In the “Yellowstone” season 5 debut recap, John Dutton settles into his new life as the Governor of Montana, Casey deals with tragedy and Jamie faces the consequences for past choices…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The news is true — “Yellowstone” is officially back and John Dutton was elected governor of the great state of Montana.
When season 4 came to a close, John had declared his intention to run for the highest office in his home state in order to curb the advances of Market Equities as they attempted to turn his family’s century old ranch into a resort for millionaires and billionaires. Rather than allow an airport to be built in the middle of his property, John decided to run for governor to replace his friend and sometimes girlfriend Lynelle Perry.
Meanwhile, Jamie Dutton, who had designs on the governor’s mansion for himself, ended up under his sister Beth’s thumb once she unearthed evidence that her adopted brother discovered the culprits behind an attempted assassination against their entire family yet told no one about it. After learning that his birth father gave the order, Jamie opted to sit on the information until Beth did her own investigation that led her right to his doorstep.
As a result, Jamie had to exact revenge against his birth father but when he needed to dump the body, Beth was right there with a camera to procure all the blackmail she would ever need against him.
As for Casey, his uneven season ended with a spiritual journey in the middle of the wilderness that didn’t really offer much in terms of where he was headed but he did get some unexpected news after Monica revealed that she was pregnant again. Casey has been torn between two worlds ever since “Yellowstone” started as he attempted to live up to the legacy of his family name while also working hard to carve his own path after starting a family with his wife and son.
Will Casey attempt to step out of his family’s shadow this season or perhaps learn that staying close to home is the way forward?
Now as “Yellowstone” season 5 begins, some time has passed — approximately nine months — as John prepares to take office as the new Governor of Montana, Beth continues twisting the knife in Jamie and Market Equities prepares for a new strategy to take down the entire Dutton family.
With that said, let’s recap the first two episodes of “Yellowstone” season 5 titled “One Hundred Years is Nothing” and “The Sting of Wisdom”…
The fifth season begins with the closing moments of the election in Montana where John Dutton is officially selected as the Governor of the state. The margin of victory was closer than he expected — likely due to the unbelievable amount of corporate funding from Market Equities towards his opponent — but John still got the votes.
After receiving a call from his opponent to congratulate him on the win and a subsequent speech where he conceded defeat, John could begin to celebrate landing the job he never really wanted.
Despite all that, John was elected.
In his first speech to an adoring audience, John essentially tells them that he never wanted to be Governor but that’s also why it had to be him. Because John knows the only way to preserve the way of life in Montana, it was a job only a true son of that state should have.
He also reminds the crowd that Montana’s greatest resource are its people and he plans to serve them as best he can as Governor.
Of course, Governor John Dutton isn’t exactly greeted with a hero’s welcome by everybody in the state.
Thomas Rainwater knows John’s appointment as Governor will be good for the land but it might not be great for the bottom line for the Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock. The airport and the resorts being built would have undoubtedly resulted in business for the reservation but now those plans will be dashed with John in office.
As for Market Equities, Caroline Weaver is enraged that John became Governor because now he’s going to do everything within the power of his office to stop them from building on the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch. Her attempts to prevent him from taking office or going after his daughter Beth have been futile, which means the company itself is facing long odds to move forward with the project as it currently stands.
Still, Caroline Weaver isn’t a woman who just accepts defeat so she decides to call in an associate named Sarah Atwood, who is apparently the corporate version of The Terminator to deal with the Dutton family.
After returning home following a long campaign, Beth returns to the ranch but wakes up in a cold sweat after remembering some of her past with Rip before they finally confessed their love for each other and got married a season ago. It seems just before she left for college, Beth asked Rip out on an actual date but she didn’t exactly treat him as an equal but rather someone she could toy with before leaving the ranch behind.
The attempted date ended after Rip got angry at the way Beth was speaking to him and he left her alone in the bar. Rip met up with some of the other cowboys from the Yellowstone, who also happened to be coming to drink at the same bar, and he was able to take a truck from that group to drive back home.
When Beth finally returned home, she was in someone else’s arms and Rip had to watch them kiss as he quietly said goodbye to her as she left for college just hours later.
Now in the present day, Beth is still feeling remorse for the way she treated Rip. She’s never been all that forthcoming with her emotions but Beth has always loved Rip yet she did everything possible to push him away until he just refused to get pushed any further.
Before her husband heads off to work, Beth issues a blanket apology for the way she’s treated him over the years. In response, Rip tells Beth that she needs to let all of that go because he knows she has an incredibly big heart but often times her head gets in the way of good judgment.
In this instance, Rip tells Beth that she’s beating herself up yet she’s only fighting the person staring back at her in the mirror. Rather than continuing to dwell in the past, Rip tells Beth that he wants her to take the day and find one thing that makes her happy.
That’s all he could possibly want from her because Rip already calls her wife.
Rip also knows that Beth is putting so much thought on dissecting their relationship because she doesn’t have somebody to fight right now and that’s what really earns her attention, at least where her overactive brain is involved. Of course, Beth won’t have to wait too long for an enemy to emerge, especially with her father now entrenched as the Governor of Montana.
As for John, he prepares for his first day as Governor with the inauguration ceremony and then a reception being held at the ranch. Lynelle Perry — former Governor and now the Senator elect from the state of Montana — promises that she’ll do her best to walk John through the responsibilities that go along with the job but she also reminds him that he’s not going to have many friends in the established government.
One advantage John does have, however, is that he has no plans to run for Governor again in 2026 and that means he can do pretty much whatever he wants because he’s not already campaigning for another four year term. That kind of autonomy gives John tremendous power to enact his agenda, which is ultimately to stop Market Equities from touching his family’s ranch and ensure that Montana as a state remains unblemished, especially with outsiders invading the state on a daily basis.
Just as he’s being sworn into office, John has one last moment of hesitation before taking the oath. He then addresses the audience to begin a new regime in Montana.
“We are not your playground. We are not your haven from the pollution and traffic and mismanagement of your home states. This is our home. Perhaps if you choose to make Montana your home, you will start treating it like a home and not a vacation rental.”
~ John Dutton
In his first act as Governor, John declares his plans to stop state funding for all of the Paradise resorts and airport facilities that are being backed by Market Equities. He also plans to institute double property taxes on non-residents along with a special sales tax for non-residents. He will also charge them more for vehicle registration and just about any other fees he can cook up for anybody not carrying a Montana state ID in their wallet.
John believes the people who see Montana as nothing more than a vacation home might think differently about the investment if their wallets keep getting hit with every visit. If these same people want to stay and actually invest in the state, John will welcome them with open arms but until then, they are outsiders that he doesn’t want to let in.
While most of the people there are showing support, Thomas Rainwater doesn’t know how this new Governor is going to benefit his people. If John shuts down the airport, that hurts the businesses on the reservation, which in turn weakens the financial stability he’s been battling to achieve.
Angela Blue Thunder — a woman with as much savvy and cunningness as Beth — tells Thomas that he’s just got in bed with the devil and it’s inevitable that he’ll be burned. She can only scoff at Thomas as John continues to make his speech with promises that will simultaneously pillage the future of the reservation.
Back at the ranch, the cowboys are getting dressed in their Sunday best while a giant stage is erected along with performers and a massive dinner for the governor and all of his attendees.
The car ride there isn’t nearly as pleasant as John attempts to figure out what exactly he just got himself into while also serving as referee while Beth and Jamie continue sniping at each other. Jamie is trying to convince his father to let Market Equities move forward as planned because the airport alone is going to net the Yellowstone a $5 million fee per year, which is $2 million more than the ranch can conceivably earn.
Both Beth and John shut down any notion that they would somehow settle with Market Equities because that would mean the end of the Yellowstone ranch. John then lashes out at his son because if not for Jamie’s soulless ambition and the relationship he attempted to build with his birth father — a man that wanted the only family he had ever known dead — then perhaps he’d be the one about to sleep in the Governor’s mansion.
Jamie was groomed for this position yet it’s John who ended up being forced to take the job because he couldn’t trust his son any longer.
John then confesses that his wife would be awfully disappointed in him with the way he’s managed to screw up their entire family. All John has ever wanted was to protect them and protect the ranch but now he’s fighting to somehow keep both of them in tact before it all falls apart.
The party doesn’t exactly suit John either but he’s attempting to settle into this strange new role.
While Beth has been by her father’s side this entire time, even she’s got better things to do than sit around with a bunch of kiss-ass types, who only want to curry favor with the new Governor. She prefers to sit in a field and share a drink with her husband, who has been keeping a watchful eye on the festivities with no interest to actually attend.
For once, Beth actually seems pleased with herself but it’s Rip who brings the mood down when he compares the inauguration party to Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned. Rip believes this plan to seize power for the Dutton family will only end with John sacrificing the one thing that forced him to take the Governor’s job in the first place — his beloved ranch.
“He’s going to lose this place.”
~ Rip Wheeler
That level of pessimism even shocks Beth as she’s doing everything possible to help her father save the ranch, which is all she’s ever wanted for him.
His Name Was John
While his father was being sworn in as governor and having his inauguration party, Casey was near the Canadian border chasing down a group of horse thieves as part of his duty as livestock commissioner. The chase eventually leads to a river where Canadian authorities are waiting just in case the horse thieves get across the border.
Thankfully, Casey catches up to them but not before the horses crossover the border and the criminals try to do the same because they know punishment in Canada won’t be nearly as harsh as what’s dished out in the United States. When the Canadians attempt to give Casey a hard time for daring to cross the border to apprehend the thieves, he reminds them that these guys will sit behind bars for 10 years if he takes them back to a Montana court.
Even the Canadians can’t disagree with that logic so they send the horses and the thieves back to the U.S. side of the border.
After bringing the horses back, Casey and the rest of his team are stuck waiting overnight before the rightful owners can get there with a truck to drive the stock back home again. Casey calls Monica to check on her since he’s not expecting to return for the night and she’s just three weeks away from giving birth.
Monica tells Casey that he might want to change his plans because her cramps are intensifying, which means this baby might be coming a little earlier than expected. Casey rushes to meet his wife and his son Tate at the hospital because he’s about to become a father again.
Sadly, Casey never even gets the chance to meet his son.
As Monica is driving to the hospital, the contractions worsen and she’s barely able to stay on the road. In the dark of night, Monica is swerving when she ends up in a head-on collision with a truck and a buffalo that has wandered into the road.
When Monica wakes up, Casey is by her side but their child didn’t survive.
John arrives at the hospital after receiving the news that his family has endured a tragedy with Monica in the hospital, Tate nursing a broken arm and his grandchild dead. As he attempts to console Tate, he learns what his son was planning to name his second child.
“They named him John.”
Back at home, Casey takes up dad duty while Monica is resting as he prepares to take his son to school for the day. Tate asks his father if they’ll try again after losing his baby brother but Casey can’t say for certain what might happen, especially after this awful ordeal.
Tate admits he was looking forward to being a big brother and he hopes his parents will try to give him another sibling one day.
But even Monica can’t say what exactly might happen because she’s barely in a place where she can accept what’s happened to her baby. Monica does manage to stop Casey from blaming himself when he attempts to tell her “he should have been home” by her side rather than out at work near the Canadian border.
Monica won’t allow Casey to play the “should” game because she could just as easily point that finger back at herself but neither one of them deserve the blame for what happened. She does wonder about the prophecy that Casey returned home with after his vision quest when he says he saw “the end of us.”
Did Casey actually foresee this happening?
Casey promises that’s not the case and he never meant for that revelation to come back to haunt them, especially not with a tragic situation like this. Only they will determine what will be the end for this family.
The New Boss in Town
With all the formalities set aside, John officially takes office as Governor but he soon learns that his agenda is filled with meaningless meetings, back slapping and handshake deals to ensure he maintains support throughout the state. None of that matters much to John, who prefers to do things his way without any ass kissing from his constituents.
Despite his desire to just do away with all these meetings, ceremonies and speeches, Lynelle tells John that’s just part of his job. As much as he wants to do all of this on his own, John will need a few allies to enact the changes he needs to protect his ranch and the state of Montana.
That means handing out favors, which will earn him favors in return.
Lynelle tells John that she’ll be sticking around for the next month to help ease him into the role but at some point, the training wheels are coming off.
Still, John has his own way of doing things and right now the only thing he wants done is stopping Market Equities from building anything on his land. He quickly fires his chief of staff and appoints Beth in that role while then turning his attention to Jamie as the Attorney General.
He orders Jamie to pull all of the funding with plans to then cancel the lease entirely.
Jamie reminds his father that simply cutting off that deal will likely cause more problems than it solves because Market Equities will sue him and when they win — and Jamie seems certain that’s an inevitability — then he’s going to lose the ranch anyways. John refuses to listen and instead tells Jamie to move forward with his plans, which he will sign as an executive order as part of his first act as Governor.
Back in his own office, Jamie finds himself joined by Beth, who tells her brother that he’s no longer going to argue against his father’s wishes. What Governor John Dutton wants, Governor John Dutton will get and his son will be there to make sure he gets it.
Beth also reminds Jamie that he needs to put away his own political ambitions because he’ll never rise to a higher office than the one he currently occupies. For lack of a better word, Jamie is her bitch and he best not forget it.
“Your political career was over the moment you chose your father over mine. You’re in my prison now. And if you ever forget it, I’ll put you in a real one.”
~ Beth Dutton
Before leaving, Beth reveals that Jamie sold his ranch but she wants to keep an even closer eye on him so starting immediately, he’ll be coming home on the weekends to stay at the ranch. She even forces Jamie to tell her “yes, ma’am” in response to her demands.
As ordered, Jamie delivers the paperwork to his father that will get the ball rolling on his plans to shut down Market Equities for good. None of that makes Caroline Weaver very happy but her new ally Sarah doesn’t seem nearly as disappointed.
Sarah knows that when Caroline is this enraged, she’s about to make a whole lot of money working for her. Now that she’s arrived in Montana, Sarah believes her first target should be Jamie Dutton because despite serving at his father’s right hand, he doesn’t look all that happy to be there.
That level of dissention in the ranks could give Sarah the only opening she needs to start prying away at the Dutton family and the power they possess.
Meanwhile, Beth heads to a local bar and restaurant where she’s set up a meeting for her father to talk to two of the men who could help him stop Market Equities from building on his land. While it’s normally just a formality to ignore zoning restrictions, John plans to follow those laws to stop Market Equities from beginning construction on his ranch, which will precede his plans to pull the lease entirely.
John’s able to get support from the two members of the zoning commission, who will vote on the panel to kill the ordinance that would allow Market Equities to move forward. He gives them his word that this ordeal will never end up in a courtroom, which won’t make either of them enemies of Market Equities.
These men want to be re-elected in two years but Market Equities funding their opponents would almost assuredly end those hopes. John promises they won’t have those issues because after they kill the zoning plans, he’s going to give the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch up as a conservation easement.
That’s good enough for the votes but Beth is shocked to hear her father utter those words.
For those unaware, a conservation easement essentially locks down a piece of land forever and it can’t be sold or chopped up into pieces — and most importantly because it’s land being protected for the conservation of natural resources, Market Equities can’t build an airport, a ski resort or a string of hotels on the land.
Beth reminds her father that a conservation easement would also prevent them from selling any of the land in the future, which might be necessary if the family gets drawn into financial peril. It turns out, John isn’t concerned that the Dutton family own the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch but more importantly, he just wants to ensure that the ranch remains exactly the same even years after he’s dead and buried.
“It will be whole. That matters more than any name on a deed. We’ll worry about who runs things when that’s the worry.”
~ John Dutton
John has fought every day of his life to protect that ranch — much like a flashback we see from years earlier when he found out chemicals being used to kill weeds near the sight of a cell phone tower being built ended up infecting the creek that fed water to his animals. Despite the chemicals being EPA approved, John’s animals were dying.
He got his revenge when he sent his cowboys to wreck the construction site and he stole the chemicals for another purpose. The cowboys end up finding the head of the construction company and bombarding his house with the chemicals, which definitely aren’t approved for human skin either.
Wolves at the Door
At the ranch, Rip is running the day to day operations with John no longer serving as head of the ranch now that he’s head of the state. Rip is still schooling his young ward Carter, who looks a foot taller than he did last season.
Carter is ordered to saddle John’s horse for the day because it needs to stay active even if John is no longer there to ride it. Instead, Carter will ride that horse for the day as he continues his education in becoming a cowboy.
Out in the field, Rip finds one of the steer has been killed and picked apart by wolves. While Ryan tries to warn Rip that this doesn’t to him that the cow was killed by a wolf, which means they might have bigger problems potentially brewing, that’s not the concern for now.
Rip insists that they need to send out spotters to hunt and kill the wolves before any more cattle are sacrificed. On the way back home, Carter is showing off his wrangling skills when his horse steps in a badger hole and falls over on its side.
Carter breaks his arm but the horse breaks its leg, which means it won’t survive. Rip is forced to put the horse down while reminding Carter that he always needs to keep one eye on the horse and one eye on the road ahead.
When John returns home for his last night at the ranch before he takes up a more permanent residence in the state capital, Rip has to inform him about what happened with the horse. As sad as it might be, John knows that’s just the circle of life — a pact he was forced to accept long ago.
As for the wolves that were going after the cattle, Ryan, Colby and the other cowboys are tasked with finding a solution to this particular problem. That means waiting out all night if necessary to kill the wolves going after the herd.
Ryan, Colby and the others finally get a chance to stop the wolves when a pack arrives to start munching away at a cow carcass. As the wolves eat, Ryan and the rest of the cowboys take aim and fire multiple shots.
When they arrive to take count of the wolves that were killed, Ryan is horrified when he realizes that these animals were all tagged and wearing GPS collars. The wolves were protected as part of the Yellowstone National Park — and the GPS trackers are monitored on a daily basis. If these animals don’t move over a 12-hour period, somebody comes looking for them.
To make matters even worse, the wolves are protected, which means anybody caught killing them could go to prison for the better part of a decade. Oh and just to add one more layer on the shit sandwich, the wolves were killed on land owned by the Governor of Montana.
When Rip gets the call about what happened, he heads out to the scene of the crime before chastising Ryan for killing protected wolves. But he can’t let these animals be found on the property, which means the GPS tracking has go somewhere far away from the ranch to ensure nobody comes looking for them.
The tracking collars are removed and placed on a series of logs that are then tossed into the stream. Over time, the collars will break freak from the log but not before they are long since gone from the Yellowstone, which won’t give authorities any idea about where to look for the perpetrators.
There’s only one problem — one of the logs gets trapped just downstream, which means that GPS tracker has already stopped moving and it won’t be long until somebody notices. The authorities are going to come looking for those wolves and now there’s at least one GPS tracker that’s going to point them directly at the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch.
“Yellowstone” returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night on the Paramount Network.