Season one episode one of Paramount Network’s new one-hour drama Yellowstone drew in 5 million viewers, good enough to earn it the top spot among new summer dramas on broadcast and cable. The first season continues with episode two titled “Kill the Messenger” airing on June 27, 2018.
Episode two begins with John Dutton (Kevin Costner) attempting to tame the wild horse his son, Kayce (Luke Grimes), gave him as a gift. Just when John believes the horse has settled down, it goes over and tosses him off. John decides the best course of action is to get greenhorn Jimmy (Jefferson White) to ride him. Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) tapes Jimmy into the saddle and the ride goes about as expected. The horse does its best to try and buck Jimmy, which it can’t. It’s a rough ride, but John believes it’ll eventually turn Jimmy into a cowboy.
On the reservation, Kayce’s taking out his anger on his tractor and a massive rock. Unable to get the rock to budge, he blows it up while his young son, Tate (Brecken Merrill), watches in awe. Shocked by the blast, Kayce’s wife, Monica (Kelsey Asbille), emerges from the house in just a towel and gives Kayce a piece of her mind.
In one of the episode’s few lighter moments, Kayce and Tate check out the new hole they’ve just created and discover it contains the skeleton of a dinosaur.
In town, Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) meets with Governor Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) and learns that based on the autopsy results it would have been impossible for Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) to have shot Monica’s brother, Robert Long. Robert was executed by an unknown third shooter. There will be a big investigation and right now the evidence is pointing to a coverup by Jamie’s dad. It’s national news and it’ll difficult to make this go away. Jamie has a week to get this squared away.
Jamie turns to his sister, Beth (Kelly Reilly), for advice but she’s sarcastic and condescending. Still in bed at noon, she teases Jamie that their father won’t love him if he comes out as gay. Jamie, frustrated, says he’s not gay but that’s besides the point. He needed her help and she’s too pissed about being at the ranch to lend a hand.
Jimmy’s still taped to the horse when Jamie seeks a word with his dad. They talk in private about how to keep Kayce from being outed as the killer, and John wants the identity of the agents working the case. He knows one, Reynolds, but not the other, McReary. McReary’s religious and John wants Jamie to find out where he attends church.
The problem remains that the autopsy photos tell the story of an execution that couldn’t have been carried out by Lee. There’s nothing that can be done to change the photos or Lee’s body. Jamie knows they’ll dig up Lee’s body to confirm the autopsy and he wants to beat them to it. John’s having none of this until Jamie describes the five close bullet wounds on Robert’s body. Only Kayce could have done the shooting.
John plops down next to Tate and the dinosaur skeleton in the pit, and they talk about what could have killed it. John describes the area as being underwater all those years ago and maybe a sea shark killed this particular creature. Kayce interrupts to chat with his dad, and John gets straight to the point. He demands the truth, warning him the authorities will twist his story.
Kayce’s unwilling to recount the events of night. However, he does assure his dad Lee’s killer saw his own death coming.
Back at the Yellowstone ranch, Jamie delivers more bad news. The medical examiner has already given Robert Long’s autopsy report to the tribal police. John asks for the medical examiner’s background and Jamie reveals he got caught smoking embalming fluid in Chicago and was let go. Jamie might be able to get his findings ruled inadmissible, but John wants Rip to handle the medical examiner. “I won’t negotiate with a drug addict,” barks John.
At the reservation, Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and his men look over Robert Long’s autopsy photos. Thomas isn’t convinced Lee shot Robert. If he didn’t, then they have a case against John Dutton. Kayce’s the one person they know was near the scene, but they’re sure Kayce will fall in line with his family when push comes to shove.
After what seems like a full workday, Jimmy’s finally cut free from the saddle. His legs buckle and he can barely stand, but the pain paid off because Rip’s able to ride the horse.
As Rip leaves the stables, Beth says she’s willing to go on a date with him but not a music festival. (That was his suggestion in episode one.) He suggests getting drunk and watching wolves kill elk in a park. Beth’s an instant yes to that suggestion.
John hits the rodeo and meets with Carl Reynolds to ask him to get his son to change his story about seeing another man with Lee’s body. Carl agrees to do whatever John needs him to do.
John confesses to Beth he’s considering having Lee’s body cremated. He doesn’t want to, but Beth reminds him Kayce was always her mother’s favorite. Before she died, they promised to always protect Kayce.
John meets with Father Bob (John Aylward), confessing he’s there to collect on an old debt. John asks Father Bob to deliver a sermon that will convince Aaron McReary not to provide information about what he saw the day of Lee’s murder. Father Bob agrees and talks to his congregation about the 9th Commandment. He explains the Commandment is about protecting your flock and your shepherds. Father Bob uses his sermon to remind his congregation not to speak against their neighbors or destroy their reputations or their families.
The camera zooms in to catch Aaron McReary’s face, and he’s clearing absorbing the message being delivered. After the service is over, Aaron and Father Bob have a private talk.
Meanwhile, Kayce calls his old commander and tells him he’s considering re-enlisting. He’s assured he can get his spot back on the team.
Kayce and Monica are driving to pick up their son from school when Monica confirms she’s upset Kayce’s thinking of re-upping. She doesn’t understand why he’d even think about doing such a thing. He’s about to confess to shooting her brother when a building they’re driving by (in the middle of nowhere) explodes.
Kayce assumes it was a meth lab and rushes over to see if there’s anyone he can help. He finds a man who’s barely alive and has devastating burns all over his body. The man asks Kayce to kill him and Kayce does, believing it’s the humane thing to do.
Kayce and Monica wait for the reservation police and when they arrive, Thomas Rainwater and his men agree not to take any action. Instead, Thomas orders Kayce to accompany him to wash off the evil.
Seated around a fire, they discuss their fathers and choosing sides. As Kayce prepares to enter the sweat ceremony, Thomas explains that what Kayce will see will be a map of his future. However, he’s still free to make other choices and take different paths.
John and Jamie accompany John’s men, who’ve dug up Lee’s coffin into a building. They destroy the casket and burn it with Lee’s body in an incinerator.
As Kayce’s driving home from the sweat ceremony he sees wolf in the highway and honks for an oncoming truck to slow down. It doesn’t, and the wolf is crushed.
The medical examiner’s preparing embalming fluid to smoke when Rip arrives at his office. He attacks Rip, but Rip easily gets the best of him. Rip has him pull the oxygen hose out of the wall and then forces him to place tools on a metal tray. The tray is then placed in the microwave. Rip grabs the medical examiner’s laptop and finishes the job of killing the medical examiner before zapping the tools to make the place catch on fire. It will look like a suicide to the police.
Kayce finally makes it back home later that evening. He’s ready to confess, again, but Monica makes him promise to stay. “There is nothing you can do I won’t forgive you for,” she says. Kayce replies, “Yeah, there is,” before leaving the living room to read a book to his son in bed. Kayce and Tate discuss plans for their dinosaur skeleton as Monica cries while eavesdropping.
John scatters Lee’s ashes on his deceased wife’s grave, telling her he brought her some company. He kisses his fingers and gently touches her headstone as he walks away.
More on Yellowstone:
- Yellowstone Series Review
- Preview of Yellowstone Starring Kevin Costner
- Recap of Episode 3 “No Good Horses”
- Recap of Episode 4 “The Long Black Train”
- Recap of Episode 6 “The Remembering”
- Recap of Episode 7 “A Monster Among Us”
- Recap of Episode 8 “The Unravelling: Part 1”
- Recap of Episode 9 “The Unravelling: Part 2”