Veteran rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) confessed on the television series Yellowstone last season that he didn’t believe humanity, or at least the humans inhabiting his beloved Montana, had even 100 more years of good health. When weeds strangled the rooftops and grass blanketed the streets, what would be left for future generations? Yes, he is the last living member of the Dutton family and the proprietor of a huge ranch that includes whole mountains.
But what’s a hundred pathetic years when you look at that country on a geologic scale? As the first line of Yellowstone‘s fifth season declares, it is nothing. Because the land outlives any individual or property deed, the Dutton family has dedicated their entire century-plus of blood and sacrifice to protect it.
And now, as the 26th governor of the state, Dutton is charged with defending that territory from outside interests by combining the authority of government with his tremendous capacity for shrewd persuasion. Do you suppose he owned many suits before taking on this new position? One example of the cost of power is seen in the elder Dutton’s modern, elegant clothing. But that isn’t the only option.
On election night, he appears with us with freshly cut and colored hair as well as tanned skin. However, the experienced ranch owner’s frown is the same, with a flat line of the mouth that begs, “What have I gotten myself into?” Kelly Reilly’s fierce and victorious Beth Dutton gives her father a phone. We appreciate Yellowstone co-creator and writer Taylor Sheridan for saving us from having to sit through a whole on-screen political campaign by having his opponent phone to concede.
Dutton tells his assembled supporters, “We have a lot of work to do and a lot of work to undo.” “The rest of the world views Montana as a toy for the wealthy. We are California’s toy and New York’s novelty. Not any longer. And as the balloons deflate and the confetti gun fires, Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) and Beth exchange looks that vacillate between disgust, ambition, and a resetting of the power dynamics in the family.
After learning that Garrett Randall (Will Patton), Jamie’s adopted brother, was involved in the deliberate attacks on Kayce Dutton, her father, and herself in season one, Beth coerced Jamie to kill Randall (Luke Grimes). Jamie currently holds a position in the governor’s inner circle. As long as he kneels before Beth and, consequently, their father.
Market Equities is especially intrigued by this dynamic. With Dutton as governor, the profitable, landscape-choking Paradise Valley Project, which includes an airport and a major housing complex, is in jeopardy, and CEO Caroline Warner is furious. She yells at corporate shill Ellis Steele, “This fucking family!” (John Emmet Tracy).
She throws the bottles, not pops them. “I advised you to pursue the daughter, and he is now governor. I’m done messing with these fucking hillbillies, you know! However, Steele is the one who mentions Jamie in the news feed. What’s making the attorney general scowl? MKT could be able to flip a Dutton, if there is one.
Foreman Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch is his typical hazy, lava-like self, knocking bunkhouse chairs around and yelling at timely ranchers Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith), Teeter (Jennifer Landon), and Ryan (Ian Bohen).
The huge inaugural party, which is taking over the ranch grounds, is generating a lot of excitement, but Rip sees the event as an illustration of a potentially risky new reality. What does the new position of his boss entail for the future of the ranch? for its possessions? For every one of these scumbags residing in the bunkhouse? He inquires about the proverbial Emperor Nero fiddling while the City of Rome burns by asking his wife Beth about it.
Governor Dutton’s enemies are more numerous than just MKT. Cutthroat business consultant Angela Blue Thunder (Q’Orianka Kilcher) whispers to Broken Rock Indian Reservation Chief Thomas Rainwater during his swearing-in ceremony. “You had the opportunity to get rid of [Dutton], but you took no action. He gets stronger now.
You now live under slave laws, and it’s all your fault. Yikes! Dutton asserts at the platform that God isn’t expanding the earth’s surface or deepening its rivers. Additionally, he openly promises to scrap the Paradise Valley Project and raise property taxes for everyone who is not a Montanan. The state “isn’t a vacation rental,” he asserts.
Their father tolerates Beth’s normal unreserved hatred of Jamie. Don’t ever change, Beth (“I’m about to work you like a rented mule, brother”)! But the new governor also warns them both about the fallout from Beth breaking out the Old Weller Antique during the motorcade. He refers to the sacrifices made by five complete generations of Montana Duttons by saying, “We’re an embarrassment to the sacrifice it took to provide us a home.” But I’ll tell you what, we’re going to make a sacrifice. And we evaluate each choice in light of the ranch’s best interests. He is a governor of one issue.
Speaking of making sacrifices, livestock agent Kayce Dutton was away from his expecting wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and son Tate (Brecken Merrill) for the inauguration celebrations while apprehending some cunning horse thieves along the US-Canada border. Monica needs Kayce to meet her at the hospital in Billings since her cramps are so awful.
But tragedy strikes when a large buffalo barricade, a distracted incoming driver, and anguish all come together. By the time John, Beth, and Jamie learn of the incident, Kayce and Monica’s young son has already passed away. They gave him the name John after an hour of his life.