‘Yellowstone’ Delivers More Stunning Deaths as Family Drama Ratchets Up [Spoilers Alert]
Yellowstone returned for two more episodes on CBS on Sunday night (Sept. 24), and the show's first season continued with more violence, as well as a bigger glimpse into the dysfunctional relationships between the Duttons.
Season 1, Episode 2 is titled "Kill the Messenger," and it mostly deals with the fallout from the violent confrontation at the Broken Rock reservation that left Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) and Robert Long (Jeremiah Bitsui) both dead. The medical examiner's report implicates Kayce (Luke Grimes) in Long's death, which looks like an execution-style shooting, so the governor calls Jamie (Wes Bentley) to try to fix the situation before it blows back on the Duttons.
The viewers get a crash course in justice, Dutton-style when John Dutton (Kevin Costner) tells Jamie to send in Rip (Cole Hauser) — who deals with the situation in an over-the-top way that may do more harm than good.
Unfortunately, that's not enough; when John finds out the government might exhume Lee's body for further investigation, he does it himself and has his son cremated, with all of the potential evidence being destroyed in the process.
Episode 2 also sees Kayce struggling to find a place where he fits in the outside world as he tries to decide whether or not he should go back into the military, which both Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and Tate (Brecken Merrill) strongly object to.
The episode concludes with John scattering Lee's ashes at his mother's grave.
Episode 3, titled "No Good Horses," opens in flashback, as viewers find out that the young Beth Dutton was actually very timid, especially as it related to horses. She's riding with her mother and young Kayce, and her mother is berating her for lagging behind when her horse spooks her mother's horse, which throws her and then rolls on her, injuring her severely. We see the source of much of Beth's adult trauma as her mother's last words to her are harsh and blameful, and she ultimately fails to bring help in time to save her mother, who is dead by the time John and his men get there.
That trauma results in a pivotal scene in the modern day, as adult Beth marks the anniversary of her mom's death by getting drunk and bathing in an outdoor trough in full view of the ranch hands as Rip tries to get her to go inside.
John, meanwhile, is having an affair with the governor, who encourages him to have Jamie run for Attorney General. It's something Jamie wants as well, but John is unsure about his son, and it touches off more animosity between Jamie and Beth when John has an exploratory meeting with Beth about possibly running.
That results in a confrontation between Beth and Jamie in the barn that turns physically violent as their decades of trauma and mutual dislike spill into the present, with him telling her, "I can't even remember what you were like before you killed her" before they trade blows.
Kayce stumbles across a van in an isolated area where two men have entered the Broken Rock reservation to abduct a young native girl, who they have trapped in the van when Kayce comes upon them. They try to attack him, and he ends up killing them both and returning the girl to her home, but though she initially denies being raped, she dies by a self-inflicted gunshot just a little bit later in the episode, setting up a subplot about how the reservation does not have enough resources to police what goes on in its borders.
In another storyline, John arranges for Chairman Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) to be arrested the moment he leaves reservation land, and Rainwater lands in jail, where John visits to tell him he will remain there until he returns the Yellowstone's cattle.
He refuses, but by the end of the episode he's relented, giving John the victory in their latest face-off even as Rainwater vows to end the Duttons' hold on the land.
Episode 3 ends with crews moving into the valley to survey, beginning the work that developers propose will change the entire landscape of the valley — which is sure to set up more conflict with the Duttons as time goes on.
Yellowstone's Season 1 airs every Sunday night on CBS.