Spoilers below for Yellowstone’s latest episode, “Horses in Heaven,” so be warned if you haven’t yet watched!
Yellowstone kicked off the fourth episode of Season 5 with Beth in jail, having spent a night (and then far too much of the rest of the day) wearing her bar fight attire from the memorable evening prior. Perhaps had she stayed in there a bit longer, and had enough time to adjust to a new way of thinking, the rest of the season wouldn’t be so worrisome. And that, fellow viewers, is the theme of this week’s rundown, as some extremely alarming moments played out in “Horses in Heaven,” while others tapped into different emotional zones, leaving behind various levels of worry for the Dutton family. (As well as questions about where Josh Lucas’ fan-rousing younger John Dutton was this week.)
Below are the five biggest concerns I’m bouncing between following Episode 504 (with a geotracker collar around my leg to fool Fish & Wildlife officers), starting with everyone’s favorite rabble-rouser. I’m more than a bit worried that…
1. Beth Won’t Ever Find Impulse Control
Considering “Horses in Heaven” ended on Beth shooting vodka and smoking a cigarette as the sun broke over the horizon, it wouldn’t be a logical leap to think that she hasn’t yet put into action the advice that John sternly gave her following her release: “Impulse control. Find some.” Knowing her as we do, she likely hasn’t put an entire thought into what life would be like without her brain synapses, mouth, and limbs moving as one. If she doesn’t say things and pummel people whenever and however she wants without fear of consequences, is it actually Beth Dutton? How would we know?
I’m not actually worried that this top-tier character would suffer by bringing the act of “considering” into her bag of tricks, and not only because Kelly Reilly is flawless in any capacity. Because we all know that when Beth puts the effort into her deeds, schemes, and exploits, she succeeds in ways that justify vodka at dawn (vaguely), but it’s when she follows her instincts against better judgment that she legitimately threatens herself and those around her. That can be a frustratingly hard behavior to curb, too, and Beth may be too far along in her bottle-bludgeoning ways to get ahead of them, which probably isn’t good for John or the ranch.
Speaking of Beth and bottles, I’m also pretty worried that…
2. Li’l Jamie Will Endure Tate-Level Trauma So Young
Up to this point, Jamie’s son with Christina — Li’l Jamie Dueces is what I’d like to call him — doesn’t seem to have had a rough life yet, despite unwittingly losing his grandfather in a similar way to his grandmother. But as we’ve learned with Tate on more than one or two occasions, Yellowstone isn’t above giving its younger characters a healthy dose of tragedies to harden their core Dutton-osity. So it’s coming.
I’m not worried that Beth would do anything violent, considering she’d be so willing to have a child herself if it was possible, but the fact that it’s not possible is obviously her fuel here. And I doubt that she’ll be considering that whatever vengeful acts she pulls off against Jamie directly will still emit a reverberating and impactful trauma. As amusing as it is to think about Jamie as a happy-go-lucky suburban dad, his feelings in this situation aren’t anywhere near as important as what happens with his son, who is easily the only innocent Dutton left.
When it comes to not-so-innocent Duttons, I’m more than a little worried that…
3. John Will Sabotage His Governing Ideals Through Nepotism
I can’t lie, I get as big of a vicarious kick as the next person out of watching Governor John Dutton trimming the executive fat from his office, proving Beth’s impulse control issues are wholly genetic. Yellowstone continues to represent a citizens-before-government attitude, and it would be bonkers if life imitated art in just such a way, at least when it comes to elements that are truly expendable. But a breaking point exists, and John is on his way to plowing right through it by filling his ranks with his inner circle.
Not that he’d be the first politician to do such things, and we know that his reasoning for doing so is to surround himself with those who would protect the ranch. But not everyone’s skills can automatically vault to State Government level on a whim just because John brings them in, from Beth and her law-skirting maneuvers to Piper Perabo’s returning recruit Summer. (Seriously, Beth used Summer as prison-bound bait in Season 4, but I guess her environmental knowledge is just that good?) Why is John intentionally eschewing Lynelle’s spot-on advice at every turn only a week into office?
It’s been a wild week for everyone, which is part of why I’m worried that…
4. Kayce And Monica Will Become Mired In A Cycle Of Sadness
Most of Yellowstone’s characters experience narrative ebbs and flows, but Kayce and Monica are often tied up in dark and emotionally devastating stories. The bonds of their marriage have been stretched beyond their limits, only to reform again around the fissure. Their shared life will forever be influenced by their very separate bloodlines, even as Tate is imbued with both. Kayce was already set to take a step back professionally to avoid the strains his job caused, and then the death of their son only added to their combined heaviness, without a clear path back to “good times,” for lack of a better phrasing.
I sincerely hope the funeral ceremony that Rainwater and Mo helped with, as well as the mournful conversations with John, help Kayce and Monica reach places of peace within themselves, with happiness soon to follow. Whether that means trying to get pregnant again, swearing off sex forever, or something in between, I just don’t want to see this couple haunted by their pasts forevermore.
To end things on someone whose past we know nothing about, I harbor a healthy worry that…
5. “Sarah Atwood” Will Destroy The Duttons From Within
Clearly, the woman we’ve come to know as Sarah Atwood isn’t above doing whatever it takes in any situation. She’s using a false name, for one, complete with a fake ID, which makes me question how much Market Equities even knows about her. And then she quickly pushed her dinner with Jamie to become a more carnal experience, leading to Beth’s purse-digging as Jamie huffed and puffed in the background. It’s probably only a matter of time before he becomes fully infatuated, which would easily allow Sarah to take over as a puppeteer for his legal wrangling talents.
So just as Jamie talked Hailey into not pressing charges, thus getting Beth out of jail, he theoretically could just as easily find ways to put her and/or others into jail. Granted, that would require Sarah stopping Beth from using one of many weapons against her brother, from blackmail images to knowledge of his son to telling Rip the truth about her barren womb. But the Market Equities headhunter has already penetrated the family more quickly than Caroline Warner and others, so it’s logical to be concerned that her lack of familial ties in this situation gives her an advantage.
To circle back to what was just mentioned: am I worried about Rip finding out the role Jamie played in Beth’s abortion? Nah, that shit’s been coming for a long time, and I am so ready to start hollering at my TV when it happens, hopefully as Season 5 heads into its winter hiatus, giving way to Paramount+'s upcoming prequel 1923.
Below is our look at Yellowstone's third episode, "Tall Drink of Water," comprising the worst character decisions made throughout.
With Yellowstone now truly in the thick of Season 5 after a double-episode premiere week that crushed the competition in terms of viewership and 18-49 demo ratings — 15.7 million / 5.28 rating with Live + 3 stats — it stands to reason that Taylor Sheridan and the Dutton family could do just about anything and still remain the biggest thing on TV outside of a football stadium. “Tall Drink of Water” tested that specific hypothesis in certain ways, with several of the main characters making truly questionable choices that, appropriately enough, felt far more scripted for TV than authentic actions these people would be making. But that doesn’t mean it was boring or predictable.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest and wildest choices made by Yellowstone’s elite throughout Episode 503, and how they could affect things quite negatively moving forward.
Beth Smashing A Bottle Over A Woman’s Head
No reason to start with anything else here, since Beth’s drunken and petty attack, along with its aftermath, capped off the episode. On the one (bruised and beer-dampened) hand, it was as clear as the day is long that Beth wasn’t going to let any other woman get away with anything so iniquitous as “smiling while talking to Rip.” When Beth’s in a good mood, she likes to fuck and fight, and the Bozeman bar was just a little too populated for the former. So I guess she put all of that energy into the motivation to brawl, even though she should have known that using any kind of weapon in the process would lead to bigger repercussions.
And in that respect, I can’t tell if I truly buy into Beth’s “15 feet tall and bulletproof” attitude dulling her comprehension that breaking the law in public actively goes against the instincts of any governor’s chief of staff. Sure, I’ve mentally called bullshit on Beth’s conversational bravado in the past, but usually while inferring that she’s equally self-aware about it. So did she really think she could get away with drunkenly assaulting someone in front of dozens of witnesses, or was this whole confrontation more of a convenient and easy way for Sheridan to sabotage the whiskey-adoring Dutton?
Additionally, I would have said the sheriff’s decision to send Beth to jail was a dumb move, given whatever Dutton-originated firestorm is coming his way, but it was literally the only move he could have made with all those people around, particularly the woman threatening to press charges on Beth. So he gets a free pass in this case, but just this one.
Drunk Woman Hitting On Rip
While I’m not one to blame victims in situations of malice, violence and peril — though I’m perfectly fine with people failing at life in a viral video sense — Ashley Platz’s Hailey Brewer isn’t getting out of this one without some sympathetic tsk-tsk-tsking. By all means, all the power to her for taking the initiative to start a conversation with Rip, as he’s the epitome of a cowboy bar catch. But Strike One for openly saying she was married, Strike Two for not immediately walking away after Rip expressed no interest, and Strike Three Through Thirty for brazenly approaching the woman whose husband she was just hitting on.
I have to think at least some of the alcohol served at this establishment is being spiked with stupid juice (as freshly squeezed from the stupid fruit), because what in God’s name did Ms. Brewer think was going to happen next? I’m not saying she should have expected to get clocked by a bottle, but I just literally can’t conceive what led her to think the outcome would be positive enough to justify making the trip across the dancefloor. Maybe she impossibly heard Beth mention threesomes to John earlier in the episode, and thought she could be their third. Whatever it was, she’s probably not thinking much straighter now, and while it may be an ill-advised move to press charges against any Duttons without a monolithic corporation behind her, it’s still the only logical one. If only she’d embraced logic earlier.
Rip Telling Beth No
During her trip to Salt Lake City, Beth seemingly landed a checkmate against Market Equities by selling off Schwartz & Meyer shares and locking down a conservation easement for the land, so she was feeling as frisky as ever upon returning to the ranch. And there’s no denying that her pleasure waves of success through such brilliant badassery went fully tidal by the time aggravated assaults entered the picture.
But let’s not pretend here; Rip totally sparked a wholly separate fuse within Beth when he denied her night-out intentions in front of the whole bunkhouse, giving her that much more reason to get white girl wasted. The moment of strife didn’t have lengthy consequences within their relationship, thankfully, but I can easily see a scenario where Rip calmly talked to her without anyone else around and convinced her to stick around the ranch that night.
Kayce Turning In His Badge
Obviously I’m not going to sit here and act like Kayce’s motivation to save his marriage wasn’t an honorable enough reason to decide to step away from his leadership position as the Livestock Commissioner. He and Monica are definitely going through an emotionally harrowing time, and he believes that changes need to be made in order for them to come out intact on the other side. But who’s to say he’s actually making the right choices here?
I feel like maybe Kayce is at a point where he’s perhaps unfairly basing his life entirely on his Season 4 vision quest, and is making impulse interpretations based on what’s happening in the moment, as opposed to more of a big picture approach. Not to take away from the importance of his beliefs and the act in general, but I have to believe that the negative effect Kayce stepping down will have on John’s early run as Governor will be more substantial than the positive effect it’ll have on his home life. If Kayce thinks that working for Rainwater will somehow be way less complicated than what he was doing before, he’s likely in for a rude awakening.
Rip Antagonizing The Fish & Wildlife Officers
To be expected, Rip wasn’t pleased to see Fish & Wildlife showing up on the ranch so soon after Ryan and Colby illegally killed those collared wolves. Also expectedly, Rip wasn’t exactly a gentleman during that exchange. But even as a protected white dude on the protected land of a more important white dude, he should know as much as anyone not to poke authoritative bears when they’re suspicious and have reasonable doubt on their side.
Along with heightening the threat of danger that comes with traversing the vast land by their lonesome, Rip may have also just been trying to get the officers defensive and less observant with his aggressive attitude. And he was possibly thinking about how he’d be able to further skew locational evidence before F&W would be able to get there by helicopter. But then Beth went and got herself arrested for clocking a bitch, so now Rip’s curtness may come back to wolf-bite him in the ass. Not that he won’t bite back harder.
Jamie Confidently Accepting Dinner With Sarah Atwood
Anytime Jamie Dutton thinks he’s the most important mover and shaker in the room, Yellowstone fans know he’s probably wrong, but it’s at least a change of pace from the defeated servant vibe he has anytime Beth is around. So it’s hard to rail on him too hard for feeling like a big boy after feeling as if he’d schooled Market Equities’ Ellis, and then receiving measured compliments from Sarah Atwood. He’s not entirely used to things rolling his way for more than a second or two at a time.
Of course, his inflated sense of victory and/or pride was falsely earned, as Sarah and Ellis were of course playing him right from the start. So whatever power Jamie thinks he has going into any future conversations with Sarah has a foundation of “nothing sprinkled with imagination,” which does not bode well for John, Beth and the ranch. And since Market Equities is now at its most desperate point of this fight, Jamie will have to wisen up immediately to make it out of this without two cockstrong and powerful women wanting to bury him alive.
I can’t tell just yet whether or not Rainwater made terrible choices by not shutting up that protester and not standing up to Angela Blue Thunder when she threatened him. But in an episode where the protagonists made rash actions that may not have been so smart, I can’t knock the guy for thinking before leaping. There’s still time for that, though.
Below are the six most important takeaways from the first two Season 5 episodes.
Outside Of His Ranch, Governor John Dutton DGAF
Even though John expressly mentioned to his new driver not to divulge details of his candid conversations with the kiddos, his early days as Montana’s new governor haven’t exactly kept his truest motives hidden, even if he’s fooling some into thinking he cares about the state or its citizens as much as he cares about Paradise Valley. Which, by all means, is probably what everyone watching at home expected him to do, all while presumably razzing Jamie and Lynelle for trying to convince John to make less tumultuous directions. But how long can that line of thinking last?
Considering each move he’s making is just widening the target on his back, and lengthening the list of people who are aiming at it, one would imagine he’ll have to quickly reach a point where he understands that breaking all the rules will make it harder to enforce the ones that are keeping his land safe. Jamie and Lynelle need to present things as such, rather than acting like anything else matters to him.
Beth And Rip's Shared And Separate Pasts Are Haunting Them
Now a happily married woman who is more than pleased to present herself as such, Beth remains conflicted over her past with Rip. The premiere offered a flashback to their barely-a-date that immediately went sideways, which scratched at her surviving regrets over not getting serious with him all those years ago. And all such memories undoubtedly pull at the dangling thread of her abortion and unconsenting sterilization, which remains a buried landmine in their relationship; one whose triggering could bring Jamie’s life to a brutal end, depending on how Rip would take such news.
Rip is clearly a moment-to-moment kind of person, living entirely within his present set of duties, especially while he’s top-dogging it in John’s Governor-related absence. So he likely doesn’t feel the same “what if?” pangs that Beth does, but the dying cattle plotline combined with heightened pressures to send Rip’s subconscious into the past as well, though for a more disturbing reason. It appears as if Rip and Kai Caster’s new character Rowdy were tasked by John with giving a contractor, Elijah Mahar’s Dick Weller, a taste of his own medicine (poison) to stop the chemicals from being used near his land. While the builder was only horribly injured and not dead by the episode’s end, I can’t help but think Rip and Rowdy’s reign of terror defending John’s land gets far worse.
The Death Of John Dutton IV, Monica's (And Kayce's) Baby
Considering viewers last saw Kayce and Monica seemingly on the skids when Season 4 ended, it was quite the baffling reveal to see her expecting to the point of bursting at the abdominal seams. But any attempts to feel joy about such miracles were clearly destined for doom as soon as Monica confidently declared she would drive herself to the hospital. To the episode’s credit, I suppose, Sheridan & Co. telegraphed these scenes to set off massive alarm bells within viewers and buffer the shock of the tragedy to come. Still, it was gut-wrenching to witness the car wreck that not only left Monica and Tate bruised and bloodied, but also led to the loss of their son, whose time on the planet maxed out at a single hour.
All the more bawl-worthy was learning what they’d named the boy, as it presumably makes him the fourth-generation John, cementing that part of the family legacy not-so-coincidentally around the point when Paramount Network aired the first teaser for 1923, the upcoming prequel with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.
One has to wonder why there wasn’t more of a press-capade over the new governor losing a grandson in an incident that also left his daughter-in-law and grandson hurt, not to mention the other driver. Perhaps more attention will be put on the tragedy when they bury him on the ranch, assuming John is as cool with it as Kayce assumes. Since the idea of Tate wanting them to have another baby was mentioned just as many times as Kayce seeing the end of their relationship during his vision quest, it makes me more than wary about any attempts they make to get pregnant anew.
Market Equities Has Its Own Version Of Beth Dutton
Just to get it straight right from the start: there is only ONE Beth Dutton, and there will only ever be one Beth Dutton. But in the way that there will always be LEGO-esque building blocks standing alongside the monolith, it stands to reason there are other people in the world who share similar outlooks and playbooks with Kelly Reilly’s stinger-covered queen bee. And one such person would be Market Equities’ latest weapon, Dawn Olivieri’s Sarah Atwood.
Jacki Weaver’s Caroline Warner speaks of Sarah as if she herself is the code to the nuclear football, which makes a certain amount of sense if she wields similar “fuck the world” energy to that which Beth emanates at solar levels. Wisely, her introduction is more low-key, where she shows off her me-first confidence and wiles without being outwardly vile or villainous. She has to rise up from somewhere, after all, if she’s going to one day ram heads with the Duttons’ fiercest warrior. No one just walks up off the street and takes Beth on. You have to get insanely pissed off at her first.
Jamie Appears Ready To Break, Regardless Of Consequences
Wes Bentley’s Jamie was allowed just a couple of all-too-brief moments to feel anything resembling positivity or victory, including being allowed to introduce John as the new governor, and when John rebuked Beth’s refusal to make her brother a glass of whiskey. Otherwise, the dude is abundantly aware of every inch within the doghouse he currently resides in, and it’s only a matter of time before she brings an actual dog collar and leash to use on him. She’s really digging into her diet-psychotic need for enemies there, and doing shit like making Jamie call her “ma’am” is either going to lead to uncomfortable sexual chemistry or it’s going to make him recoil to the point of getting vengeful.
Not that such conjecture is taking a shot in the dark, as everyone at Market Equities is on the same page in thinking, “Why did we go after the most hardcore Dutton when the forgotten son is right there with all those knives in his weak little back?” (I find it hard to believe Beth wouldn’t have just arbitrarily badmouthed the bejesus out of Jamie at high volume the entire time she worked there.) But will Sarah have what it takes to convincingly turn Jamie against the fam, given all the evidential fuel that Beth has on him? I doubt it, but I sorta hope it happens, and that we get a cage fight by the end of Season 5.
Ryan And Colby Killed Some Very Important Wolves
No deaths during the second episode of the night could have stacked up emotionally to the devastating loss that Kayce and Monica went through, but it stands to reason that the calves and wolves that were killed could have more far-reaching ramifications on the whole. By unwittingly shooting and killing some collared and park-preserved wolves, Ryan and Colby have presumably welcomed a shitstorm that will only further complicate John's attempts to make sure everything goes his way as governor. Once authorities with a Dutton-hating stick up their rear start looking into things happening at the Y, is there ever a point when they'd stop looking?
But even beyond the threat of jailtime and more for Ryan and Colby for doing the wolf-killing, Yellowstone appears to be setting up more of a layered story here. For one, Ryan noted that wolves weren't responsible for killing anything, only for Rip to sweep those suspicions under some horse manure. And since that situation is what made Rip recall the whole poison-related revenge sitch, it's likely whatever or whoever else is responsible for the calves' deaths won't be long for this world after Cole Hauser's badass finds out about them.
New episodes of Yellowstone are set to air each Sunday night on Paramount Network. Rewatch previous episodes with a Peacock subscription, and head to our 2022 TV schedule (or our 2023 premiere rundown) to see what other new and returning shows are hitting the small screen soon.