Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first half of "Yellowstone" season five.
John Dutton's demise was foreshadowed in the opening episode with a comparison to a Roman emperor.
Elsewhere, there were several music cameos. Keep reading for every detail you might have missed.
The return date for Paramount Network's hugely popular Western drama "Yellowstone" has finally been announced.
After months of speculation about when the latter half of season five would make its way to screens following a reported behind-the-scenes fallout between cocreator Taylor Sheridan and lead star Kevin Costner, the network announced in early May that season 5B will premiere in November 2023. Meanwhile, the first eight episodes are streaming now on Peacock.
We've been looking back on the season so far and have gathered together all the major moments, foreshadowing, and callbacks in the first eight episodes of "Yellowstone" season five that fans might have missed the first time around.
In episode one, the band playing at John's governor's ball has been referenced on the show before.
If the name Shane Smith & the Saints sounds faintly familiar to you, that's because they have been namechecked in the series before.
The band from Texas, consisting of Bennet Brown, Chase Satterwhite, Dustin Schaefer, Zach Stover, and an ensemble of other musicians when touring and recording, was previously mentioned in season four, episode three.
Horse trader Travis Wheatley (played by series creator Taylor Sheridan) tells his crew he's going to play "Shane Smith and the fucking Saints" on the stereo for their journey back to the 6666 ranch.
The flashback to the bunkhouse shows a young Lloyd Pierce. If you were thinking the actor looks like the spitting image of Forrie J. Smith, it's because he's his real son.
The younger version of Lloyd is played by Forest Smith, who bears such a strong resemblance to Forrie J. Smith because he happens to be the son of the actor.
Before making several appearances in season five, he briefly appeared in the season two episode, "Touching Your Enemy," but didn't have a lot of screen time.
At the end of the first episode, Rip hints at John's downfall by comparing the governor's ball to the last days of Rome.
"What was the name of the emperor who played the fiddle while Rome was burning?" Rip (Cole Hauser) asks Beth (Kelly Reilly) when she finds him not enjoying the party like everyone else but sitting on some grass nearby.
"Nero?" she answers, to which Rip responds: "This reminds me of that."
As Beth contemplates what he means by this, Rip wastes no time in spelling it out for her: "He's going to lose this place."
The comparison is a fitting one given that Nero was the fifth emperor of Rome, who essentially wiped out the Julio-Claudian dynasty as a result of his ineffectual leadership.
Meanwhile, John — as viewers were reminded by Jamie earlier on in the episode — is a fifth-generation rancher whose family had always had a stake in Montana, even before it was recognized as a state.
Nero used the resources of the mighty Roman Empire for his own indulgences and, as the famous expression goes, "fiddled while Rome burned."
We'll have to see whether John does lose it all, but it does appear that, like Nero, he only seems to care about pushing for policies that benefit himself.
Beth's epic dressing down of an out-of-towner in the Deerfield Club bar is reminiscent of a similar situation in season one, episode one.
In episode two, after she is appointed John's new chief of staff, Beth arranges one of his first meetings at a place she knows rather well, the Deerfield Club.
When she rocks up there early for a solo drink, she also experiences a situation she knows rather well — being hit on by a man who happens to find himself passing through Montana on business.
The scene harks back to the very first episode of "Yellowstone," in which viewers get their first taste of Beth's quick-witted nature and talent for scathing takedowns when she perfectly shatters the ego of a man who tries to hit on her.
This time around, however, Beth gives her victim the opportunity to save himself from the humiliation that's about to rain down on him, telling him: "Buddy, this is your one chance to leave with your self-esteem intact."
When he tells her to give him her best shot, Beth proceeds to peg him for what he really is and sends him running with his tail between his legs.
A sweet moment between Rip, Carter, and an abandoned calf in episode three reminds the orphaned youngster of his place in the Dutton clan.
In episode two, Rip stumbles across Carter feeding a young calf a bottle of milk in one of the barns.
When Carter asks whether the yearling will be sent away when it's older and able to fend for itself, Rip instantly recognizes that he isn't just talking about the abandoned animal, but instead pondering his own fate.
It's not hard to see why Carter feels a kinship with the calf, given that he, too, was orphaned before being taken in by Beth and Rip at the ranch. It's understandable that the tough education he's getting at Yellowstone makes him feel like he's just being trained up to be sent off into the world on his own.
However, Rip's sweet response reassures him that neither he nor Beth wants Carter to go anywhere anytime soon. "Orphans don't get shipped off around here, Carter, in case you haven't noticed," he says.
Kayce makes a request to bury his and Monica's son on Yellowstone land. He isn't the first family member to be buried at the ranch.
In fact, it's a tradition that dates back to the very first generation of Duttons, as viewers of the spinoff prequel series "1883" will know.
James (Tim McGraw) and Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill) buried their daughter Elsa Dutton (Isabel May) on the land that eventually became the ranch, and as viewers saw in "1923," James and Margaret are buried on either side of her grave.
John's late wife is also buried on the ranch, as is his father, John Dutton Sr (Dabney Coleman), meaning that the burial of Kayce and Monica's son — who barely lived a few hours — follows a longstanding Dutton tradition.
Monica is shown taking part in a grieving custom among some Native American tribes when she takes a kitchen knife and cuts her long hair.
"You gotta let her do it," Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) tells Kayce as he tries to run into the house and stop her. "It's our way."
While Monica — along with the other Native American characters on the show — comes from the fictional Broken Rock tribe, the custom of cutting your hair when an immediate family member dies is something found among real tribes.
According to I-D, among members of the Navajo Nation, hair is traditionally only cut in circumstances of mourning, while Vox states that "it's often tradition in some tribes to cut your hair and bury it with the deceased when someone close to you dies."
There's a callback to one of season four's most brutal scenes during Beth's meeting when she's accused of hiding a rattlesnake in her too-good-to-be-true deal.
Beth travels to Salt Lake for a meeting with Schwartz & Meyer, where she pitches Rob Baldus (Aaron Lazar) on purchasing her $300 million controlling interest in the investment firm. It appears too good to be true and elicits the response: "There's a rattlesnake somewhere in this deal, Beth. Care to point it out?"
The reference to a concealed rattlesnake won't be lost on fans, who will recall that it was a deadly reptilian bite that put an end to Beth's former adversary, Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway).
While it was Rip, rather than Beth, who viewers saw fling a diamondback rattlesnake from his cooler in the shocking season four premiere, we all know that Beth is just as capable of delivering such a nasty, venomous surprise.
The bar that Beth takes the crew to is the same bar shown in the flashback scene in the premiere episode, but things have changed a lot in the 20-something years between the two visits.
It seems that a trip to the Crystal Bar in Bozeman always ends in disaster for Beth. It was the location of her and Rip's failed first date, as viewers saw in season five, episode one, and now the place where she is arrested for aggravated assault.
However, the return to the Crystal Bar some 20 years on also serves to remind Rip just how much things have changed in Montana since he was first taken in by the Duttons as a teenager.
Even before he steps foot in, Rip laments the demise of the establishment, which once used to be a place for "real cowboys" but is now filled with imitators — as well as flirty tourists from Sacramento. When he encounters an old friend from the neighboring ranch, M Bar, the two reminisce about what the bar used to stand for.
"I remember when every ass on a barstool belonged to a cowboy," the other veteran rancher tells Rip.
There was another musical cameo in episode three.
In this episode, there was a cameo from another popular country artist, singer Isaac Hoskins, who plays himself.
He takes to the stage to perform his appropriately titled track, "Off the Wagon," just before all hell breaks loose in the bar and admirably makes it through the song as the bar descends into chaos.
In episode four, we learn more about the burial practices of the Broken Rock tribe.
Following the arrangements made in episode three, Kayce and Monica's son is laid to rest in episode four in what is shown to be a traditional ceremony among the Native Americans in the Broken Rock tribe.
As the tribe is entirely fictional and based on several real Native American tribes, the particular customs or traditions they follow haven't always been clear. However, in this episode, we see how they bury their dead.
Members of the tribe, including Monica's family and Chief Thomas Rainwater, are shown chanting prayers before the plaited hair that Monica cut off is placed on top of the coffin, which has been covered in an intricately designed throw.
However, the meaning behind their customs — especially the burying of a dead animal with the body — still leaves John, Rip, and many others a little confused.
"My guess is so the boy has something to ride in heaven," Rip says when trying to work out the importance of having the horse buried with the infant, prompting John to pithily reply: "Horses in heaven."
At the very start of episode four, there's a discussion about names that hints at the fact that Sarah Atwood is using a fake one.
When we catch up with Beth following her arrest for aggravated assault, she's sharing a cell with another woman, and we see the two exchange stories about how they ended up in jail for the night.
Their conversation is cut short when an officer comes to collect Beth since Jamie has turned up to pay her bail. "Bethany Dutton?" she asks, prompting Beth to get to her feet.
"You don't look like a Bethany," the other inmate comments as Beth walks out. Beth tells her she's not. "I'm a Beth," she says with a smirk.
While it doesn't seem like an important moment at first, names and identities come back up again at the end of the episode when Beth does some digging into Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri) after she catches her on a date with Jamie.
When she finds that no trace of the new Market Equities counselor exists online, Beth draws the conclusion that she must be using a fake moniker. We're not quite sure why yet, and what Sarah's real intentions in Montana are, but we know we can rely on Beth to find out.
Up until now, it hasn't been clear how much time has passed between season four and season five. But in episode four, we learn that it's been at least a year.
When John uses his power as governor to pardon Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo), she reveals just how much time has passed since she and John last saw each other.
"Just so you know, I've just gone a year without sex, which is the longest I've gone since the first time I had it, and I'm still not fucking you," she tells him when she gets the impression that John wants to start up their romantic relationship again.
Jamie should've known that when Sarah suggested the Deerfield Club for their "business" date that it was likely that they would be caught by Beth.
Viewers — and Jamie — should know by now that the Deerfield Club is one of Beth's favorite watering holes, so what was the likelihood that she would also be there the night of his date with Sarah? We'd say pretty high.
Given that Beth also explicitly threatened to ruin Jamie's life earlier in episode four, when she discovered that he has a secret son, we have no idea why Jamie wasn't looking over his shoulder a bit more.
That said, Jamie has never been able to outsmart Beth, and in this instance, he had a fair bit of distraction from Sarah, who shamelessly flirts with him, leading the pair to sneak off into a bathroom together.
It's still not exactly clear what Sarah's intentions with Jamie are, but given how eager he was to lower his defenses and jump into bed with her, we think that she will soon have him wrapped around her finger.
Tate's request to go fishing with John during the spring branding has more meaning than you might think.
When Kayce, Monica, and Tate arrive at the ranch for dinner the night before the spring branding in episode five, the youngster asks his grandfather: "Think we could sneak in some fishing?"
John replies, "Not this trip, grandson," leaving Tate crestfallen.
Audiences will know that Tate has found comfort in his fishing trips with his grandfather over the last few years since moving to the ranch. It was how the two first bonded in season one and, in season three, viewers saw John take Tate fishing to help him deal with the trauma of his kidnapping.
Tate's request to go fishing could indicate that he isn't coping all too well with the loss of his baby brother, and that he perhaps feels like he can't turn to his parents — who are, of course, grieving themselves — for consolation.
As audiences saw elsewhere in the episode, Monica comes across Kayce crying on their porch and realizes that she "never bothered to ask" how he was feeling about the loss of their baby. With this in mind, it seems likely that no one has asked Tate how he is feeling either.
John mentions his ancestors, just before viewers meet them in spinoff series "1923."
"First Duttons to settle this valley, fighting was all they knew," John tells Rip in their fireside discussion after dinner in episode five. "It's how they got here, how they kept the land once they did."
It's prescient that John mentions his forebears, given that this episode came just as audiences got their first glimpse of the prequel series "1923," which follows the first generation of Duttons who made their home among the Montana mountains.
The series stars Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton, and Helen Mirren as Cara Dutton, and follows their struggle to survive against historic drought, lawlessness and prohibition, and an epidemic of cattle theft.
John says of his sons, Lee, Kayce, and Jamie: "I got one child I miss, one child I pity, and one I regret." It's not clear which he pities and which he regrets.
This line also comes during John and Rip's chat the night before the cattle branding in episode five.
John doesn't explain which child he is referring to in each instance but viewers can confidently ascertain that it's Lee, his eldest son, who died during the season one premiere, he misses.
As for which son he pities, it's possible that he is referring to Kayce, given that he recently lost a child. His pity could also come from the fact that Kayce, as a young boy, watched his mother die. At the same time, he might regret the way he treated Kayce in the past, and the wounds the two will never be able to heal.
It's more likely, though, that he is referring to Jamie as the son he regrets, and that regret might be that he ever adopted Jamie and raised him as his own. Indeed, elsewhere in the episode, John tells Clara that he only has one son, making it obvious that John doesn't recognize Jamie as his at all.
However, there is also a case to be made for John pitying Jamie, because he is not related by blood to the rest of the family, meaning that no matter what, he'll always be treated differently.
If you were wondering what John makes of Beth, his only daughter, he adds to Rip afterward: "But that girl, that child, I envy."
Kayce and Monica could end the season with another baby on the way.
Before Kayce and Tate head out on horseback for the cattle branding in episode five, Monica tearfully instructs her husband: "Take care of our boy, he's the only one we've got."
"Yeah, we're gonna fix that," he replies as he tenderly strokes her face, hinting at the fact that the couple is going to try again for a baby in the second half of season five. She smiles at him, indicating that some of the pain of losing their child is starting to heal and that the two could be ready to try again for another baby fairly soon.
Rip shows Beth the meadow that he hoped they would marry in before their hasty nuptials at the end of season four changed things.
Thinking her days as a free woman were numbered, in the season four finale, Beth made hasty plans to marry her longtime love Rip and their backyard nuptials were what many would consider a shotgun wedding with its hurried planning and handful of guests (Beth did also kidnap a priest for the occasion).
At the time, Rip told his bride-to-be: "I thought you wanted to find a place that was just ours."
She responded that she did and that one day the pair "will take that ride" and in the episode it appears they did, to which Rip put up no objections.
In episode six, we find out that Rip had a place on the Dutton land in mind. As he shows her the breathtaking meadow, he tells her: "I found it a year ago when you said you wanted to be married in a place with no memories till we made them."
Beth replies: "I kinda rushed the wedding, didn't I? In my defense, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison so I had to put the pedal to the metal."
There's a closeup of James Dutton's grave, possibly confirming that he died after the flashback we saw in season four.
When Summer explores the Dutton family graveyard in episode six, she kneels down to inspect the weathered tombstone bearing James' name. During this closeup, the year he died is marked clearly: 1893.
Not only does this confirm that he died 10 years after his daughter Elsa's death (as shown in the prequel series "1883") but it suggests that James died from an incident that "Yellowstone" viewers saw play out in a flashback scene in season four, episode eight.
While hunting horse thieves around the ranch, James was shot several times but managed to make his way back to the family cabin and it was left for viewers to guess whether he managed to survive or not.
It was later confirmed in the premiere episode of "1923" that James did indeed die as a result of this incident, with Margaret dying a year later by freezing to death in a snowdrift.
John calls Rip "son" in the flashback scene at the beginning of episode seven, and later Rip affectionately refers to Carter as "son" too.
Episode seven opens with another flashback in which we see young John Dutton refer to Rip as "son" for the first time, although it is under less-than-ideal circumstances.
After older cowboy Rowdy talks about Beth in a way that rubs Rip the wrong way, the two get into a fight, which ends with Rowdy pulling a knife and Rip hitting him in the head with a rock.
When Rowdy starts coughing up blood later in the night, Rip runs back to the ranch to alert John about what happened.
Before he does, Rowdy calls out after him and says he should lie and say that he got bucked off his horse.
It seems that John has the same idea and, when they discover that Rowdy has died of his injuries, he questions why Rip didn't just make things easier by saying he fell off his horse. Rip responds by saying that he promised never to lie to him.
"Well you're gonna have to lie now, or you're going to prison, son," John says in a fatherly tone before he lets Rip in on how they keep secrets buried on the ranch.
It seems that it was after this incident that Rip was branded with the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch "Y," marking his loyalty to the family.
Later in the episode, we see a sweet piece of mirroring when older Rip affectionately calls Carter "son" too. Both these moments create a parallel between Rip and Carter, who have been brought into the family at a young age, though it seems that Carter will be spared the branding unless he finds himself in a similarly sticky situation as Rip did.
The website Beth visits when trying to come up with a plan to save the ranch is real.
In episode seven, convinced that she can come up with an alternative business model to help save the ranch, Beth turns to Google and stumbles across a ranch in Texas that has figured out how to make more than $8 million a year by selling their meat online.
It's a real website and a real ranch located in King County, Texas. The Four Sixes ranch was founded by the Burnett family in 1870, 13 years before the fictional Yellowstone ranch, and these days it is owned by none other than "Yellowstone" cocreator Taylor Sheridan.
The ranch went on the market for a total of $347.7 million in 2020 before being snapped up a year later by a buyer group representing the western filmmaker.
6666 is both a real ranch and an upcoming "Yellowstone" spinoff series.
In addition to the second season of "1923," series creator Sheridan has also been developing a new spinoff series set at the historic Texas ranch.
As viewers might recall, there was something of a backdoor pilot for the series – titled "6666" – back in season four. Jimmy Hurdstram (Jefferson White) was sent down south to learn how to be a good cowhand once and for all.
There's every chance that his character and fiancée Emily will feature in the cast of the upcoming series, possibly alongside some of the "Yellowstone" characters who have been sent on a secondment to the ranch.
This includes Ryan (Ian Bohen), Teeter (Jennifer Landon), Walker (Ryan Bingham), Jake (Jake Ream), and ranch manager Rip Wheeler.
The show continues to shine a spotlight on country artists. In episode seven, Zach Bryan is seen performing at the state fair.
Following performances from country stalwarts Shane Smith & The Saints and Isaac Hoskins, in episode seven the Duttons – and viewers – were treated to another performance, this time by country star Zach Bryan.
During the fair scenes towards the end of the episode, he is seen on stage performing his songs "Motorcycle Drive By" and "Summertime Blues."
If Bryan's raspy voice and classic folk melodies sound familiar to you, that's because the 26-year-old singer's song "The Good I'll Do" featured during the cattle branding montage scene back in episode four.
Getting the "Yellowstone" seal of approval is sure to give Bryan's career a boost like it has done for so many artists already — though he hardly needs it.
Bryan signed his first record deal with Warner Records, via his own Belting Broncos imprint, in 2021, and after releasing the triple album "American Heartbreak" earlier this year, was nominated for his first Grammy award.
In a blink-or-you-miss-it moment, it's revealed that Clara is the show's second queer character.
Towards the end of episode seven, it is revealed that John's new assistant Clara (Lilli Kay) is lesbian.
During the state fair, she is seen locking lips with an unidentified woman while sitting on a picnic blanket and enjoying the show.
Although this seems to come out of nowhere for audiences as the woman she is with hasn't been introduced to viewers, it's not so much of a surprise for John who simply remarks: "My press advisor's behind me, making out."
It's a small moment but a step forward for LGBTQ representation in the series, as, in all its five seasons, "Yellowstone" has only featured one other queer character.
Jimmy, a character who hasn't been seen since season four, made a return at the beginning of episode eight.
After being heavily foreshadowed in episode seven, the show crossed state lines to catch up with Jimmy, who's now working and living on the 6666 Ranch.
Viewers saw that Jimmy has finally settled into life as a ranch hand — even if he occasionally misses breakfast so he can spend more time in bed with Emily.
Their loved-up bubble will perhaps burst when Yellowstone cowboys Ryan, Teeter, Walker, and Jake, led by the ranch manager Rip Wheeler arrive, though it's not clear yet where this storyline will take audiences.
Carter's exchange with his new love interest, Halie, mirrors an exchange between Rip and Beth in the first episode of the season.
There are many ways in which we've seen Carter parallel Rip's own journey as a ranch hand. Both were taken in at the ranch as orphans and transformed from rebellious teens into hardworking and respected members of the team that keeps Yellowstone ticking.
In a nod to Young Rip and Young Beth's first date, shown in the season five premiere, episode eight showed Carter land a date with a young girl who seems just as free-spirited and strong-headed as Beth.
When Halie (Orli Gottesman) approached Carter after the workday, she asked him if he wanted to get out of there and head into town.
"I don't have a truck. I'm just a dumb cowboy," he told her.
As viewers will recall, Rip found himself in a similar position when Beth asked him on a date before she left for college, though she let him "play man" and drive them to Bozeman for their disastrous bar date.
Luke Grimes' debut country song, "No Horse to Ride," can be heard during the mid-season finale.
"Yellowstone" has become known for shining a spotlight on up-and-coming artists via its country-leaning soundtrack, and this episode turned that spotlight back on one of its own with the inclusion of a new song from Luke Grimes.
The actor, 39, released his debut single, "No Horse to Ride," in mid-December 2022. With lyrics including, "All hat and no cattle and some tumbleweed boots," it fits perfectly into the show during the montage of the cowboys from the ranch preparing for their big move down to Texas.
Audiences might be interested to know that Grimes' love of music might've come before his love for acting — a press release from Universal Music Group Nashville said he grew up playing music in church as the son of a Pentecostal pastor.
There's a tongue-in-cheek mention of Travis, the cowboy played by the series' cocreator Taylor Sheridan.
While Rip prepared the trucks of cattle for their relocation to the 6666 Ranch, John Dutton asked him if there was a crew to receive them at the other end.
"Travis says he's got one," Rip answered with a chuckle.
As longtime fans will recall, Travis Wheatley is a horse trainer and rodeo competitor from the 6666 who was last seen in season four when he took Jimmy with him down to his ranch as a favor to the Duttons.
The role is a meta one for Sheridan. The 52-year-old actor turned filmmaker is an accomplished rider who's competed in western horse-riding competitions throughout his life.
We wonder whether Travis will make an onscreen return after the midseason break?
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