The major players are starting to take sides on Yellowstone. Episode 4 assembles what appears to be the core tensions for the remainder of the season—the killing of the park wolves, Kayce’s choice, Market Equities’ gloves-off approach to ruining the Duttons, and, once again, Beth’s infinite hatred for Jamie—with Beth and John (and Rainwater?) on one side and Market Equities, environmentalists, and perhaps Kayce and Jamie on the other. But we’ll explain our reasons for those latter two.
What seemed last episode to be a driving force for the rest of the season—Beth’s assault on a California tourist—turns instead into a relative non-issue in Episode 4. The assault, however, does drive a further wedge between Beth and Jamie, which may prove fatal for one, and motivate John to seek outside help; there are only so many crises one rancher/governor/father/tired man without whiskey can put up with.
A couple important points before we dive into the action. Kayce’s vision. We intuited that Kayce’s ceremonious hallucination last season will be kept behind an annoying plot curtain for the rest of this season, and we were right. As a reminder, Kayce saw two paths, of which he must choose one. Kayce’s summary of that choice: “the end of us.” That end could imply the end of the Duttons or the end of his nuclear family. It’s been speculated that Kayce will have to choose between his Dutton family and his own—a theory which seems to have been given more credence last week.
Another point about all this. Kayce’s loyalty struggle between John and Monica represented the original tension in Yellowstone Season 1; it was the core struggle of the show—the Duttons vs the outside forces trying to take their land. Kayce’s decision to marry and have a child with Monica, a woman from the reservation, threatened to split apart the Dutton family. That tension has been more or less smoothed over in later seasons—as other dramatic plot points were introduced and as the series’ writing sidelined both Monica and the Broken Rock Reservation storyline.
The last couple episodes suggest we’re finally coming full circle. But instead of John fighting Rainwater and Broken Rock, he may be heading toward an alliance. Where that puts Kayce, however, is unclear.
Here’s how the episode played out.
She Looks Like a Beth
After spending the night in jail, Beth gets a visitor: Jamie. He outlines the seriousness of the assault charge, explaining that if the California woman choses to move forward with the charges, Beth may face real consequences—and, therefore, so will John. Later that morning, Jamie manages to convince the woman not to press charges. He explains that she could face charges herself, considering she instigated the fight, a process that would likely keep her in Montana. She decides she’d rather just get the hell out of town. And she does.
Jamie’s reward for his legal cunning is an awkward-as-hell car ride back to the ranch with Beth, which ends in another assault. As soon as the gets in, Beth notices a baby seat in back and asks Jamie if he has a baby. Instead of, ya know, lying—like he probably did with the woman at the county jail—he blubbers his way into a confession, even saying the baby is a boy. Beth, who Jamie had sterilized after an abortion, immediately flies into a rage, attacking Jamie and promising to ruin him and his son. (*John voice* Jesus Beth.) And so the tiresome Beth Hates Jamie storyline enters its most charged chapter. Beth decides to get out and hitch a ride. Jamie almost grows the balls to run Beth over with his car, but doesn’t. What a show!
Good news for Market Equities and Sarah: Jamie now has a reason (as if he needed an extra one) to once again betray his family.
John Dutton’s Horrible Terrible No Good Very Bad First Week in Office
Meanwhile in Helena, John fires an entire room of his advisors—because they started a dumb meeting without him. Suddenly without advisors, John asks for advice. He’s just been told by Montana authorities that wolves from Yellowstone National Park have been killed on his ranch. An NGO (representing all evil environmentalists) is likely to come after John for the killing. John is tired of this shit.
At a lunch with Senator Perry, John explains how tired he is of this shit. Perry advises John to hire an environmental advisor so that he can get ahead of the coming storm. We can already see what’s coming next: Summer Higgins. And, indeed, John temporarily releases her from prison to serve as an advisor. She says she won’t hook up with him. John says that’s okay. Later that night, they immediately hook up.
New Allies and New Enemies
Kayce and Monica bury their child on the ranch. John and Beth watch from afar. John scolds Beth for her volatility. Beth tells John that if she dies, she wants to be cremated and scattered. It’s the kind of dialogue one expects will foreshadow late-season death—and we’re starting to think that maybe this season marks the end of Beth Dutton. Given the seemingly unmotivated flashbacks in Episode 1. Given the complete lack of redeemability in her pathological torture of Jamie. Given the approach of her most formidable foe yet in Sarah. It all seems to suggest that Beth is in trouble. That’s our guess, anyway.
After the funeral ceremony, John talks with Rainwater, who asks John to come to the reservation and meet with him. Though he has not yet told John, Rainwater is facing political pressure and may soon be disposed.
It’s an alliance we didn’t anticipate, but it could prove to be the determining partnership this season. John doesn’t yet know it, but Jamie is vulnerable to betrayal. Beth, he does know, is unstable. He’s running out of allies in his fight against land development. If he can protect Rainwater from political disposal, maybe he can find a new way to protect his own land.
Later, Jamie meets with Sarah for lunch. Sarah explains Market Equities’ new strategy: stalling the development until the next voting cycle, when John will likely leave office. Of course, Sarah has another strategy and quickly seduces Jamie. The two hook up in a bathroom. Beth, having followed Jamie to the bar, follows the two into the bathroom and discretely takes Sarah’s wallet, snapping a picture of her fake ID. She now knows who her main nemesis will be.
Early the next morning, she runs into Summer at the ranch. Another enemy. She decides to have a drink, and the episode ends with Beth dramatically sipping whiskey—the kind of thing a character does before they die. We’re calling it now. Bye Beth.
Joshua St Clair is an editorial assistant at Men’s Health Magazine.