Yellowstone The Long Black Train Review
The beginning of The Long Black Train is the hardest section of the episode to watch because of the emotions and gore on display. No one can predict how the death of one family member will affect the surviving family and their friends. In The Long Black Train, it is all down hill for the family of Robert Long after his wife’s suicide. Throughout it all: the blood clean-up, the orphaned children crying, and Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille) dry-heaving, Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) can’t say anything. His military code of silence is unbreakable, even as tears, shame, and sorrow fill his eyes. He knows that telling his wife would be the end of their marriage so Kayce carries his guilt in silence, even-though his conscience is begging him not to do so.
Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) proves herself to be a bull in The Long Black Train, a bull that is extremely difficult for “city boys” to court. Beth is brazen, dominating two men verbally back-to-back in a ten minute time-period then persuading a third to walk through a crucible of her design. Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston)’s attraction to Beth Dutton is obvious and understandable but he’s not willing to walk through fire to ‘get’ her. Jenkins is a man that knows his own limitations (or he finds out what they are with Beth at the bar in The Long Black Train). Dan can ‘be with’ Beth (she wouldn’t be bothering with him if he couldn’t), he can ‘get’ her if he proves himself worthy. Unfortunately for Dan, he doesn’t possess the physical or mental tools to do so nor does he have any desire to acquire them. Perhaps that is the real reason behind Beth Dutton’s outing with Dan Jenkins – to show him, and others like him, what they lack.
During two key scenes in The Long Black Train, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) proves himself to be a tough cowboy. Riding a bucking horse meant for a younger man with “rubber bones”, so soon after surgery, is one indication but jumping into a river to save a child with that same healing wound is another (but on a entirely different scale). With ever running stride, John must have been in some degree of pain, the stitches pulling against his skin, the wound begging to reopen. John Dutton handled it all while showing no discomfort (adrenaline plus rising fear the culprit). That latter scene is a high drama moment in The Long Black Train because of what John Dutton is feeling (physical pain and dread), what is happening (John’s grandson possibly drowning), and the resolution that follows, befitting the scene’s beginning – the escalating calm on a battlefield after warfare, shared by its survivors.
John Dutton is a man of many talents, able to make hard decisions (e.g. deciding who rides The Long Black Train or not) and inspired ones (e.g. moving a river to stop land development) on the fly but he is not perfect. Deciding to go to a local hospital that employees one of his neighbor’s sons was a terrible miscalculation on John’s part. People talk (which John should have been cognizant of), especially in a tight-nit community like the one presented in Yellowstone. Why didn’t John Dutton travel out-of-state to have the surgery conducted where no one knows him or fly two states away for the surgery (to be on the safe side)? If he had, the confrontation with the concerned interloper in The Long Black Train would not have occurred. John Dutton has no one to blame but himself for his surgery secret being partially out in the open.
Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) surprises John Dutton and the viewer in The Long Black Train with his quotation. Wheeler is not just brawn. There is a brain behind his terse, stern exterior, one that hears, one that internalizes, one that remembers lessons learned (like Tyrion Lannister). When Wheeler quotes John Dutton to John Dutton, Dutton having forgotten that he ever said those words, three things are brought into the light: 1.) the aforementioned about Rip Wheeler and that there is more than meets the eye with him, 2.) John Dutton’s former student has graduated, and 3.) John Dutton is beginning, ever so slightly, to lose a mental step (in judgement – letting Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill) go near the river – and in memory ability).
When it comes to ruthlessness, however, John Dutton is just as keen and transactional as ever.
The actual Long Black Train in The Long Black Train proves beyond a shadow of a doubt, if one still exists after Rip Wheeler murders the coroner in Kill the Messenger, that The Dutton ranch operates in a grey zone of morality, underhanded maneuvers, and people being killed so that The Duttons, and their way of life, can continue.
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