Season 2, Episode 6: "Blood the Boy"
Four Stars out of Five
"Blood the Boy" opens with another of the show's flashbacks featuring Josh Lucas as a younger Dutton. Dutton asks young Jamie what he might want to be when he grows up, and Jamie tells him that he wants to be John. Dutton, however, tells Jamie that he's already applied to Harvard for Jamie, and that he's going to become a lawyer. Jamie doesn't seem altogether happy about that, despite John's statement that lawyers are the "swords of this century" and that "words are weapons."
Cut to present-day Jamie looking uncertainly into the mirror, still wracked with guilt after the revelation that he's revealed a whole lot of potentially damaging information to the journalist Sarah Nguyen. In Dutton's office, John tells Jamie, in not quite so many words, that he'd better make this situation go away - by, if nothing else, suing Nguyen's magazine.
After the credits, we find the Beck Brothers waiting in Thomas Rainwater's office, opining that his casino - the one that already exists - is nicer than they thought it would be. Imagine how nice the new one will be.
Malcolm Beck (remember, these guys are the owners of a string of thinly-veiled stand-ins for Lucky Lils) says that the sound of a casino making money is the little bells and chimes of slot machines. Rainwater shows him a surveillance video of his croupier, a man missing half a finger, and says that he makes more money than "a row of slot machines." The Beck Brothers flash their sinister smirks.
They're there to offer their evil services, whatever it takes to make a buck off of the planned Paradise Valley casino Rainwater is building. Or else.
On the Yellowstone, Lloyd and Jimmy are watching as someone shoes the horses, but Jimmy's distracted. Again, he tells Lloyd he needs money fast. Lloyd offers to spot Jimmy a couple hundred bucks to enter the rodeo, being a great guy and a noble cowboy. Jimmy asks him why he'd do that, and Lloyd presses his hand to Jimmy's brand and asks "why do you think?"
Next, Dutton is driving when he's pulled over by Donnie Haskell, who we last saw taking responsibility for the recent shooting of a corrupt rancher's boy due to the Sheriff's department's failure to send someone to the livestock agent's call for backup. Dutton remarks on Haskell's about-face and Haskell explains that the Beck Brothers reminded him that he's in their pocket after they looked the other way after Haskell incurred some serious gambling debts in one of their casinos. Haskell's advice to Dutton is to get off of the Beck's "radar." Dutton says that maybe Haskell had better be a better friend to him.
Lloyd is trying to train Jimmy in the art of the rodeo, remembering that Jimmy's only skill with horses is in staying on them - remember when he was tied to one for an afternoon? Rip comes up and advises Jimmy not to do it, as there aren't any old rodeo cowboys; they don't live that long.
Next, some more of the Bunkhouse Boys decide to see if Jimmy's got what it really takes to be a rodeo star, so they set him on top of a horse that no one has been able to ride yet, put him in the chute, warn him against getting his head kicked in, and then turn him loose. Again, Jimmy perseveres, and even the assembled Bunkhouse Boys have to admit that Jimmy might just be preternaturally skilled at staying on a buckin' bronco. Lloyd tells him he'll be meeting some buckle bunnies in no time.
Dutton then shows up to Dan Jenkins's office, beats his bodyguard with a wine bottle, and then screams at Jenkins. But he also lets Jenkins know that he knows it was the Beck Brothers, not Jenkins, that killed his cattle. Dutton tells him that maybe they should all three, including Rainwater, sit down to clear the air.
Nguyen meets Jamie on an isolated road (probably not wise) and a nervous Jamie tries to weasel his way out of the article once again. Sarah is understandably unmoved by his plea. Finally, Sarah says that it'll give her great pleasure to take the Duttons down, saying that the Yellowstone should be a park or a game preserve - which in the world of Yellowstone makes her public enemy number one. Jamie, seeing red, bashes her brains in. Then he starts to panic, but not before strangling her to death even as he screams, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" I hate to say it, but it feels like a pretty abrupt ending to the Nguyen storyline, as if they didn't quite know what to do with her.
Well, there's only one thing for that - gotta get Rip. So Jamie tearfully approaches Rip, showing him Nguyen's body, which he has foolishly stowed in the back of his Dodge Durango. Rip wants to tell Dutton, but Jamie thinks that that'll only make him an accessory to (another) murder.
So Rip goes to the bunkhouse to see who's available, and of course Walker's there, punching holes in a belt. After expressing that he's willing to do any legal ranch work, Rip asks him if he's willing to drive a car.
On the way to the dirt road where Nguyen's car is parked, Rip tells Jamie that at some point the only way to clean up Jamie's messes will be to get rid of Jamie.
So Rip watches as Jamie loads Nguyen's body into a kayak and pushes it into the rapids (won't they notice that her lungs don't have water in them since she's not breathing?). Then Rip smashes Jamie's phone and tosses that into the water as well. Walker, meanwhile, has gotten wise, realizing that at the very least he's an accessory to murder. In fact, Rip might have taken the opportunity to get more leverage over him, since it's Walker's prints all over the inside of Nguyen's rental car, the kayak, etc.
Back at Monica's place, she's making time with Martin. They're in their underwear and it's getting hot and heavy but she stops him short of full-on adultery as a fit of conscience (and, I guess, love for Kayce) overtakes her. She explains that she needed closure, by which she means that she needed to know that she couldn't cheat on Kayce.
Martin says something about breaking hearts and watching things die, but I'd be lying if I understood what it meant. I've said it before, but: JUST GET BACK TOGETHER WITH KAYCE ALREADY.
Could that be the end of the Martin storyline too?
Next, we're at Jimmy's first rodeo, and he's signing a "do not resuscitate form." And lo, he meets his first buckle bunny, who wishes him good luck.
A nervous Jimmy gets ready for his big moment. He climbs up on his horse in chute three, a big angry boy who badly wants Jimmy off of him. Jimmy puts his hand around the reins, sticks his chest out, and, finally, tells the rodeo staff he's ready. And guess what: he absolutely kills it, lasting all eight seconds and more. Amazed, he faces the stands and throws his hat. The crowd goes wild.
Lloyd watches with genuine pride as Jimmy gets paid out and collects his new belt buckle. Jimmy sees emotion on Lloyd's face, and asks him what's wrong.
"Not a thing," Lloyd says.
But nothing good ever happens without some heartbreak too - back at the bunkhouse, the boys are showering and arguing about razors. Jimmy comes in, eager to show off his accomplishment to Avery, but she's gone. She just collected her stuff and left (not planned; she was written off of the show due to behind-the-scenes stuff we won't speculate on here), leaving Jimmy crestfallen.
I guess that's the end of the Avery subplot too.
And then Walker enters, fresh off of his helping to hide a body. He collects his stuff and makes for the door as well. "Adio, *ssholes," he says to the crew.
Well, I guess someone's got to take Walker to the "train station," although he probably ought to know there are no passenger trains through the Paradise Valley, but then, maybe he doesn't. Kayce pulls up and offers to take them there himself and Rip, newly demoted, has to let him.
I don't know if Kayce intends to kill him or not, but Walker pretty quickly figures out that there ain't no train station - especially once they cross the border into Wyoming. So walker pulls his knife.
Kayce's killed enough people at this point that he might just be getting tired of it. As Walker expresses his opinion that man's the meanest animal there is, Kayce gets that hangdog expression of his. Walker says he's trying to do things a little different, and Kayce says he is too. So Kayce offers Walker a deal - if he leaves and doesn't tell a soul about all the many things he's seen and heard on the ranch, Kayce won't kill him. And by the next time he comes through the area, Kayce'll be running the ranch, and he'll do it in a less murderous way than Rip did. Walker agrees. In fact, he's grateful.
Is that the end of the Walker subplot too? This episode is tieing loose threads at a ferocious pace.
At the ranch, Dutton happens to see news coverage of the recovery of Nguyen's body. The authorities seem to have bought that the death was accidental, at least at this point, but Dutton sees through it, approaching Jamie.
Dutton asks him how they can move on from this - is he mad or happy that the Nguyen problem is solved? This is the guy, after all, that ordered the death of a coroner in, what, the second episode? Oddly enough, Dutton suggests that maybe Jamie should have hurt himself. Then we cut to Christina, fresh off her breakup with Jamie - she sees the same news coverage, and we see it dawn on her: Jamie must have killed her.
The next morning, it's a brand new day. The Bunkhouse Boys sip their coffee and rub the sleep out of their eyes. Meanwhile, Kayce and Tate are all dressed up in their camo to go hunting with Grampa Dutton. A bit later, Tate's got a deer in his sights. His dad and grandad talk him through taking a shot, and then POW, Tate takes down his first deer.
They get up close to it and, out of deference for the deer and in recognition of Tate's first buck, rubs some of the animal's blood on Tate's face. Tate seems a little sad to have killed the beautiful creature. Kayce tells him that everything on Earth has to kill to survive, and Dutton says "it's the one thing we all share." Well, that and the fact that something will kill us, too.
It's a heavy moment for a young child, but Tate'd better get used to it. Being a Dutton tends to involve a whole lot of killing.