Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched the first three episodes of Yellowstone season 5.

Episode 2 (“The Sting of Wisdom) ended with quite the cliffhanger when a tracking collar — belonging to a protected wolf killed by one of the Yellowstone ranchers — gets strapped to a log, only to end up visibly stuck in a river flowing through John Dutton’s property. Its potential for a major headache materialized when authorities from the Fish and Wildlife Service showed up to the Yellowstone Ranch in Episode 3 (“Tall Drink of Water”), which aptly explained the wolf dilemma with a flashback featuring a young John and his crew looking for the culprit(s) responsible for his dying cattle.

But while a young John Dutton (Josh Lucas) makes it clear that the reintroduction of wolves into the area as an endangered species is at the root of present-day John’s (Kevin Costner) plight with his cattle, that drama pales in comparison to Beth’s duel with Market Equities, and it turned into one helluva bout.

Beth deftly displays her conniving skills when she strikes a duplicitous deal to help her family and, in the process, sends Market Equities CEO Caroline Weaver (Jacki Weaver) packing back to New York. The “rattlesnake” deal starts when Beth wakes up earlier than usual at the ranch and tells Rip (Cole Hauser) and her father she’s gotta catch a flight to Salt Lake City.

It’s later revealed that the purpose of the Salt Lake City trip is to meet with Market Equities’ rival to talk about a deal, in which Beth would sell her controlling interest in Schwartz & Meyer (one of the largest private fund managers in the country), with the caveat that she would keep the real estate in the portfolio. That amounts to a little over 28,000 acres in Montana, the land Market Equities needs to build its airport.

Representatives from Burson International meet with Beth, but it’s clear she only wants to meet with the rep calling the shots, Rob. It’s also clear that they have a history after Beth counters Rob’s refusal for a cigarette by telling him “I have seen you snort cocaine off a stripper’s stomach.” Rob chuckles and lights up. It’s at that moment when Beth puts all her cards on the table and reveals her methodical thought process.

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Her plan’s to sell Schwartz & Meyer, which manages $2.3 billion in funds with a whopping return average of 22 percent. That nets the company a staggering $480 million, which leaves Rob wondering why she’d sell at all. He thinks the deal’s too good to be true. So much so, he fears there’s “a rattlesnake” somewhere in the deal.

Beth hardly thinks so, considering the caveat calls for her to keep the $300 million worth of real estate, which is the only calling card she needs if she’s going to fend off Market Equities from building on the Yellowstone Ranch. And when she tells Rob about her plan, he’s blown away by her ability to see ahead.

“[Market Equities] is going to sue me. They’re going to claim they fired me for cause and that my severance should be nullified by me violating their company’s NDA, and they’re gonna sue me for my piece in this place [Schwartz & Meyer] saying that I negotiated in bad faith,” she tells Rob. “Therefore, the ownership agreement for Schwartz & Meyer should also be nullified. Then they’re going to sue the state for breach of contract and seek to initiate eminent domain in federal court.”

This all stems from John’s first order as governor when he cancels the lease and seizes all funding for the Paradise Valley Development project. Market Equities, the firm representing Paradise Valley, files a lawsuit against the state over the lease cancellation, but Beth’s got a solution, provided Burson International agrees to Beth’s proposal. But Rob’s hesitant, prompting Beth to ask, “[Market Equities] is your largest competitor, right? Don’t you wanna f**k ’em over just a little bit?”

Rob responds, “I wanna f**k them over a lot. Just don’t want to get f***ed in the process.”

Beth put him at ease when she lays out the blueprint for her plan.

“I will place the land in a conservation easement. Since this is the land where they intended to build Terminal 2, their development is done no matter what a federal judge says,” Beth explains. “[Market Equities] will write down a billion in losses, and 20 times that in loss revenue over the next 10 years. I still control this place, so I can still sell it. And when I do, there is not a court in this country that can give it back. It’s another two billion off their balance sheet and that is how CEOs get fired.”

She assures Rob, “There is zero risk to you. You will inherit 12 PIPE (private investment in public equity) hitting investment bankers, generating half a billion in profits and 40 million in your pocket every f**king year, and it didn’t cost you a dime. Where is the rattlesnake in the deal?”

Beth admits she’s the rattlesnake, and also tells Rob “you’re not who I’m gonna bite.” When Rob relents and says he’ll do his due diligence by taking the proposal to the board, Beth yet again proves why she’s a shark in her own class.

“You don’t need the board’s approval. You’re not spending any money,” she says. “This is a one-day-only offer. OK? I’m on a clock. I may be one step ahead of them but I am not two.”

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Rob then asks if he can have his attorney look over the deal, but Beth keeps her foot on the pedal.

“Sure, why not,” she says. “Nothing f**ks up a great deal like a good attorney.”

Rob’s convinced and he signs the deal, setting off a chain of events that results in putting the land Market Equities is after in a conservation easement. The deal also results in Market Equities’ CEO, Caroline Warner, getting summoned back to New York, and Beth’s landmark deal also calls for Market Equities to drop its lawsuit against the state, the very same moves Beth predicted would play out.

“This changes things with respect to litigation,” Market Equities rep Ellis Steele tells Caroline after she hears about the acquisition news. “New York would like to drop the suit. They don’t wanna throw good money after bad.”

On her way out of the office, Caroline turns to Ellis and orders him to “find a way to ruin this family.” She insists, “Ruin them. Starting with her,” referring to Beth. Ellis is not moved, and he’s convinced Beth has checkmated Market Equities.

“There’s no such thing,” Caroline barks back.

She then orders Ellis to unleash corporate shark Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri), who at this point has only sized up Jamie Dutton at the Montana Attorney General’s Office and invites him to dinner. Sarah gives Jamie credit for his legal acumen, but at this point, she has yet to show what makes her a corporate shark. Caroline’s words to Ellis make it clear Sarah will soon display her skills.

“There are no rules for Sarah,” Caroline says. “Turn her loose.”

After striking the deal, Beth’s got the urge to celebrate. Rip and Carter (Finn Little) go along with her plan to visit the barn, where the ranchers are celebrating Lloyd’s (Fore J. Smith) 70th 58th birthday. Beth’s convinced the night calls for a trip to Bozeman for a bar outing. Rip argues against it, but nothing gets in Beth’s way.

“Oh, you said no, huh? Well, I guess that settles it,” she says. “I’m buying, boys!”

The ranchers holler in celebration for a night out in town, and when the room clears out, Beth and Rip quip over his order against going to Bozeman.

“Eh, that might have been a poor choice of words,” Rip says quite sheepishly.

But his gut feeling proved him right after Beth gets into a brutal fight with a woman hellbent on flirting with Rip. The night out started quite innocently — lovely, even — after Beth ordered a dozen shots and beers for the crew. Ranch hand Ryan (Ian Bohen) even runs into Abby (Lainey Wilson) at the bar. They lock eyes from afar, and she acknowledges him with a flirty smirk. Ryan asks if she wants a drink or a dance. She responds with both. Their romance appears to be blossoming, but it takes a backseat to what happens next.

After buying the Yellowstone ranchers another round of shots, Rip stands at the edge of the dance floor admiring Beth from afar. But, out of nowhere, a woman appears behind Rip and places her arm around him. He tells her he’s married. She says “same,” adding that her husband’s in Sacramento. When she asks him where’s his wife, Rip points to a seething Beth on the dance floor giving the woman a death stare. The woman says, “I’ll take care of that,” but Rip warns her not to.

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Sensing a brawl’s about to ensue, Rip shouts at Lloyd and tells him the night’s over. Meanwhile, the woman confronts Beth, but before she could even get a word out, Beth cracks a beer bottle over her head and then knees her in the face, and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Two men appear to detain Beth, but Rip jumps into the fray and unleashes punishing haymakers. Ditto for the rest of the crew, as the band appears unbothered by the melee and continues playing music.

After Beth’s seen slugging away while Rip tries to corral her, the scene cuts to a throng of patrons surrounded by police outside the bar. The flirty woman’s bloodied and holding an ice pack to her head. But the beating’s not done. Beth then walks over to the flirty woman and gets one more lick, instantly knocking her to the ground.

The sheriff tells Rip and the ranchers can go but he’s got no choice but to arrest Beth for aggravated assault.

It’s unreal how a triumphant day could turn so chaotic. But Beth’s rise and fall is far from the only predicament. There’s also Kayce Dutton’s (Luke Grimes) resignation as Livestock commissioner. He comes to the decision after determining it’s time to choose his family over the career that’s keeping him away from them.

Kayce’s been providing a comforting shoulder as his wife, Monica (Kelsey Asbille) struggles to manage the searing pain of losing her newborn son after a mortifying car wreck. He’s with Monica sitting on the porch when Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) is talking to him about the Native American ritual of having a horse carry his son’s spirit to the other side.

“You know, death is a private thing. It’s perhaps the one thing we do alone no matter how many are around us, we do it alone,” Rainwater tells Kayce. “The ceremony’s a private thing too. It’s not for your father or your brother and sister. It’s not even for you. It’s not for grieving. It’s for sending that boy off on the right way. There’s plenty of time for grieving later.”

A noncommittal and utterly distraught Monica gets up and announces she’s going to make breakfast. It’s after this when Kayce first hints he’s stepping down as Livestock commissioner and asks Rainwater for a job.

“Look, I don’t do this for me. I do it for my father and every time I do this job something and happens to her, to me to my son,” he says. “My vision told me I have to choose so I’m choosing and I don’t choose this [the badge].”

Rainwater hopes he changes his mind, but Kayce is adamant.

“It’s not my path. I choose them. They are my path,” he says.

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It’s suggested that Kayce ask his brother, Jamie, about a job as a state investigator for the Montana Department of Justice. As the state’s attorney general, Jamie would have to appoint Kayce for the job, if that’s what he wants to do next. But in the meantime, Kayce’s struggling to comfort Monica. The death of their newborn son has all but paralyzed her, but she finally breaks down in the kitchen when she screams in agony. Kayce tries to run to her aid, but he’s stopped by Rainwater’s driver and assistant, Mo.

“Gotta let her do it,” Mo tells Kayce as he holds him from entering the kitchen. “Gotta let her do it. It’s alright. Let her grief.”

As part of her grieving process, Monica tells Kayce she wants him to ask John about burying their son at the Yellowstone Ranch. Kayce agrees and meets with John at the ranch, where he tells his father that his newborn son “wasn’t alive long but he was alive” and that Monica “doesn’t want to bury him with a bunch of strangers.”

He says that’s the plan if John will allow it.

“Whatever she wants,” John tells Kayce. “You give it, son.”

Sensing a crack in John’s tough exterior, Kayce reveals his plan to step down as Livestock commissioner. He hands over his badge and tells his father, “That’s what I’m gonna do. I can’t serve both. I choose her and I choose my son.”

John tells him the state needs him, prompting Kayce to respond with, “She needs me more.”

In a rare glimpse of his vulnerability, John drops the issue and tells Kayce, “OK. Let’s go pick a spot” to bury Kayce and Monica’s son.

There were other moments where tough characters softened. Like when Rip walks into the barn one morning and is pleasantly surprised to find Carter feeding a calf. Rip jokingly tells him, “When you’re done playing mama, saddle up something you think you can ride.”

Carter’s taken aback that he’s being invited to ride with the ranchers again, after the horse he was riding in Episode 2 had to be put out of its misery following a riding accident that resulted in Carter’s arm being broken and the horse breaking its femur. Making matters worse, the horse was John’s personal favorite. In any event, Carter’s giddy at the chance to ride again after Rip tells him, “If I’m going to make a cowboy out of you, you’re going out every day.”

The tender moment dissipates when officers from Fish and Wildlife visit the farm and order Rip to ride along for a visit to the killed wolves’ last known location, which is on Yellowstone Ranch. The ride there ends after the officers determine a helicopter’s better suited for the job at hand.

Meanwhile, the flashback in the episode’s opening scene takes young John at a fiery board meeting with fellow ranchers angry over the loss of cattle at the hands of preying wolves. Fish and Game officials aren’t buying that wolves are roaming the area killing cattle, and one official tells John that “their fear is not fact-based” and that it’s based on “rumors and media-fueled hysteria.”

Young John — who in Episode 2 initially thought a phone tower crew spraying toxic chemicals near his ranch were the culprits — tells the official he can prove five wolves are roaming his ranch. When the official tells him he wouldn’t know because he’s not a wildlife biologist, young John claps back saying, “Name another predator in this region that has paw prints the size of my hands that brings down its prey by biting the hawks who consumes the organs first.”

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He continued, “You can’t because there isn’t one. But remember this, rancher support is the reason why you were allowed to reintroduce them in the first place but if you can’t protect us like you promised, then they will be forced to take matters into their own hands. They’ll have no choice.”

The official reminds young John that killing an endangered species is a felony.

“You don’t know me well enough to call me John,” he responds. “It’s commissioner Dutton. But if fish and wildlife officers aren’t on my front porch by Friday with a checkbook, you’re gonna get to know me real well.”

Present-day John seems to enjoy any chance he can get to leave the governor’s office and soak up the picturesque views from his porch. It’s there where he’s reflecting. Beth, on her way out and headed for Salt Lake City, asks him what he’s reflecting on.

“There are some memories fathers shouldn’t share with their children,” John says.

She responds, “I think we are way past that, don’t you dad? I think I’ve told you about everything. Hell, I told you about my first threesome.”

“Your what?!” John responds in shock. Beth tries to take it back, but it’s too late, and they both laugh. But in a rare tender moment between the ruthless father-daughter duo, John tells Beth he was thinking about her mother and how extraordinary she was. Beth doesn’t buy it, but before she hops into her matte black Bentley GT she offers him some sage advice.

“You know dad, you can love a memory all you want. But it can’t love you back,” she says. “Find someone that you can love while you’re still young enough to do it. Her memory’s not going anywhere.”

After she gets into her car, Beth shows rare emotion as she begins to cry. She knows it’s a rare moment, too, because she quickly becomes angry at herself before driving away.

Lost in the rollercoaster episode is Walker (Ryan Bingham) reuniting with an old flame, Laramie (Hassie Harrison), who get reacquainted in a shower scene that turns into ripping Lloyd over his age. They can’t believe he’s only 58 and not 70.

Rip shows his rare smile when he gives Lloyd a big hug and offers him whatever he wants for supper. And Lloyd wants steaks.

“Steaks it is,” Rip happily obliges.

Yellowstone airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Paramount Network.


How to Watch ‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 Online

‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 Premiere: Monica Suffers a Devastating Loss

‘Yellowstone’: Everything We Know About Season 5



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