Yellowstone‘s series premiere, “Daybreak,” set the stage for a season that immediately tests the Dutton Family. The pressure is on as they deal with a land dispute regarding the expansion of the city of Bozeman as well as a livestock dispute between the Duttons and residents of the bordering Indian Reservation.
Unwilling to back down and concede defeat on either point, John Dutton–the family’s patriarch–launches a two-pronged attack against his adversaries. Dan Jenkins intends on developing a neighboring area to increase the amount of newcomers to the region.
In order to thwart his efforts, John instructs his crew to blast a new path so that a river which would have eroded the land is directed away from the area being developed. Then, with the full force of the Livestock Agency behind him, John went to retrieve Yellowstone cattle which had wondered onto the reservation.
The wrangling of the cattle, however, did not go down without incident. Monica’s brother, Robert, a veteran whose anger was apparent in every interaction with Kayce Dutton, was among those who were there protecting the cattle that had wondered on the land. The Reservation had reserved the right to keep the livestock and John refused to allow that to happen.
When the livestock agents went in, including John’s son Lee, Robert didn’t retreat. He began to shoot at the helicopter and the agents attempting to round up the cattle. Despite his efforts, they did manage to recover some of them but instead of riding off with the other agents, Lee turned around and yelled that if they wanted the cattle they’d have to come and get them. Robert answered the challenge by shooting him.
How did Lee die on Yellowstone?
Lee was knocked from his horse by the force of the shot. His brother, Kayce, who’d been a disruptive force during the seizure of the cattle, came to his rescue and kicked Robert away from Lee. But it was too late. The two shared precious moments together with Kayce reassuring his brother he was going to get him help, but the rest of their time was stolen by Robert who staggered up from the ground to attack Kayce.
How did Robert die on Yellowstone?
Robert’s attempt at murdering Kayce went left as his brother-in-law got the best of him while they both drew and fired their weapons. Kayce’s aim was true and he killed his wife’s brother in self-defense. He, however, doesn’t share that information with her by the end of “Daybreak.” Instead, the audience is treated to Lee’s funeral as Jamie, Beth, and John rally together and John deduces that he played into the hands of Chief Thomas Rainwater.
It’s John’s belief that this was never about cattle. It was about optics and securing a narrative that will sway public opinion and therefore policy in one’s favor. In this case, the escalation to violence and murder over a livestock dispute secured Senator Huntington’s support in helping Thomas take back the land that was stolen from the people of Broken Rock Indian Reservation.