Before Monica appears near the end of “All I See Is You,” what would you imagine her demeanor to be? What have the last two months been like for her, and what’s the state of her and Kayce’s marriage? Are she and Tate still living in the lodge?
We finally learn what Monica and Tate have been up to near the end of “All I See Is You,” and it turns out the answer is “not much, besides lying in bed completely miserable and traumatized.” It’s not an unreasonable reaction, necessarily; after all, the last time we saw them, Tate killed his first man to protect his mom. That would fuck up any kid.
So, on the one hand, Monica is right when she points out the ways the Dutton ranch has corrupted them all, normalizing violence and cold-blooded murder as a tool to maintain the status quo. On the other hand … where’s the consistency here? Tate was traumatized once before, when he was kidnapped by the Becks in season two and thrown in a cell, his head shaved. When Kayce saved him, it even took him a moment to stop screaming and recognize his dad. But a quick trip with his mom and some time on the ranch seemed to fix him right up. Trauma affects everyone differently, of course, but even allowing for that, why are the reactions so different this time around? And why does Kayce get all the blame? If Monica really does hate him as she says, why not take Tate and leave?
Monica reminds Kayce that she never wanted their family to stay at the ranch to begin with. But after Tate was kidnapped before, she seemed thankful to John and Kayce for keeping him alive, even though all of this happened (and keeps happening) because John is a target. She even explicitly asked Kayce to kill the men who took her son.
There’s fertile ground to explore in that contradiction if the show wanted to; after all, Monica uses the word “we” when she talks about whom the ranch has turned evil, recognizing her own degree of complicity in the cycle. But it’s always unclear what exactly we’re supposed to think of Monica’s position. She has a point, but the show often makes her sound like an annoying hypocrite by limiting her to her distrust of John and her frequent petulance toward her husband. She’s the character with the most potential of the show, but she’s often grouped together with Tate in the general “wife and children” category while Kayce gets to run around town doing the fun stuff.
Throughout the episode, you wouldn’t necessarily know anything was wrong from Kayce’s behavior. Sure, he’s more comfortable with vigilante justice than ever: in the opening montage, he and his SWAT team pick off the remains of the militia, and he later throws a man under a cattle guard, handcuffed, to teach him a lesson for making a local rancher’s job harder. The first real sign that Kayce’s use of force is a dangerous crutch is that scene with Monica and Tate when Tate refuses to come out from under the bed and Kayce drags him out by his feet. But it’s still a little unclear what we’re supposed to think of all this: Is Kayce helping his own family become evil by surrounding them with so much violence? Is he dooming his family to a life of fear by keeping them here?
Jimmy is certainly about to find out if he can handle himself outside the Yellowstone. He burns his remaining bridges this week, unintentionally pushing Mia away by venting about how he has nobody here anymore, how moving to the Four Sixes Ranch in Texas is his only option. Nobody is really forcing him to leave, but I think even Jimmy knows deep down he needs a change of scenery and a change of perspective. After all, Walker’s description of the Four Sixes is pretty enticing: “It’s like God just froze everything in this one place and just let it be.”
Walker describes a simple place with fewer big egos and presumably fewer unexplained disappearances. But both are alive and well at the Dutton Ranch, between Lloyd’s envious resentment of Walker and John’s private investigation into his own shooters. He meets up with Chief Rainwater and Mo, who deliver him intel about the man in state prison who wanted him dead. They also deliver him Chester Spears, the man who hired the militia and put the job together. John, ever the principled one, takes Chester to a field and tosses a gun nearby, teasing him with the possibility of a fair fight. Of course, one of these characters is played by Kevin Costner, and I can’t remember the other’s name without looking it up, so we know from the beginning who will win that fight.
A smaller-scale argument erupts this week between Beth and Carter, who she takes shopping. He spots a nice shirt he wants, but Beth sticks to her guns and says no, remembering Rip’s warning about spoiling him. Back in the car, she puts Carter in his place, explaining that there are four ways to get rich: inherit, steal, work, or “learn how to suck a dick like you lost your car keys in it.”
The script makes a bit too much of a fuss about Carter “tricking” Beth — you’d think, from the way she describes the shopping trip to Rip later, that Carter tried to steal the shirt or something. But it continues to be rewarding to see Beth apply her tough attitude and straightforwardness to parenting, although Rip doesn’t see Carter as theirs. “He’s not our son,” he reminds her at the end. “No matter what he becomes, he’ll never be that.”
“All I See Is You” may not have the focus of this season’s premiere, but it’s a step up from the last episode in the way it balances stories. If only Yellowstone would put in the work to make Monica as well-rounded as everyone else.
The Last Round-Up
• One of my favorite moments of the episode is when Rip refers to Carter as Beth’s “pet,” and she replies, “Fuck you. I love you, I’ll see you at the house, but fuck you.” It’s nice to see these two have their little spats without blowing anything out of proportion — Rip ends the scene laughing. I also love how he leaves a drink at her place for when she gets home.
• Okay, so let me get this straight: episode one introduces us to Chester, who organized the Dutton hits. He whispered who hired him to Mo. In episode two, he was missing entirely. And then in episode three, we finally learn who hired him … and it’s his old cellmate who’s in state prison, who was hired by somebody else? Come on, Yellowstone, don’t tease answers if you’re just going to give us nesting dolls of assassins.
• Obviously, Beth’s unknowing sterilization was a tragic event, a violation of bodily autonomy that nobody should go through. But unless I’m forgetting something, it’s strange the show completely ignores the possibility of her and Rip adopting one day, something that has become more glaring since the reveal of Jamie’s adoption. Then again, Jamie’s on the outs with his family and bonding with his wife-murdering biological father, so maybe he’s not the best example.