Yellowstone Theory: I Think The Duttons Are Being Long-Conned In Season 5

John talking to Clara on Yellowstone
(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Spoilers below for anyone who isn’t yet caught up on Yellowstone Season 5, so be warned!

For the most part, Yellowstone Season 5 hasn’t given the Dutton family any specific and overarching enemies to defeat, with John’s challenges as a new governor, illegal wolf killing, and troubling flashbacks making up most of the character drama so far. The only recurring antagonist has been Dawn Olivieri’s Sarah Atwood, so she calls herself, and her efforts have been as low-key as can be, if one can refer to “banging Jamie in a public bathroom” as low-key. But what if she’s just one part of a long-con threat that hasn’t fully been revealed yet? Welcome to my latest, if not greatest, Yellowstone theory. 

As much as I’d like to keep beating around the bush — which is probably how Beth would refer to her brutal fight with Summer — let me lay out my basic argument.

What may sound like a random assertion makes more sense when viewing some of the season's moments in hindsight, while also bringing in character information that hasn't been given much attention. 

  •  Clara And Hailey Both Have The Same Last Name 

While coincidences can be as common in Yellowstone as anywhere else, I don’t particularly believe that Taylor Sheridan embraces whims within his narratives. As such, it seems highly suspect that the woman who provoked Beth to smash a beer bottle over her head — Hailey Brewer — would have the exact same last name as the woman currently serving as assistant to Montana’s governor. And yet Lilli Kay’s character is indeed named Clara Brewer. 

It’d be one thing if these names popped up on Wikipedia or IMDb without legitimate citations to fall back on as proof, but both Hailey and Clara are tagged with the “Brewer” surname in the episodes’ credits. The series has yet to address the fact that the names are shared, but even for a franchise that adheres to common AF names like John, James, and Beth, it’s a huge curiosity to say the very least. 

  • Hailey May Have Been A Plant In The Bar

It felt a bit bizarre for Rip to deal with a flirtatious woman during the episode “Tall Drink of Water,” and even more bizarre for that woman to then flap her gums to Beth, but it could technically be explained away as a drunken California fish in unfamiliar Montana waters. But what if she wasn’t actually drunk or trying to hit on Rip in the first place? What if Hailey’s entire point was just to get an over-the-top reaction out of Beth to make her headline fodder?

Now, I doubt she would have expected to get smashed in the face with a bottle. But she might have foreseen Jamie being able to legally wrangle things so that Beth didn’t spend long in jail, and might have been fine with that. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Duttons can’t be taken down in a day. But if you put enough of those days together…

  • We Already Know Sarah Atwood Is A Fake Name

While Yellowstone hasn’t yet revealed what Sarah Atwood’s real name is, there has to be a good reason why her birth name is being hidden in the first place. Surely, Taylor Sheridan might have a dozen other reasons to explain it, but until we hear them, it’s up for debate, and I’m now choosing to think it’s because she’s related to John’s assistant. 

Given her reported history with Market Equities and Caroline Warner, it’s clear that she’s been rocking a faux moniker for a while, and that it wasn’t only crafted with the Duttons in mind. But I do wonder if Sarah’s professional status could have had anything to do with Clara landing a role as John’s assistant. 

  • Clara Seems Too Perfect An Assistant For John

From the jump, Clara has always been keen on following John’s suggestions and demands. Which is obviously part of her job, but she’s barely stood in the way of any of John’s non-traditional ideas. At some point, that behavior looks less like loyalty and more like she’s baiting him into self-sabotaging his term in office.

Clara knows how to ride a horse, says she’s from Miles City, and is knowledgeable about the ways of the ranch, even as she learns more about the Y itself from John. So what if the Brewer family is one that the Duttons have had a long-standing rivalry with, which is set to be introduced in 1923 or some other upcoming prequel series? I guess that would have made the vetting process difficult when she was hired, but I’m not unconvinced.

So even though it's a stretch that hasn't been confirmed at this point, I think there's hypothetically enough quasi-evidence to think John and the rest of the fam are in for a rude awakening when it's revealed the Brewer family is coming for their land. (Unless that's just all wrong.)

Yellowstone airs Sunday nights on Paramount Network at 8:00 p.m. ET, with the first four seasons available to stream with a Peacock subscription. Head to our 2022 TV schedule and our 2023 premiere guide to see what new and returning shows are popping up both before and after the new year arrives.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.