Season 2, Episode 7: "Resurrection Day"
3 stars out of 4
As the episode opens in the twilight of dawn on the Yellowstone, Dutton saddles his horse for a ride to clear his mind. Kayce, who seems to be taking his new position seriously, is already up. He walks into the barn and asks his father where he's headed and if he wants company. Kayce says he needs to find someone to watch Tate, and Dutton offers to wait, but Kayce smiles and says he'll catch up. A moment later, and it's a race, with John heading into the mountains and Kayce speeding to make up the distance. Soon, Kayce has overtaken his father and, before long, they've hit the limit of their land, a rustic wooden fence to which they tether their horses.
It also happens to be the spot where Dutton's wife and Kayce's mother died in her riding accident. Dutton tells him that he was a better father when she was around, and tells Kayce "I hope you never find out what that feels like, son." Kayce responds that he already knows what it feels like.
I've said it before, but please, please, Kayce, just get back together with Monica. I have to say, their breakup continues to be an unnecessary subplot.
Turns out that Kayce, perhaps unwisely, left Tate to be watched by the bunkhouse boys. As Rip says, "I guess your dad forgot what here is like," telling him to come with him.
Meanwhile, Jamie's complete nervous breakdown continues unabated as he sobs into a washcloth in front of his handsomely furnished bathroom mirror. Beth wanders in and begins her weekly litany of abuse. This time, perhaps, Jamie might deserve it, having now become a murderer. Beth lays it on typically thick - she tells him to kill himself.
Personally, I'm not sure why. He's not the only Dutton to kill someone, and he did do it, ostensibly, in the service of the family. But then, Beth's going to be Beth.
Rember in episode 6, when the Beck Brothers visit Thomas Rainwater and he tells him that his blackjack dealer, the one with 9 and 1/2 fingers, makes more money than a row of their slot machines do in a week? Well, the Beck Brothers have flexed their influence by having him strangled to death, chopping his hand off (the one missing part of a finger, of course), and pinning it to a tree stump with a dagger. The tribal police officer says that it looks like a message. Yeah, I'll say.
Tate watches as Rip tires out a horse. As Dutton approaches, Tate tells Dutton he's made a decision: he's going to be a cowboy, and if he's going to be a cowboy, he'll need a horse. He asks Dutton to buy him one. What does Dutton get in return? Well, Tate offers to feed and water the horse, and Dutton agrees as long as Kayce agrees, and too if Kayce will train it.
Poor Dan Jenkins - he's a villain, yes, but it seems like all that ever happens to him anymore is that he sits in his office or his house and someone, maybe Kayce, maybe Dutton himself, comes and harasses and/or threatens him. You almost start to feel sorry for him. This time it's even worse: those ghoulish Beck Brothers, or more specifically Teal Beck. As they promised him they'd do earlier, they've suspended his liquor license. He'll have to wait for a revocation hearing until next spring. Malcolm Beck, meanwhile, is threatening Beth at her office. He tells her that he can't trust her to stop the construction of the casino. He also tells her that he anticipates that, if the casino is constructed, the Duttons may be able to leverage the hydroelectric energy of their part of the river by just becoming an energy company instead. He then tells her the story of a real estate attorney from Hamilton who looked like her and, like her, decided not to help out the Beck Brothers. He says that she ended up moving to California to "move past the trauma" of whatever they did to her. She, in turn, tells another story, one which would be impolite to retell here, suffice it to say that in its telling Beth manages to compare Malcolm Beck to a little boy's privates. Malcolm, as creepy as ever, tells her he has a cure for her tough talk.
Kayce goes to Monica's apartment on campus with Tate, who is talking about all the things he's going to do with his horse. Kayce and Monica blah blah blah when they arrive. Suffice it to say they MIGHT FINALLY GET BACK TOGETHER, leaving time for what really matters, which is Kayce shooting people.
Dutton walks into his house to find his gun cabinet open and a rifle missing. Looks like Jamie might be about to take his sister's advice. Rip and Dutton find Jamie, tearful, holding the rifle at the top of the hill. Dutton tells Jamie that if he goes through with it all anyone will remember of him is the way he chose to leave the world. He tells him he won't let him quit this way.
Jamie, who is really getting quite tiresome this season, says that his problem cannot be fixed. Dutton encourages him not to try to fix his life, but to dissemble it and build another one, like a wagon wheel. Jamie hands over the rifle. "The old you is dead," Dutton says. "Now we start working on the new one."
But if Dutton wants Jamie to try to change and become a new man, that means he'll need Beth to stop trying to get him to kill himself. To that end, he confronts her about it, asking her to take it easier on him. She asks him to look her in the eye and tell her that he loves Jamie the way he does Kayce or her. He looks away.
So Jamie packs a bag and protests that this is silly while Rip waits. And then we find out his destination - the bunkhouse; as Rip tells the boys, Jamie's going to try his hand at cowboying. Will each of the Duttons stay in the bunkhouse one by one?
Jamie joins the boys in a game of poker, trying to buy in with a couple of crisp hundreds. Then Jamie sees that he's got three kings in his hand, probably giving him the highest hand at the table, but he folds because he doesn't want to win. Rip notices, and tells him, "you're going to do fine."
Dutton sits down with Beth and pours himself a couple fingers of Bulleitt (you suppose they pay for that kind of promotion?) as Beth tells him that Malcolm Beck came to visit her. Dutton looks troubled, and she tells him that she thinks he just wants to be feared.
"Well, he ain't getting that," Dutton says.
If Dutton has one form of hubris, it's thinking that he's meaner than all of his enemies. He might be meaner than Jenkins, that's true. But the Beck Brothers might just be meaner than him.
Kayce and Monica, meanwhile, are finally back together, as made evident by a tastefully shot sex scene. I'm on the record as finding this plotline less interesting than the machinations of the Duttons, so I'll say no more about it.
But as the romance is going around, Beth calls Rip and tells him to "come to me." By this, she means she expects him to climb onto the roof of th ranch house, where Beth is nursing her own bottle of whiskey. Their conversation turns to what Rip does with his money. He gets paid every week, and probably more than the rest of the bunkhouse boys, yet he's worn "the same three pairs of jeans and jacket for a f***ing decade," so where does that money go? So he reveals that he's spent a small fortune on his mother's marble headstone, even more on his little brother's headstone, and considerably less to a gravedigger in Forsythe who dug up his father's bones for him. Then, possessed of his murderous father's bones, he drove all the way to North Dakota throwing his father's bones out the window (you reckon highway patrol wondered what that was about?).
Beth gets philosophical, saying that both heaven and hell are here on Earth, and that God's the land. Whatever that means. Rip thinks about telling her he loves her, but Beth stops him, telling him to wait until it saves her. Again, whatever that means.
Dutton then shows Kayce and Monica to their room, an exquisitely furnished suite with a TV that rises out of a chest at their feet. He can't find the remote, but it's their room, so they can find it. It's his old room, as a matter of fact. So Dutton collects his own things and moves to the guest house previously occupied by Lee, which means cleaning out Lee's things, which understandably makes Dutton emotional. As he adds his own clothes to the closet, he pushes aside Lee's clothes, saying, "I'm not removing them, son. Just scooting them over."
Jamie's doing ranch work when Dutton arrives at the ranch later, taking hay off a semi and putting it in the barn. Dutton arrives with Tate's horse, and he asks the boy what he'll name the horse. Tate decides on Lucky.
That evening, in Beth's office, two masked men arrive and knock out her secretary. Immediately, she accuses them of a homosexual act - but not before texting Rip that she needs help. They proceed to badly beat her, though she gets a few licks in too, stabbing one repeatedly in the shoulder.
Rip's already on the road, dialing her number. When the call doesn't get through, he presses pedal to metal.
Moments later, the masked men have Beth and Jason, her secretary, tied up. They shoot Jason in the head (poor Jason, we hardly knew ye). One of the men, the one she stabbed, says he's bleeding out. Beth still manages to impugn the size of their genitals, crass to the last. Then the masked man who is uninjured unties her and puts her on the boardroom table, intending to rape her. Beth stalls for time, continuing to insult his manhood. She's still screaming at her assailant as Rip arrives. The mans shoots Rip twice, but Rip gets the better of him, knocking him to the ground and beating his head until he's unconscious. Then he shoots the other man for good measure. Rip's a little the worse for wear, coughing and holding his side, but he's well enough to call Dutton and tell him he needs to come to the office. Beth, meanwhile, picks up what looks to be an ashtray and finished off the assailant with it.
I've got to say - I know that the show has to make us hate the Becks and give the Duttons even more reason to want to dispatch them, but the whole sequence is exceedingly unpleasant, and the idea of someone trying to rape Beth as a message is pretty awful. But it does recall what Malcolm Beck told Beth about that poor real estate attorney from Hamilton, how she had to move to California to escape the trauma. We're invited to think that something like this happened to her, too.
These guys regularly arrange this sort of thing and yet they still control the state liquor board? This show's writers sure do depict the state as being about as corrupt as Haiti or Venezuala, run by cartels and cabals of bloodthirsty cowboys. In this writer's limited experience, it is not quite as bad as all that. But it's only a TV show, after all.
After Dutton arrives, who should come to help but the long-suffering Dr. Stratton, the doctor who always seems to have to deal with the Duttons' considerable family drama. Kayce's there, too. He volunteers to "take care of this." Dutton says nothing.
Much later, Kayce climbs back into bed with Monica. She asks where he's been, and he lies, telling her there were wolves down by the barn.
"Wolves?" she asks.
"They're everywhere here, baby," he says.
The next morning, Malcolm Beck wakes up and makes his coffee when he notices that his two hired goons are trussed up nude, covered in blood, handing from his porch. There's a note stabbed to one of their chests that reads "Return to Sender."
As Kayce and Dutton watch a storm cloud gather over the mountains, Kayce asks him "what are we going to do about these Beck Brothers?"
Dutton, ever stoic, says, "we're going to kill them, son."