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This week's Yellowstone bashes skulls and fleshes out backstories

"The Dream Is Not Me" puts John on a collision course with the worst person imaginable: his son

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Yellowstone
Yellowstone
Photo: Paramount Network

You know you’re in for a special episode of Yellowstone when it opens with young Rip bashing in some cowboy’s skull.

John’s past way of doing things continues to prove to be no match for the present as the future of John Dutton’s ranch reaches a significant turning point in “The Dream Is Not Me.” In this game-changing episode, Beth not only calls out just how antiquated (read: crappy) her dad’s business model really is, but John also bitterly acknowledges that she’s right. For all of John’s bluster in season four, pronouncing himself as the rock that progress bashes against, it turns out that his pride is doing more to hurt his family’s legacy than to save it.

Here’s what went down this week

A shirtless Jamie held a concert at his place for the manipulative Sarah, playing the world’s smallest violin for himself and his daddy issues to justify his latest scheme to take John down.

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All Jamie wants is some gratitude from the dad he’s plotting to impeach. After all, it was John who wanted Jamie to be a lawyer, while Jamie dreamed of learning how to run a ranch. Instead, John got Jamie into Harvard, with Beth likely penning the admission essay. Now, Jamie wants respect and praise for becoming the business tool his dad needed him to be. (If it’s your father’s approval you seek, maybe don’t plot to ruin and/or kill him?)

It’s too late to give a shit about why Jamie is the worst; no one is gonna feel sympathetic for this Ivy League patricide enthusiast. Especially when Sarah informs him that her bosses are preparing to sue over his dad’s conservatorship, which could bankrupt the state of Montana. That’s grounds for impeachment, Sarah argues, and Jamie’s smug, doe-eyed ass takes the bait.

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What’s really sad is that this all happens parallel to John reluctantly, painfully realizing the error of his ways. Or at least the futility of stubbornly clinging to them. Stopping the airport from being built to save Yellowstone is shaping up to be his downfall, along with a potential virus among his cattle that could cost John the whole herd. Beth points out that the ranch can’t afford the millions of dollars it will cost or the month it will take to relocate some of the cows to a new location where they can be cared for. Short on cost-effective options—and very mindful of Beth’s criticism of just how flawed John’s business acumen is—John realizes maybe he could use his title of Governor to make up for his mistakes. But he better do it fast, because Sarah is winding up Jamie’s legal wrecking ball.

Yellowstone
Yellowstone
Photo: Paramount Network
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This week’s MVP

Jamie’s secretary. We’re surprised, too, but just like everyone else on this show—other than her boss—she sees right through Sarah’s long con. She knows Sarah is all-caps bad news and that nothing good can come from associating with her. But Jamie is too dumb and too high on his new life as the star of a ’90s erotic thriller to listen. But hey, at least she tried.

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Burning questions for the next episode

1. How will Rip’s murdery flashback factor into all this?

Flashbacks on Yellowstone tend to fill up run time more than actually push the narrative forward in meaningful ways. The series has already used Rip’s past to establish why the guy is so loyal to John, but this time ... something feels different. Why show us such a formative murder in young Rip’s life if it’s not gonna bite him and John in the ass soon?

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2. What’s going to happen to Jamie when Beth finds out about Operation: Impeach Papa John? 

Judging by the trailer for the next episode (which doesn’t air until January 1, by the way), it looks like Beth, or someone who also hates her brother, deservedly kicks Jamie’s ass. It also looks like Jamie wastes no time starting impeachment proceedings, which means John and Beth will have to take the gloves off and fight a war on two fronts: saving the ranch and stopping Jamie. Actually, it’s three fronts. Don’t forget Sarah. Because she and her evil employers won’t stop until there’s a new Dutton in office to help them turn Yellowstone into a tarmac.