Season one episode six of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone begins with a quiet, peaceful scene between Kayce (Luke Grimes) and the horse he gifted his father. The ranch is still at rest as Kayce rides out on the horse toward the forest and hills.
When they stop for a drink at a stream, the horse senses danger and runs, leaving Kayce to face a massive, hungry bear. Kayce, unarmed, makes himself as large and loud as possible. He whispers a quick sorry to his son, believing he’s about to be killed. He then screams at the bear just as a shot rings out, chasing the creature away.
It turns out Rip (Cole Hauser) has followed Kayce and was able to thwart the attack. Kayce isn’t about to thank his rescuer, and the bad blood between the two is evident. A fistfight breaks out and Kayce receives more blows than he delivers. Rip rides away, taunting Kayce that he doesn’t know what real work is.
At the Yellowstone ranch, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) greets Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and Tate (Brecken Merrill), handing Monica a cup of coffee. He’s obviously attempting to do what he can to get Monica on his side. John’s determined to have Kayce and his family remain at the ranch. Monica wonders why his cowboys allow themselves to be branded, and John explains it’s a way for the men who’ve been in trouble to signify they deserve a second chance. She wonders if that’s why Kayce was branded.
Tate interrupts their talk and John sends him off to grab a huge donut. Monica won’t let the subject go, and she believes she deserves to know what’s happened to John and Kayce’s father-son relationship. John admits it was because he told Kayce to not marry Monica and instead make her have an abortion. Kayce refused and John physically branded his own son.
Monica, upset, thanks him for his honesty.
Over at the big house, Tate’s staring at a plate of donuts trying to decide which is the biggest. John helps him spot the biggest one, assuring Tate he can do whatever he wants at the ranch. John stares at Tate, lost in thought as the young boy eats.
Meanwhile, Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and his team are looking over land for sale. He’s trying to find a plot that borders John’s Yellowstone ranch. He’s informed there’s no power on the lots he’s interested in. Plus, John rerouted the water to ruin Dan Jenkins’ development plans, so there’s no water source available.
It will cost about $15-20 million to get water there, but Thomas doesn’t care. He wants to buy up all the lots available.
Elsewhere, after the traumatic bonding moment from episode five in which Beth (Kelly Reilly) threatened to kill herself while Jamie (Wes Bentley) drove her home from a bar, the siblings head into a meeting together. The atmosphere between the two is only slightly less toxic than usual.
Jamie and Beth meet with Governor Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) to go over their political plans. They want Jamie to run as an Independent, but Jamie’s not sure that’s smart. Perry says he’ll run unopposed and he’ll be the swing vote, which works out perfectly for everyone.
Beth is her usual sarcastic, ruthless self during the meeting, and Lynelle sends everyone out of the room for a little one-on-one time. Although Lynelle does a good job of putting Beth in her place, Beth doesn’t stay down long. Beth threatens to ruin the Governor’s career if she ever sleeps with her father again.
The Governor’s next one-on-one is with Jamie. She asks about John’s cancer, and Jamie’s taken completely by surprise. He’s unaware his father’s sick and the Governor reveals she learned the news from cattlemen, including one whose son is a neurologist. Jamie breaks off the meeting and rushes from the room.
Back out in the field, Rip is with the horses when Kayce catches up with him. Rip reminds him he made a choice to leave the ranch and should stand by that. Rip admits he’s tired of burying Kayce’s secrets.
After Rip rides off, Kayce picks up the folder he left behind. It’s the one that contains the autopsy report on Monica’s brother.
The Governor knows Beth can’t be controlled and thinks John is making bad decisions. She doesn’t want to consider Beth for any office, and the current Attorney General warns her that trying to replace John as the Livestock Commissioner will only create a new batch of enemies. Plus, she’ll lose voters. She’s not convinced, and they brainstorm over who to support rather than John Dutton.
Tate tells his mom he really wants to move to the ranch, saying their own home “sucks balls.” Monica’s taken aback, and he assures her he learned it at school. He tries to get out of going to school by warning her he’ll probably learn a new cuss word there today.
As they pull up to school they can hear chants of “fight, fight, fight.” Monica tells Tate to stay on the sidewalk as she attempts to break it up. She steps into the circle and tries to drag one of the boys away when she’s punched in the head. Everyone scatters as she falls to the ground, unconscious, blood pouring from her head.
Kayce receives a call about Monica and heads to the school with his dad. In the truck, Kayce refuses to talk about the fact this happened at the school Monica refused to leave when offered a chance to teach a college course.
Monica’s wound is being wrapped up by the school nurse when Kayce arrives. (It looked life-threatening so it’s shocking to see she hasn’t been taken away by ambulance.) The nurse warns Kayce to watch for any signs Monica’s condition is worsening, but Monica is awake and able to talk normally.
Kayce sent his dad away without letting him check in on Monica, and when John returns to the ranch Jamie and Beth are waiting outside to confront him. He keeps them waiting while he stays in his truck making a call. John finally gets out and Jamie and Beth jump on him about cancer. John claims he had a tumor removed and doesn’t have cancer.
Beth is pissed, telling him this isn’t a secret he can keep. John gives Jamie the task of quashing the gossip and takes Beth inside where he claims she embarrassed him in front of Lynelle. They have it out and Beth pushes her dad’s buttons by saying Lynelle doesn’t live up to the standards set by her mother. John explodes and says, “You need to man up. You understand? You need to man up and be a part of the solution or go back to f**king Utah!”
John also warns her never to mention her mother to him again. “You forfeited that right a long time ago,” growls John.
Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) meets with someone who can help him make his John Dutton problem go away. He explains John has influence over almost everyone that matters, and she suggests they look for someone to run against John for the Livestock Commissioner post. They need to find someone young and ambitious. She knows they’ll need to take John down with a thousand little cuts. She also knows they need to find someone else to be the public face of this fight since he’s a billionaire from California.
Thomas Rainwater and his right-hand man have been sitting nearby, eavesdropping. Thomas joins the conversation and suggests they use his face in this battle against John Dutton. Thomas explains he’s on their side and can’t beat John alone. Thomas claims he can give Dan a power source for his subdivision by obtaining a $60 million loan. He then surprises Dan by saying the loan will actually be for a casino.
Thomas needs 40 acres for the casino and 75 acres for a hotel and parking. He wants Dan’s land and he’s willing to give him the option of deciding where the casino goes and design approval. Thomas will finance the construction, build the roads, and the utilities. Dan seems pleased by the offer, but his fixer wants him to wait until she does some digging. However, Dan doesn’t think that’s necessary and shakes on the deal.
(The enemy of my enemy is my friend.)
Kayce, Tate, and Monica return to their home, and Monica appears to be holding up well. She wonders if they’re doing the right thing about not living at Yellowstone, and Kayce thinks they are. Their chat is interrupted by a drone flying over their land. They have no idea who sent it, but Tate believes it’s a treasure hunter looking for his dinosaur.
Kayce launches rocks at the drone which is scaring the horses. Finally, someone shoots it out of the sky as Kayce notices a car in the distance. He hops in his truck and chases after it, cutting the driver off. When Kayce gets out to talk to the driver, he races off.
John meets with his friend Karl for a late afternoon of fishing. They talk about their kids and getting old, and how John believes his kids will eventually put him in a nursing home and leave him there. As they’re fishing, two women row up in a boat. One woman seems to be staring John Dutton down as they go by.
Monica steps outside but she’s not walking very well. She falls to the ground and Kayce begins performing CPR. He begs her not to leave them, telling her he needs her.
More on Yellowstone:
- Yellowstone Series Review
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 2 “Kill the Messenger”
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 3 “No Good Horses”
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 4 “The Long Black Train”
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 7 “A Monster Among Us”
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 8 “The Unravelling: Part 1”
- Recap of Episode 9 “The Unravelling: Part 2”
- Preview of Yellowstone Starring Kevin Costner