“Yellowstone” just cannot be tamed, and neither can Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly). As an entirely new audience is becoming obsessed with season 1 of Taylor Sheridan’s addictive neo-Western over on CBS, longtime fans are still hung up on one moment that occurs much later in the series. In season 4, Beth and Rip (Cole Hauser) begin to shepherd and protect Carter (Finn Little), a homeless orphan who takes shelter at the ranch. In her own way, Beth tries to nurture Carter, but her tragic past continues to come back to haunt her. Her inability to have children of her own is the basis for her hatred towards Jamie (Wes Bentley), and it remains the deep dark secret that she still hasn’t revealed to Rip. That’s precisely why she acts so coldly when Carter says “Morning, mama” to Beth in what becomes a heartbreaking scene in the final episode of season four.
“You can’t call me that, it’s not true,” Beth says. “You lost your mother, kid. You don’t get another.” As she leaves the barn, she coldly turns to Carter and breaks his little heart. “Crying doesn’t help,” she quips. Now, regardless of what season of “Yellowstone” you happen to be watching, Beth has already done a lot of controversial and generally despicable things. Those deeds usually involve committing corporate espionage, blackmail, or beating up anyone who threatens the family. This scene between Beth and Carter, however, went beyond the pale and viewers didn’t take to kindly to it.
“America went after me for that!” Reilly told Yahoo! “I was like, ‘That’s the character, not me!’ But I get it.”
This is not Disney, it’s Yellowstone
Of course, fans aren’t the only ones who are so fiercely loyal to the Duttons. Outcasts and ex-cons, including Rip, have all been marked by the Yellowstone cattle iron brand. That means they are indentured servants to a point that have sworn to protect the ranch by any means necessary. When Carter comes knocking, he’s another hopeless case that needs a little tough love. Or, a lot of tough love when it comes to Beth’s treatment of him.
For the actress that plays her, that harshness still stays true to the character, even if it’s hard to accept. Talking with Vanity Fair, Reilly justified Beth’s actions:
“It was absolutely the correct response for this character because let’s just be real for a second. He’s just come into their life. He’s been there for maybe two weeks. She can’t just suddenly go, ‘I’m going to be your mother.’ That wouldn’t be truthful. He’s lost everything.”
Because of her own sordid history, Beth just can’t flip a switch and become the perfect mom. That may be what Carter and, ultimately, Rip Wheeler wants from her in the end. But Reilly wants to remind fans that this is still an R-rated show and Beth isn’t going to be censored. Ever. “I think Beth has huge motherly instincts. Huge. It’s all over the show, actually,” she correctly points out. “But not in a way that women are supposed to be mothers, right? It’s not softly, softly. This is not Disney.”