For a man who isn’t overly fond of change, John Dutton’s family instigated a whole lot of it on this week’s Yellowstone. “Tall Drink of Water” is heavier on plot than usual for the show, as writer and showrunner Taylor Sheridan clears the board of complicated storylines that have run their course (bye bye, Market Equity’s lawsuit against the Duttons) in favor of more compelling ones (Beth gets arrested). While John is sidelined for most of the episode, his plan as governor to service what’s good for both Montana and his family is sorely tested.
A lot, actually.
Last week’s two-part premiere seemed to strongly imply that Rip’s misadventure with the GPS collars of the protected wolves that his ranch hands killed would be a bigger headache for him and the Duttons this week. Instead, Rip uses his knowledge of the ranch and its wilderness to delay with ease the investigation by two dim Game and Wildlife Officers. Detouring their search only prolongs the inevitable, but Rip has bigger problems when a night out at a bar ends up with his wife, Beth, handcuffed in the back of a police car.
Before that, Beth takes a trip to Salt Lake City to tie up some loose ends that involve upending Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver) and Market Equity’s lawsuit over their stalled airport and casino hotel deal. And Susan sinks her well-manicured claws into Jamie’s impressionable skin, as she executes phase one of “Operation: Turn John’s Duplicitous Son Against Him.”
Here’s a bell that can’t be unrung: Beth smashing a bottle into the head of some drunk woman who flirted with Rip. The brawl ends with a bouncer putting Beth in a chokehold, Rip violently defending his wife, and two Montana officers threatening the Yellowstone Ranch crew with aggravated assault charges. Despite Rip’s warnings that nothing good can come from reading the Governor’s daughter her Miranda rights, one of the cops arrests Beth anyway. It’s a good thing that the brother Beth hates is the state’s Attorney General, but it’s a bad thing for her to be in his debt.
Kayce finally reveals what his “vision” entailed: He has to choose between his immediate family or his job in law enforcement. He chooses his family when they need him most, as his wife, Monica, mourns the loss of their deceased newborn son. She wants to have a traditional Native American funeral for him on John’s ranch. It’s a haunting beat when all a helpless Kayce can do is watch his wife sob on their kitchen floor. It’s a brief, but significant, moment in their relationship—and the episode’s most emotional scene.
Beth gets a break this week, even though she is breathtakingly badass when she reveals her legal-heavy plot to help save her dad’s ranch by torpedoing Warner’s business interests. Her husband gets all-star status, however, for being cool under pressure in the face of those officers dispatched to find the missing wolves. Especially when he lures them away from the crime scene while standing a few feet from where he had the evidence buried.
He also went Pure Rip at the bar by defending his wife with zero compunction about getting in a cop’s face. His compelling mix of arrogance and confidence never gets old, but not even his patented thousand-yard stare can stop the legal shit storm that’s coming for his wife and family.
“Evenings are for forgetting. But in the mornings … I can remember.”
Up-at-dawn reflections are kinda John’s thing. This week’s “Deep Thoughts” segment is shared with Beth, just before she sets off to ruin Walker’s livelihood. It’s ironic that John’s line above concerns, in part, the job he doesn’t want and the memory of the late wife he wishes he still had. The only thing John can do about either is accept that both are his reality — though, after he finds out about Beth going full Road House, he’s gonna wish they weren’t.
Straight to Jamie and John’s offices. The former will no doubt have to bend the law to protect his sister from being submitted further to it. As for the latter? Well, John will have to fend off this potential scandal while dealing with the fallout of Rip’s wolf kills. (Rip’s Wolf Kill is the name of my favorite speed metal band, actually).
Oh, and Walker? Her bosses dropped the lawsuit. Beth’s outsmarted her. And the home office wants Walker back in New York, pronto. So she’s pissed. We’ve never seen her this upset. So what exactly does she mean when she orders for Sarah to be cut loose in order expedite her burn-it-all-down vendetta against the Duttons—especially Beth?
John and Beth will definitely regret finding out.