This Yellowstone review contains spoilers.
Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 6
“You want to be me someday? Then become something that can help me protect this place,” a younger, less grizzled John Dutton tells his son Jamie after revealing that he applied to Harvard University on the boy’s behalf. “A lawyer.”
When Jamie, who balks at the chance to live and study in a place that’s as “far away” as Boston, points out that his father doesn’t respect lawyers, John rebuffs him. “Then become one that I can… Lawyers are the swords of this century. Words are weapons now. I need you to learn how to use them.”
As mildly touching as this exchange between a father and his son is, the opening of this week’s episode of Yellowstone, “Blood the Boy,” is meant to explain everything that the older Jamie (Wes Bently) has done or failed to do. It also serves as a context for the drastic measures that he takes to save the Yellowstone Ranch, just as his father John (Kevin Costner) wanted him to. Unfortunately, these drastic measures don’t pan out at all for Jamie, John and the rest of the Dutton clan.
Remember Sarah (Michaela Conlin), the reporter from last season? She returned in last week’s “Touching Your Enemy” to let Jamie know that she was going to run a story featuring several unflattering quotes he had given her about his father and the Yellowstone Ranch. Jaime’s sister Beth (Kelly Reilly), who is probably the fiercest defender of their father and the family business, physically assaulted him and dragged him out before John to make him fess up to his mess. He did, and while John was obviously angry, he knows that, in a way, all of this is his fault.After all, he’s the one who sent Jamie off to Harvard to become the very thing he despises.
While that may be true, however, it’s what Jamie does to try to fix everything in “Blood the Boy” that moves beyond John’s faults and squarely into his own. He sets up a discrete meeting with Sarah in the Montana woods and pleads with her. He begs her not to run the story, or at least not to quote him. When that doesn’t work, Jamie rescinds his permission regarding the quotes and echoes John’s passive threats about filing a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, Sarah is a reporter and her work is protected by the First Amendment. And when she reminds Jamie of this and shuts down his request altogether, the wayward Dutton child panics. He chases Sarah down, slams her head into her car, and — realizing that he’s already gone too far — strangles her to death. So, what began as a rather sympathetic portrayal of the son whose future his father utterly destroyed by not allowing him a say in what he could or could not do with his life, is transformed into a horrifying question with an even more frightening set of answers. Do we still feel sorry for Jamie and the ills that have befallen him, whether he perpetrated them or not? Is it even possible to sympathize with him anymore?
Of course, this isn’t allthat happens in “Blood the Boy.” Now that he knows for sure who’s been killing his cattle, John makes an impromptu appearance at Dan Jenkins’ (Danny Huston) place and requests a meeting between the two and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), the leader of the local reservation and the hopeful owner of a new casino and the land it rests on. These three have been at each other’s throats since the first episode of Yellowstone season 1, but now that they have a common enemy in Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough) and his brother, perhaps they’ll be able to finally “clear the air.” Maybe.
Considering the sheer weight of Jamie’s actions, though, the Becks and several other B and C storylines take a back seat. The murderer enlists the help of ranch hand Rip (Cole Hauser), who tells him “the only way to get rid of the mess is to get rid of you.” Despite his anger, though, Rip helps Jamie out. He even decides to use it as a way of finally getting rid of Walker (Ryan Bingham), another Yellowstone employee whose rebelliousness has been annoying him all season. By having him unknowingly drive Sarah’s car, Rip ensures that Walker’s prints are all over the crime scene so that, when her body is eventually discovered by the authorities, they won’t be able to tie Jamie or the Duttons to the crime.
Even so, Jamie’s drastic measures have not only turned everyone (and the audience) against his previously sympathetic character, but they have also ensured that the Dutton’s problems are by no means over. On the contrary, things are about to get a whole lot worse, and when John gets Jamie to confess to the act, it seems he has completely run out of patience with his son.
“There’s always a choice,” he says when Jamie claims that there was nothing else he could do. “You could’ve jumped in the river, but hurting yourself never entered your mind, did it?”
As cruel as this moment is to Jamie, it pales in comparison to the cruelty of his actions against Sarah. He knows it. John knows it. And, considering that the authorities are now aware of and investigating the murder, everyone knows it. Even if Rip’s efforts to frame Walker work long enough to keep the investigators off of Jamie’s scent for a while, per Yellowstone’s knack for turning terrible situations into horrendous occurrences for all parties involved (and then some), things are notgoing to get better anytime soon.
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