John says of his sons, Lee, Kayce, and Jamie: “I got one child I miss, one child I pity, and one I regret.” It’s not clear which he pities and which he regrets.
This line also comes during John and Rip’s chat the night before the cattle branding in episode five.
John doesn’t explain which child he is referring to in each instance but viewers can confidently ascertain that it’s Lee, his eldest son, who died during the season one premiere, he misses.
As for which son he pities, it’s possible that he is referring to Kayce, given that he recently lost a child. His pity could also come from the fact that Kayce, as a young boy, watched his mother die. At the same time, he might regret the way he treated Kayce in the past, and the wounds the two will never be able to heal.
It’s more likely, though, that he is referring to Jamie as the son he regrets, and that regret might be that he ever adopted Jamie and raised him as his own. Indeed, elsewhere in the episode, John tells Clara that he only has one son, making it obvious that John doesn’t recognize Jamie as his at all.
However, there is also a case to be made for John pitying Jamie, because he is not related by blood to the rest of the family, meaning that no matter what, he’ll always be treated differently.
If you were wondering what John makes of Beth, his only daughter, he adds to Rip afterward: “But that girl, that child, I envy.”
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