As Yellowstone approaches its fifth and final season, we can’t help but wonder if the Kevin Costner starring drama had already worn out its welcome before the actor’s exit from the series. Though season five of the iconic neo-Western drama series has an 84 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, a dip in quality is apparent when you consider the audience score, which currently sits at 37 percent. Fans of the Paramount+ series made it clear that Yellowstone has lost its focus and become an underwhelming shell of its former self.
Season 1 Started With A Bang
Yellowstone immediately made waves upon its season 1 premiere, and we were presented with an engaging narrative about the Dutton family exploits occurring on the Montana Ranch. Not only was Kevin Costner’s John Dutton a complex and enthralling figure, his family had demons of their own to wrestle as they tried to preserve the family ranch, and the land beneath it. Season 1 started with a bang, and the Dutton family found themselves fighting a war on multiple fronts, which made for inherently compelling television.
John Duttong Vs. Broken Rock Was Yellowstone At Its Best
Kevin Costner did an excellent job showing his devotion to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch with his portrayal of John Dutton, and the family patriarch revealed his ruthlessness early on. There were multiple storylines to follow involving a wide array of figures who were trying to end the Dutton dynasty, which made for tense exposition and brutal resolutions that fans simply couldn’t get enough of.
Though the family found themselves at odds with equally ruthless business men, local politicians, and vigilantes who wanted to steal the land, there was also a significant through line involving the Broken Rock Reservation, whose land was stolen from beneath them, which was arguably the most compelling plot point in Yellowstone.
Season 5 Feels More Like A Soap Opera
But as Yellowstone continued its run, the Native Americans who were at the forefront of the narrative in many ways have been reduced to smaller, supporting roles, drastically changing the tone of the Kevin Costner starring series.
Long-time Yellowstone fans have also complained about the storytelling in later seasons, pointing out how season 5 more closely resembles a run-of-the-mill soap opera rather than the compelling drama that we were given with the series’ first season.
But the complex family dynamic may have doomed the series from the start, as too many characters were established, and the narrative started to get muddled as their respective storylines further developed. In other words, Yellowstone was already in the middle of a steady decline in quality, even before Kevin Costner decided to call it quits and move onto other projects.
Can Yellowstone Spinoffs Save The Franchise?
Presently, there are a number of Yellowstone spinoff series that are getting more attention, and could very well save the franchise after Kevin Costner’s departure. 1883, which ran from 2021 to 2022, was met with critical acclaim, and established the origin story. 1923, which functions as a sequel to 1883, is also proving its worth, and has been picked up for a second season. Three more spinoffs are currently in development: 6666, 1944, and 2024.
The Final Episodes Of Yellowstone Are Still To Come
As Yellowstone approaches its conclusion, its various offshoots are now getting more studio attention and investment. With six more episodes slated for release with or without Kevin Costner, we can only hope that the iconic series goes out with a bang, and gets a proper sendoff. But as the flagship series continues to become a caricature of its former glory, we are still thankful because the world-building that was established in season 1 is still fertile ground for Taylor Sheridan to continue developing the epic neo-Western saga across multiple properties.