I haven’t asked to see the opening episodes of Taylor Sheridan‘s Yellowstone (Paramount Network, 6.20), the sprawling, Montana-shot, big-ranch, family-conflict drama starring Kevin Costner, but I can at least convey that it’s gotten creamed by the critics — 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, 62% on Metacritic. I wouldn’t dare to summarize, but there are gripes galore.
I’ve finally figured out that on Direct TV, the Paramount Network is channel #241 so I guess I’ll tune in. Maybe. We’ll see.
Costner plays the somewhat taciturn John Dutton, a half-tough, half-laid-back Big Daddy brah in a black cowboy hat. Weary hangs the bison head. Everybody wants a piece of his land or his soul, some more than others. His four grown children, corporate developers, Native American activists, Montana politicians. It’s that kind of ensemble.
“Expensive to look at, painfully slow, lovingly violent, overly dedicated to uncovering the secret sadness lingering in the heart of murderous egomaniacs, generally pointless.”
Three of the four Dutton children are “dangerously boring,” Franich notes. “The fourth is Beth, a man-eating boozehound tycoon played with Sin City hyperbole by Kelly Reilly.
“I’m watching the second episode, and John’s son Kayce (Luke Grimes) has just discovered dinosaur bones in his backyard.
“He discovered them because there was a tree stump on his property that was bothering him, and he tried to pull it out with a tractor, and then he just used dynamite. And now John himself is here, theorizing that the dinosaur was probably killed by a prehistoric shark. One thing I wasn’t expecting was Kevin Costner talking about dinosaur-eating sharks.
“Strange things keep happening to Kayce. Later in episode 2, he’s going for a drive with his wife (Kelsey Asbille), and they’re driving by a random house, and that house explodes. ‘Meth lab’s my guess,’ Kayce drawls, as he runs toward the explosion. So now Yellowstone is just a show where houses blow up sometimes.
“And then a little later, Kayce’s driving down a road, and sees a wolf crossing in front of him. (I think it’s a wolf. It could be a coyote.) Kayce stops, and stares, and a large truck smashes through the wolf, and thus dies the wolf. Jesus, maybe it’s a metaphor.
“Meanwhile, Kayce’s sister Beth wakes up one day in a pile of pill bottles. And she takes a publicly naked bath in a trough drinking champagne straight from a bottle. And she tells her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley) to ‘BE A FUCKING MAN!’ while she’s beating him up.”