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Kevin Costner Or Not, 'Yellowstone' Has Already Spoiled Its Ending

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 16, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 16, 2023 |


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If I were a studio and in charge of the biggest show on television, I wouldn’t promise the back half of a TV season without first ensuring that production had been lined up. The first half of season 5 of Yellowstone aired on New Year’s Day, and the series promised it would return with the back eight this summer. Production is scheduled to begin in March, but that looks shaky, at best:

Yellowstone’s second half of the season is supposed to begin filming in March, but sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that hitting that mark is looking increasingly doubtful. The dispute raises the startling possibility that the most watched drama on TV could end prematurely. (Sources say the show would not end immediately over a Costner exit.)

Kevin Costner is busy directing a movie and only wants to devote one week of taping to the back half of the season, which has left Paramount pondering whether it should ditch him in favor of Matthew McConaughey. It’s unclear whether McConaughey would lead a spin-off set in Montana — where Yellowstone is currently set — or the spin-off, 6666 (or another spin-off) set in Texas.

I will say this: It will be difficult to continue Yellowstone without Costner, if only as a looming background figure. That’s because if Costner’s character dies, the Succession-like allure will evaporate because a successor will have to be chosen, which will set the endgame in motion.

Through simple deduction, we already know who that successor will be, and we also know the ultimate disposition of the ranch. We know how Yellowstone ends. There’s only one possible successor. It won’t be Jamie, because he’s the adopted black sheep that everyone in the family hates. Beth seems like the obvious successor, mostly because her husband Rip is the ranch’s true protector. Kayce also hates the ranch and has spent his life trying to get away from it. Unfortunately for Kayce, he will end up inheriting the ranch anyway.

That’s because the ranch has to stay in the family, and Beth can’t have children (thanks to Jamie), so John Dutton III has to bequeath the ranch to Kayce so that he can pass it on to the only member of the next generation, his son Tate Dutton, whose mother, Monica, is Indigenous.

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That’s important because that’s where the land will eventually end up: In the hands of its original owners, Native Americans. Recall what Spotted Eagle, a Crow elder, told James Dutton in the final episode of 1883 after directing him toward the land that would become Yellowstone: “After seven generations, my people will rise up and take it back from you.”

“In seven generations, you can have it,” James Dutton tells him.

James Dutton, I believe, will be a man of his word, because guess who will be the seventh generation owner of Yellowstone: Tate Dutton. Tate is half Native American, and once the land passes to him, in a sense, Spotted Eagle’s prophecy will be fulfilled. What Tate does with the land is another question, but my guess is that he either gives it to the reservation or he acts as its steward on behalf of the reservation. Either way, it will again belong to its original owners, the Indigenous community, which will of course bring all the Indigenous stories being told on Yellowstone and its prequels full circle.