In the “Yellowstone” recap for the season 4 debut, the fate of the entire Dutton family is revealed after a coordinated attack took aim at wiping out everybody…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There was no better cliffhanger on television in the past couple of years than the “Yellowstone” season 3 finale, which saw the entire Dutton family under attack from a group of unknown assailants.
When the episode ended, John Dutton had been gunned down by a group of roadside assassins, Beth Dutton has her office blown to bits by a bomb delivered in her name and Kayce Dutton was involved in a gun battle in his office after armed men showed up and started opening fire.
How many of them survived was left a mystery until Sunday night when “Yellowstone” finally returned with a special two-hour debut that revealed the fate of the Dutton family while also introducing a few new characters and an ever-evolving mystery about who ordered the hit in the first place.
There’s a lot to dig into so let’s recap the “Yellowstone” season 4 debut for both episodes titled “Half the Money” and “Phantom Pain”…
Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?
Wisely, “Yellowstone” season 4 starts exactly where season 3 ended and the action sequences that followed were nothing short of breathtaking.
Rip drives down the road where John Dutton had been shot and left for dead but before passing out he managed to scribble a description of his shooters and the van they were driving. By the time Rip arrives, John is already unconscious and he quickly puts the boss in his truck while trying to drive to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Sadly the hospital is over an hour away.
Meanwhile, Beth’s office gets destroyed by the bomb but she manages to survive, although not without a few new scars to show for it. When Beth emerges from the smoking and flaming rubble that was once her office, she’s covered in burns across her back and a gash on her face but she’s still very much alive, which is very, very bad news for whoever decided to go after her in the first place.
As for Kayce, he manages to shoot both of the men sent to kill him and as he exits the office, he’s met by the sheriff and his own livestock agents. Kayce and the rest of the law enforcement agents give chase to the men who attacked the Livestock Commissioner’s office.
Kayce also gets a call from Rip to tell him what happened to his father, which lets him know that the attack was coordinated. He sends a rescue chopper to meet Rip in order to get his father to a hospital in time to save his life and he also speaks to his wife Monica and orders her to go to the bunkhouse because the people coming for him will likely be coming for the ranch as well.
Monica gathers up Tate and they run downstairs just as a masked assailant arrives and attacks them.
With the masked man tossing Monica around the kitchen, it appears he’s about to choke the life out of her when a shotgun blast rings through the air and the armed assailant goes flying back from the gunshot that just blew apart his chest. Monica turns to find Tate holding the gun that just killed her would be killer.
They run out of the house and they’re met by Lloyd, who tells them to get down to the bunkhouse.
When the arrive, the bunkhouse has also been under attack but the group coming after the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch severely underestimated the people they were going after. Walker and the rest of the bunkhouse crew killed all of the men attacking the ranch and they even managed a good old fashioned hanging for retribution.
As for Jimmy — he’s laying motionless on the ground after he was bucked from a horse while attempting to return to the rodeo. Mia is there with him calling for help as he remains unconscious.
After Rip hands John over to the helicopter medics, he returns to the ranch to find the entire place in chaos following the attack. The last straw is finding out that the attackers burned his ranch house down to the ground before they were finally stopped.
As for Kayce, he actually manages to track down the people who shot his father and along with the sheriff’s department and his own livestock agents, they end up in a gunfight in the middle of a Montana road. The fight is intense but Kayce and the agents eventually get the upper hand to shoot every one of the assailants dead.
During the fighting, Kayce actually took two bullets himself — one to the shoulder and another to his stomach — and he doubles over and passes out as well.
When the fighting stops, John is headed to the hospital with perhaps little chance to survive and now his son Kayce is headed that same direction. With everybody shaken and the blood still fresh on the ground, “Yellowstone” season 4 is officially off and running.
Before finding out what happened to John, Kayce, Beth and everybody else, there’s first a visit to 1893 and the site where the Dutton legacy was already taking root in Montana. This scene was attached to the upcoming “Yellowstone” prequel titled “1883,” which tells the story how the Dutton family first moved from Texas to Montana and took over the biggest ranch in the United States.
It’s here we meet James Dutton (played by Tim McGraw) and along with his sons, he encounters a group of Native Americans bedding down on what is now his land. James discovers that the Native Americans have returned there to bury their family patriarch and he agrees to let them keep his final remains on the property. James also offers them the chance to feed their horses and gives them a cow to butcher so his people can eat during this harsh winter.
The Native Americans bury the body at an unknown location on the ranch and that actually plays a part in what’s to come later in the episode.
As for John Dutton — we find him one month after the shootings happen and he’s finally waking up from what we have to assume was a medically induced coma to help him recover from the trauma he suffered. Beth has been by his bedside this entire time — she’s still very much alive, although her back is now covered with burns suffered from the bombing.
Doctors quickly work to put John back in his bed after he rises up and tries to walk out on his own. They then put him back under sedation in order to clear a blood clot that will actually save his life yet again.
Beth leaves the room and goes outside to smoke and that’s where she encounters a young boy named Carter, who is there with his father after he overdosed from heroin. Beth immediately befriends the boy, recognizing something in him the same that she saw in Rip all those years ago when he first arrived at the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch.
She accompanies him into the hospital room where the doctors tell him that his father is brain dead and the only thing keeping him alive are the machines hooked up to help him breathe. Beth allows Carter to say goodbye to his father, which includes a well timed “fuck you” for leaving him in this world with nothing and nobody to turn to.
Meanwhile out at the casino on the Broken Rock reservation, a very loud gambler named Jesse is touting his winnings and getting into an argument with the dealer over the size of his tips. Jesse manages to engage in a fight over the land that once belonged to the Native Americans that’s now owned by the Dutton family.
Jesse then tells the dealer that he should be thanking him because he’s the man responsible for putting the parties together that attacked the Dutton family and nearly wiped them off the face of the Earth. Security cameras and audio capture everything being said and that’s when Thomas Rainwater’s enforcer Mo decides to have a little chat with the boisterous gambler.
After knocking him out and taking him into custody, Mo consults with Rainwater, who thinks this guy is just some loudmouth incapable of planning an attack much less the one that nearly killed John Dutton. When Mo shows Rainwater the stack of cash the guy was carrying around, they both realize that Jesse wasn’t just some drunk blackjack player spouting lies — he might actually know something.
Rainwater then orders Mo to interrogate the man to find out who was paying him because if somebody was willing to go after the Duttons, chances are they’ll be coming for the Broken Rock next.
Mo’s methods include tying Jesse up to the back of his horse and dragging him through the field until the poor bastard finally gives up the information about his employer. We don’t hear his confession but now Mo and Rainwater have some insight on the people who attacked the Dutton family.
Back at the hospital, John has not only been saved from the blood clot but he’s actually well enough to return home to the ranch where he can continue his rehabilitation. On the way out, John spots Jimmy still very much alive but going through his own rehab as he learns to walk again after damaging his spinal cord for the second time after being tossed from the horse.
John asks what happened to Jimmy and Beth explains that’s just one of many things he’s missed in the past month while he’s been laid up in the hospital. She promises to tell him everything after they return home.
Once John arrives at the ranch in an ambulance with a full police escort, he heads inside where he’s placed into a bed with an IV and monitors hooked up to him. None of this sits well with John, especially his new nurse Maggie, who treats him like he’s already got one foot in the grave.
Needless to say, John doesn’t stay in his bed very long because he quickly detaches all the wires, shaves off the beard he grew while staying in the hospital and gets himself dressed before heading downstairs. He promptly fires Maggie and heads outside.
While he’s sitting on the porch with Beth by his side, John finally spots Kayce wearing a full camouflage outfit because he’s been out hunting for the people responsible for attacking the family. Yes, Kayce survived his gunshot wounds but at no point for the rest of either episode do we see Monica or Tate, which is a question that will have to be answered for another day.
As for Kayce, he talks to his father about tracking down the people responsible for attacking them because retribution needs to be handed out.
In Beth’s mind, she already knows the person responsible and she pays a visit to her brother Jamie at his office. First she tosses a mouse trap at him and then a baseball while berating him for not bothering to call or visit his father in the hospital after he was shot.
Jamie claims that he called everyday, he just never called Beth.
Beth then lays out the fact that she believes he’s the one responsible for orchestrating the attack on the Dutton family and she promises that she’ll have her revenge. In fact, Beth tells Jamie that one day in the future, she’s going to kill him dead and she won’t farm it out to some paid assassin.
She’s going to kill him with her own bare hands — and now Jamie has to live with that fact because from this day forward, he’ll be constantly trying to live with eyes in the back of his head.
While there’s still no proof on who ordered the attack, Rip gets his own taste of revenge after finding Roarke Morris fly fishing in the middle of the river. Rip approaches him with a cooler asking if he left it on the side of the road but when he opens it up, a rattlesnake goes flying into his face and it bites Roarke directly on the cheek before falling into the water and swimming away.
Roarke attempts to get away as well but he barely makes it out of the river before he collapses from the venom coursing through his veins. Rip stands there to watch him die before telling him “good riddance” and that’s the end of Roarke Morris.
Greed is Good
At the start of episode 2 for the debut, John Dutton is tired of doing things how doctors are telling him to heal and he decides to take it upon himself. John ends up mounting a horse and heading out into the mountains but not before Kayce sees him leaving.
Kayce then decides to follow his father into the woods where he finds John sitting in a natural hot spring where he’s relaxing and healing from his injuries in a much more soothing way. Kayce decides to join his father in the hot springs while the two of them talk about the attack and the people responsible for it.
John knows that Beth believes it was Jamie but Kayce doesn’t buy it.
Kayce explains that Jamie leased the land from the ranch to Market Equities in order to build their airport and hotel, which means he’s still not ready to betray his father no matter how much it appears like he’s trying to strike out on his own. Kayce says would-be-killers don’t seek the approval of the people they’re trying to kill.
For his part, Kayce believes the attack was orchestrated by the Montana militia that was involved in Tate’s kidnapping back in season 2 when they were working on behalf of the Beck brothers. Remember, Kayce and John led an assault on their compound where numerous members were killed while rescuing Tate from his captors.
Kayce believes it was an independent attack with the militia finally deciding to strike back — and if that’s the case John wants to wipe the rest of them out as payback. He then tells Kayce to seek out Jamie for the warrants to go after the militia — depending on his reaction on granting the warrants or not will decide if he was somehow involved on the attack on his own family.
“We’re gonna kill every goddamn one of ’em.”
~ John Dutton
As for Jamie, he’s looking to build his own legacy away from the Dutton family after signing off on a deal to purchase a ranch of his own with 1,000 acres complete with animals and a fully furnished house. Of course, Jamie’s birth father Garrett Randall is keeping a watchful eye over the whole purchase while telling his son that it’s time to step out of the shadow of the Dutton family as he makes his own mark in the world.
While Jamie was buying his own land for the first time, Market Equities continued to fight to absorb more of the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch after the company’s CEO arrived in Montana.
Her name is Caroline Warner and she’s the one who will close the deal that Roarke and Willa Hayes couldn’t.
After meeting with Ellis — the first boots on the ground for the company in Montana — she tells him that her plan of attack isn’t going to be violent or filled with veiled threats about taking the land away from the Dutton family or the Native American reservation that sits directly next to them.
Instead of stoking their fears, Caroline says she’s going to get them focused on greed instead.
Of course, Caroline is soon met with some bad news after some workers digging on the new property owned by Market Equities come across a Native American burial ground — presumably the same one referenced in the flashback to 1893. That could cause a serious problem to Market Equities building an airport or a hotel on that location because there are a lot of hurdles to jump through when it comes to a ancient burial site like that.
In order to get her project moving again, Caroline arrives at the dig site and that’s where she meets with Thomas Rainwater for the first time.
She tells him that if he agrees to release his claim on this land, including the burial site and drop his pending lawsuit against them, Market Equities will fund the construction costs for the new casino he wants to build for his people.
But Caroline doesn’t want the Broken Rock reservation to just build any casino — she wants Rainwater to build an exclusive, high-end casino that will bring in travelers from all over the world to drop $1,000 a night on a room, pay $1,000 a plate for dinner and then drop another $25,000 in gambling losses after seeing Elton John play there.
Of course the only way that Rainwater can build the casino that could make the Broken Rock reservation the wealthiest in the entire country is if he releases his claims to this land so Market Equities can build the airport to bring the patrons to him. Rainwater is obviously interested in the deal but he tells Mo that it all sounds too good to be true, which he replies that means it probably isn’t.
Caroline Warner is all about business and she may have just succeeded where those before her have failed … at least where Thomas Rainwater is concerned.
Beth has some of her own business to handle after she sits down with her old boss Bob from Schwartz and Meyer to discuss her severance package after she was fired.
Beth isn’t all that interested in a financial package because she’s going to do everything in her power to reduce Schwartz and Meyer to the same smoldering pile of rubble that once occupied her office. When Bob counters by reminding her that the company owns a significant amount of land to the north of the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch, she tells him that he should have read his contracts a little bit better.
It seems Beth was the co-owner to all of those land purchases, which means she now maintains control over that land as well as whatever happens with them. After his threats about picking a fight, Beth tells Bob that she’s the “bigger bear” and now he’s playing with fire by messing with her.
The Long Game
After returning home from her meeting, Beth is greeted by Sheriff Haskell, who arrested a young boy trying to rob a convenience store with a screwdriver. The boy told police that Beth was his guardian.
Beth realizes that it’s Carter — the boy from the hospital whose father died from a heroin overdose.
She’s never been very maternal, especially after he brother had her sterilized against her will, but Beth sees something in Carter that reminds her of Rip so she takes it upon herself to look after the kid.
Later that night when Rip returns home, Beth tells him that she made dinner — hamburger helper with tuna — and when he walks inside he’s greeted by Carter sitting at the table. When Rip questions her about the kid, she responds that he might be their child because the boy is the spitting image of the man she loves from 20 years ago.
Rip wants nothing to do with this forced parentage and so he throws the boy out and tells him to start walking. He eventually relents and gives the boy a place to sleep for the night down by the barn but the next morning Rip drags him to the truck where he plans to drive him back into town and just leave him there.
Carter lashes out at Rip on the drive into town, which results in him being left by the side of the road.
After tearing away in the truck, Rip stops and backs up before telling the boy to go gather a piece of litter hanging out in a nearby field. Rip tells Carter that he’ll give him a job but he needs to follow orders and if he steals anything, he’s gone.
Carter agrees and they head back to the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch together.
Needless to say John isn’t all that enthusiastic about Rip and Beth taking in a stray child but he doesn’t tell them to get rid of the boy either. Rip ends up telling the boy that he’ll become the new stall cleaner in order to earn his way on the ranch.
Just when Rip was about to dump the kid at the bunkhouse, he realizes that’s no place for a child.
So instead, Rip takes Carter back to the house he shares with Beth and when they arrive, she’s already laid out three place settings and made dinner for them. Hamburger helper with hamburger this time around.
Carter eats his dinner while Rip and Beth seem like parents starting a new family together.
Meanwhile, John is turning his attention away from revenge for a little while to start thinking about his family’s long term legacy. He remarks about a ranch down in Texas where the owner is sitting on billions in oil revenue and he’s turned that into a huge business for his entire family.
That Texas ranch owner converted his oil empire into a number of other businesses that made his family a worldwide commodity. John knows if Yellowstone is going to survive, he needs more people to know about the ranch than just the people who are living in Montana.
John decides the business he wants to foster will be raising and selling horses — and he strikes a deal with trainer Travis Wheatley (played by “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan) to begin buying up stock and training them to sell on the open market. Travis warns him that the plan will cost several million dollars to get up and running but John isn’t worried about cost when he’s attempting to create a legacy for his family.
“When people think of horses, I want them to think of the Yellowstone.”
~ John Dutton
After hiring Travis and his team to become part of the Yellowstone ranch, John then turns his attention to Jimmy, who is returning home after being released from the hospital.
John reminds Jimmy about the promise he made to give up on the rodeo after his last accident and now he’s broken that by trying to ride again. Breaking that promise means that Jimmy can no longer be part of the Yellowstone family at the ranch but he will give him one more chance.
With that, John tells Jimmy that he’s going to go on the road with Travis as he builds the horse empire for the Dutton family. If Travis and his crew can’t turn Jimmy into a real cowboy then nobody can.
It appears Jimmy will be exiting the main series or the show will be following Travis on his adventure to help create a viable horse raising business for the Dutton family. It’s not clear which will happen this season.
And finally the next morning comes and John is saddling up his horse to go for a ride when he’s met by Carter, who is upset because he promised Rip that he’d be the first one at the barn in the morning. John tells Carter that he’s still the first one there because John doesn’t count since he owns the place.
Seeing the look in Carter’s eyes that he wanted to prove himself to Rip lets John know that the boy has found a home at the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch and it appears he’ll be staying. Rip already taught Carter a valuable lesson — that no one deserves this opportunity or this life — and John can only smile because that’s the same exact thing he told Rip after bringing him to the ranch many years ago.
“Yellowstone” will return with a brand new episode next Sunday night on the Paramount Network.