Yellowstone Season 5’s Episode 2, titled ‘The Sting of Wisdom,’ opens on a grizzly, harrowing note that fills in gaps from the premiere.
But first, be warned of major spoilers for Season 5 ahead.
As we move on from Episode 1’s gripping ending, Episode 2 opens with Tate struggling to exit Monica’s wrecked vehicle. Tate cuts his seatbelt, but can’t open the car door with his broken arm. He does everything he can to get himself free. Once he is, he finds it’s a grizzly scene with a dead bison in the middle of the road; the cause of their wreck.
Tate calls 911, and does everything he can to get an ambulance on the way. But he loses his cool as soon as he finds his mother. Monica is already in labor on the side of the road; bloody and beaten.
After the opening credits roll, we transition to their new ranch home that’s alongside the Broken Rock Reservation. Tate finds his father, Kayce, and the two work out what’s happed man-to-young-man. “Are you going to try again for another one?” Tate asks his father. As we learned in Episode 1, Monica’s second baby, named John Dutton, died an hour after birth.
“I don’t know,” Kayce groans.
“I think you should, I liked having a brother,” he tells his father.
Back on the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch… And In Town…
Back on the Yellowstone, Rip has Carter getting John Dutton’s horse ready to ride, and he’s being as hard on the orphan as ever. Lloyd helps Carter saddle the horse as best his can, proving much more a gentle father figure than Rip.
Meanwhile, John Dutton gets to know his new assistant, Clara Brewer (played by newcomer Lilli Kay, below), in the company of Beth, Jamie, and Senator Lynelle Perry. John gets to know his team, too, soon finding out his Chief of Staff gave his “support” to a trade school he knows nothing about. So John fires his Chief of Staff immediately and replaces him with Beth. He’s not going to put up with anyone using his name without consent.
Jamie and Lynelle try to walk John through the world he’s in now, but it isn’t pretty. But thanks to Beth, they finally reach the conclusion that the Market Equities airport – the pressing issue that ran all the way thru Yellowstone Season 4 – is on agricultural land, and that’s how they stop it. But this scene lays out how truly difficult John’s road as governor is going to be – and how much different of a “politician” he’s going to make.
Lynelle, as a new Montana Senator, gets tough with John. “If you don’t play the game, the game plays you,” she tells him. And John realizes he’s in over his neck. In typical Dutton fashion, however, he still does not budge.
Beth vs Jamie
Back in Jamie’s office, Beth lays hard into him. Really hard. These two have it out as only they can, but Beth goes for the jugular.
“Stop thinking you have a chance at redemption, Jamie. Because you don’t.” She is cold and ruthless with him throughout, taking on an almost juvenile persona as she torments her adopted brother.
“Your political career was over the moment you chose your father over mine,” she tells him, reminding us of why she is so vindictive when it comes to Jamie. He did support and take in his father, Garrett Randall, in Season 4, after all – the man who tried to murder his entire Dutton family.
We also learn Jamie sold the ranch he bought – then murdered his biological father, Randall, on.
Beth asks him to be on the Dutton ranch on weekends as a result, and she goes full on high school-mean-girl on him by asking him to respond by saying “yes ma’am.”
It’s hard to watch, as Jamie complies, calling her just that. And in Jamie’s presence, Beth has become a full villain.
Kayce & Monica Try to Recover After the Death of Their Second Son, John
On Kayce & Monica’s ranch, Monica sees herself in the mirror adorned with the scars and brusies of heir wreck, as she feels the empty belly that held her second son. She is utterly destroyed by the loss of him, John Dutton IV, as any mother would be.
Outside, Kayce is there sitting on the porch just in case she needs something. Monica wants to have a funeral for their baby. “Just us,” she tells her husband. “I’d like to bury him at the ranch. That way we can always visit him. Ask your father.”
Kayce agrees, as he knows his father’s answer will be yes. But Monica needs to know more.
“When you said you saw the end of us, is this what you saw?” she asks tearfully.
“No, babe. No, I never saw this coming,” Kayce says. “This won’t be the end of us.”
“What will?” she asks.
“I get to choose the end of us,” he says of his Season 4 vision quest. “And I would never choose that.”
Yellowstone Cowboys Make a Gruesome Discovery, and Sarah Atwood Makes Her Entrance
Back on the Yellowstone, Rip, Lloyd, Walker, Colby and Ryan find a mother cow that’s been slaughtered by wolves. But Ryan doesn’t think wolves did it… Something else is at play here.
Regardless, Walker and Ethan retrieve a stray calf from the scene, and Rip sends the rest after the wolves to get them off the ranch. These wolves will show up later, and hold dire consequences for Yellowstone Season 5.
Meanwhile, at the local airport, its time to meet Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri’s new Market Equities shark). Sarah makes her first entrance at, fittingly, the only existing airport, and heads right for Caroline Warner at Market Equities (ME) headquarters.
Simultaneously, Jamie heads for his father, John, in order to turn in the bill he’s drafted that will cancel the ME airport and resort to be built on Dutton land. Beth reads it over, while Jamie informs them both that John, as governor, is “signing a declaration of war.”
“We’re already at war,” John retorts. And the game is on. Heading out to address the press, John speaks on “freedom” before signing the bill’s executive order. It will revoke all funding for the ME airport project.
Caroline, Sarah, and their team watch live on the news as it happens via their boardroom. Before long, the deed is done, as John takes no questions afterward.
Caroline is on a rampage with her lawyers as John calls it “done.” And as she is, Sarah pinpoints Jamie, just as Ellis Steele did in the premiere, as a target for their efforts to down the Duttons.
Carter’s Yellowstone Tragedy, Beth’s Bar Fight
Back on the Dutton Yellowstone, Carter makes an awful, awful mistake. As he rides John Dutton’s personal horse, Carter finds a hole while astride, and the horse falls over. Hard.
Carter is heartbroken and terrified, and has clearly broken his arm. But it’s far worse for John’s horse, who has shattered a leg; an injury horses rarely – if ever – recover from.
The orphan ranch hand apologizes to Rip, but it’s no use. Rip has to put the horse out of its misery with his rifle.
Carter then has to walk John’s saddle and bridle back to the ranch himself as the rest of the cowboys move the cows on. Lloyd helps him out, proving much more a father figure than Rip cares to at the moment.
In town, Beth is at a bar trying to have a drink, when an out-of-towner comes up to hit on her. And in Beth fashion, she rips him to shreds because he won’t leave her alone.
In the next room over, John meets with colleagues alongside her. They walk John through the politics of cancelling the airport. And the bottom line is, “a lot of people supported that airport.” But those weren’t Montanans, and they don’t have votes, John says. So he isn’t worried. Instead, he gives his colleagues his word that he will work the litigation out, and secures their two votes that he needs to make all the political maneuvering go through.
Through it all, we learn that John is more concerned about keeping the Dutton Yellowstone ranch “whole” at this point than he is anything else. In this moment, we see a John defeated, who knows he may lose the ranch. And Beth is worried, too. She now sees that he may lose it all. But if he does, “at least it’ll be whole,” John says.
John Dutton Returns Home, Ryan & Colby Hunt Wolves
Afterwards, John and Beth make a surprise trip back home. Rip has to tell John that he put his horse down, but it’s made sweeter by having Beth there to “catch up” on some much-needed husband & wife time.
Outside at night, Ryan and Colby hunt wolves while they come in to prey on Yellowstone cattle once again. As the two approach to tag the wolves, they discover the wolves are wearing GPS collars…
This is as bad as it gets. These are Yellowstone National Park wolves, and they’re dead. If the public finds out that Yellowstone cowboys have “murdered” national park wolves, then it’s all over for Governor John Dutton.
Flashback: Young John Dutton & Rip Deal with Cattle Killers
Some 20 years in the past, we see a young John Dutton (played by Josh Lucas) taking the Yellowstone helicopter to deal with some unfortunate business. He walks straight up to a construction crew and wastes no time in punching their boss square in the face.
It turns out this crew is spraying a deadly chemical to clear land for a cell tower. The compound is leaking straight into the creek that feeds the Dutton ranch, and it is killing all of John’s cattle. “It’s killing everything,” he growls.
So John does what the Duttons do, and he takes a crew out in the cover of night to dispatch of the chemicals and the site’s work. A young Rip and Lloyd are also in this crew, and both play a pivotal role in taking down the construction crew and their equipment.
Later that night, at the home of the construction manager, John’s hitmen knock him out cold after he wanders out of his house. But not before placing the chemical over his entire property, and him. And it kills everything; birds, grass, trees, everything.
Once the manager comes to, he is covered in horrific burns all over his his skin, too.
Back in Present Day…
Back in the present, Beth and Rip have a nighttime chat after a bit of… catching up. But Rip receives a call, and it’s from Ryan and Colby about their dire wolf situation.
Rip rides out to the scene. He can’t believe they shot wolves with GPS collars. Ryan explains they were using thermal and could never have seen the collars, but here they are.
The Yellowstone foreman instructs his two ranchers to do as they’re told with the collars as they take them to Yellowstone National Park. And this is exactly what they do.
We see the iconic falls of the national park in the show for the first time, before Rip, Ryan, and Colby fix the wolf collars to logs, then toss them down river.
“Don’t tell a f*cking soul,” Rip tells them. But this is surely to come back to haunt them. And before the end of the episode, we see that it will.
Back the ranch, Clara greets John in the morning, marveling at his ranch. “Where does it end?” she asks.
“You can’t see that from here,” he tells her. John explains to her that it will take everything they have to protect it. It’s taken everything he and his family have. And there’s so much more to come.
But before the episode ends, the wolves’ GPS collars, still tied to logs in the Yellowstone River, become stuck in a gathering of logs. They are now completely stationary, which holds unimaginable consequences once discovered…
The screen fades to black, and another chapter of Yellowstone closes on a somber note.
Yellowstone Season 5 will continue next Sunday, Nov. 20 with Episode 3 at 8 PM ET.