This Yellowstone review contains spoilers.
Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 8
Despite the fact that last week’s episode, “Resurrection Day,” ended with the apparent salvation of Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), longtime viewers of Yellowstone should have known that everything wasn’t going to be okay. And while this week’s episode, “Behind Us Only Grey,” doesn’t necessarily do anything to utterly destroy this faulty belief, it spends a lot of time laying the groundwork for an explosive, violent and disparaging end to the show’s second season.
Sure, Jamie is attempting to recover himself after murdering the reporter Sarah (Michaela Conlin), and yes, Beth (Kelly Reilly) has been saved from further violations and certain death, but the siblings’ psychological and physical scars are on full display throughout the episode. What’s more, despite patriarch John’s (Kevin Costner) efforts to hatch a plan for revenge against the Beck brothers with his frequent enemies, his estranged daughter-in-law Monica (Kelsey Chow) knows exactly what’s going on at the Yellowstone ranch.
“This place isn’t a home, Kayce. It’s a giant Alamo,” she tells her husband Kayce (Luke Grimes) in bed one night. “You’re a prisoner here. So is your sister. So is your father. Now we’re prisoners too. This isn’t us, Kayce.”
John’s apparent successor seems to think that his wife is concerned about living in his family’s sprawling ranch house after she mentions the size of the room they’re sleeping in, but it’s not that at all. She’s seen how withered his brother Jamie has become. She’s seen the bruises and dried blood on Beth’s face. No, Monica is concerned about their chances of surviving living on the Yellowstone ranch unscathed — a concern that’s especially enhanced by the presence of their young son, Tate.
And her mother’s intuition is right, because on at least two separate occasions, the Becks make mention of taking away everything that John loves. The first time, the scene immediately transitions to one in which Tate is learning about the ins and outs of ranch life. The second time, the kid’s picture is directly referenced by Malcolm (Neal McDonough). “We take this all away,” he screams, adding that they should start with “the one he loves the most.”
Don’t worry! Nothing actually happens to the boy in “Behind Us Only Grey,” but judging by the sheer amount of foreshadowing that Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan and company are employing here, chances are good that next week’s penultimate episode, “Enemies by Monday,” or the season finale that closes out the Paramount Network’s Wednesday night schedule for August, is going to feature the Beck brothers’ version of taking away the thing that John Dutton loves most. Little Tate is now squarely in the crosshairs of the show’s worst elements.
As for the episode at hand, Monica’s estimation of the coming situation applies just as readily as to what the Duttons have already experienced. In Beth’s case, this means becoming a literal punching bag for some Beck lackeys in the previous episode. Yes, she put up one hell of a fight and told them that she wouldn’t scream or beg for leniency, and yes, ranch hand and occasional lover Rip (Cole Hauser) came to her rescue, receiving a gunshot and her family’s thanks in the process.
Yet the scars on her face (and her soul) remain. In an early scene with Kayce and Monica, Beth isn’t even capable of eating hard food and must subsist on a smoothie made from ice cream and vodka. “My face was just the appetizer,” she tells Dan (Danny Huston), her father’s enemy-turned-ally. “What doesn’t kill us, Dan.” As funny and true to character as this moment is, though, it’s also sadly indicative of just how devoted Beth is to her father’s enterprise — no matter what it has, or might still cost her. The Becks themselves could come knocking on Yellowstone’s door and put a gun to her face, but ever the faithful Dutton daughter, Beth would push her forehead against the barrel and tell the shooter to go to hell.
Jamie, meanwhile, has become so skittish and unsure of himself that he believes that everyone is out to get him — including his own family. Even after Rip and Kayce dealt with the reporter’s body, and even after John put him to work on the ranch to help him recover from his heinous act, the once wayward Dutton son just can’t shake the feeling that his comeuppance is forthcoming. So much so that, when his father and brother bring him along to a crime scene for his legal expertise, Jamie assume that they’re actually going to kill him, bury the body and wash their hands of the affair. One of Thomas Rainwater’s (Gil Birmingham) casino guards has been killed by the Becks and they simply want his legal assessment of the situation, but all Jamie can think about is the gun that Kayce is carrying. “Where’d you think I was taking you?” John jokingly prods him.
And there lies the rub of Yellowstone. Beth knows how bad things can get but refuses to let her support of her father wane. Jamie, meanwhile, also knows how bad things can get and simply assumes they’re only going to get worse. It’s two sides of the same blood-stained coin, and it takes a family outsider like Monica to recognize that the blood on the coin is more genuine than the money itself. The Yellowstone ranch isn’t a home. It’s a prison. They’re all prisoners there and the guards are coming to collect their due.
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