‘Yellowstone’ Season 5, Episode 6: Full Recap of ‘Cigarettes, Whiskey, a Meadow and You’

by Jon D. B.
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Kelsey Asbille as Monica Dutton in Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6 brings a cowboy’s perfect day and several big shocks, all after another Montana sunrise. As always, beware of major spoilers for the entire episode ahead.

The Duttons and the Yellowstone enjoy an almost perfect day branding cattle. Montana gets an unexpected visitor from outside. Sarah continues to sink her teeth into Jamie. Rainwater deals with a challenger from within.

YS5E06 synopsis

As the episode begins, the sun is rising over another Montana day and the Yellowstone cowboys are hard at work during the gathering. John (Kevin Costner), Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Rip (Cole Hauser) take a stop to enjoy the sunrise, with Beth’s quips ruining it for her father.

Over on the Broken Rock Reservation, Lt. Mo (Moses Brings Plenty) and his family are eating breakfast when a fleet of military helicopters fly overhead. He heads out to find the source, and an “event” is being set up in the middle of their reservation neighborhood without his, or Chairman Thomas Rainwater’s (Gil Birmingham) knowledge. SWAT-level outfitted police surround the area brandishing assault rifles; two of them shooting reservation dogs without warning.

Amid the chaos, Mo makes a guess at what the event is – and he believes the President of the United States is coming to Broken Rock.

Back in town, Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) wakes up in his bed with Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri). But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as an argument breaks out immediately. Sarah wants to know why he isn’t governor, but Jamie knows she has an ulterior motive. Which Sarah admits: get Jamie in the governor’s office, push Market Equities plan through, and do it all through him. Thanks to some shower sex, Jamie obliges readily.

‘Yellowstone’ Season 5, Episode 6 Lets Beth Dutton Be Happy

We then find Summer (Piper Perabo) alone in the Yellowstone lodge. After a flip through an old Dutton family album, she begins wandering the ranch. Gator (Gabriel Guilbeau) and Monica (Kelsey Asbille) are down in the main paddock preparing the ranch for John’s MEPP (Manufactured Event for Political Purposes). Monica gets Summer to help peel potatoes, and they get to know each other quite well.

They discuss Beth, as Summer is still wearing the hefty scars and bruises of their fist fight. Monica sticks up for Beth, as Beth has always stuck up for her, despite their heritages being at odds. She also explains to Summer that this ranch looks the same it did centuries ago. But not cities. Cities are the true enemy of Summer, not this ranch and not Beth, Monica believes. And it all comes as they’re surrounded by a wagon camp straight out of 1883.

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Brecken Merrill as Tate Dutton, Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton in Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

Out in the expanses of the ranch, Kayce (Luke Grimes) and his son, Tate (Brecken Merrill) are herding Yellowstone cattle. Kayce is all smiles as he teaches his son the Dutton way of life. Later on, John’s old friend, Emmett Walsh (Buck Taylor of Gunsmoke and many a’ Western fame) reveals he brought his fly fishing rod so Tate can go fishing after all in a sweet exchange.

‘I’m smiling on the inside’

Further out, the rest of the Yellowstone cowboys and day workers are hard at work. Beth is all smiles amid it, too, riding with the best of ’em. It’s one of the only times we ever see her smile at Kayce, and he smiles back. And how could they not? The scenery is breathtaking, and Beth is much more into the gathering than she thought she’d be.

“I can’t believe you’re not smiling,” Beth yells to her husband.

“I’m smiling on the inside,” Rip says as he rides off.

“Don’t ever call this work, okay?” Beth shouts with a grin. “Ever.” And the Dutton daughter is, for the first time in ages, truly happy for the entire episode. John’s assistant, Clara (Lilli Kay) is in the mix, too, working cattle like she’s done it her whole life. And John is soaking every second of it in.

“You could sell it, son. You could bottle it up and sell it,” he tells Kayce, who reminds his father how much they needed this.

Angela Blue Thunder Makes Her Move, Beth & Rip Get Their Perfect Day

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Gil Birmingham as Thomas Rainwater, Moses Brings Plenty as Mo. Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6. (Photo Credit: Yellowstone Gallery, Paramount Network Press Center)

Over on the reservation, a huge crowd has gathered. Rainwater arrives to find Angela Blue Thunder (Q’orianka Kilcher) waiting. Angela reveals she is the Director of Native American Affairs for the sitting U.S. president, and her plan to dethrone Rainwater is made even clearer – and far more viable.

Back on the Yellowstone, Monica finds Summer in the family graveyard. There, Summer explores the centuries of Duttons buried before spotting the freshly-built burial mound of Monica’s second son, baby John.

“When I say we give everything to this land, I do mean everything,” Monica tells her. And if Summer wishes to understand John Dutton and his Yellowstone, then this is the place to be.

Further out, Rip finds Beth napping under a tree. He wakes her, telling her he has something to show her. Rip’s found the perfect spot for Beth, the very picture of what she described as “beautiful” at the beginning of the episode. It’s a stunning meadow with wildflowers, sweeping forests, and just enough big sky to bring Beth to tears.

“I found this place a year ago,” Rip tells her. It was where he planned to marry her, before she put the “pedal to the metal” for their Yellowstone Season 4 wedding. Rip pulls out a flask, and these two enjoy their perfect spot.

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Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton, Cole Hauser as Rip Wheeler in Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6. (Photo Credit: Paramount Network Press)

“I could do this – I could live here and never see another person for my whole life except you,” she tells him. But Rip makes it even more perfect by pulling out a pack of cigarettes right as she realizes that would make this truly perfect.

“You are perfect, motherf*cker,” Beth smiles. “I don’t need anything else. Cigarettes, whiskey, a meadow and you.”

In the spirit of giving, she decides to consummate their perfect day beneath the sunset, and away they go.

An Old Friend Gets the Cowboy’s ‘Perfect’ Death

We then catch up with John and his old pal and fellow politician, Emmett Walsh, as they settle in for the night. John teases Emmett about snoring, but there’s no use as the old timer is already sawing logs before he finishes the quip.

“My dad used to say ‘If you can’t sleep through a man’s snoring, you’re not tired enough,” John grumbles. The two fall asleep under their tree with their heads on their saddles, more at peace than they’ve ever been.

A sweeping, moving montage of the next sunrise follows. As John wakes up, he tries to wake his old friend. But Emmett’s not waking. He’s still and cold, appearing lifeless even from a distance. And John knows immediately that the old cowboy has died in his sleep.

Rip shows up soon after to ask what happened as Clara uses that satellite cellphone to call for an EMT helicopter for dear old Emmett.

“He didn’t wake up. He just died on the trail. Like every cowboy dreams of,” John replies with tears in his eyes. So he and Clara ride like the wind to make it back to camp to tell Emmett’s wife before she sees his rider-less horse return. They’ve got to beat the herd back to the MEPP set up on the ranch. And thankfully, John does. But Emmett’s wife is inconsolable, and John’s heart breaks as hers does.

As she cries on his shoulder, the local news crew shifts their focus from the festivities to this moment of the Governor of Montana consoling a local woman on the death of her husband, who also happens to be the head of the state’s Fish & Game. “How?” she manages to ask.

“Like a cowboy should. Head against his saddle, staring at the stars,” John weeps. “His eyes closed. He didn’t open ’em.”

The ‘Yellowstone’ MEPP Kicks Off in Honor of Emmet Walsh

At the main event, country singer Abby (Lainey Wilson) makes her return to sing for the big event. The branding of the calves begins as the crowd watches, and Rip rides out to move the rest of the cattle.

Senator Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) shows up, and Gator serves the feast. It doesn’t take long for Lynelle to spot Summer, though, and piece together the entire puzzle, leading to a hilarious exchange with her old fling who’s now Governor of Montana and making some real bad decisions that may come back to haunt him (see: commuting the sentence of a prisoner that’s also a former lover to his own home). This may come back to haunt the patriarch in a big way.

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Wendy Moniz as Lynelle Perry, Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 6. (Photo credit: Paramount Network Press)

Lynelle also doesn’t think the late Emmett’s wife is accepting his death, but John disagrees. “She said it would embarrass him to no end if his death casted a shadow over this branding. She’s just as cowboy as he was,” he replies.

John walks over to to join Summer afterwards, and back in the heart of the event, Ryan (Ian Bohen) watches Abby sing, and falls even harder for her. After her performance, she switches spots with Walker (Ryan Bingham), who follows up with a performance of his own.

As Ryan and Abby dance, a young woman comes up to ask Carter (Finn Little) for a dance. This finally introduces that long-rumored Yellowstone “love interest” for the young ranch hand, Halie (Orli Gottesman). Carter tells Halie he doesn’t know how to dance, but she is eager to teach him.

‘I can herd a thousand cattle five miles over mountains and can’t wrangle one woman to the dancefloor?’

John fancies a dance himself, but Summer rejects him, leading him back to Lynelle. This love triangle plays out brilliantly throughout this episode of Yellowstone, leading to one of the patriarch’s best quotes:

“I can herd a thousand cattle five miles over mountains and can’t wrangle one woman to the dancefloor?” he asks Lynelle.

“I wish there were two of you, John. ‘Cause I would actually marry the one that’s less charming and more sensible,” she replies.

Back at Jamie’s, he and Sarah watch the news report on the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch MEPP. There, they see John comforting Emmett’s wife in the wake of his death. Instead of damning Governor Dutton for not visiting the U.S. President at Broken Rock, the news anchors declare the Governor was “right where he’s supposed to be” as he comforted his people. Public opinion of him will be impenetrably positive now.

“I swear that man could fall in a pile of cow shit and come up smelling like a rose,” Jamie scowls as he sits naked on his couch with Sarah. As they watch, Jamie loses confidence once again. “I admit, he’s hard to beat in a fair fight,” he says of his adoptive father.

“I don’t think we can let him show up to the fight, Jamie,” Sarah replies, ending the episode on a grim note as damning music swells.

Yellowstone returns next Sunday, December 18 for Episode 7, exclusively on Paramount Network.

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