In Yellowstone Season 4, Episode 5, John Dutton walked the patriarchal walk to a tee, and it returned the character to peak status.
“Sometimes the day just gets away from you.”
Summer Higgins comes out the gate swingin’. The Seattle protester arrives in Montana chomping at the bit to take down John Dutton’s “toxic male fantasy,” something Yellowstone has its fair share of critics over. Episode 5, however, shows us that the patriarch is fully capable of being both staunch and vulnerable.
It all begins with the brilliant quote below. As John Dutton enters Livingston to answer his son’s call, he’s met by an angry horde (understatement) of protestors.
“Son if I spent a week thinking of ways to f**k up my day, I could not have come up with this,” he barks to Kayce, who is equally baffled.
And it’s here that we meet Piper Perabo’s new Yellowstone character for the first time: Summer Higgins. Summer is mad. Mad at everything John Dutton and his Yellowstone stand for. And as he later realizes, she has every right to be. But that doesn’t make the way either side handles it appropos.
So what does John Dutton do? He lays down the patriarchal law. JD comes in with every intent of shutting this sh*tshow down, but not without addressing the people and the situation first. And it’s fiction, so we don’t have to worry too much why he holds this amount of power outside of his ranch.
John Dutton’s Conscience Earns Him an Unlikely Ally in Summer Higgins
Yet no one saw the rest of this episode playing out the way it did. John leans hard into his authoritative nature at first, asking officers to place the protesters behind bars to teach them a lesson. “Let them stare five years in the face,” he says, before pointing to Summer directly to be locked away for leading the rabble.
So sit in a holding cell she does. Until John Dutton can’t take it any longer. A revealing conversation with his daughter, Beth, on the nature on facing their own consciousnesses sets him straight in a way. Beth, who has become completely unhinged by Yellowstone Season 4, tells her dear ol’ daddy she’s never “faced,” or felt beholden to, her conscience. We know this isn’t true, but it gets John to thinking.
“Damnit,” he groans. In the moments after talking with Beth, he realizes he’s not okay with what he’s done. Summer believes strongly in what she’s fighting for, just as he does. Knowing this, he goes to bail Summer out and tells her as much.
It’s a step in the right direction for Yellowstone; a show that hinges a bit hard on masculine rage. We’ve come to know and love this cutthroat hyper reality, but seeing characters as prominent and impactful as John Dutton come back around a bit makes it all the better.