Yellowstone season 1, episodes 1 and 2 recap: “Daybreak” and “Kill the Messenger”

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Yellowstone. Photo: Kevin Lynch/Paramount Network

An Assessment of Episodes 1 and 2

While Yellowstone‘s second episode is better than its first, the show is still bogged down by uneven pacing in which some events get too much detail and some don’t receive nearly enough. Sheridan’s movies are tense and absorbing, but he seems to be having some difficulty translating the suspense and narrative momentum he managed to generate in them to television.

Furthermore, some events seem to come out of left-field. The shootout over the cattle at the end of the first episode seems like something that should have happened after several episodes once John and Rainwater had the opportunity for several more verbal altercations.

Also, Rip’s murder of the ME on John’s orders was unexpected. John may want to protect his home and family at all costs, but murder didn’t seem like one of the first options he’d pursue to get what he wants.

Moreover, the focus on John and Kayce throughout the two episodes sidelined the other characters. Beth may be the most interesting character in the show, but so far she’s only gotten a chance to gripe and verbally attack. The two episodes make it clear that she has an interesting career and an on-again-off-again relationship with Rip but so far these things are inconsequential to the larger story. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her in the next eight episodes.

In addition, both episodes feature manly men pontificating about the nature of life, manhood, fatherhood, etc. While this dialogue is meant to seem insightful, it often comes across as indulgent, grandiose, and eye-roll-worthy.

Next: Yellowstone season 1, episode 3 recap

Yellowstone has many things going for it. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, it’ll learn to juggle those things more effectively.

The show is off next week for the July 4th holiday, so our recaps will return when the show resumes on July 11. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first two episodes on the Paramount Network.