‘Yellowstone’ TV: Is This the Saddest Scene of the Series So Far?

by Jennifer Shea

Some of the most poignant scenes in “Yellowstone” have been the flashback scenes. And of those, perhaps the saddest scene of all is the one in Season 2 in which John Dutton (Kevin Costner) comforts his ailing father, John Dutton Sr. (Dabney Coleman), toward the end of the latter’s life.

A Promise from Son to Father

The scene is definitely a fan favorite, with commenters lining up on Reddit to share the personal meaning it held for them.

In the scene, set against a gorgeous mountainside backdrop, John promises his father not to give up one inch of the Dutton ranch. He’ll pass it down to his children, as generations before him have done.

Dutton’s father tells him, “Don’t let them take it from you, son. Not a god—-ed inch.”

“I’ll miss you,” the young John Dutton tells his father.

“No you won’t,” his father replies. “You’ll miss what I was a long time ago… And when you get to my age, only thing you miss is being young. The chance to do it all over. See the look of wonder in your grandchildren’s eyes. The look in your eyes when you were a kid.’

“I’m gonna miss all this,” Dutton Sr. adds. “I miss—I miss your mother. And your brother, god—-it. Guess I miss more than I thought… I’m tired of talking, son.”

“Only took 90 years,” his son quips. “It’s all right, it’s just the whiskey.”

‘Yellowstone’ Family Dynamics

As an older man, John Dutton has a tortured relationship with his own sons. There’s his eldest son, Lee Dutton (Dave Annable), who labors good-naturedly in his father’s shadow, trying but always falling short of John’s expectations that he transform into a rancher, until Lee’s early death in Season 1.

Then there’s Jamie (Wes Bentley), never his father’s favorite despite dutifully attending Harvard and returning to serve as the Dutton family counsel. He trots around after John, cleaning up messes and averting calamities while setting aside his own political ambitions in the service of the family. By the end of Season 3, Jamie is beginning to confront John more, having learned that he is in fact adopted. But John insists on continuing to call him his son.

Finally, there’s Kayce (Luke Grimes), his mother’s clear favorite, who rebelled against John and wears the Yellowstone brand that John burned into him. In Season 1, Kayce and John are barely speaking, and it emerges later that John tried to have Kayce’s son Tate (Brecken Merrill) aborted. But over time, Kayce grudgingly allows John to have a relationship with Tate. And by Season 3, Kayce is helping John by taking over as livestock commissioner and living with his family in the main house at the ranch.

But as Season 3 ends, it is perhaps Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) who is fighting hardest to keep her father’s promise to John Dutton Sr.: not an inch. 

It remains to be seen whether the Duttons can stave off the hedge fund managers and public officials converging to parcel out their land over their objections. What is certain is that John Dutton is not about to give up without a fight.

Watch the emotional father-son scene here: