in a flashback. “Not a goddamn inch.”
Many, many years later, the child-turned-patriarch sits on the porch of his massive Yellowstone Ranch home, reflecting on the recent kidnapping of his grandson and the ever-present fact that so many parties have been trying to take it all away for so long.
“My whole life is just a long series of losing things I love. I’m not going to lose this one, Rip. Not this one,” he tells his trusted ranch hand (Cole Hauser). And so begins “Sins of the Father,” final episode of Yellowstone Season 2 on the Paramount Network. Now that the Beck brothers have made their most desperate and damning play against the Duttons, the latter group is making preparations for revenge. So, with all the foreshadowing of a sorry fate for some that the past few episodes have performed, you can rest assured that yes, those very sins did catch up with a few people.
Like Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston), the local billionaire and John’s heated business rival who, after spending all of season 1 and the beginning of season 2 trying to take down the Dutton family once and for all, has found himself aligned with them and the local Native American reservation. After spotting an approaching assassin, Jenkins hides in a closet and takes them out first. A second invader catches him off guard and scores a few shots, but the target manages to take them out, too. Unfortunately, he’s not as lucky against the third killer.
“I have a right to be here,” he stutters to himself while dying on his patio. “This is America!”
That it is, but in accordance with the neo-frontier philosophy that Yellowstone has espoused since day one, Jenkins’ enemies also have as much of a right to be there. This is America, after all, and in the modern wilds of Montana, the adept use of cunning and ruthlessness — along with access to some pretty massive purse strings — means that those with the more forceful approach will win.
This is something that John has known and expressed since the very beginning. It’s also something that his children, especially his sons Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Jamie (Wes Bentley), have had to painfully experience firsthand throughout these two seasons. His daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), John’s fiercest defender, has always known this, but that doesn’t make her immune to the forces that would harm them. Literally, in fact, as she was roughed up and nearly killed by the Becks’ men a few episodes back.
Though that doesn’t stop John from ordering her to keep her hands clean of what’s about to happen — a decision that may very well plant the seeds for some new ills that the episode’s conclusion will preview. Before that happens, though, let’s get to the meat of “Sins of the Father,” which is the Duttons’ plot for saving Tate and seeking revenge against their enemies. This is what the past few episodes have been leading up to, and for anyone who’s familiar with just how gruesome and harsh Yellowstone’s world can get, they won’t be surprised by what happens next.
First, Kayce finds and shoots Teal Beck (Terry Serpico) in his own home. What’s more, the lesser of the two brothers is caught unawares while sitting on the toilet and reading the newspaper. The father of the missing boy, without the faintest hint of emotion in his face, then interrogates the bleeding man about his son’s whereabouts. When Teal exclaims he doesn’t know, Kayce shoots him in the leg. “There’s a lot of stuff I can shoot before you die,” he adds. This does the trick, because he then tells him that a local white nationalist militia is holding the boy for them. He even gives away their location.
“Don’t you know about my family? You didn’t think we’d fight back?” Kayce declares before leveling the gun at Teal one final time. Pleadingly, the latter cries, “Nobody ever fights back.”
For many (if not all) of the power brokers depicted throughout Yellowstone, including the Duttons themselves, this may very well be true. Most of their enemies, big and small, generally don’t fight back. And when they do, they find themselves bleeding to death on their own toilets, staring down the barrel of a gun. It’s an old formula for the kind of fictional fare that the series has been putting out since its first episode, but even at the end of season 2 and on the heels of season 3, creator Taylor Sheridan and company find themselves retelling the same stories.
Sometimes, it gets pretty ridiculous, like when John guns down Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough) in the episode’s penultimate standoff. The latter repeatedly tries to shoot back at the patriarch, but with each attempted retaliation, he’s gunned down until not even his shattered wrist is physically able to lift a weapon. Then, as he struggles, John takes a seat next to him and pontificates about life and mortality. It’s a weird scene. It’s also a totally normal occurrence in this world — one that the millions of people who’ve been tuning in to watch it have endorsed with their eyeballs.
Overly wrought scenes like this one to the contrary, though, Sheridan and his team manage to eke out something utterly new in “Sins of the Father.” For starters, Kayce’s wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) briefly abandons her characteristically moral high ground — a trait that even the malicious Beth recognizes and celebrates — and asks her boy’s father to kill the people who kidnaped them. Considering the circumstances, it’s totally understandable, but it’s also worrying. For if Monica is willing to let herself slip this once, what’s to say she won’t slip again in the future?
And then there’s Beth’s eerie proclamation to Rip, whom John adds to the property deed and gifts a home on the property to. The senior ranch hand has always been like a son to the patriarch and considering everything he’s done for the family (and for Beth) this season, it’s a nice touch. But she doesn’t see it that way.
“We’re gonna lose this place,” she declares. “I can’t fucking wait.”