‘Yellowstone’ Season 5: Beth Dutton Doesn’t Deserve a Redemption Arc. Does Jamie?

by Jon D. B.
Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton, Yellowstone. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

Is anyone still rooting for Beth Dutton after Yellowstone Season 5’s two-episode premiere? Or is her nastiness the whole point regardless?

Let’s get straight to it: It’s time for Beth to be the bigger person. Watching Kelly Reilly‘s iconic character tear through men in a world built by and for men has been an undeniable highlight of the series. But when is enough enough? The answer lies in Season 5, Episode 2’s recycling of previous Beth highlights.

But first, when Beth returns in Season 5’s premiere episode, she’s at her best as her father’s strongest supporter. Her introduction as John (Kevin Costner) officially wins Montana’s gubernatorial race shows her trademark tenacity alongside immense heart. We see the same in her first Season 5 scene with now-husband Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), in which she gives a tender apology fit for the broken soul she is.

‘I’m about to work you like a rented mule, brother. It’s time for your pound of flesh.

Beth shines in her Episode 1 interactions with adopted brother Jamie (Wes Bentley), too. She’s hard on him, yes. But let’s face it, Jamie earned this after sheltering the man who attempted to assassinate her and their father: Jamie’s own biological father, Garrett Randall (Will Patton) in Season 4.

“I’m about to work you like a rented mule, brother. It’s time for your pound of flesh,” she tells Jamie. He has no choice but to play ball, either, as Beth has the ultimate blackmail on him (courtesy of the photos she took as Jamie dumped Garrett’s body at the ‘Train Station’).

We’re then treated to the finest scene to ever feature Beth, John, and Jamie. In their car ride after John’s victory, these three spar as a family for the first time in years. It’s a perfect string of dialogue from Taylor Sheridan that showcases how engaging the Dutton family is, and why Sheridan’s flagship series is the #1 show on television:

Jamie: We’re all going to prison.
Beth: It is the eight wonder of the world you aren’t already there.
John: Would you two just shut the f*ck up and let me enjoy the last hour of quiet I’m going to have in the next four years?

Then Episode 2 happens.

‘Yellowstone’ Season 5, Episode 2 Showcases Beth Dutton At Her Worst

“Stop thinking you have a chance at redemption, Jamie. Because you don’t,” Beth tells her brother in his Attorney General’s office. She is cold and ruthless with him throughout.

“Your political career was over the moment you chose your father over mine,” she tells him, reminding us of the latest reason why she is so vindictive when it comes to Jamie, and why it is absolutely warranted (outside of a teenage Jamie consenting her to the abortion that left her sterilized, that is).

Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton, Wes Bentley as Jamie Dutton in Yellowstone Season 5. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

Then, Beth takes on a truly juvenile persona as she torments her adopted brother. After asking Jamie to be on the Dutton ranch on weekends so she can “keep an eye” on him, Beth goes full on high school-mean-girl by asking Jamie to reply to her with “yes ma’am” in the most vindictive way possible.

It’s hard to watch. Not just for Beth’s immaturity, but for Jamie’s compliance, too, as he does exactly as his sister asks. He has no choice.

In this moment, in Jamie’s presence, Beth becomes a full-on villain. A petty, vindictive, villain.

Soon after, Beth is at a bar trying to have a drink, when an out-of-towner comes up to (blatantly) hit on her. It’s the latest Yellowstone scene in which an entitled man does exactly as real entitled men do, before Beth rips him to shreds in the way only Beth Dutton can.

Instead of becoming a Yellowstone Season 5 highlight, however, the exchange feels wildly out of place. We’ve seen this exact scenario play out for Beth in every seasons now. But unlike past seasons, this scene doesn’t serve her story, or Episode 2’s plot. At all.

Regardless, this sort of dialogue keeps Beth firmly planted as Yellowstone‘s female character who refuses to let men rule her world. And that is most certainly a character worth having. It’s just a shame that this scene, like others before it in Season 4, turn her into a caricature rather than an agent of the story Yellowstone is telling.

‘You’re either Pro-Jamie, or Pro-Beth at this point. There’s no in-between.’

Despite Beth’s questionable quips (“I am the rock therapists break themselves against” was another caricature moment) and scenes, the true debate amongst Yellowstone viewers remains the same. It’s Beth vs Jamie, and there are only two camps. You’re either Pro-Jamie, or Pro-Beth at this point. There’s no in-between.

For this Outsider, who’s covered the show extensively over its reign, Season 4 had me staunchly Pro-Beth. Regardless of Beth’s flaws, she was right, and adult Jamie was horribly wrong to foster Garrett Randall. I say “adult” because it’s a much harder argument to condemn a teenager for the mistakes they made. That’s certainly a rule most of us would like upheld, given the hard-learned mistakes we humans make as teens.

That abortion flashback in Season 3 showed us how and why Beth hates her brother and treats him as she does. She holds a deep, seething grudge that can never be healed. And that I understand.

(Photo Credit: Yellowstone Gallery, Paramount Network Press Center, Viacom)

But then came Yellowstone Season 5, and Beth just isn’t growing. She isn’t learning. Instead, she’s choosing to fuel the fires of her lesser qualities with heaps of coal.

‘Yellowstone’ Season 5’s Beth vs Jamie Comes Down to How These Two Characters Treat Other People

For many fans commenting on the subject online, it was Beth’s treatment of orphan Carter towards the end of Season 4 that damned her in their eyes. “I am not your mother, and I never will be,” was the line heard round the world, with viewers of all kinds coming for Beth.

But she wasn’t wrong. Instead, she was doing exactly what her own mother taught her to do: mentally break your children so they are “strong.”

Which is horrible, truly. And whether it’s a stranger, her adopted brother, the orphan she chose to take in, or the many assistants she’s had over the years, the way Beth is beginning to ware down viewers boils down to how she treats other people.

If you look at it this way, then her adopted brother has a lot fewer boxes checked. That is, until you remember that Jamie has literally murdered not one, but two people. And he did so to cover his own ass.

Moral of the story? The Duttons are not heroes. They’re survivors, and the pleasure of Yellowstone Season 5 and beyond will be in watching them survive. If that’s not your cup of tea, though, then you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Season 5’s second episode keeps the drama coming. Tate Dutton delivers a heartbreaking line about the car crash, Rip Wheeler has to solve a MAJOR problem, and we get to see Josh Lucas as a young (handsome) John Dutton. Keep up if you can.