Major spoilers below for the two-episode premiere for Yellowstone Season 4, so be warned if you haven’t yet watched!
It feels like it’s been far more than just 15 months since Yellowstone’s Dutton family suffered carefully planned attacks set up by an unknown antagonist, but the drama’s highly anticipated return for Season 4’s first two episodes — “Half the Money” and “Phantom Pain” — thankfully took audiences right into the brutal aftermath of those events before taking a few steps into the future. Co-creator Taylor Sheridan & Co. didn’t hold back in delivering lots of big reveals, hilarious lines and shocking moments.
So grab a bottle of whatever tastes the best, and join me in running down all the most memorable developments for John Dutton’s family and ranch in the Season 4 premiere. It makes sense to start off with the grandest reveal of all, in most senses of the word.
All The Main Characters Survived
John was left for dead after a bullet-heavy ambush. Kayce was attacked in his office. Beth was blown the fuck up by a package. Jimmy was thrown the fuck down by a horse. Each one of them could have met a doomed fate in the early minutes of Season 4, but they were all shown to be breathing and on the road to recovery. Not that fans don’t need to worry about all of them still as the season goes on, especially with the way Kevin Costner’s John DGAF about medical advice. But for now, some comfort.
Kayce (Eventually) Got Shot, And Tate Killed A Dude
Now, while Kayce made it through that initial office attack intact, things took a turn after he learned about John. After the attackers were identified by the proper local authorities, a hectic gunfight ensued that left all the (non-Dutton) evildoers eliminated, with Kayce taking a couple of bullets himself during the ordeal. It doesn’t appear those wounds will be very long-lasting, though Kayce may have more to worry about when it comes to Monica and Tate.
Kayce’s ever-curious son was wading deep into the Dutton bloodline during the attack at the ranch, as Tate shot the asshole who was in the midst of attacking Monica. But for all that his physical instincts were on the money, I cannot imagine this kid’s mental fortitude is up to the challenge of dealing with a justifiable homicide that he will never be able to talk about with anyone outside the ranch. And even if Tate comes out of this perfectly fine, I cannot imagine Monica will be A-OK with either being assaulted, or the manner in which that assault was ceased.
Tim McGraw’s Flashback Scene As James Dutton
In a pretty brilliant bridge to the upcoming prequel 1883 (which debuted its first trailer during the premiere), Yellowstone intriguingly took viewers back to March, 1893, for a scene that introduced Tim McGraw’s James Dutton, as well as the young versions of John Dutton Sr. and Spencer Dutton, with no sign of other characters set to be in the Paramount+ spinoff. Instead, we see James showing some compassion to a group of natives who wish to bury a family member where no one will be able to find them. Seems like that burial site, as well as James’ connection with this tribe, will play into the events of Yellowstone, if they havent’ already.
Yellowstone Introduced A Time Jump
What better way to follow a flashback than with a time jump, which I say with sincerity, since I was certainly thrown for a small loop upon seeing a fully bearded John Dutton in that hospital. It was a smart move on the creative team’s part, as it took everyone beyond arguably the most painful points of the healing process, and set the season’s tone with everybody going on the war path after John returned home and fired his nurse.
Jimmy Did Indeed Suffer Some Serious Injuries
Jefferson White’s Jimmy done fucked up when he got back on that horse against John’s wishes, and now we know he’s suffering with proof of that dimwitted decision on a daily basis. And though caregiver props go to Eden Brolin’s Mia, she was a big part of why Jimmy felt ballsy enough to ride again, and did you see how quickly she started jerking his body around on the ground, despite not knowing if he had neck or spinal injuries? I wonder if that element will be explored at any point.
Beth Vowed To Kill Jamie
In a scene that has been built up to during each and every moment we’ve witnessed from Kelly Reilly’s Beth and Wes Bentley’s Jamie, Beth threw a mousetrap at her brother and swore she was going to kill him for what he did to the family, even though it does not appear at all like Jamie was responsible for the various attacks. That said, Beth could probably be handed ample amounts of proof and would still proclaim to anyone listening that merking Jamie is an all-caps entry in her to-do list. Beth is legion.
Rip Killed Roarke Via Snake To The Face
Other than Jamie mentioning his name during their phone call earlier in the episode, Josh Holloway’s Season 3 antagonist Roarke didn’t really factor into the Season 4 premiere. Yet Episode 401 ended in a way that I now wish to see every future episode copy: Cole Hauser’s Rip opening an ice chest to unleash a random wild beast that jumps forward and bites a villain on the face. Rip gets the bonus points when the person dies in under five minutes, and extra bonus points when he can pinpoint the death down to the second.
Jamie’s Buying His Own Ranch
Well lookie here at this ol’ boy who’s got himself some money and a biological daddy and thinks he’s got what it takes to be a ranch man like his non-biological daddy. (Clears throat.) It looks like the least cowboy-esque Dutton offspring is going to be the first to follow in John’s land-owning footprints, although I’d bet my own meager plot of land on Jamie and Garret’s venture blowing up in their faces, both figuratively and literally.
Jacki Weaver’s Villain Caroline Warner Is Kind Of The Best
Obviously anyone Jacki Weaver plays is going to be a scene-stealer, and that follows accordingly with Yellowstone‘s Caroline Warner, the head honcho at the land-grabbing thorn in John Dutton’s paw, Market Equities. But rather than coming in like others have with only threats of violence guiding their advances, Caroline seems to understand that the easiest way to get others to agree to things is by appealing to their ideals, rather than their fears. I don’t necessarily trust her motives in pitching a resort casino and hotel to Gil Birmingham’s already skeptical Thomas Rainwater, but it’s a plan where everyone seems to make money, and without any readily apparent downsides.
Which almost definitely means Caroline Warner is a long-con kind of woman. Which I guess is also obvious in how she sold Rainwater on a sparkling distant future, rather than anything more immediate. I cannot wait to see how she attempts to get on John’s good side, or Beth’s good side. Or even Rip’s good side.
John Moved Forward With A New Legacy Plan
As badass as John Dutton Jr. is and always will be, his attack put his own mortality right at the forefront of his brain, inspiring him to not only be more vocal and friendly with others, but also to find a way to splash the Yellowstone ranch across the proverbial map. With the always welcome help of Taylor Sheridan’s shit-talking rodeo extraordinaire Travis Wheatley, John is giving the Duttons a future in the form of spending a fuck-ton of money on expertly bred horses that, coincidentally enough, cost a fuck-ton of money. I really, really hope this doesn’t lead to all of John’s expensive ass horses getting slaughtered by one piece of vermin or another.
Beth And Rip Are, Like, Basically Parents Now
Australian actor Finn Little made quite a noteworthy debut in these first two Season 4 episodes as Carter (proper) / The Boy (improper) / Chubby (formerly). A hoodlum by most descriptions, the newly orphaned Carter found rare pockets of empathy and solace within Beth, although he met mostly imposing brick walls when it came to Rip. At least at first. By the end, Yellowstone blessed viewers with one of the drama’s most adorable moments as Beth watched Carter and Rip gorging on Hamburger Helper in the exact same ways.
Which isn’t to say I think Boy, er, Carter will suddenly become a golden child that does only right by Rip and Beth. Neither of those characters has the temperament to dive into raising a child who has already paved such an inevitably problematic path forward for themselves. If the kid is indeed just like Rip was as a kid, then he needs a calm and meticulous mentor like John, not the older and even more hotheaded version of himself. So maybe those final moments with John will pay off for Carter.
Jimmy Is Being Shipped Off To Texas (And The Next Spinoff)
While it came as something of a shock, at least within the context of Yellowstone‘s first two Season 4 episodes, when John told Jimmy he was going to Texas with Travis, the blueprint for that shift was already in place when the news broke that Jefferson White would be the crossover lynchpin in the upcoming spinoff 6666, which will be set at the renowned Texas ranch of the same name. But it does suck that Jimmy is apparently leaving Yellowstone proper this early, though I suppose later episodes could follow him on the road with Travis and others. Although that would likely consist of Travis treating Jimmy like shit, so maybe it’s okay to skip ahead a little.
While I came close to adding the addition of a certain loud-talking “party planner” in the casino, the trailer that followed the double-episode premiere hinted at more to come from that particular narrative branch, so it’s best to wait for that information, I think. New episodes of Yellowstone air Sunday nights on Paramount Network at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn’t sound like that’s the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.