‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 Episode 1 Recap: “One Hundred Years is Nothing”  (2024)

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Last season on Yellowstone, veteran rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) admitted that he didn’t think humanity, or at least the humans living in his beloved Montana, even had one hundred good years left in the tank. What would remain for future generations, when grass covered the streets and weeds choked the rooftops? Sure, he’s the living patriarch of five generations of Duttons, and the owner of a ranch so vast that it contains entire mountains. But when you consider that land on a geologic scale, what’s one hundred measly years? It’s nothing, as the title of the Yellowstone season five opener affirms. All of the Duttons’ blood and sacrifice over a century-plus of living in Montana has only been to preserve that land, because the land outlives any person or property deed. And now, as the state’s 26th governor, Dutton has tasked himself with protecting that land from outside interests by fusing the power of government with his considerable powers of hard-bitten persuasion. How many business suits do you think he owned before this new gig? The elder Dutton’s sleek new wardrobe is just one of the ways that power has a price. But it’s not the only way.

We join him on election night, his hair trimmed and dyed, his skin tanned. But the seasoned ranch boss’s frown is the same, a flat line of a mouth that asks “What did I get myself into?” Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly), fierce and triumphant, hands her father a phone. It’s his opponent calling to concede, and we’d like to thank Yellowstone co-creator and writer Taylor Sheridan for not dragging us through an entire onscreen election campaign. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of work to undo,” Dutton tells his gathered supporters. “The world sees Montana as the rich man’s plaything. We are New York’s novelty and California’s toy. Not anymore.” And as the confetti gun blasts and the balloons drop, Beth shares a look with Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) that exists somewhere between revulsion, ambition, and a reset of the family’s power dynamic. Last season, Beth forced Jamie to kill his biological father Garrett Randall (Will Patton) after she discovered Randall and her adoptive brother’s complicity in the targeted attacks on herself, her father, and Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes). For now, Jamie has a seat in the governor’s inner circle. As long as he bends the knee to Beth, and by association their dad.

It’s that dynamic that interests Market Equities the most. The real estate multinational’s lucrative, landscape-choking Paradise Valley Project, which includes an airport and new housing development, is on the chopping block with Dutton in the governor’s chair, and CEO Caroline Warner is livid. “This f*cking family!” she screams at corporate flack Ellis Steele (John Emmet Tracy). She’s not popping bottles, she’s tossing them. “I told you to go after the daughter, and now he’s governor. I’m tired of playing with these f*cking hillbillies!” But it’s Steele who points to Jamie on the news feed. Why is the attorney general frowning? Perhaps there’s a Dutton that MKT can flip.

At the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, foreman Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) is his usual clouded and volcanic self, kicking chairs around in the bunkhouse and jawing at good timing ranch hands Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith), Teeter (Jennifer Landon), and Ryan (Ian Bohen). Everybody is excited about the big inaugural bash that’s taking over the ranch grounds, but Rip sees the party as an example of a potentially dangerous new reality. What does his boss’s new job mean for the longevity of the ranch? For its holdings? For all of these roustabouts living in the bunkhouse? He asks his wife Beth about that old saying, you know, about Emperor Nero fiddling while the City of Rome burned.

MKT isn’t Governor Dutton’s only visible enemy. At his swearing-in ceremony, cutthroat business consultant Angela Blue Thunder (Q’Orianka Kilcher) shout-whispers to Chief Thomas Rainwater of the Broken Rock Indian Reservation. “You had a chance to be rid of [Dutton] and you did nothing. Now he grows stronger. It’s slave rules for you now, and it’s all your fault.” Yikes! At the podium, Dutton says that God isn’t making any more land or filling any more rivers. He also publicly pledges to cancel the Paradise Valley Project and jack up property taxes for all non-Montanans. The state, he says, “isn’t a vacation rental.”

Beth’s typically unvarnished loathing for Jamie is tolerated by their father. (“I’m about to work you like a rented mule, brother” – don’t ever change, Beth!) But the new guv also tells them both how it’s gonna be over a few fingers of the Old Weller Antique that Beth breaks out in the motorcade. “We’re an embarrassment to the sacrifice it took to give us a home,” he says, alluding to five full generations of Montana Duttons. “But I’ll tell you what, sacrifice is what we’re gonna do. And we measure every decision against what’s good for the ranch.” He’s a single issue governor.

Speaking of sacrifices, during all of the inauguration hoopla, livestock agent Kayce Dutton has been away from his pregnant wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and son Tate (Brecken Merrill) while nabbing some wily horse thieves up on the US-Canada border. Monica’s cramps are really bad – can Kayce meet her at the hospital in Billings? But pain, a giant buffalo roadblock, and a distracted oncoming motorist combine to equal tragedy, and by the time John, Beth, and Jamie hear the news, Kayce and Monica’s infant son is already gone. He lived for an hour, and they named him John.

Hooked Rocking Y’s:

  • Last season’s impromptu and very Beth-like marriage ceremony – she kidnapped the presiding priest at gunpoint – was also the celebration of a long-tested, but totally sure thing romance between her and Rip. And so it was cool to get a flashback at the outset of season five – Yellowstone loves its flashbacks – with insight into the halting romantic adventures of Young Beth (Kylie Rogers) and Young Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein), with an extra cameo from Young Llloyd (Forrest Wilder). “Everything before right now, that’s what I’m sorry for,” Beth tells her husband in the present. But Rip just says how proud he is to know that her heart is secretly as big as her mind. “You need to find somebody new to fight,” Rip also says, which this season is definitely not going to be a problem for Beth.
  • At the inaugural bash on the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, when the bunkhouse boys are getting loose with the guys from Bar M Ranch, the game they’re playing is apparently known as “cowboy jousting.” Basically, watch out that your feet don’t get tangled in the lasso.
  • The band playing at the bash? Shane Smith & the Saints, from Austin, TX, who have some history with Taylor Sheridan.
  • And the band on stage wasn’t the only musician at the party. Ranch hand Ryan ropes himself a singer and potential love interest – literally, with a rope, around her neck – named Abby, who’s played by real life country singer-songwriter and CMA nominee Lainey Wilson.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter:@glennganges

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‘Yellowstone’ Season 5 Episode 1 Recap: “One Hundred Years is Nothing”  (2024)
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