When it comes to pushing the high-intensity drama needle into the red zone on Paramount Network’s neo-Western hit “Yellowstone,” few characters can match the ranch’s fiercely loyal Dutton daughter Beth, played to the hilt by Kelly Reilly. The fact is, series creator-writer-director Taylor Sheridan is nothing if not expert-level at developing memorably colorful personas on the show that are individual, indelible, and consistent in their ability to go big with their emotions and to go there often.
As for Beth, she’s been painted since the series premiere episode as a force of nature with a razor-edged intelligence whose complicated familial past has left her both damaged and volatile. Uncompromising when it comes to dispensing with ethical boundaries in defense of the Dutton’s cherished and sprawling Montana ranch, Beth is equally ferocious when it comes to laying claim to the affections of her husband, Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser). So, when another woman steps up to Rip in a bar in the Season 5 episode “Tall Drink of Water” and comes on to him in full view of Beth, any fan of the series knows things are going to go ballistic. And indeed they do, with Beth busting a beer bottle over the interloper’s head and triggering a full-on brawl. As it turns out, this infamous “Yellowstone” scene was actually originally informed by the booze-fuelled pandemonium of the chaotic bar fights in the classic 1989 action flick, “Road House.”
Beth’s fight scene on Yellowstone echoes Road-House-caliber bar brawling
As noted above, “Road House” boasts multiple skull-crushing, property-damaging bar fights involving the film’s star, the late Patrick Swayze, as a two-fisted bouncer. The iconic ’80s film was referenced by “Tall Drink of Water” director Christina Alexandra Voros during a Paramount Network interview. Recalling the preparations for Beth’s fight scene, Voros said that, “Our question to Taylor [Sheridan] was ‘on a scale of one to ‘Road House,’ where are we going with this?”
In the same interview, Kelly Reilly follows up Voros’ comment by explaining that Beth is “primal.” “She is absolutely in touch with her animal instincts, good or bad. And in that moment, she decides to see that through,” by shattering a beer bottle against the head of her perceived romantic rival. Denim Richards, who plays ranch hand Colby, joined the discussion to say that “We all protect Beth. But also at the same time, I think that [the ranch hands are] always looking to kind of get into a fight.” In a similar vein, real-life cowboy Forrie J. Smith, who plays Lloyd on the show, chimed to say that interludes like Beth’s notorious weaponized beer-bottle scene on “Yellowstone” brought back fond memories, saying, “I’ve been in a few barroom brawls, so it was kind of nostalgic for me.”