Yellowstone season 3, episode 6 recap – “All for Nothing”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: July 27, 2020 (Last updated: December 5, 2023)
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Yellowstone season 3, episode 6 recap - "All for Nothing"


“All for Nothing” shows the best and worst of government office, as long-held secrets come to light and threaten to upend the Dutton legacy.

This recap of Yellowstone season 3, episode 6, “All for Nothing”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.

One of the things that Yellowstone has done throughout its first two seasons and the first five episodes of this third one is to make a point of keeping Kayce Dutton away from any positions of genuine authority. It just isn’t him. The suits and the offices and the badges are Jamie’s thing; Kayce’s much more for living a natural life on the prairie and having a lot of sex in tents. That changes here in “All for Nothing”, though, which further excommunicates Jamie, and doesn’t just show Kayce embracing his new position of Livestock Commissioner but also being really good at it.

As the developing subplot of the brucellosis-free buffalo percolates but remains firmly off-boil for now, most of this week’s episode is devoted to an extended subplot in which Sila, the eldest daughter of a Native family on the reservation, goes missing. This prompts Chief Rainwater to turn to Kayce’s office, where there’s finally a figure — the latest “Commissioner Dutton” of several, which doesn’t go unremarked upon — empathetic to the Native plight. Kayce brings in every available livestock agent, unarmed, to help comb the area, and tasks Monica with drumming up a search party of locals. The community turns out in force, and while they eventually find Sila dead, the point was very much proved.

Having spent much of this season staring wistfully at other characters doing things, Monica finally decides to make this her problem, planning to use her position at the university to help Chief Rainwater in his campaign to raise awareness and resources for Native lifestyles that don’t have to mimic white ones. This obviously positions the Chief and Monica in direct opposition to Roarke Morris, Market Equities, and Willa Hayes, its CEO, who visit Jamie in Yellowstone season 3, episode 6, and complain about Beth childishly short-selling their stock.

Hayes rightly points out that Jamie occupying the attorney general’s office represents a conflict of interest given the office presides over his family’s land, but in the same way that “All for Nothing” shows how Kayce’s compassion makes him very good at his job, it juxtaposes that idea with how Jamie’s greed and pathological insecurity make him terrible at his. As soon as Hayes starts quoting prices for the Duttons’ holdings, Jamie’s eyes glow green with dollar signs like a cartoon character, which on some level is exactly what he is.

But what we have here is set up for a Succession-style prodigal son takeover, since Jamie has been given the political power to protect the family’s interests but, by the end of this week’s episode, has been once again ousted by that family and has cause to turn that power against them. This is because Beth has chosen now to tell John that, back in the day, Jamie helped her abort Rip’s child and failed to mention that doing so would leave her sterile, leaving John without a legacy beyond Tate, and his life’s work in jeopardy. “Everything I’ve done,” he breathlessly explains to nobody in particular while gazing out at the ranch, “it was all for nothing.”

This seems like a bit of an overreaction, and wouldn’t be a particularly interesting development even if it wasn’t. I’m not sure where I stand on this classically Jamie-esque deception being the root of Beth’s ill-will towards her brother, since if it was that vital both to how she feels and to John’s plans for the future of Yellowstone then surely it would have been brought up by now; the idea that Beth has kept the matter secret for decades and only elects to tell her father at exactly the same time Jamie gets an offer from Market Equities is a bit of a stretch even for this show. Perhaps more importantly, it’s in service of a dynamic we’ve seen before and wasn’t all that interesting, to begin with.

I still very much enjoy Yellowstone, but I also find myself waiting for more classic Western hoopla after enduring so much of this pat family melodrama. Give me a shout when Rip has cause to punch another cowboy.

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