Season 4 of Taylor Sheridan’s popular contemporary Western, “Yellowstone,” is well under-way, and fans are lighting up the Reddit threads with theories about how the season will play out, who will come out on top, and where various characters will land in the wake of Season 3’s violent attack on the Duttons. But amidst this speculation, there’s also been quite a bit of chatter surrounding one of the series’ most volatile characters, Kelly Reilly’s Beth Dutton (via Reddit).
For the first three seasons, Beth’s character came off as equal parts savvy businesswoman, psychological terrorist, fiercely loyal daughter, and emotionally wounded and conflicted (if archetypal) badass. As Season 4 plays out, however, fans notice (to their disappointment) that Beth’s character is fast-moving from compelling character into the realm of cartoonish caricature.
Although the season made a passing attempt to show her dimension — via an equally cartoonish “look, she wants to cook and be maternal” storyline that, so far, hasn’t really played out — for the most part, viewers feel her character’s arc has begun its ascent over the proverbial shark. Although outspoken audience members have provided a litany of reasons for their newfound dislike of the character, one scene in Season 4, Episode 6, appears to have truly galvanized the fate of the once rooted-for character.
Beth pulls a knife on her father’s hook-up, because?
In “I Want to be Him,” patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) inexplicably seduces an environmental protest organizer named (of course!) Summer, played by series newcomer Piper Perabo. Even though Beth previously insisted that her father needed to hook up with someone, when she walks into the kitchen and finds Summer there the morning after her night with John, she reacts in a way that fans found baffling. Her immediate impulse upon seeing a woman she doesn’t know in nothing but one of her father’s shirts (the television world’s way of showing that a woman has just had sex) is to threaten her with a chef’s knife.
In a discussion about the episode on Reddit, user MinhajHoss expressed their confusion. “I’m sorry but wasn’t it Beth’s idea for her dad to get some…?” they asked, to which another fan replied, “I think it was the (writers’) intention to show Beth’s instability but overall it ended up just feeling cringey instead.” User StormFortune0610 echoed the sentiment, calling Beth’s reaction “gross” and saying she was acting “jealous in a weird, dark family secret way.” Inarguably, Beth’s character has been spiraling for some time now, but this moment was just too much for many.
One fan described Beth as turning into “Sheridan’s dominatrix fantasy,” while another said they “can’t help but feel like she’s been flanderized.” A third called her “a caricature of a caricature” (via Reddit). The episode and the absurdity of the knife scene were particularly disappointing to long-time fans of the character. “As much as I love Beth,” wrote user Alwayshangry23, “…I was on Summer’s side in that scene, like really Beth you had to hold her at knife point?”
Some fans feel Beth’s transition is intentional
As a stand-alone scene, Beth’s odd run-in with Summer might have been more palatable had Season 4 not already turned fans off from her character. In previous seasons, Beth’s badassery was balanced by her calculating pragmatism and a seething inner conflict that made her compelling and nuanced character. But as far as some fans are concerned, Season 4 has turned her into a one-dimensional cartoon villain. Nowhere is this transformation more apparent than in Season 4, Episode 6, wherein (following pulling a knife on a house guest) she sits at a desk with her feet up, smoking the same way a Bond villain would as he slowly reveals his plans for world domination.
“Beth talking to everyone like they are **** is the most tiresome trope of this entire show,” wrote one fan, while a user in another Reddit thread said her behavior is “getting old and it’s not realistic. It screams cringy trash rather than power,” and that they “have liked her character in earlier seasons, but…can’t anymore. Too much.” Other users were quick to agree, saying, “There’s no depth or character growth,” or that while they “still love Beth,” they wanted the writers to “give her actual dialogue vs just one liners” (via Reddit).
Not everyone, however, sees the flattening of Beth’s arc as a misstep. “I’ve lost count of the number of times Beth has told her ‘Daddy’ that she’s the only one he can trust,” wrote user CarelessUse5861, before theorizing that maybe the writers were doing this to build toward a shocking betrayal. “Is Sheridan setting up Beth to be Dutton’s Brutus?” they asked, referencing the ancient Roman’s fatal betrayal of Julius Caesar. It would certainly explain the intensity and strangeness of Reilly’s character’s (as some have said) “cringey as all hell” dialogue with and behavior toward her father (via Reddit). It might even (potentially) explain her character’s nearly full-blown transition into a TV trope.