Why I Think Sarah Atwood Is Yellowstone’s Best Villain

Why I Think Sarah Atwood Is Yellowstone’s Best Villain

Yellowstone is filled with villains trying their hand at taking over the Dutton Ranch and, for my money, Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri) is the best of them. Taylor Sheridan villains are some of the best parts of his shows. He can create a rounded, human character in only a few short scenes and explain what it is they want, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In Yellowstone, the Dutton family are sometimes the most villainous seeming characters in the show, which means the actual antagonists have to be even more formidable and cruel.

Over the course of five seasons of Yellowstone, I’ve seen a fair number of villainous land grabbers, real estate tycoons, cattle rustlers, and people who just hate the Duttons, come up against the family only to be cast back out unsuccessful, or worse, dead. However, I’ve noticed that the more competent a villain is, the more they’re likely to take from the Duttons. Even in defeat, the best can expose and hurt the family. That’s why I’m partial to Sarah Atwood. Her competence is impressive, and it’s inevitable that even if she loses, she’s going to crack the ranch’s foundation.



Big Bad(s) Of Every Yellowstone Season
Season Villain Actor
1 Dan Jenkins Danny Huston
2 Dan Jenkins
Teal Beck Terry Serpico
Malcolm Beck Neal McDonough
3 Willa Hayes Karen Pittman
Roarke Morris Josh Holloway
Wade Morrow Boots Southerland
4 Caroline Warner Jacki Weaver
Roarke Morris Josh Holloway
Garrett Randall Will Patton
5 Caroline Warner Jacki Weaver
Sarah Atwood Dawn Olivieri

Sarah Atwood Is Yellowstone’s Best Villain Because She Gets The Closest To The Duttons

Atwood Starts A Relationship With Jamie To Infiltrate John’s Family

Sarah Atwood first appears in season 5, episode 2, “The Sting of Wisdom”, as a lawyer hired by Market Equities CEO Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver). Sarah is a dangerously intelligent operator and is sent in as a sort of Trojan Horse to complicate John’s (Kevin Costner) life. Jamie (Wes Bentley) immediately falls for her charms and the pair grow close. How much of the relationship is based on Sarah’s real feelings for Jamie and how much is solely her positioning herself to become a thorn in John’s side is still not completely known.

She’s poised and patient, making difficult to read if her feelings for Jamie are true or not.

Sarah is a recurring character in season 5, part 1 of Yellowstone, and from the moment I saw her walk on screen, I knew she would be a major problem for the Duttons. It helps that Olivieri’s acting is some of the best I’ve seen from a villain on the show. She’s poised and patient, making difficult to read if her feelings for Jamie are true or not.

I have not seen a villain get this close to the Duttons before, and while at the end of the day, I want them to succeed, I can’t help but take a little pleasure in watching them head toward completely uncharted territories. Sarah creates a new dynamic in Yellowstone where the outsider tension is coming from within the family and I love to watch characters having to pivot to an enemy they haven’t encountered before.

Sarah Atwood’s Timeline On Yellowstone
Season Episode Title Notes
5 2 The Sting of Wisdom Sarah is introduced
4 Horses in Heaven Jamie and Sarah have sex
7 The Dream Is Not Me Sarah turns Jamie against his family
8 A Knife and No Coin Sarah’s last appearance in season 5, part 1

Sarah Atwood Actress Dawn Olivieri Also Played A Villain In House Of Lies

Atwood Frequently Plays Intelligent And Capable Characters

Monica Talbot (Dawn Olivieri) staring down Clyde Oberholt (Ben Schwartz) in House of Lies

Dawn Olivieri has had a long career in film and television. I remember first noticing her in Heroes where she played the recurring role of Lydia, a superhero with the tragic ability of being forced to follow other people’s desires. The idea of a superhero with a power that was “bad” was something I’d only seen in X-Men with Rogue’s ability to sap another’s life force. I think it’s probably the same reason I enjoyed Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) so much in Antman and the Wasp.

Dawn Olivieri’s Notable Movie And TV Roles
Title Role
Heroes (2009-2010) Lydia
The Vampire Diaries (2011) Andie Star
House of Lies (2012-2016) Monica Talbot
Bright (2017) Sherri Ward
Debbie O’Brien (2018) Debbie O’Brien

Olivieri has another notable role in House of Lies as Monica Talbot, a villain, who, like Sarah, is a highly sophisticated and calculating business executive unafraid to get her hands dirty to complete a job. I’ve always enjoyed wickedly smart characters, good or bad, and Atwood nails her portrayal of them in Yellowstone and House of Lies. I hope she plays another brilliant villain again soon.







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