The Big Picture
- Despite the unbalanced fourth season, Jimmy Hurdstrom emerged as a character who gained agency and had his own focused arc, making him lovable and relatable.
- Jimmy serves as the heart and conscience of Yellowstone, representing a group of people often overlooked in entertainment and showcasing personal growth and redemption.
- Jimmy’s relationships with father figure Lloyd and his romantic endeavors with Mia and Emily add depth and relatability to his character, making him an everyman that viewers root for.
It’s no secret that the fourth season of Yellowstone was a bit strange given what we’re used to from the show. Even though the most recent season did accumulate the highest ratings compared to years prior, it seemed that Taylor Sheridan and company weren’t exactly sure what direction the story was going, instead opting to focus on promoting and setting up various numbered spin-offs, including the most recent 1883 and the upcoming 6666 and 1932.
But even though Season 4 was a bit unbalanced, there were still some characters who had real opportunities to shine. One such cast member was Jefferson White‘s Jimmy Hurdstrom, the Yellowstone Ranch’s resident back-breaking cowboy, who spent the vast majority of this past season at the Four Sixes (6666) Ranch in Guthrie, Texas. After John Dutton (Kevin Costner) sent Jimmy down to the Lone Star State to “become a real cowboy,” Jimmy was forced to utilize all the skills he learned on the Yellowstone to decide what kind of man he wanted to be. If anything could be said about Jimmy this season, it’s that he finally gained some agency of his own, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
There’s no doubt that Jimmy is by far the most lovable character on Yellowstone. This may seem like a bold claim at first, but when you consider that your only other options are really only John, Beth (Kelly Reilly), Rip (Cole Houser), Jamie (Wes Bentley), Monica (Kelsey Asbille), or Kayce (Luke Grimes), not only is Jimmy the most consistently likable (and, you know, not straight-up psychotic or consistently inconsistent), but his story feels the most down-to-earth and human. He feels like a real person, and that’s part of the reason we love him. Over the years, Jimmy has learned to develop his own clear-cut dreams, be it to become a rodeo champion or the new life he’s planning to build with his new fiancée Emily (Kathryn Kelly) in Texas. Having your own personal dreams outside the ranch is something most Yellowstone characters struggle with, which makes Jimmy stand out.
In a show littered with angry cowboys, corporate greed, loads of Western violence, and plenty of characters who seem to remain pretty much the same, Jimmy is the show’s heart and conscience. Sure, he’s no innocent himself (he was a drug dealer when we first met him), but he’s learned a lot since his criminal days and grown into a truly decent man. Rather than focusing Jimmy’s story around simply defending the Dutton Ranch (like every other character), Yellowstone has provided him with his own focused arc, building him into a real-life cowboy with his own dreams, something he’d never even considered before. Of course, it took him a long time to get there. When the show began, Jimmy sort of went with the flow, and it wasn’t until around the third season that he began to really develop on his own, but once he did, we couldn’t help but root for him.
Truthfully, part of the reason Jimmy works so well as a character is because he represents a group of people who are rarely ever seen in entertainment as anything but the butt of the joke. While Jimmy may still be laughed at often, time has shown him to be so much more than just some dumb kid who somehow ended up on a ranch. His entire journey as an amateur bronc rider was one that proved his worth, and that he was no longer the scared kid we first met in Season 1, but rather a man willing to get back on the horse and try again (even if the results were less than desirable). Jimmy may not be a perfect character (who is?), but he’s an honest one, and we can respect that.
Another factor that makes Jimmy the show’s most easily lovable character is his need for a father figure. While that’s a recurring theme in the series often met by John and Rip’s dynamic, Jimmy’s relationship with the senior ranch hand Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith) is one of the most heartfelt components of the show. Lloyd is something of the show’s resident foster father, having previously taken Rip under his wing when he was a boy and now helping the young Carter (Finn Little) find his place on the Ranch, it’s no wonder he’d do the same for Jimmy. In fact, it’s Lloyd who encouraged Jimmy to pursue rodeo in the first place, helping him recognize his true potential as a cowboy. While rodeo didn’t last, the lessons that Jimmy learned from Lloyd did, and their gut-wrenching goodbye in the Season 4 finale proved their devotion to one another. We can’t help but feel it in our bones.
Unlike most of the other ranch hands (at least until recently), Jimmy has consistently had his own thing going. While the Dutton family has had much of their lives (and fortunes) handed to them, Jimmy represents the common man, the “normal” person who knows next to nothing about either ranching or rodeo. The truth is, most of Montana isn’t like Yellowstone, and characters like Beth, Jamie, and even Rip aren’t often an accurate representation of the real-life residents of the Treasure State. Yet, someone like Jimmy, having come from a tough life to learn an even tougher profession, seems to fit into both Montana’s conservative “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” politics and the culture of the “Last Best Place.” Because of this, Jimmy’s been forced into the spotlight, making him a stand-out character on the show with some of Yellowstone‘s most interesting developments occurring in his story, which (rightfully) sets itself outside the main plot.
This isn’t even to mention the realistic nature of Jimmy’s various romances, which ground him in ways few other characters on the show experience. While there’s no doubt that Rip and Beth are Yellowstone‘s resident power couple, the truth is that it can be hard to relate to the two of them, even as we continue to root for their marital bliss. But Jimmy, on the other hand, he’s had a few solid prospects over the years, and it’s made him even more relatable to audiences than ever. As far as most were concerned, there was no reason that we should ever think that he’d find love, especially given his commitment to the Yellowstone. But, when Season 3 rolled around and introduced the barrel racer Mia (Eden Brolin), he was challenged in ways he’d never dreamed.
Jimmy and Mia’s relationship might’ve begun pretty innocently, but the truth is that over time it became clear that Mia, well, kind of saw Jimmy as a “pet project.” That isn’t to say that she didn’t genuinely care about him, or vice-versa, but her constant push for him to pursue rodeo (making him fit better into her life) only caused Jimmy more pain in the long run. Don’t get us wrong, Mia sticking by Jimmy after both injuries isn’t something to just ignore (even if Jimmy wrongly did), but the way they ended things before his move to Texas was pretty bad (and both their faults). They clearly just weren’t meant to be, and there’s nothing more tragically human than that.
Thankfully, Jimmy’s time in Texas with Emily helped him learn to take responsibility and become a man truly worth respecting. While Mia helped Jimmy understand his dreams, Emily gave him room to grow into the self-possessed man that he always hoped to be. Unlike Mia, Emily didn’t push Jimmy into anything he was uncomfortable with and didn’t hate him for honoring his word to John Dutton. After finally gaining agency over his own life, Jimmy made his own choices apart from the Dutton’s influence, and because of that, he’s rewarded with a life outside Yellowstone.
The heartbreaking nature of Jimmy’s relationship with Mia, and the healthy commitment he shares with Emily, show both sides of what any relationship could easily become. It’s a simple way to remind us that Jimmy is Yellowstone‘s everyman, but an effective one. While we don’t know exactly what the future will hold for our favorite Montanan-turned-Texan cowboy, especially now that he’s moving down to the Lone Star State permanently (most likely to join the upcoming 6666), we do know that he’ll forever be missed on the Dutton Ranch and that Yellowstone has always been better with him than without him.