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The One Yellowstone Scene That Makes Us Love Kevin Costner Even More

The first two seasons of Paramount Network's breakout neo-Western drama Yellowstone have featured no shortage of compelling characters and harrowing narrative flourishes. Central to almost every single plot line big and small in Yellowstone's Bitterroot Valley is the one and only John Dutton, the iron-willed cattleman who owns and operates the sprawling ranch lands so viciously coveted by skeezy developers, opportunistic politicians, and cagey businessfolk alike on the show. If Yellowstone's first 19 episodes have taught fans anything, however, it's that John Dutton is probably the last man you want involved in your business. 

Perhaps more to the point, he's the last man you'd want to have any sort of opposition to your Yellowstone endeavors. That's because he's not only a savvy, no-BS businessman and politico, but also an old-school rancher who vehemently adheres to the old ways of doing things, which often means greeting any and all hostile outsiders with an equally hostile response.   

John Dutton is portrayed with a resolute toughness on Yellowstone by screen great Kevin Costner, himself no stranger to the Western genre. Truth is, much of Costner's big-screen legacy has been staked on a handful of memorable turns through the iconic genre (see: SilveradoDances With WolvesOpen Range and more). Even still, the legendary actor's reverence for classic Western tropes has more than been on display with his scene-chewing work as John Dutton on Yellowstone

There's little question Costner's work on Yellowstone has only further endeared him to Western fans the world over, if only because series creator Taylor Sheridan and his creative team have continued to find intriguing ways to feature the actor's classically western-tinged aura. That aura was never more on display than in the series' opening moments, and as much as we've grown to love Costner as John Dutton on Yellowstone, that entrancing opening scene only made us love him more.

Kevin Costner pretty much had us at hello on Yellowstone

If you're already a Yellowstone die-hard, then you know exactly what we're talking about in regards to the series' agonizingly muted introduction to John Dutton. If not, please allow us the honor of setting the scene for you, as it's one of the great small-screen intros of the past few years, one that succinctly captures the spirit of both the world of Yellowstone and the mindset of its central character with hardly a word of actual dialogue.

Fittingly, the opening shot of the Montana-set saga is of the vast sky for which the region is noted. Into that gloriously cloudy blue comes an outreached hand, then the head of a horse, mane blowing majestically in the breeze. That image is followed by the grizzled, bloody face of Costner's John Dutton, and it becomes clear, even in stark close-up, that some calamity has befallen both. He calms the animal and touches its forehead mournfully to his own. It's in this moment that we cut away and see man and animal standing amid a horrendous car crash, and that the horse is wounded and trapped in the carnage. We also see that John Dutton is holding a revolver, and it becomes painfully clear he's bent on putting the wounded animal out of its misery.

He does so after whispering sincere condolences, stating simply, "I know you deserve better. The best I can offer you is peace," and pulling the trigger. It's a heart-rending introduction, to be certain, but even with so few words, Costner gracefully conveys both the steely reserve and world-weary repose that serve as the foundations of his character. So clearly drawn is John Dutton in that first moment on the screen that you never once doubt him as both a man of stoic calm and fiercely unwavering action. It's a moment only Kevin Costner could pull off, and it boldly sets the tone for every enthralling moment that follows on Yellowstone.