After a bloody second season finale, Paramount’s Yellowstone began its third in remarkable peace.
Last season ended in a deadly shootout between the Dutton family and its allies and white supremacists militia members who were hired to kidnap and traumatize John Dutton’s only grandson, Tate.
Season three began Sunday night with the family picking up all the pieces all while introducing new enemies and indicating another ugly war is coming to billionaire rancher John Dutton’s (Kevin Costner) clan.
John resigns his position as Montana livestock commissioner to contain the scandal of using armed livestock officers to help him rescue his grandson from skinheads. He tells his daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) later, he never wanted the position, only the “power,” and will keep it by appointing one of his children. After his son Kayce (Luke Grimes) refuses, he selects Jamie (Wes Bentley) in spite of his past betrayals.
Beth’s face is still black and blue from the beating she took at the hands of the same thugs who kidnapped Tate (Brecken Merill). Rather than being haunted by the assault she’s more determined than ever. Young Tate is battling nightmares of his captivity and his mother Monica (Kelsey Asbille) is beginning to comprehend why the family is always at war with someone.
She’s also still processing the trauma of her son’s kidnapping. Now a college history professor, Monica warns her smartphone obsessed students stuck in their social media worlds that there are “men” buying up the world and “raping” it.
“Do you have any idea what is happening in the world you live in? Do you think that the photo on your screen has anything to do with that world? The world you live in is slowly shrinking,” she lectures. “There’s a tiny group of men who are buying it and stripping it naked and selling you what they extract. They’re raping your world and selling you what they take. I mean, they sell you the water you drink, the air you breathe and you line up for it like sheep.”
Then delivering a more personalized complaint she adds, “They will kill your brother and steal your child and pollute everything you love. And you'll never notice because you're so hypnotized by a world that doesn't exist.”
It wasn’t entirely clear what businesses she’s denouncing over “raping” the world. But the last line was obviously referring to her husband Kayce killing her brother in an earlier season and the greedy Beck Brothers who sent racist thugs after her son.
As the entire family tries to move forward and continue cattle ranching, new enemies arrive in the form of a development firm called Market Equities and “hedge fund baller” Roarke Morris. They have come to Big Sky Country to build an airport and then a city -- challenging the Dutton’s ranching empire. A showdown and shootout is inevitable. This is a western drama after all.
As he did last season, when Yellowstone was the most watched summertime drama of the year, sixth generation rancher John Dutton will use any means necessary to try to keep the promise he made to his dying father not to “let ’em take it away ... not a goddamn inch.”
An exclusive preview aired after the episode suggested this season will be just as ugly on both sides. In a mashup of lines from the upcoming season, Morris asks if their family can afford "to fight the army they’ll march in there," Beth warns her father, “if you don’t accept, the state will condemn this land,” John’s ranch hand Rip Wheeler runs a motorcyclist off a road, he also threatens to kill someone, and there are multiple scenes of violence and gunshots.
Enemies trying to get their hands on Dutton land for different reasons and by different means has always been a central premise of the show.
Monica, who is Native American, summed up the situation poetically in the first episode of this season saying to John, “When this land belonged to my people a hundred and fifty years ago, children were stolen and men were killed. Families herded away like cattle. And nothing's changed. Except you're the Indian now.”