To The Depths — And Below

Hollywood writers obviously are a very clever bunch. Just when you think they’ve mined every possible plotline that would illustrate some feature of a character, they open a new vein of dramatic gold and dig still deeper.

Yellowstone is a great illustration of this process. I’ve written before about how, as the show has progressed, Jamie Dutton has been converted from capable, high-powered lawyer for the clan to a sniveling mess. After last season, I frankly doubted there was anything the writers could come up with that would make Jamie Dutton more pathetic and contemptible than he had already become. Whoo-boy–I was wrong on that one!

We finished catching up on Yellowstone episodes earlier this week, and Jamie continues to sink deeper and deeper. Spoiler alert: He’s being exposed as not only feeble and weak-kneed, but also so gullible, hapless, foolish, and pitifully eager for some crumb of attention that he can fall for the most obvious manipulative scheme ever attempted in Big Sky Country. The femme fatale from the development company hasn’t even tried to disguise her ultimate goal, and she couldn’t have picked a more direct route to pulling Jamie’s puppet strings. Now we’re having to endure squirmy scenes where Jamie, after their latest romp between the sheets, is baring both his chest and his soul to someone he met only days before. The gal pal’s maneuvers are so painfully obvious that even Jamie’s loyal secretary at the Attorney General’s office deviated from her customary professionalism and tried to warn him–but to no avail. Anyone who ignores wise advice from their secretary is plumbing new depths of dim-wittedness. This guy is supposed to be a Harvard grad? What better evidence of grade inflation could there be?

We’ve enjoyed this season of Yellowstone, and have particularly liked the increased emphasis on the “cowboying” element of the show, as well as seeing new aspects of the relationship between Rip and Beth. But, in many ways, the continuing downward spiral of Jamie Dutton is the most noteworthy part of the show, as impossible to tear your eyes away from as a slow motion train wreck. Credit to the writers and to Wes Bentley, who must be licking his acting chops as he thinks about how to make his character’s latest horrible decision remotely plausible.

How low can this guy go, and what can the writers’ room come up with to make this sad, quivering wreck into a character this is even more imbecilic, wretched, and odious? I guess we’ll have to watch to find out.