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Yellowstone’s Badass Beth Dutton: A Fighter at Heart

Yellowstone has been a hit since it aired. How could it not be? Each episode is packed with drama, action, and so much more, leaving audiences stunned into silence. You can’t help but be hooked from the first episode in. When I watched the very first episode recently, I couldn’t believe how quickly things went from bad to worse, culminating in the death of one of the Dutton children.

Yellowstone‘s Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) is a character like no other; she has her own category. She’s fierce, she’s abrasive, and she’s a whole other level of badass. She’s not afraid to take on corporate heads or even her own family. Kelly Reilly plays her marvelously; she really rises up to the challenge of playing the complicated character and always leaves audiences beyond impressed with her talent.

I’ve never come across another character that could match Beth’s tenacious spirit. Even if you don’t always understand why Beth does what she does, you’re still somehow drawn to her, wanting to see what she does next. At least, in my experience.

Beware of spoilers ahead.

Early Beginnings

One of the things I love most about the series is its flashbacks. It helps you understand how each character came to be who they are in the present. It shows you the things the family and those around them have gone through, especially Rip (Cole Hauser). Without some of these flashbacks, some things just wouldn’t make a lick of sense. Take, for instance, Beth’s guilt about her mother, Evelyn (Gretchen Mol).

In a flashback, audiences are shown the day that the Dutton matriarch met a sudden and tragic end after falling off her horse. A young Beth and her brother Kayce (played by Luke Grimes as an adult) were out riding with her. Beth is clearly uncomfortable, given that she fears her horse. Her mother isn’t sympathetic in the least. Then, the accident that forever changes the lives of the Dutton family occurs as Beth’s horse spooks Evelyn’s horse, causing her mother to fall and injure herself. Evelyn later dies from those injuries.

Young Beth and Young John in Yellowstone

Kayce stays behind to look after their mother after Evelyn states that Beth will get help, saying that since Beth was responsible, she would be the one to fix it. Those words have undoubtedly circled Beth’s mind for years. It’s no wonder she thought it was her fault. I don’t know if her mother believed that or if she just wanted to teach Beth a lesson, but she worded her sentence poorly and scarred her daughter for life. How would someone get over something like that? It’s simply impossible to do so; Beth has had to live with that for years, and clearly no one ever really talked to her about it. However, the Duttons aren’t exactly the most communicative type when it comes to feelings.

Beth wouldn’t be Beth if things had gone differently. If she and Kayce had seen a psychiatrist or something to help them cope with their mother’s death, given the fact that they were present for the accident, and Kayce beside her when she died, perhaps Beth would have had the proper tools to heal healthily. If the accident had never happened at all, Beth would be a different person entirely, but I’m sure she would harbor resentment towards Evelyn and have a difficult relationship with her given the fact that her mother treated her with endless and brutal criticism.

A flashback tells audiences why Evelyn is so brutal to her, too. On Christmas Day of all days, Beth gets her period for the first time and is embarrassed. Her mother helps her, but has a serious talk with her. Basically her mother relays that she’s going to treat Beth differently and be hard on her, because that’s what her mother did with her, and she was better for it. That talk was actually pretty scary on top of Beth’s first period.

Evelyn sitting outside a door in Yellowstone

I didn’t agree with Evelyn’s reasoning at all. She had to have resented her own mother a time or two for treating her so brutally; how could she want to inflict that same pain on her own daughter? Additionally, Beth is not Evelyn. There’s no guarantee she would grow up to think she was better for her mom being hard on her as Evelyn had. The way things were going, I suspect Beth feared her mom to some degree and thus their relationship was going downhill. If Evelyn hadn’t died, I can’t imagine it would have gotten any better, unless Evelyn woke up one day and realized that what she was doing was wrong.

It’s a heavy weight to carry—one so suffocating that in one episode, while driving with Jamie, Beth was ready to commit suicide because of her guilt, derived from the belief that she was responsible for Evelyn’s untimely death. Luckily, she didn’t go through with it, but those moments as she totally fell apart really showed how broken she was and how deeply that pain had gnawed at her for years.

John (Kevin Costner), her father, can be hard on her too at times. He was pretty angry with her when she ordered his girlfriend to never sleep in the bed he once shared with Evelyn again, among other things. Now, Beth was out of line to interfere in her father’s relationship, and she could have handled things differently. John could have too, but instead of trying to find out why Beth did what she did, he pretty much let loose on her. It showed that John was just as capable as Evelyn of pushing his daughter to her limits. It’s not always that way, as John and Beth appear to be pretty close despite everything, but even father and daughter have their moments.

Beth smoking, looking at Jamie, who is approaching her in Yellowstone

One of the more recently revealed facts about Beth’s past was that she underwent an abortion, with her brother Jamie’s (Wes Bentley) help. She confided in him that she was pregnant and he took her to get an abortion, but he totally backstabbed her by withholding the fact that she would be sterilized. It’s since caused them to have a horrendous relationship; she constantly degrades him and she’s even kicked his ass a time or two beyond humiliation. He’s had some not-so-nice choice words for her, too.

However, this reveal shows audiences why the two don’t get along—and why they probably never will. Jamie robbed Beth of the chance to have a family, and that’s unforgivable. To be honest, sometimes it’s funny the things she says to him, but she could back off from time to time—especially when Jamie’s mental health is going downhill, as he nearly committed suicide once too, and Beth pretty much gave him the idea. Even though he hurt her, it doesn’t earn him a death warrant, and Beth needn’t have signed that by supporting his potential suicide. Still, the two are dysfunctional, so it is the way it is between them. That’s why it’s puzzling as to why Jamie still asks her for help and advice every now and then. What is he expecting?

Love Life

Beth has a good man in Rip. Through flashbacks, audiences see the two meet when Rip is brought onto the ranch. The two connect deeply through their family tragedies, and even though Beth was really brutal to Rip at times (especially in the beginning), he stayed by her side.

Beth can act completely insane at times, but Rip sees through that and knows who she really is deep down. He understands how much she hurts because he knows her so well and has been through hard times himself. He tries to be there for her, and good to her, in a way that no one else has before. Rip wants to help her heal, and she loves that about him. He is her hero, and neither of them would have it any other way.

Beth and Rip dancing in Yellowstone

She helps him heal too, in her own way. The two help each other put their broken pieces back together. The more you see them together, the more you understand why they work so well. There’s nothing in the world they couldn’t conquer.

She may not be able to give Rip a family, but she can give him a happy ending. I think she’s calmed down since she was first introduced, and that her relationship with Rip is more functional than it used to be. He’s good for her; I think they’re better people because of one another, and by extension, they lead better lives. Even in the chaos of Yellowstone, there has to be some normalcy from time to time.

Adulthood

With all that said, it’s easier to understand Beth’s fierce attitude as an adult. She’s a fighter, and she never allows anything or anyone to scare her. I’m sure that comes from her mother’s accident—she never wanted anything to scare her ever again, since she thinks her fear of her horse was the cause of her mother’s death. Perhaps she believes that if she exhibits only bravery and a powerful attitude, she can prevent the death of someone else because of her fear, or maybe she wants to protect herself from feeling the way she did the day of Evelyn’s death. Both reasons are totally understandable. However, the world has made her tougher than she needs to be.

Her courageousness and her refusal to be taken down make her great at her job. She’s a banker, and she can certainly seek and destroy when she wants to. It comes in handy when her father needs her to go after anyone threatening their family’s ranch, and she has a good relationship with her boss, who clearly admires and respects her.

Beth sitting in a bar talking to a man in Yellowstone

Her refusal to show fear is admirable, but it also means she never allows herself to feel what she really feels deep down. If she is afraid, she doesn’t let it come through and it has to take a toll on her. In a Season 2 episode she witnessed her assistant’s murder and was attacked by the same men, who tried to rape her and intended to kill her. As it was, she was beat up badly before Rip was able to arrive and save her. She was challenging her attackers to hurt her, provoking them in a way, never letting them have more power over her than they already did. She had to have been terrified, but she didn’t give them the pleasure of seeing her afraid. It makes sense that she wouldn’t want to give her attackers the satisfaction, but not everyone could stand up to them the way she did.

Conclusion

It’s an understatement to say that Beth is an unforgettable character. She’s the kind of character that is seared into the minds of audiences. She’s a complete and total badass, even putting her father, brothers and Rip to shame at times. She comes from a rustic background but she rubs elbows with the corporate types like she’s known them all her life; she can blend from one scene to another efficiently and effectively.

With Beth’s fate, alongside John’s and Kayce’s, up in the air as of the Season 3 finale, audiences can only hope that she’ll be back. I can’t imagine Yellowstone without Beth; she’s an essential character.

I certainly want her to make a return, and I hope that she goes after whoever set up her and her family for certain death with a fury that would make even the most evil beings flinch. It’s how Beth rolls, and I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds in Season 4.

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Written by Kacie Lillejord

Kacie is a freelance writer versed in various forms. She loves pop culture, screenwriting, novels, and poetry. She has previously written for The Daily Wildcat, Harness Magazine, Cultured Vultures, and Screen Rant, with 25YL being her newest writing venture.

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