“New Beginnings” (Episode 202)
June 26, 2019
In the Season 2 premiere of Yellowstone, we joined the Dutton family, their saga already in progress. Patriarch, John Dutton, has 99 problems, external and internal. In fact, it feels like things are going off the rails on the smooth train he’s built. John and daughter, Beth, move forward on disrupting son Jamie’s political career by backing his opponent. Beth also concocts a plan to protect her father’s ranch by buying property around it. Meanwhile, John’s youngest son, Kayce, is a mess most of the time and has growing tension with ranch manager, Rip. Last week ended with John experiencing a ruptured ulcer and a lot of regret. Catch up on all the action from last week’s episode here.
Now, ride out to the ranch for our recap of Episode 2 of Yellowstone, “New Beginnings” … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
Bozeman Central Hospital. John is in the hospital. He’s getting dressed, ready to leave when his doctor pops in to chastise John for taking shitty care of himself.
“Funny.I don’t remember authorizing your release.
“That’s because I didn’t ask.”
Dr. Stafford (Brian Unger) warns John he could have him restrained if he does not comply. He recommends that John start terrorizing “small children at the rec center’s pool” as a means of rehabbing from the surgery. Of course, John is reluctant. Seriously, can you see John Dutton at a rec center pool with little kids?!? Doc doesn’t seem to take no for an answer and tells John he’ll be hearing from a physical therapist.
John’s wheeled out of the hospital and limps into Kayce’s truck as he rips off his armband. He couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Kayce is driving John home from the hospital. John is in visible pain and tells Kayce that it hurts to sit, as Kayce hits every pothole it seems from the hospital to the ranch. John tells his son to pull over. John gets out to stretch his legs in a roadside field. Neither man knows who field this is and John is being reflective that 10 years ago he did. Before getting to the real discussion, John chastises his son for fighting battles that belong to the wranglers. Basically, a leader of men shouldn’t be retaliating for the bar mess. He also tells Kayce they’re going to deal with him living amongst the men.
The real discussion is about what happens when you’re positive you’re going to die but then you live. John tells his son (and himself) that he needs to start living again.
“I don’t know how to do that.”
Neither does John but they’ll figure it out together.
Beth’s Office. Beth is sitting with a real estate agent, putting Plan “Build a Moat” into motion. She sets very aggressive terms for the purchase of a neighboring property. The agent pushes his luck and mentions another large property, Pelican Ranch, not on the market. The agent mentions that he is familiar with it though … Beth’s pretty disgusted by this guy. She was very clear that she only wanted to see property currently for sale. Beth rips the agent a new asshole while mocking everything about him including his manscaped appearance and his greed. Beth tells the real estate agent to email her the present offer so she doesn’t have to see him again and kicks him out of her office. Looking over to her boss, Bob (who is wonderfully amused by his bulldog’s behavior), Beth asks if he’s got his checkbook so they can take their show on the road?
The University. Monica walks into her new class. A student asks if she’s the teacher’s aide and Monica responds that she is the teacher. Another student (Adam Call) wise cracks that he saw a video on Pornhub that started out the same way. Monica, unfazed, tells him that if he works in a Pocahontas joke he’ll hit the trifecta of insults to go along with his disrespect and misogyny. She asks him what is the definition of power?
“It’s the ability to direct or influence another’s behavior or a course of events.”
Further adding that she can fail him for the class or send him to the dean for student code of conduct violations. She tells him that it’s all in her power and she can alter the course of his life. Monica adds for good measure that he has no power here, in case that wasn’t clear. Monica continues onto the lesson starting with Christopher Columbus’s description of his first encounter with Native American people, reading from his journal. As she speaks, the dean walks into the back of the classroom to observe. Unfazed, she continues to read from Columbus’s journal about how the native people would make fine slaves because of their ignorance to weapons and general curious behavior towards them. She turns back to Trent (the asshole student) and asks if he’s ever made people feel like that, making someone do what he wants them to do whether they like it or not?
Monica explains that this is a very Renaissance European mentality rooted in the absolute power monarchy models that kept power in a few echelons and none for the masses. This absolute power mentality was what the explorers brought to the Americas. Monica tells her class that society still struggles with and teaches the justification of bad behavior by the dominant culture. This is not her focus; she’ll teach them what happened to her people.
After class, Monica is walking and talking with the dean. She is walking with a cane and a limp the dean hadn’t seen before. They’re interrupted by Trent. He apologizes for his behavior. Monica warns him she won’t tolerate that again and then accepts his apology. Turning back to the dean, he’s pleased with how she handled herself, remarking that she’s already winning hearts and minds. Changing the topic, the dean tells Monica of the resources available to her now that she is on the faculty, including physical therapy for her injury and faculty housing. She’s floored by the benefits. Alone, Monica stares at an older Native America gentleman leading a reading group. He’s wearing a “Fighting terrorism since 1492” t-shirt and Monica smiles.
Pelican Ranch. Beth meets with the owner of the Pelican Ranch asking if he’s interested in selling? She mentions that the tanned agent sold him a bill of goods about the pelican in the pond and that it was a decoy bird placed there to deter other birds from eating the trout in the pond. Beth scoffs when the owner tells her that the ranch isn’t for sale.
“Everything’s for sale, buddy.”
“Name your price,” she says. The owner stammers out 9 million dollars and Bob writes out a check. Beth hands the owner the check and, smiling, tells the
owner former owner to get out of her house. Damn, gurl.
Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The wranglers are building a fence out on the ranch. Walker starts mouthing off about this work being beneath him. Lloyd complains to Rip that he’s useless to them. Rip confronts Walker about how he won’t fight (recalling last week at the bar when Yellowstone’s men came to whoop ass but Walker wouldn’t partake) and now he won’t work. He calls him a tourist that eats their food. Rip walks away and the men resume their work. Seeing Walker completely doing nothing now, Rip tells him to get back to work. Walker is over it, since he ‘s leaving that night.
Rip’s patience has run out and tells Walker he should go back to some of the great ranches he talks so highly of. Walker tells him he can’t go back to them because he can’t leave the state (presumably due to legal troubles). Rip is having fun with him now telling him there are plenty of ranches in Montana but none of them would have him and asks when he makes phone calls about him, what would he find?
“Well, I reckon I got a fondness for the farmer’s daughter. I guess we got that in common, don’t we?”
Rip snaps and cuts the barbed wire he’s working on so it snaps back and cuts Walker across the face. Rip follows it up with a punch that floors Walker. Walker gets up flashing a knife. He tries to take a few swipes at Rip who deftly dodges them. The wranglers are looking on, talking about having to pick a side if this escalates. Lloyd comes up behind Walker with a gun pointed at his back and Rip relieves him of the knife. Walker announces he’s quit and rides off.
“Wherever you go, Walker, I’ll find you.”
Lloyd whispers that the whole bunkhouse is watching and Rip replies that that’s why he did this little morality play. To the men, Rip tells them to get back to work; they still have 2 miles of fence to build.
Back at the bunkhouse, Walker meets the Cowboy as he packs up his few belongings. Walker tells the Cowboy he’s out and will pick up work somewhere. The Cowboy warns him to stay out of trouble.
As Walker walks down the dusty road with his belongings, John and Kayce stop to meet him. Kayce asks what’s going on? Walker is not happy about being asked to fight at the bar the other night and says he just wants to be a cowboy. He’s confused as to who is in charge, if its Kayce or Rip, because he’s getting mixed messages on what’s expected of him. John chimes in that he runs the place and so does Kayce. He tells Walker he doesn’t have to listen to anyone else and orders him to return to the bunkhouse. John tells Kayce to bring him to the main house, he’s making some changes.
John and Kayce are in John’s office. He has Kayce sign some papers and it looks really official because he’s stamping them up and saying he’ll have Beth fill them out. John hands him a badge that was Lee’s when he ran the ranch. Kayce asked when he’d start training and John replies soon. They need to straighten out the bunkhouse situation first.
Before that, though, John has other things on his mind he wants to talk about. He’s surprised that Kayce hasn’t mentioned his wife or son or why he isn’t with them? John wants Kayce to talk about it because it’ll help Kayce form a plan to get them back. Kayce is skeptical.
“When Lee ran this place, he he was honest and he was fair with everyone. That’s what I need from you. But you can’t be that way with others, son, until you’re that way with yourself.”
Kayce doesn’t have a good answer when he’s asked what happened between them. John sees this as going nowhere and asks Kayce to send Rip up to the house.
Rip arrives to the bunkhouse and tears inside ready to rip Walker to shreds. Kayce pulls him back tells Rip his father wants to see him … now.
Main House. Rip and John are talking in John’s office. John tells him Rip is about the only person he can trust because he doesn’t stand to benefit from John’s death. John tells Rip that Kayce needs to start learning the business and how to lead. And he can’t do that while living with the men. John’s very subtle way to say you’ve been demoted, Rip … despite your loyalty. Rip looks like his heart is breaking. A few moments later, Rip has his bags packed and he’s leaving his private quarters. Kayce is waiting outside.
“There’s beer in the fridge.”
“I don’t drink.”
Bunkhouse. The wranglers are watching football and talking about the difference between wildcats and bobcats. Ahh, manly banter. Walker is there strumming his guitar, avoiding the main group. Rip walks in, bags in tow. He walks over to the fridge and gets a beer, remarking on the game. Jimmy brings back the banter asking if one of the wranglers mom is a cougar to raucous laughter. Walker is really not happy about this new development of Rip moving into the bunkhouse. Rip looks like he’s gonna strangle Walker with his guitar strings.
The next morning, the wranglers are waiting around, unsure about what to do. Rip says what they do isn’t up to him now. From a distance, John stops Kayce as he emerges from the house and tells his son that he doesn’t need to worry about Rip, he needs everyone else’s respect.
“The sooner you push it to a head, the sooner it’s behind you.”
Kayce doesn’t look terribly excited about pushing Rip to a breaking point.
Down at the pens, Kayce calls out the herd movement assignments for the day and gives Rip (and Lloyd) the dusty rear. To me, it seems to be the dirtiest job out there. I feel like this assignment is something Mike Rowe would have filmed. Rip’s face is hidden by sunglasses but that does not mask the pure disgust on his face for Kayce. When Lloyd asks him what’s even happening right now, he tells his old friend that they’re never anything more than tools to the owners and this is a reminder.
The wranglers are out moving the herd and some of them break loose from Jimmy’s watch and Rip gets some of his frustration out on him to chastise him for poor performance. Rip sees Walker break his position and gallop off. Rip gives chase through some dense trees and catches up to him. He pushes Walker off his horse and Walker crashes into a tree as he rolls to a stop. Rip backs his horse up and begins to charge at Walker, still lying on the ground.
Kayce rides in front of Rip, stopping his charge, and asks, “what the fuck are you doing?!?” Rip tells Kayce that this is the excuse Kayce has needed to fight Rip (for superiority and dominance). Kayce starts to get off his horse to throw down but Rip tells him he wants to do it back at the ranch in front of all the men.
“I ain’t going to take it easy on you, either.”
Walker doesn’t quite thank Kayce, but it’s as close as it’s going to get. Walker really is kind of a dick. Kayce heads back to the corral, Rip is already there, getting ready for the fight. All the wranglers gather to watch.
They start trading blows. It’s pretty vicious; they bloody each other up pretty good with blood spattering out of their mouths and pouring out their noses. There’s body slams and wrestling style holds. Rip promised to go hard on Kayce but you can tell, he’s actually taking it kind of easy. In a real fight, Rip murders the much gentler Kayce. John is looking on as Jimmy asks him if he wants them to get in there and break it up. John is all, nopers.
“This needs to happen.”
Rip gets a finger in Kayce’s eye as they continue to beat the hell out of each other. Rip whispers to Kayce to come at him, finish it. Kayce winds up and levels a massive blow. This is the changing of the guard. Victorious in the eyes of the men, Kayce tells the wranglers there’s no fighting on the ranch and walks away to spit out some teeth or crack his nose back into place.
Rip walks over to John, who thanks him for making him earn his position. Adding to that, John tells Rip he needs to now be a dependable wrangler for Kayce. Rip isn’t convinced that John made the right decision about moving Kayce up to boss. John tells Rip that Kayce is his son and that’s why he believes in him. Rip, loyal though he is, isn’t quite done fighting.
“Jamie’s your son, too, sir. What did you see in him?”
Mic drop. Rip walks away.
Dinner time at the Dutton house. Beth comes in late, with her apologies. She’s taken aback by Kayce’s battered face and asks what happened? John doesn’t want to talk about work at the dinner table, which she ignores and plows through with questions on what he’s done to advance their plans. John really doesn’t want to talk and Beth gets miffed, seeing as her father only thinks about work morning to night.
“If we don’t talk about work, we have nothing to talk about.”
John raises a finger as to indicate silence. She continues to get annoyed, complaining she’s 35 years old and is too old to be shushed by her father. She tosses her napkin, gets up and storms off. Kayce just looks bewildered and John gives a snide, “I don’t think she’s made it through a whole meal since she was eleven.”
Sick Burn, John!
They share a chuckle at her dramatic exit. Kayce then reminds Dad that he has a physical therapy appointment the next day.
Beth is walking on the grounds outside the house and sees Rip sitting on the grass, staring at the mountains. She cops a squat next to him on the grass. Seeing his battered face, she realizes what happened today and acknowledges the sacrifice Rip made for her father. She recounts when she first met Rip and how wild and angry he was. She says he was beautiful and notes how devoted he was to her father. Now that things have changed, she asks him not to leave.
“This is my family. Whether any of you all think of me that way or not.”
Rip is a man of few words, yet profound when they come out. He gets up and walks back to the bunkhouse. That mic drop number 2, Rip if you’re keeping score.
The Reservation. Tate and Monica are at the dinner table in her father’s house. She shows Tate the floor plan for the faculty housing. She scoots Tate off to bed as her father (Rudy Ramos) sits down to talk to her. He’s not a bit pleased about this new development. He feels this is a step away from Kayce (emotionally) and reminds his daughter that she and Kayce were married in ceremony, and that means something.
“That means you’re married to him in the afterlife no matter what you do in this life. You two are stuck together. Want to decide something? Decide how you two are gonna work it out. Or you’ll be miserable forever.”
What a horrible view on marriage there, Pops.
Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Beth walks up to Kayce’s new digs and gives him a snide remark about being the big man. He meekly replies he couldn’t run the bunkhouse living there too. She chastises Kayce for kicking Rip out of the only home he’s known. Kayce defends himself by saying that Rip is a bully. Beth’s view is that their father molded Rip into what he’s become.
Beth lays into Kayce about walking away from his life with Monica and Tate. Kayce gives a feeble response that Monica left, not Kayce. Beth’s venomous fangs are out now. She surmises that Monica left because she was afraid Kayce would turn out just like their father and here he is now, taking the “crash course” in how to accomplish that.
Kayce is getting upset and tells his sister he’s protecting their ranch, their home for them. She is having none of this, shouting back she’s the one protecting it and Kayce’s reckless actions are going to get him thrown in prison or worse, get him sued and lose the ranch outright. Beth tells Kayce to go heal his heart and stay away from their father.
“And when he dies, you can have this fucking place. I will give it to you.”
Beth, honey, you power tripping something fierce here girl. I gotta wonder what drug of choice is fueling this tonight.
The next day, Kayce brings John to the rec center for his physical therapy appointment. It’s like his worst nightmare come true. The pool is full of adults and kids swimming and splashing around. Kayce comes in to relish in his father’s discomfort.
The physical therapist working with John tells him he needs to do this her way for he doesn’t hurt himself. He’s getting annoyed with the whole thing and swims off under water. He pops up on the other side of the pool, bumping into a physical therapist working with … Monica. Awkward, much. There is lots of awkward staring between John, Kayce, Monica and the confused PT. Tate is there and, when he spots Kayce, runs over yelling, “Daddy!” The episode ends with a look of pure panic and heart break on Kayce’s face.
My favorite scene tonight was the Monica-Trent power scenario. It was very moving to witness such an intellectual beat down. The passages Monica read from Columbus’s journal are indeed fact. A quick journal search backed up her quotes. Her dialogue with Trent set the perfect dramatic tension needed to lay the backdrop for the horrid historical details she was about to read; the intent to brutally subjugate the Native populations, her people. These are scars still carried by this nation that will never be able to be restituted or completely forgiven. Monica intends to make her class understand history, not from the perspective of the conqueror, but of the conquered and therefore regaining the power that lies within the truth. This was a powerful moment for the show which fed in so well to the contemporary power struggle for the ranch leadership between Rip and Kayce.
Man, these cowboys are some tough mothers. Between all the brawling last episode and the vicious beat downs that happened this episode, if I’m out west see a 10 gallon hat walk my way, imma gonna walk the other way. It’s the only way to make sure I keep my teeth intact.
Except Walker. He’s a whiny little bitch. I’m not sure what his deal is but he just screams trouble.
Rip. A lot more complicated than I initially gave him credit for. Maybe it’s because he only says but 7 words at a clip, but this episode, they’ve all been pretty profound. He’s devoted to this ranch and to John beyond the measure of any man should have. Case in point: He was demoted, thrown out of his home, and he allowed the owner’s son to beat his ass just so Kayce would gain the respect of the men he must now lead. That’s devotion. There’s more to you Rip than we initially thought and with the admission that this is the only real home you’ve had makes me think there’s an interesting rip (puns!) current below the stoic surface.
Beth’s venomous personality is fun to watch but it’s not moving her character that much. What I’ve seen in her development has been the brief moment with Rip and the attack on Kayce following their brawl. She’s driven by loyalty to her family and the ranch, it seems, but I think it’s more the power she’s after. She’s emotionally closed off from her brothers – insulting both Jamie and Kayce and there’s not much sincerity regarding her father, with the when he dies comment to Kayce she’ll hand him the ranch. Power corrupts, y’all.
A notable absence this episode: Jamie. We saw nothing of the wolf in sheep’s clothing shit storm he’s concocting with the reporter, alluded to at the end of Season 1 and very briefly in Episode 1 last week. You know this is going to come to a very big explosion soon. Maybe even next week.
I’m glad to see John is taking his health more seriously.
Yellowstone airs Wednesday nights at 10 pm (ET/PT) on the Paramount Network.
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