Fans of Yellowstone were rocked yesterday with the explosive report that Taylor Sheridan’s Western saga could be ending with Season 5 Part 2. The reason given? Kevin Costner allegedly wants to film his role in the remaining six episodes of the season in a single week. Costner has turned his focus to his own Western passion project, Horizon, which he co-wrote and will direct, produce and star in. Given Costner’s range of talents and experience, the thought of him behind the camera again is enticing. Beyond that, his notable success with the western film genre is indisputable. The Academy Award winning Dances With Wolves speaks for itself, and 2003’s Open Range is arguably one of the best Westerns of the new millennium. Horizon will be much anticipated by Costner fans with good reason.
All that said, it is difficult to imagine a future for Yellowstone that doesn’t involve Costner’s John Dutton, the show’s patriarch and the current Governor of Montana. The character of John Dutton has been integral to the series since its inception. However, if you think about it, John Dutton has been living on borrowed time for quite a while. He almost didn’t make it out of Season 1 alive. Remember his battle with colon cancer? That colon cancer that miraculously morphed into a ruptured stomach ulcer that had to be operated on by a veterinarian in the Season 2 premiere? Oh, and let’s not forget when he was gunned down by hired assassins in the Season 3 finale and brought back from the very brink of death in the Season 4 premiere.
Though fans will be reluctant to say goodbye to such a beloved character, frankly, now is the right time. With Dutton’s gubernational duties (let’s remember, he never ever wanted to be in charge of the state) taking him to Helena, Sheridan should be able to wean audiences away from John Dutton and bring the other characters’ stories more to the forefront. Would there be a more fitting way to say farewell to this iconic character than for John to die peacefully on his own land and on his own terms? Perhaps the death of Dutton’s friend Emmett Walsh in Season 5, Episode 6 was just a foreshadowing.
And are there characters ready to step into the void inevitably created by Dutton’s departure? You bet! Beth (Kelly Reilly) and Rip (Cole Hauser) are poised and waiting. Rip’s knowledge of the land and cattle more than qualifies him to run the Yellowstone, which would allow Beth to focus on turning a profit for the first time ever. Without John around to gum up the proceedings, Beth could finally deal with Jamie (Wes Bentley) however she sees fits. Bad news for Jamie, but good news for fans who would love to see an unhinged Beth unleashed. Rip and Beth stepping up would also means that Kayce (Luke Grimes) would finally be free of the crushing responsibility of his birthright. He could live the life he’s dreamed of with Monica (Kelsey Asbillie) and Tate (Breckin Meyer).
Despite these tantalizing possibilities for the future of Yellowstone without John Dutton, the network reportedly could decide to go another way. One ominous sign is that Yellowstone is now unavailable to watch on Paramount+ due to streaming rights. So, the powers that be at Paramount might reportedly already be in the process of killing their flagship series and replacing it with a franchise expansion starring Matthew McConaughey. The spinoff would continue the saga of the Dutton family in place of Yellowstone, and, according to Deadline, series will air on Paramount Network and then stream exclusively on Paramount+.
While a re-envisioned Yellowstone is better than no Yellowstone at all, this viewer is not at all convinced that a new spinoff series is needed to continue the story of the Dutton family. Even without Kevin Costner, Yellowstone in its present iteration offers fertile soil for impactful and exciting stories featuring the characters we know and love. Let Kevin Costner go out and tell the stories he wants to tell. And instead of pulling the plug on one of cable TV’s most successful shows of all time, why not welcome a continuation of the current Dutton saga featuring Yellowstone‘s extremely strong ensemble cast?