5/10 Well it was bound to happen eventually. After three straight, insanely consistent seasons of an 8/10 score across the board, the fourth season lost momentum and hit a big slump. While most shows have their ups and downs and this might be the lone disappointing season, I have another theory as to why season four fell short which I will get to later on. Before I get to why this season is easily the worst out of the first four, I will begin with all of the positives that have remained consistent across each and every season. The acting continues to be top notch as every actor has so settled into their respective roles that they could play them in their sleep. The cinematography/lighting remains jaw dropping as the beauty of Montana is on full display and the few moments of action we get are well shot and choreographed. The score is subtle and perfectly encapsulates the somber tone, moods and hardships that take place in this cowboy atmosphere. The pacing works fantastic across every episode and even the slightly extended season finale doesn’t overstay its welcome. Now onto the many problems…While the first three seasons felt like they had no filler with each scene progressing the story forward or developing a character, this was the first time that I could feel scenes of filler. While horse riding, rodeoing and guitar playing have occurred in past seasons and certainly serve a purpose, the scenes containing those elements seemed to multiply and take up far more time than before, as a way to fill up time. The plot and character arcs were also extremely disappointing this season. John Dutton (Kevin Costner) spends the majority of the season putting an annoying, hippy, environmental terrorist/criminal (Piper Perabo as Summer Higgins) under his wing and has this out of left field, blind loyalty towards her for absolutely no reason. Perabo being married to one of Yellowstone’s most frequent directors (Stephen Kay) almost makes it feel like they kept her around longer than they should have so this husband and wife duo could work together. I worried that the three factions fighting over Montana’s land (the Duttons, the Native Americans and huge, corporate entities) which occurred over the first three seasons might become repetitive but I found myself longing for those battles as opposed to boring plot lines like Kayce doing a walk-about and magically curing his son’s PTSD within the span of a single scene (he seriously goes from not being able to function/hiding under the bed to 100% back to normal within minutes). I loved Jimmy’s character arc but even that had issues. After suffering massive injuries to his back, spine, etc. and told by doctors he always needs to wear his brace and needs to be extremely careful, he magically heals incredibly fast on a level that only Bruce Wayne in “The Dark Knight Rises” could pull off. Also, a Texas ranch known as 6666 is played up to be this scary, harsh and brutal place that will turn Jimmy into a real man/cowboy so I kept waiting for someone to haze him, kick his ass or make him do back breaking work 24 hours a day. Instead, it ends up seeming incredibly easy and everyone is super nice to him with the elderly cowboys even bringing him food after a hard day. All the hype turned out to be the exact opposite of reality. The season finale had problems too with Beth having a plan to kill a murderer about four times her size and ten times stronger with a hair clip and it just felt ridiculous. There were many other plots points or character arcs that just felt weak and even the action was lessened this season, especially compared to the explosive ending of season three. Finding out who put the hit out on the Duttons could have been a great, slow burn of a mystery but we find out too soon and the excitement to stem from it is minimal. Even the soundtrack was the weakest it has been in the entire run of the show. While it is possible that show runner/writer Taylor Sheridan (of who I am a gigantic fan) just had one off year (perfectly reasonable after three straight years of brilliant work), I have another theory as to why this season felt so mediocre. With “Yellowstone” being the most watched show on cable/streaming platforms, Paramount+ has created a Sheridan-verse with not just “Yellowstone” spinoffs like “1883”, upcoming spinoff, “6666” and the current “1923” but Sheridan is also heavily working on “Mayor of Kingstown”, “Tulsa King”, “Lioness” and “Land Man”. Sheridan is directing, writing, producing, acting and/or showrunning on eight (!!!) different shows and I think he is getting stretched way too thin. Showrunning for one show and writing every episode is difficult and time consuming enough but to work on eight shows simultaneously year round makes me think that fatigue might be catching up to Sheridan and maybe Paramount+ is beginning to put quantity over quality. I could be wrong and maybe he just had an off year but with only two seasons left of “Yellowstone”, I hope he ends the show on a high note. As I begin to review season five here pretty soon, I will find out if season four was a one off fluke or if Sheridan is just as over worked as the cowboys who work on the Dutton Ranch.

#FourSixesForFixes / #AMatterOfLifeOrBeth / #InTheClaimOfTheFather / #DreadLasso / #TheBodyScarred / #PTSDPostTateStressDissipated

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