‘Yellowstone’: How the First and Last 5 Minutes of Season 1 Foreshadow the Whole Series

by Allison Hambrick

One of the key parts of writing a television pilot is to properly foreshadow where the series is going, and Yellowstone is no exception. Not only did the first episode set up John Dutton’s arc, but the entire first season gave a clear picture of what the series wanted to be.

The opening scene of Yellowstone sees Dutton, played by Kevin Costner, being hit by a semi-truck while he was driving his tractor-trailer. Despite his miraculous survival, Dutton puts down a horse that suffered injuries in the wreck. The accident occurred because of a rivalry with Paradise Valley.

Worth noting is, the entire wreck took place during the first five minutes of the series. When compared to the last five minutes of the first season, the wreck again comes into play. Rip, the ranch foreman at the Dutton Ranch, questions developer Dan Jenkins, with a noose around his neck. He asks the businessman about whether John’s wreck was an accident–it wasn’t. Jenkins also told Kayce Dutton that his father is destined to lose his ranch, whether it’s by selling it or not.

Meanwhile, the elder Dutton has a heart-to-heart with his daughter, Beth, wherein they discuss the ranch. Beth cries at the realization that they are alone at the dinner table. Dutton explains it’s not the people at the table, but the table itself. Beth then responds that it’s the first thing she’ll sell when he’s gone.

This theme carries over throughout the next four seasons. It’s still a major conflict heading into the fifth season of the series.

Yellowstone Creator Masters How to Foreshadow Conflict

Recently, Yellowstone actor Rob Kirkland discussed the authenticity with which creator Taylor Sheridan writes the series. Aside from creating believable conflicts, Sheridan focuses on creating believable characters. Kirkland believed that the writer’s talent came from his own personality.

“If you’re doing authentic storytelling, the more authentic of a person you are, the more authentic your storytelling is going to be,” Kirkland said. “When you get a chance to talk with Taylor, he’s very authentic, and that striving to be an authentic person transcends into being an authentic artist.”

Additionally, Sheridan draws on his actors to craft their characters.

“Taylor just has an idea of how his actors think and feel and talk,” he explained. “The first thing that he is addressing with his shows is [creating] an authentic human being having an authentic experience. Then you layer it with the environment that they’re coming from. Whether it’s First Nations domain, or whether it’s the inner city. But you have to have the patience, the empathy, and the courage to connect with humanity. And that’s why these stories connect with so many people.”