One of the strengths of “Yellowstone” is its character development. Its protagonists are complex, neither saintly nor completely mean; some antagonists later become allies, and even the minor characters are fallible or get funny lines.
Meanwhile, the show’s fans are waiting for Season 4 to kick off. While they wait, some are hopping on Reddit to debate which characters are redeemable and which are beyond help.
Are the ‘Yellowstone’ Characters Redeemable?
One Reddit poster hit on something that has apparently bothered Kevin Costner, who plays John Dutton, about the Dutton clan.
“These characters don’t think they need redemption because they believe what they are doing is all justified,” the poster argued. “The ends justifies the means sort of stuff. And the show is written from the perspective that they are right. That even applies for Rainwater.”
Costner told Indie Wire in 2019 that he’s troubled by some of the things Dutton has done in the first three seasons. But Costner has challenged “Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan to confront that honestly on the show.
“When I see behavior that’s off, it bothers me,” Costner said. “I have to look at John and understand — outside the character — ‘Hey, you just crossed a line. There’s no going back from that. You sanctioned a killing.’ You can inform the storytellers, the creators, that, ‘Look, we’ve just done that, and now we have to make sure we deal with it honestly.’”
“If [John] keeps making these same mistakes, people will lose faith in who [he is], even as a character,” Costner added later. “The show has to watch out for that, but in real life and in real movies, you know what you’ve done, and you just try to do the best you can.”
All agreed that Tate Dutton (Brecken Merrill) is redeemable, albeit probably in need of therapy for the rest of his life. And Monica’s grandfather (Rudy Ramos) also got multiple votes.
Debating Kayce’s Character
Another poster delved into Kayce’s (Luke Grimes) psyche. He pointed out that part of what makes Kayce a fan favorite is that – unlike most of the characters – he believes he needs to be redeemed.
“I can’t say he’s really done anything that seems pure evil, and in general, he seems to be the most empathetic Dutton,” the poster wrote. “He’s shown a genuine desire to want to help people, he ingratiated himself to the people on the Res, and it seems he’s the only Dutton family member who shows kindness to Jamie.”
Kayce may be the baby of the family. But he’s been through hell, both before the show’s first episodes and during the ensuing seasons. Grimes told Monsters & Critics that what appealed to him about “Yellowstone” was Sheridan’s writing and the humanity of the characters he had created.
“That’s why I was drawn to [the show],” Grimes said. “I just fell in love with the characters first.”
Grimes added that one of his favorite parts of the show is the use of flashback scenes to give more depth to the characters. It creates a longer development arc for each of the Duttons, not to mention Rip (Cole Hauser) and Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith).
“Not only [do you] see where these characters are, but you go back, and you start to figure out how they got there,” Grimes said.
No Need for Redemption?
No one suggested that Jamie (Wes Bentley) was redeemable, although he arguably has the most interesting backstory. Adopted after his birth mother died at his biological father’s hands, Jamie has never been the favorite of either Dutton parent. But he has achieved the most of any of the Dutton children.
In any case, the Reddit posters were less interested in how the characters got to where they were (and how it might explain their behavior) than they were in how the characters justify their decisions in the present. Some fans even argued there was no need for redemption, despite the considerable killing and fighting on the show.
“Nothing to redeem, for any characters!” another poster concluded. “They are all good at their roles, that’s why we are on here talking about it.”