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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This week's Yellowstone give us a bloody battle

"Watch 'Em Ride Away" is full of punches and "cowboy sh**"

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Yellowstone
Yellowstone
Photo: Paramount Network

An action-packed, but kinda aimless, installment of Yellowstone this week finds Beth and Summer duking it out in “Watch ’Em Ride Away,” the fighting equivalent of that Return Of The King ending. Let’s get into it.

Here’s what went down

Bitter rival barely covers what Summer is to Beth. From minute one, John’s daughter (and her breathtaking anger issues) sized up Summer as something between nuisance and threat, especially when her daddy decided to take someone who Beth calls a “hippie” into his bed. The venom between them boiled over in “Watch ’Em Ride Away,” which plays the long game while building up to an even longer fisticuffs between the two women.

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What starts as a verbal spat at the supper table (when will John learn that nothing good ever comes from a family dinner) spills out onto the ranch’s front yard in a brawl full of kicking, punching, and more kicking. And it keeps going, even after Rip attempts to play peacemaker. It eventually ends (or, rather, settles on detente) and circles back to the dinner table, where Summer and Beth’s uneasy truce picks up where it left off: Beth educating a vegan Summer on the benefits of eating meat. (Classic Yellowstone.)

Best line

“Honey, yesterday is what eats everybody.”—Rip

Rip and his usual brand of cowboy poetics help set the stage for Beth vs. Summer. He and his wife muse about the past as their marriage’s future seems foggy, just as John’s political career (or, at least, his patience for it) is staring down its expiration date. The Duttons’ way of life is so beholden to what came before (especially when it comes to their version of family values) that even the mere thought of change (especially coming from someone as progressive as Summer) feels like a threat to tear it all down. Rip seems to know that no matter how hard the family he loves tries, change can’t be stopped. But Beth, with her outbursts and alcoholism, won’t stop trying.

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Yellowstone
Yellowstone
Photo: Paramount Network

Burning questions we have

1. Where does Summer go from here?

Broken and bloody (but still chatty!) is where the episode leaves her. She has learned to respect her hosts’ hospitality. (It’s the least she can do, since John commuted her prison sentence.) But what’s her goal? Like, is she really just gonna abide by John’s plan to have her work for his administration for the next six months and help him put out political fires (and avoid starting new ones) until the issue with the protected wolves goes away? It doesn’t seem like she and her uneasy alliance with Beth are long for this world, either, so here’s hoping the show finds something more compelling to do with her than being John’s environmental conscience.

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2. Something bad is going to happen to Clara, right? 

Introduced in the second episode of season five, Clara (Lilli Kay) emerged as John’s very adept and competent assistant in the governor’s office. She’s no political veteran, but she’s more seasoned than her boss and is all that stands between him and his governorship falling apart.

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Which is why fans should be concerned for her well-being; it’s rare for anyone as vital or as likable as Clara to enter the Dutton’s orbit and emerge unscathed. And with John recruiting her to ride with him, Rip, Kayce, and others on the annual “spring gathering” of animals and livestock at Yellowstone, it seems that some harm may come to her.