John Dutton doesn’t want to be governor of Montana, but he’ll do whatever he has to do to keep his ranch safe.
The Yellowstone Season 5 premiere, with two back-to-back episodes, is as good as the series has ever been. It’s a captivating two hours that has us rooting for John Dutton in a whole new way.
Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 1, “One Hundred Years is Nothing,” picks up after quite a time jump, with John winning the race for governor. His face says everything you need to know about how much he wants this.
He’s already dreading everything about the next four years, and he’s walked to the stage to give his acceptance speech, it feels like he’s being taken to prison. The tone is ominous and the camera follows him from behind, like a death march.
Yet once he’s on the stage, he makes it clear why he should be the leader of the state. After all he’s been through, and after all his family’s been there, there’s really no more satisfying position for John Dutton to be in than the governor.
In fact, Jamie makes that point in his self-indulgent introduction of John and Lynelle, referencing the legacy of the family, and ultimately the show’s spinoff, 1883. It’s a nice touch and show’s the richness of this world that’s been developed now, beyond just the original series.
John’s attitude about this whole thing is also so perfectly fitting for his character, and even offers the chance for some new character development, which is interesting for a man so set in his ways.
It seems a bit obvious to gush about Kevin Costner’s performance, but this all really is a reminder of how well he embodies this role.
It’s also nice to see that he’s flawed as a leader right from the start. He doesn’t know everything he needs to about this office, he’s not trying hard enough to “play the game” as Lynelle puts it.
And he’s way too arrogant, but that’s not unexpected. The fact that John needs help — from Lynelle, Beth, and even Jamie, makes this so much more interesting to watch.
That’s especially true considering the hold that Beth has over Jamie now. Jamie does have some wisdom to offer, but his own real feelings about what’s happening are going to wind up causing trouble.
By the end of Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 2- “The Sting of Wisdom,” at least two people now have observed that Jamie doesn’t seem to feel the way he should about his father being governor. That’s going to be a problem — and it’s one of those details that prove how well-crafted this entire story is.
There’s someone else who isn’t necessarily thrilled that John Dutton is governor now: Rip. He’s worried, and rightfully so. That shows in his attitude toward the party that’s being thrown on the ranch at first, though that party is a great opportunity for some levity.
The ranchers get dressed up and have the chance to cut loose in the best way they know how, and it’s really quite joyful and fun to see. It’s also needed, considering how heavy these episodes are otherwise.
But it’s not just the invasion of the ranch for the party that worries Rip. He’s looking at the bigger picture, and he’s concerned that John’s going to wind up losing the ranch altogether. There’s also clearly some concern about John’s absence from the ranch and what that’s going to mean.
Already, there are a couple of clear consequences. First, Carter riding John’s horse results in the horse needing to be put down. (It’s an emotional scene I could have done without, to be honest. Though I could always do without anything involving dying horses.)
Then there’s the incident with the wolves, and maybe that’s something that would have still happened with John on the ranch, but it does seem like a mistake that’s occurred at least in part because of that change.
Beth and Rip are also a key part of this premiere, particularly with Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 1. A good chunk of time is even spent on a Beth and Rip flashback, which feels disorienting at first.
As usual, though, the flashbacks inform something significant in the present time, and in this case, it’s Beth’s remorse.
Young Beth is a force to be reckoned with, though it’s unsettling to see her manipulate men the way she does at that age. Granted, her attitude about it does come from a place of empowerment and confidence.
But we see how badly she treated Rip when they were young, and now, she regrets the time they lost out on. Their love story has been interesting to watch considering the baggage, especially since she feels such pain to not be able to have a child.
The way Beth and Rip are portrayed feels nothing less than authentic. There’s a realness to them that you don’t often see with fictional relationships.
There’s also a great deal of confidence between them. One of Beth’s best scenes in the premiere is when she talks to a younger woman who’s watching the cowboys at the party, and that sums up why her relationship with Rip is so fulfilling.
Meanwhile, another couple on the series is forced to go through hell all over again. Considering that Monica is driving on a dark country road while having contractions, it shouldn’t be shocking that she gets into a car accident.
Yet somehow it is. Probably because she’s been through so much already.
It’s heartbreaking that the baby dies, and it’s even more of a gut punch to learn that they had named him John.
I can see why this trauma is important to the story when it comes to Kayce and Monica’s relationship, but at a certain point, it’s just too much. Seeing them deal with even more trauma really just feels redundant.
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