At a time when Hollywood has seemingly run out of ideas, constantly rebooting movies & TV shows that probably shouldn’t be rebooted, a western interpretation of The Godfather is pure genius.
At first the connections between the Dutton and Corleone family were subtle, with similarities in the characters, their story lines and family roles. Even some of the dialogue stood out. In one episode, John says, “Let’s not talk about work at the dinner table.” In The Godfather, there’s the famous scene where Sonny tells Carlo “We don’t discuss business at the dinner table”
During season 1, I wrote this comparison below. (Go easy on me. Back then I didn't have the benefit of 3 seasons of hindsight)
John Dutton = Vito Corleone. Fends off challenges, often illegally, from those who want what he has. Gives
mafia style orders all while trying to preserve his family.
Kayce Dutton = Michael Corleone. Both (Kayce and Michael) were in the military and trying to avoid the family
Business - but it eventually finds them. Like Michael, Kayce also has to kill an in-law.
Monica Dutton (Kayce’s wife) is a combination of both Michael's wives: Like Appalonia, she suffers a tragedy.
Like Kay she is a teacher and eventually leaves to get away from the family business.
Lee Dutton = Sonny Corleone. Oldest son, killed by gunfire in an ambush.
Beth Dutton = Connie Corleone. Dealing with a death of someone she loved who treated her terribly (Evelyn
Dutton/Carlo), she rebels & acts out but eventually rejoins and runs the family.
Jamie Dutton = Fredo Corleone. Turns on his own family, but comes back. What does that say about his future?
If one of the branded men asks Jamie to go fishin’, he might want to take a pass.
Rip Wheeler = Tom Hagen. Adopted son that organizes the dirty work.
Rip: “This is my family whether y’all think of me that way or not.” Even though he gets removed from his post, John tells him “You’re the only person I can trust.”
Hagen (to Sonny): “I’m just as much a son (to Vito) as you or Mike.” In Godfather II, Michael tells Hagen, “Now you’re the only one I can trust.”
Lloyd the ranch hand = Clemenza. Capo of “the branded men”. Takes Fred for a ride (sans cannoli). Leave
the saddle, take the train.
Fred the ranch hand = Paulie - "Won't see him no more." "Took the long black train."
Thomas Rainwater = Don Barzini. The other Boss plotting against the Dutton family.
Dan Jenkins = Solazzo/Moe Greene. High roller being squeezed out of a casino.
Sherriff Haskell = Officer McCluskey. He’s corrupt and turns against the Duttons. Again, what does that say
about his future? He might want to give up veal for a while.
Sarah Nyugen = Johnny Ola. Entices Jamie/Fredo to betray, eventually things got tight around the collar
Walker = A reluctant Frank Pentangeli ?
Jimmy = Vincent Mancini...is there some Dutton in him?
What I can’t figure out is what Walker and/or Jimmy's roles are in all this. Clearly, they’re being set up for a big moment at some point. Maybe one of them will turn on the family Fabrizio style? "Prepara la macchina!"
That was written in 2018 - before the end of season 1. Season 2 obviously had some more similarities, Kayce (Michael) accepted his role in the family. Jamie (Fredo - I knew it was you, you broke my heart), tries to clean up his mess. Dan Jenkins gets “Moe Greened” and the Beck Brothers (Rosato Brothers) make their appearance, and well, exit. I also think I may have been wrong about Thomas Rainwater. He might be a bigger boss than Don Barzini was. A boss of bosses, maybe more like Hyman Roth.
By the time season 3 rolls around, the similarities are no longer subtle. They're in your face. My son likes to call hints or callbacks to other movies “easter eggs” when he watches films. Here though, the “easter eggs” are actually oranges. In The Godfather there are often oranges in scenes right before or during which someone gets killed/dies. For example Vito Corleone is buying oranges from a street vendor when he is shot in the drive-by in front of Genco Olive Oil Company. When Tom Hagen has dinner with Jack Woltz, there's a plate of oranges on the table. Right before Don Fanucci is killed by young Vito, Fanucci grabs an orange from a street cart. There are countless other examples. If this is the first time you've heard the orange theory, you should Google it.
In season 3 of Yellowstone, there are oranges in multiple scenes.