Yellowstone The Remembering Review
Paramount Network‘s Yellowstone: Season 1, Episode 6: The Remembering makes it clear that for all of John Dutton (Kevin Costner)’s growth as a father and human-being since his children were young, he continues to make mistakes as a father. In the kitchen scene with Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) in The Remembering, John Dutton makes one of the biggest errors of his fatherhood.
Beth’s worst dread, her worst fear is realized while in the kitchen with her father in The Remembering. It’s the first time that her father blames her, through implication, for her mother’s death. The viewer knows this is the first time that he utters these sentiments to her because of how visibly shaken Beth is afterward. The nightmare that Beth has existed in since her mother died, if expressed as a metaphor, changes shade from dark grey to black, as her father walks away from her in that kitchen. If her mother’s accusation, guilt, and death created current day Beth, what will what John Dutton’s says to Beth spawn?
Like Janine “Smurf” Cody in TNT’s Animal Kingdom, John Dutton is a malignant monster. Smurf infantilizes her adult children to bend them to her will and to control them, mentally and physically able to sacrifice them at anytime to save herself. John Dutton, since they were young, has tried to bend, break (like a horse), and mold his children in the image that he sees fit. Like a curse, or a soundless wave that creeps up from behind, John Dutton seamlessly switches between the man that he is (e.g. with Beth in the kitchen) and the man that he wants to be (e.g. with Tate in the dining room). The wisdom that John has learned from the mistakes of the past are supplanted when raw emotion are at play. The rawest emotions that John Dutton has are for his family and his deceased wife. That is all intertwined in Beth Dutton. Any personality growth that John Dutton has undergone over the years stops at Beth Dutton, crashes against those shores of the past, unable to break through or past that barrier.
Like Evelyn Dutton, John Dutton has little-to-no compassion for a tragic happenstance or the person involved in the accident that took Evelyn Dutton’s life. In The Remembering, for the first time, it becomes clear – John Dutton has a hate / love relationship with Beth Dutton.
Not everything in The Remembering is melancholy for Beth Dutton. The meeting between her, Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), and Montana Governor Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) is entertaining on two levels – humor and profundity. Beth has no fear of saying obvious truths to people’s faces or in mixed company. Beth sees right through the pretenses in the meeting to hilarious effect e.g. Beth wants a whore perk like her brother (“a 6 foot 5 fireman that loves Jesus”). It is the after-meeting, however, that possesses the soul of the scene. Beth has been referred to as a force of nature, a dominating presence, and as a bull. There is another name that accurately describes Beth Dutton and is perhaps the most-fitting, though demonizing. Bully. That word is used for the first time in Yellowstone during The Remembering and it reverberates. If Montana, or Utah for that matter, were a giant high-school, Beth Dutton would be its class bully. Governor Lynelle Perry knows what makes Beth Dutton tick but only in part. Governor Perry’s speech about trauma shuts Beth up momentarily because what she is saying is accurate but it’s not the summation of Beth. It’s not her whole story. Governor Perry doesn’t know how Beth was treated by Evelyn Dutton before she died or by John Dutton after Evelyn died. That too plays a part in Beth’s personality, psyche, and in her decision-making.
Other characters’ decision-making, why they do what they do, is examined in The Remembering as well, in addition to Beth Dutton’s.
A good protagonist needs a good villain or the narrative that they are in is inept. Yellowstone does not have that problem. Like John Dutton, Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) is able to make counter-moves to the moves of his opponent. The viewer may have seriously questioned Chief Rainwater’s intelligence after he told John his master plan in No Good Horses but that was a cursory evaluation. Rainwater proves with Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) in The Remembering that “it’s not the plan, its the execution.” How Chief Rainwater plans to get the money to execute his master plan is very inventive, great for the community that he represents (and the state – they will never turn it down), and couldn’t have happened with out John Dutton and what he did to Dan Jenkins’ housing project in Daybreak.
Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) and Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille)’s backstory in The Remembering is bittersweet. It shows how powerful their bound is, even at its inception (because of what Kayce gave up for her) and how tragic it is (because of what Kyce endured for her at his father’s hands).
When Monica Dutton’s head hits the concrete in The Remembering, the world changes. The viewer can feel the shift just as clearly as they hear the sickening thud. Kayce Dutton has been “fortune’s fool” since he was a child. Kayce was there when his mother died, when his brother Lee Dutton died, when his wife’s brother died, he endured a traumatizing childhood and then warfare. As his father mentions in The Remembering, calamity seems to find Kayce Dutton, seeking him out.
Monica is an anchor for Kayce to a world outside of Yellowstone, a world of diversity, challenges, and second chances. It is left ambiguous what Monica Dutton’s fate will be in the closing moments of The Remembering but if the worst happens, two choices will confront Kayce Dutton: 1.) abandon Tate (leave him with Monica’s father), leave the reservation (and the bad memories associated with it) and rejoin the United States military (this will never happen) or 2.) swallow all of his hateful memories, his pride, and go back to Yellowstone. It’s the bitter move, but for Tate, it’s the best one Kayce will be able to make (and Kayce knows it’s what Monica would want, if she doesn’t make it).
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