The first ten minutes of Yellowstone’s Season Four premiere just might send the majority of its audience to therapy with the amount of drama, bloodshed, and scheming it packed in. Also, there were, somehow, 110 similarly breakneck-paced minutes that followed! And while you have to wonder, how in the hell will creator Taylor Sheridan and company keep this up for the rest of the season? Maybe it’s better to just revel in the reality that as we come out of this pandemic, we’re all just venomous snakes, shaken up in a casual cooler, waiting to bite someone right in the face.
Now, if that last sentence didn’t make sense to you, I have to ask: why are you reading a post-mortem of Yellowstone without watching? You’re going to get taken to the train station, if you’re not careful. Go catch up, now! If you did understand it, then you know there’s a lot to discuss. But perhaps the best way to address *gestures wildly at the bunkhouse as well as Kayce’s house as well as the hospital* all this is to break down whose dead, whose alive, and what mysteries remain.
Are you kidding me with this man? After being shot up like a slice of Swiss cheese in workwear denim in the Season Three finale, we thought John was almost certainly going to die on the side of the road, right? In pursuit of revenge, he takes his own blood and writes out a message of what the van carrying his assassins looks like. Luckily, our perennial favorite Rip finds him, manages to get a helicopter to airlift him to a nearby hospital, and our guy lives. He has to be put in a medically induced coma, but he pulls through and continues to be a pain in the ass to everyone in his immediate vicinity.
First, he insists that he will get revenge on the people who shot him, shot Kayce, blew up Beth, beat up Monica, and burned down his cabin. (Review that list again and tell me about another show on TV that is this action-packed.) And even though he seems to be out of the woods, by end of the premiere, it still feels quite likely that the true extent of John’s wounds, or rather the complications that will stem from them, haven’t yet been revealed.
Unfortunately, the season starts with Beth looking like a Hot Pocket I forgot in the oven because I decided to take a nap. Presumably protected by an aura of deep, unbridled rage, Beth survives the explosion that blew out the windows of her street-facing office in the finale. (Just like I guessed she would.) She walks out of the building, charred to the max, unable to hear from the blast, and then requests a cigarette from a man on the street. But then a little later on, inexplicably, none of the blast has left her physically scarred… or so it seems!
Beth is the integral figure of this massive double episode premiere and more than a few things happened in her arc: She befriends a teenage boy at the hospital while she waits on news about John. Then she becomes his guardian after the boy’s father goes braindead. Like the rest of the family, Beth has become (even more) deeply suspicious of outsiders. But there’s something in this kid that, we think, reminds her of a young Rip, and she puts her worries aside. And later in the episode, in a scene where she is sleeping with Rip, we see that Beth’s entire back is one giant scar. There’s a metaphor here but, given last season’s reveal that Beth can’t conceive children because that bastard Jamie took her to an abortion clinic where she was sterilized, we’re choosing to embrace this tender familial moment.
Rip is sad. How else can you phrase it? His fiancée was power broiled. His father figure was blasted with bullets. His cabin was burned down. But Rip doesn’t cry—no, no. He channels that broken man energy into rage. Let’s start with how he addresses Josh Holloway’s Roarke. Certain that Market Equities is behind what happened to Beth, he finds Roarke fishing in a river and asks, “Is this your cooler?” Roarke says no, but Rip steps into the water, shakes up the cooler, opens it, and throws its contents at Roarke. What’s inside? A snake! That bites Roarke in the face! Then Rip puts his boot on Roarke’s chest! Until he dies! Screw therapy! Kill people!
But with each of Rip’s streaks of anger, there’s a soft moment around the corner. Rip initially pushes back against Beth bringing home a kid, but he also sees himself in the guy. He pulls a full John Dutton and invites the boy to stay, so long as he works… just like Rip did as a kid. And John, who nearly smiles when Rip explains his decision, says the kid can stay. (Well, he actually said “maybe,” which is about as much enthusiasm as you’re going to muster from the man of the ranch.)
Kayce and Monica
Kayce manages to get away from his bullet riddled office unscathed, but on the other end of the line, Monica is terrified. When she goes into their house to get Tate and make it to the bunkhouse, she’s attacked by a man in a clown mask because Yellowstone has absolutely no chill. When it seems that Monica is all but dead, her assailant becomes his own version of pink mist. Who pulls the trigger? Tate. A child.
Kayce goes to avenge John’s assassination attempt after getting information from Rip. He manages to take out about half the militia, but he’s hit pretty hard himself. We aren’t teased too long though. Kayce is fine; the last we see of him is sitting in a hot spring with John, who tells his son that the Duttons must kill everyone who tried to kill him. (So that’s how they’ll keep this up all season…)
That Asshole Jamie
Beth scared the bejesus out of Jamie and promised to kill him, which is what he deserves. Then Jamie attempts to buy land, but he makes it clear it’s not for the Dutton ranch. It’s as if he wants to die.
The Ranch House
The main story here is Jimmy, who has more nerve damage following his fall from his horse at the end of last season. He ends the episode in a neck brace, and John tells him that he’s done almost everything he can for him. He’s going somewhere where someone else will be in charge of “turning him into a cowboy.”
Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock
Unpopular opinion: the best characters on Yellowstone are all living at Broken Rock. They’re a savvy crew, and Chief Rainwater makes it clear: if this militia is coming for the Duttons, they’ll come for Broken Rock next. So as tight of a plan as John is developing, the good people of Broken Rock are coming up with their own. (It begins with dragging a man by a horse to get information out of him.) But with so many villains, and Chief Rainwater’s potential deal with Jacki Weaver’s tough head of the board of Market Equities? The threats are many, and hard to parse.
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Yellowstone season 4 episode 1