The election is over. Now the real work begins for Gov. John Dutton.
Warning: This is an overview of the two-part Season 5 premiere — “One Hundred Years is Nothing” (Episode 501) and “The Sting of Wisdom” (Episode 502) — of Yellowstone. And that means there will be scads of spoilers here. We strongly recommend that you not read this if you have not yet watched the Season 5 kickoff. If you do read it before watching, and then complain about spoilers, don’t be surprised if Rip drops by to take you on a one-way trip to the train station.
John Dutton has been elected governor — but he doesn’t appear to be very happy about it. Market Equities CEO Caroline Warner is positively furious about John’s plans to shut down her land development, and vows to bring in heavy artillery. Kayce deals with a devastating personal tragedy, but fears even worse events my lie ahead. What are we to make of this? Here are our five takeaways from the two-part Season 5 premiere of Yellowstone.
Takeaway No. 1
John Dutton (Kevin Costner), arguably the most reluctant candidate in American political history, doesn’t wait long after his inauguration as governor before taking a blunt-force approach to preserving his ranch and his way of life by canceling all agreements made by the previous Montana administration with Market Equities for a massive land development. And while he’s at it, he relies on his private brain trust — daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), his newly installed chief of staff, and adopted son Jamie (Wes Bentley), the attorney general — to plot various other ways, including the enforcement of zoning restrictions, to keep all developers from turning his beloved state into “New York’s novelty and California’s plaything.” Not surprisingly, all of this infuriates Market Equities CEO Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver), who goes all Defcon 1 by bringing in the heavy artillery: Smoking hot fixer Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri), who spots right away what, really, any reasonably sentient human being would notice if they paid attention: Jamie is the weak link in John’s chain of command.
Takeaway No. 2
Jamie is mightily peeved that John leap-frogged over him for the gubernatorial nomination. Still, you can’t help thinking he would have voluntarily gotten behind his dad — and, in fact, continues to offers salient advice about legal niceties that, characteristically, John routinely ignores — without Beth’s blackmail threats. (Beth knows where the body is buried, and has photographic proof that Jamie did the burying.) But here’s the thing: Beth may be enjoying her ability to cruelly taunt, brutally manipulate and generally emasculate Jamie a tad too much. Truth to tell, there’s always been a kinda-sorta kinky edge to their relationship. But even a submissive like Jamie might eventually develop the backbone to turn on his dominatrix. Especially if he’s aided by… well, maybe a smoking hot Market Equities fixer?
Takeaway No. 3
Sad to see that Monica (Kelsey Asbille), the very pregnant wife of John’s son Kayce (Luke Grimes), lost her unborn child in an auto mishap that, frankly, we don’t think any of us saw coming until a few minutes before it actually occurred. While recovering, Monica can’t help asking the obvious question: Is this the tragedy that was foretold during Kayce’s vision quest at the end of last season? You know, when he said he saw “the end of us?” Apparently not. So we have to believe even worse things lie ahead, huh?
Takeaway No. 4
For once, we have to sympathize with viewers who complain about the time-tripping in the Taylor Sheridan TV universe. In the first half of the Season 5, it took us way too long to grasp that we were seeing a flashback to the early flirtations between a callow young Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein) and a brazen young Beth (Kylie Rogers). In the second hour, it was only slightly confounding when the young John Dutton (Josh Lucas) masterminded an attack on workmen polluting his property. Maybe they need to start using on-screen titles like “Ten Years Ago” for some of us?
Takeaway No. 5
Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) has had it about up to here with activist Angela Blue Thunder (Q’orianka Kilcher), who appears to have borrowed a few pages from Beth’s “How to Succeed at Emasculation” playbook. She’s constantly accusing him of being the Native American equivalent of a subservient Uncle Tom — and, judging from his pained expression, her words sting because even Rainwater fears she is not so far from wrong. Still, we’re left with the sense of foreboding: Nothing good will come of this.