“All I See Is You” slightly progresses the overarching plot, but the various family dramas at the show’s core are a much trickier mystery to unpack.
This recap of Yellowstone season 4, episode 3, “All I See Is You”, contains spoilers.
Yellowstone is just about the most popular show in the world at the moment, thus proving there’s still an appetite for tough, stoic men doing outdoorsy things, which is perhaps just as well for the career of Kevin Costner. The show has burned his weather-beaten old-school masculinity for fuel since 2018, and it’s getting more mileage out of it than ever these days. “All I See Is You” opens with a montage of Kayce, Rip, and various other Dutton employees butchering the remains of the militia that kidnapped Tate, just to make sure none were responsible for the attempts on the family’s lives during the explosive premiere, and John spends the whole time sitting contemplatively in front of a roaring fire, sipping liquor. It’d be a parody if it wasn’t treated with absolute seriousness.
Yellowstone season 4, episode 3 recap
That’s the point though, isn’t it? Yellowstone takes family melodrama and classic Western tropes and lends them both so much sincerity and earnestness that you can’t help but buy-in. The morning after Kayce has somehow used his position as an official livestock agent to indiscriminately murder half of Montana, he meets John for a horse ride, and it becomes a weirdly touching moment as both openly wonder how many more times they’ll get to do this. Whether old age or one of his various enemies kills John, either way, he isn’t long for this world of boiled-down morality, where we can see that opening as a father-son bonding experience because we know those militia guys were scumbags anyway. This isn’t a show that’ll win any awards for nuance, but luckily they don’t give awards out for that anyway.
So many of us have truly bought in, though, that you can’t really complain. The show has its rhythms and language down to such a fine art now that I catch myself grinning ear to ear at dialogue that should be ridiculous, like Walker — who has been shacking up in the barrel racers’ trailer so that Lloyd doesn’t gut him in his sleep — asking young Carter if he wants to be a cowboy. “Life’s kind of robbed me of all my options,” says the kid. “Well,” replies Walker, “that’s usually how it starts.” See? Silly. Overblown. But just delightfully on-brand.
Speaking of brands, Jimmy has one, which is why shipping him off to some ranch in Texas doesn’t sit well with Lloyd. The bunkhouse is his home, after all, or at least it should be, but as Rip says, sometimes you have to leave your pride in there and ride out to work. Mia isn’t thrilled with the situation either, mostly because she feels like Jimmy is just rolling over and accepting it, but to be fair to her, she hasn’t seen how many former ranchers have been shoved off cliffs for believing anyone other than John has a say in what goes on there. You don’t brand your friends and family, after all — you brand your property. The problem is when your property extends as far as the eye can see, it’s difficult to distinguish what you own and what you don’t.
As of “All I See Is You”, John owns a lot of very good horses. When Beth turns up to take Carter shopping, she describes his latest acquisitions as “her inheritance running around”, but it’s worth the expense to make a statement. John is big on statements. That’s what’s going on with Jimmy, really. He’s being taken by Travis to a ranch called the Four Sixes where he apparently won’t last a week, but he’ll learn something about himself in the process, and everyone else will learn what happens when you break your word to John Dutton. Image is everything. Even for the richest man in the state, it’s just about all he has left.
Image means more than actual authority in some cases, which Kayce discovers when he goes to intervene in a property dispute — an L.A. money man named Ralph Peterson has set up cattle guards to deny another man’s easement through his land — and is denied entry. Being Livestock Commissioner should count for something on its face, but it takes Kayce ramming his truck through the ranch’s gates, tossing the owner to the ground, and binding his wrists to get the point across. Of course, the fact he doesn’t need an appointment or a warrant to do this suggests that maybe his authority is just an excuse for lawlessness anyway. He did, after all, murder a lot of people in the cold open.
This idea of officialdom being an illusion is everywhere. When Thomas Rainwater summons John to a meeting in the middle of nowhere, it’s because he knows Mo has the mouthy casino patron they kidnapped and tortured in the premiere in the back of his truck. Mo watches Rainwater drive away before he pops the trunk and shows the man to John, just to make sure that, if anyone were to ask, Rainwater couldn’t possibly have known about the hostage. It turns out he’s a fixer for a guy in Deer Lodge state prison who supposedly ordered the hit on the Duttons. He gave the word, this guy put the militia together to do it. The problem is that John doesn’t know either of them. The important question is who ordered the hit in the first place. Things aren’t going well for the gambler.
Having said that, things aren’t exactly going well for anyone. Once “All I See Is You” dispenses with all the horsing around and cowboy machismo, what it’s really left with is trauma. Beth and Carter’s shopping trip is a disaster; he isn’t familiar enough with kindness to know when he’s taking it for granted, and she isn’t familiar enough with not getting her own way to realize you can’t bully every problem into submission. Her idealized vision of motherhood is a fallacy, and she wouldn’t be suited to it anyway. The Karen whose phone she smashes to pieces in the store is right in that she has no idea how to parent a child. But who does? John didn’t, which is at least partly why Beth is the way she is. And Kayce certainly doesn’t. When he finds Tate hiding under the bed, still traumatized from having killed a man in the premiere, he drags him out by his ankles and forces him to eat his dinner as if nothing has happened. He might not believe there was anything wrong in defending their home against evil men, but Monica, equally distraught, thinks the evil lives in the house with them, and the men were just an inevitability. She says she hates Kayce, which we know she doesn’t, but she hates the same thing that Jimmy, Walker, and even Beth have come to hate — how the Yellowstone is a world unto itself, one impossible to escape from other than by banishment or death. Neither seems an ideal way out for a mother and her child.
But, as the casino snitch learns, it’s one of the two. At least he got to face it head-on.