After decades of enforcing “frontier justice” to protect the Yellowstone Ranch and the Dutton family’s legacy, all of it came this close to being torn down because of a bar fight. This week’s episode of Yellowstone, “Horses In Heaven,” is a pivotal one, as John (Kevin Costner) and his brash, zero-bullshit method of governance takes center stage and a toll on his future, all while Beth (Kelly Reilly) is forced to ask her brother Jamie (an excellent Wes Bentley) for help getting out of jail—in a way that puts them both on a collision course for a fate worse than prison. Let’s get into it.
What we leave behind to our children and how we leave it are key themes this week, as John makes politically damaging moves to ensure his family’s legacy while grappling with the thorn in his side that is Beth’s arrest. While Jamie gets his estranged sister out of jail on a disorderly conduct charge, the situation puts considerable strain on John’s efforts to keep one hand on governing the state while the other tries to rein in his children.
John’s life gets even more complicated when investigators close in on what really happened to the wolves on John’s land. That forces Rip to lie about the animals’ murders, but John is surprisingly okay with that, as Rip did it to protect the ranch. So between the hell-storm coming from these wolves, and the seduction of Jamie by MKT Equities’ duplicitous Sarah, John now faces a battle from both within and without. And it just might cost him everyone and everything he fights for.
3. John’s first (and last) conference with staff
John’s brand of blunt-force diplomacy clashes with the pencil pushers’ way of doing things, specifically with regard to the consequences that Montana’s land and wildlife will suffer at the hands of a costly solar power expansion. John doesn’t like how this expansion came about and, upon seeing no need for anyone other than himself to vet or make policy, he fires his entire political staff and calls it “a great day” for Montana. But by appointing himself to where the buck stops, his real troubles in office are just getting started.
2. Monica and John’s tear-jerking chat
Kayce and Monica intentionally kept the timing for the burial ceremony of their newborn son, John, a secret from the Dutton clan. But that didn’t stop John and a fresh-out-of-jail Beth from paying their respects from a distance.
It also didn’t stop John from finding a time to get the closest he’s ever been to his daughter-in-law, Monica (Kelsey Asbille Chow). Some of Yellowstone’s best moments (that don’t involve punching folks) are when these two characters share a poignant scene of introspection together, and this week boasts a great example of that. In an effort to help Monica cope with her grief-filled present, John reveals a painful memory from his past. For 18 hours, John had a brother, Peter. And he still would have him today if not for the baby’s heart being too weak to survive.
But, in the closest the patriarch ever gets to wearing his heart on his sleeve, John tells Monica that Peter’s brief life and that of the baby she just buried were perfect. Because all they ever knew was their mother’s love.
1. Beth, Jamie, and a baby’s car seat
Jamie considers his worst mistake to be the unforgivable time he took a young Beth to get an abortion, which resulted in her becoming sterilized. That trauma is re-opened when Beth discovers Jamie’s secret baby by way of the car seat Jamie has. Lots of cussing and a near-car accident ensue before Beth lashes out with a vow to take Jamie’s son away from him. Jamie responds by almost running Beth over with his SUV. These two will never not be at war, and Jamie deserves every last inch of the hurt that’s in store for him and his political aspirations.
John expects his political fortunes to turn up when he grants clemency to season four’s convicted environmental activist (and John’s occasional lover), Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo). His plan? Use Summer to help John deal with a potential clash with the EPA and Fish and Wildlife agents over those missing wolves. But Summer stands for everything John doesn’t, and he seems primed for a rude awakening by having a frenemy working that close to everything he holds dear.
Expect that storyline, and Beth’s blackmailing of Jamie and his new girlfriend (the alias-using Sarah) to cause significant friction.