This frustrating season continues with Yellowstone Season 4 Episode 8.
Not because it’s terrible, it has some of the best scenes of the season. What’s frustrating is the time spent on absolutely nothing.
Yes, I’m looking Jimmy squarely in the face. But, there’s more.
Before we get to what everyone loves about Yellowstone and the genuinely fabulous scenes contained herein, we have to kick up dust about what’s not working.
I hate that we have to keep mucking with the dust, but it’s so plentiful during Yellowstone Season 4 that it simply cannot go unsaid.
First of all, if the 6666 scenes are indicative of what’s to come from that spinoff, well, you all might be well to go on without me. Just leave me behind.
Jimmy isn’t magnetic enough to draw me to Texas. His growth isn’t that spectacular. He had similar spurts of development at the Yellowstone and then crushed them into dust with his stubbornness.
Did he need another love interest so soon after Mia? It’s not interesting, and it’s certainly not realistic. It just wastes time, and we do not have time to waste.
If that was the only thing that sucked time away from more pertinent stories, maybe it could be forgiven. Instead, it was the worse of two that didn’t necessarily fit.
My Yellowstone Season 4 Episode 7 review noted that 1883 is terrific. Hopefully, you’ve checked out our interviews with the incredible cast and checked out the premiere episodes earlier today on Paramount+.
Now that you’ve seen them, you know that what we see of the early Duttons on Yellowstone is a family well beyond the story told on 1883. Margaret and James are hardened, Elsa is gone (seemingly moved out), and John is no longer a small child with wide-eyed dreams.
So, what is the point of these snippets of 1883?
By way of context, we learned that James is the sheriff or a deputy. They have another child. Violence has followed them. And James might have just dropped dead.
The assumption is that what happened there relates directly to the story told during “No Kindness for the Coward.”
Here’s what I’ve got. I couldn’t have been the only person who expected the hour to revolve around Jamie. It smacks of Jamie. No kindness. Coward. But there was nothing to show that the comment related to him.
It did relate to James making mincemeat of the guys who were after him and who he left either dead or alive as a message to everyone like him.
James: I don’t care if you live or die, but should you live, you tell ’em about me.
Dude: Tell who?
James: Everybody like you.
That attitude has carried through the generations. We saw it with the heroic actions of John and Rip at the diner (more on that later). And it’s not a stretch that whatever is to become of Jamie and Garrett will also have some bearing on that sentiment.
But all we saw of Jamie was him whining about John raining on his parade and worrying that people will find out about Garrett. Granted, that’s a worthy concern.
If I disliked Christina during Yellowstone Season 2, and I did very much, seeing her go out in a blaze of glory wouldn’t be upsetting in the least. How she’s partnering with Garrett is nauseating.
Garrett grates with his terrible advice and the ridiculous belief that anybody would side with Jamie over John. The new people who have moved in can be easily intimidated, as we saw when Kayce put one annoying pest under the leg-breaking grate he loved so much.
John is still under the impression that the unnamed fellow in prison put the hit on him. He was going to find out more from Haskell, but the robbery in progress took his life before he could share any intel.
From a story standpoint, that just prolongs the inevitable. From an actor’s perspective, Hugh Dillon is creating and producing alongside Taylor Sheridan now, so moving away from Yellowstone was expected.
Still, that was a moving scene and a great goodbye, but it leaves another position open that needs to be filled with someone who works well with the Duttons.
Another pest, Market Equities, isn’t going away quickly. And it’s unclear how Beth is manipulating the situation with the protestors. If she’s hoping the bad press will push Market Equities out of town, Beth forgets the power of the almighty dollar.
Only if shareholders make a fuss will her approach work.
Kayce and Monica are having another baby. But a wolf was also at their door, and they’ve had run-ins with wolves in the past. Kayce was told not to shoot it because if provoked, it’s for a reason, and it’s a test he’ll fail.
There’s something about that encounter and the baby announcement, isn’t there?
The very best of this episode and the season so far comes from the new family dynamic at the lodge.
Who hasn’t missed the Dutton family meals? They were always entertaining in their awkwardness and the brutality that Beth forced upon them time and again.
Beth: Here, huh.
Rip: There’s fruit in the salad.
Rip: Yeah, I’m, I’m alright.
Beth: It’s good for the prostate.
Beth: I have gator make it for daddy. No? Doctor says he needs to eat fruit with every meal.
John: Yes, it is good for the prostate. Lots of things are good for the prostate, we just don’t talk about them at the dinner table.
Everything about them supping together was aces from how Rip asked guidance from John about seating arrangements and how to store his hat to Carter’s hope that the strange conversation that progressed didn’t squash his chance at cake afterward.
Beth and Rip have grown up together, but they still have so much to learn about one another. That makes their relationship strong and fragile at the same time.
As soon as they sat down, Beth started her shenanigans of embarrassing John in any way possible. She’s used that table to air dirty laundry, to embarrass, and to rage against anyone in her way for years.
Beth: You know, there’s this holistic doctor at the Deerfield Club? He specializes in tantric healing. Now THAT is good for the prostate.
Rip: Tantric. What’s that?
John: Don’t encourage her.
Beth: It focuses on the erogenous zones.
Rip: The what? erogenous zones?
Beth: Mmm-hmm. Areolas, vulva, phallus, sphincter.
Carter: Is that Latin?
Rip: And you’ve done this?
John: You’re just pourin’ gas on the fire, Rip. Just dumpin’ it right on the damn fire.
Beth: I love it. But I don’t think it’s for you, baby. You’re wound a little tight. But it is a good idea for you, Daddy. And he is good. He made my knees wobble for a fucking week.
John: Jesus Christ.
Beth: He recommends that you see him monthly, but after my first session, I was like, “A month! I’m seein’ your ass tomorrow!”
Carter: Are we still talking about a salad?
John: No, Carter. We’re well past a salad. This is every meal, Rip. This is where she gets her revenge.
Beth has no filter. We all love that about her. When Rip waved away salad with fruit in it, Beth picked up that ball and ran with it like it was the last play she’d ever make.
It was hard to tell how much Rip knew about what she was talking about with the prostate and tantric healing. His innocence in those areas is as heartwarming as his bear-like defense of all things Dutton.
Given how similar Carter is to the man who has taken him under his wing, I think Rip knows a lot more than he lets on, but he’s not going to fully engage with that knowledge.
Rip: Beth, you’re not gonna do this at breakfast, are you? Because I have to eat my breakfast quick.
Beth: What? Do what? What the fuck am I doing? OK. You know what I’m doin’? I’m fuckin’ leavin’, that’s what I’m doin’.
He wants to appease Beth by acting interested and John, too, by remaining calm and cordial. So when Beth took his advice about making lemonade from lemons instead of just sucking on the lemons outright (so to speak), she didn’t think much of it.
What Beth hasn’t had in her life — that we’ve seen anyway — is someone who grabs onto her rope when she starts to drift away in anger.
Rip: What in the fuck was that about? What kind of childhood bullshit are you workin’ out at the dinner table?
Beth: Yeah, that’s what it is Rip. It’s the table. It’s that whole fuckin’ room. It’s the stifling, oppressive false fuckin’ fantasy of a family that just does not exist. Never fuckin’ existed. You know there’s four different forks and spoons on that table, Rip? There’s an oyster spoon on the fuckin’ table. Do we eat oysters?!? But my God, do we have the fuckin’ spoon for it.
Rip: If you don’t like the room, then eat in a different room, at a different fuckin’ table. Look, there’s a table right here. Why don’t we eat right here? Waddya say?
Rip does that for Beth. He shows her he sees what she’s feeling, but he also reminds her that there are choices to make, and you can only make them for yourself. She’s making herself unhappy without any conceivable reason.
Rip is her tether, and his common-sense approach found them back at the table with John and Carter, enjoying a meal together.
Rip: Life is plenty hard. You don’t need to help it, you hear me?
Beth: You sayin’ I make life harder?
Rip: Every day.
That’s the kind of relationship we all want. We want to be heard and seen and understood, and we want the person we love to complement our lives for the better. Beth told Rip that he’s the perfect man, but they’re the perfect couple.
It’s moments like that dinner scene that raises Yellowstone above other dramas. We’ve had fewer of them this season, and when you get one that hits like this one, it just makes all of the noise from 6666 and 1883 even less welcome.
With two episodes left, there isn’t a visible path to this season’s conclusion. The storylines are all over the place. We need Garrett and Jamie to atone for their sins. We need Beth and Rip to wed. Now we’ve got John running for Governor and Beth manipulating Market Equities.
Where will Season 4 draw the line? If 6666 debuts before it returns, will Yellowstone stories continue there?
After you watch Yellowstone online, please share your thoughts about the episode and what’s ahead. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.