Yellowstone The Unravelling Part 2 Review
Paramount Network‘s Yellowstone: Season 1, Episode 9: The Unravelling: Part 2 is the second part of the aptly named last two episodes of Season One, containing the aftermath of previous events, pivotal new moments, and explosions for certain relationships within Yellowstone.
The biggest explosions in The Unravelling: Part 2 come from Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley). Jamie doesn’t have all of the available information to inform his decision-making. Jamie doesn’t know that John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is dying. That intelligence would alter Jamie’s thinking and his actions. If he had that information, astute Jamie would tow the family line and do what his father is paying him for until John dies, positioning himself for his portion of the Yellowstone inheritance, which for Jamie would include some of John Dutton’s political power. Unfortunately, Jamie Dutton doesn’t know that a clock is winding down on John Dutton’s life. Jamie thinks John Dutton will be alive for another thirty years. Jamie thinks that if he doesn’t act now, his political life, and opportunities like the Attorney General’s position, will pass him by.
This mind-set, the little bird on Jamie’s shoulder in the form of Campaign Manager Christina (Katherine Cunningham), and clandestine reporter Sarah Nguyen (Michaela Conlin) got Jamie to where he is in The Unravelling: Part 2 – unemployed, disowned, free, and on the cusp of being a traitor. Choosing your political career over your family business obligations and being fired from said family business is one thing. Betraying your father and your family’s dirty laundry to the world is something on a entirely different level.
For whichever of the transgressions John Dutton committed against Jamie Dutton in the past (I am sure there is more than one), none of them can possibly equal the public betrayal of not only John Dutton but all of Yellowstone (by implication since John Dutton is Yellowstone’s figure-head and “a fish rots from the head”). When Nguyen’s news story is published and the magnitude of Jamie’s betrayal is revealed, it will be a bombshell in the lives of everyone associated with Yellowstone. Depending on what Jamie tells Sarah Nguyen, how people in town look at John Dutton and Yellowstone’s employees will forever be altered. It may even make people associated with Yellowstone pariahs and it will all be Jamie’s fault. The Dutton’s reaction to Jamie’s public betrayal is easy to predict: John Dutton will be incensed. Jamie’s public betrayal with wipe out any remaining parental affection that John still has for Jamie. John Dutton will ban Jamie, Christina, and their progeny from Yellowstone for the rest of their lives. John will find and financially-back an opponent against Jamie for Attorney General. Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) will talk to Jamie, he will be civil (Kayce will understand Jamie’s desire for payback against John Dutton), but he will not want Jamie to set foot on Yellowstone again. Beth will secretly relish what Jamie has done because it will mean that there is no way back for Jamie – she will retain power of attorney and oversight of Yellowstone when John Dutton’s dies. Beth will focus all of her career-ending tools on Jamie and the small amount of assets that he has accumulated, after her father has given her leave to do so. I can’t imagine John Dutton wouldn’t give Beth the go-ahead. At that point, Jamie will be John’s enemy and everyone’s gloves will come off.
There are three great benefits to John Dutton’s cancer diagnosis that culminate in The Unravelling: Part 2: 1.) Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) and John Dutton’s relationship matures and comes full circle (the employer-employee relationship shifts to one of friendship), 2.) John Dutton’s purpose becomes clear – protect the Yellowstone ranch because his children can’t or are unwilling to, and 3.) the terrific narrative events generated by the diagnosis – Jamie and Beth’s concern, the impending need for an heir that wants to run and manage the Yellowstone ranch, and the need to permanently vanquish the ranches’ enemies.
The drawback to John Dutton’s cancer diagnosis is John Dutton’s cancer diagnosis. At future points in Yellowstone‘s narrative, he will get sicker and sicker and eventually die (like Ned Stark in Game of Thrones). If it is handled like Ned Stark’s death in Game of Thrones, the narrative to Yellowstone will be ameliorated by that event, since John Dutton is surrounded by enough strongly-written characters that Yellowstone will survive and not give up any of its compelling story momentum.
Avery (Tanaya Beatty)’s sordid past and introduction in The Unravelling: Part 2 is humorous and titillating but the future is what is so intriguing about Avery. The look on Avery’s face when Kayce Dutton walks into the cowboy’s bunkhouse says volumes, as does the look on Kayce’s face when he sees Avery, though he suppresses most of it – Kayce Dutton obviously has a type and Avery is it. I foresee in Season 2 of Yellowstone a mutual physical attraction between Kayce Dutton and Avery, what that entails, and Kayce’s physical and mental attraction to Monica Dutton as its intervening counterbalance.
Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille)’s final scene in The Unravelling: Part 2 is morose on multiple levels, all of them hitting Monica coterminous. Monica sees and feels what her decision with Kayce is costing her son. Monica sees and feels what those decisions are costing her as she seats next her possible future in the form of her grandmother – wheelchair-bound with a urine bag attached to it. Monica Dutton never imagined herself ending up where she is and it all hits her at once. Monica’s life is on a brand new, unexpected, and bleak path where light doesn’t penetrate from either of its sides and is far off down the road, so far in fact that it almost seems like a figment of her imagination.
What also seems imaginary in The Unravelling: Part 2 is Kayce Dutton’s first major decision concerning the Yellowstone ranch. At the end of The Unravelling: Part 2, did Kayce Dutton really kill Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston)? If he did, Kayce Dutton became his father’s son in that moment, exactly the type of person that John Dutton wants to inherit and protect the Yellowstone ranch. Killing is a primitive, old school way of handling an interloper and would-be pirate but Kayce is a soldier (he was taught to kill his enemy) and John Dutton is definitely old school. My guess is that Dan Jenkins is never seen or heard from again (but there in lies the problem – Jenkins is a billionaire and his “disappearance” will spark a police search). With Dan Jenkins out of the picture, Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) can’t buy Jenkin’s land. Jenkins needs to be alive to sign the necessary legal documents. Dan Jenkins and Chief Rainwater have not signed the land buy deal yet which means the casino can’t be built. By killing Dan Jenkins, the Duttons may have bought themselves some precious time but also increased scrutiny and suspicion by law enforcement.
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