Season one episode eight of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone begins with a flashback to July 1997. A teenager, face bloodied, comes to and finds his younger brother dead on the floor. He then witnesses his father viciously beating his mother. The boy picks up a frying pan and slams it down on his father’s head, repeatedly.
The flashback continues with a man fetching John Dutton (Josh Lucas) to check out a boy he found in his hayloft. The boy threatens John with a stick, but drops it once he realizes there’s a gun pointed at his head. John asks to see his hands and decides the boy isn’t a drifter. John puts two and two together and realizes this boy is the lone survivor of a domestic dispute that was just in the news.
The boy admits he killed his father and finally introduces himself as Rip. John gives him some food and offers him a job, if he agrees to leave his past behind. He can’t fight or steal, but Rip assures John he’s never started a fight or stolen anything in his life. John warns him he’ll have to prove himself, if he wants to work at his ranch. (This backstory confirms Rip will always be loyal to John.)
Returning to 2018, the bodies of the two tourists and the bear are retrieved. John (Kevin Costner) is warned Fish and Wildlife are going to assume Rip killed the bear (which is a criminal act) and then murdered the tourists to keep them from telling the cops. The sheriff doesn’t believe Rip’s story that both tourists slipped when he threw them a rope.
John whispers to Rip that he should have just buried them without calling the authorities.
Rip confronts the sheriff, pointing out the bear has powder burns on his nose, proving he shot the bear from close range when it charged. Rip becomes agitated and John sends him back to the ranch to calm down.
Even the sheriff believes John should have just buried the bear. It’s too late now and the Feds will likely view the bear’s death as a felony.
Over at the hospital, Monica (Kelsey Asbille) is able to stand and undergoes physical therapy to help her regain enough strength to walk. She asks her grandfather if she can stay with him when she’s released from the hospital. He agrees, although he believes her place is with her husband.
Jamie (Wes Bentley) is busy with a television interview and his political aide, Christina (Katherine Cunningham), doesn’t bother him when his dad calls. As Christina watches the interview from behind the camera, the woman she’s hired to research issues shares that she’s heard rumors about a coverup at the ranch and is worried Jamie might be involved. Christina’s spidey sense kicks into overdrive, and she questions the woman about what she’s doing in town. (The woman is one of the two who were in the canoe staring at John at the end of episode six. She obviously has ulterior motives and isn’t there to support Jamie’s Attorney General campaign.)
Kayce (Luke Grimes) returns home after taking care of Monica at the hospital to find his place has been trashed. Someone was searching it, but Kayce doesn’t know what they were after. His friend, Sam, also had his place ransacked, and he thinks it was treasure hunters.
Kayce races to the pit and sure enough Tate’s dinosaur skeleton is gone. (If it weren’t for bad luck, Kayce would have no luck at all.)
An officer arrives from Fish & Game, places Rip’s gun in her car, and then rides out with Rip to see the bear. As they ride, Rip admits most of the rumors she’s heard about him are probably true. He then spies a horsefly on her horse’s rear and offers to swat it. She doesn’t trust him and warns him not to touch her horse.
The fly bites and the horse races away, out of control. Rip gives chase and discovers she’s been thrown from the horse. The horse tried to run through a fence and became entangled in the wires, throwing the officer who landed on a metal bar that pierced her side. Rip takes charge and asks for her gun so he can shoot the horse. If the horse gets to its feet, it’ll race away dragging the officer to her death.
The officer still doesn’t trust Rip enough to hand over her gun. Rip gets his wire clippers instead and frees the horse after calling for the helicopter. (Why wasn’t cutting the wires option #1?)
The horse runs off as Rip begins cutting away the wires from the metal bar under the officer. She screams in pain as Rip tells her he can’t pull out the bar from above. He tells her she has to trust him and lifts her with the bar still piercing her body. They wait for the helicopter and Rip demands that she stay alive. She replies, “I’m not getting killed by a f*cking fence post. My ego won’t allow it.” Rip actually laughs.
Kayce cleans up as best he can. He packs a bag and leaves his home for what feels like the final time.
Next we learn the woman who’s “doing research” for Jamie’s campaign is actually a reporter. She admits to her girlfriend that Christina’s suspicious, but she can’t quit because her editor wants the story. She’s after John Dutton and believes he’s corrupt.
Meanwhile, two of John’s biggest enemies – Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) – meet over a round of golf to continue to hash out the details of their agreement. Thomas assures Dan his interests will be safe because he’ll own the hotel. Dan’s not convinced and wants a share of the land. Thomas reminds him if the tribe owns the land, they don’t have to worry about taxes or zoning.
There’s the added benefit that once they announce their plans, property values in the area will double. That includes the Yellowstone Ranch which will likely be stuck with an $11 million annual property tax bill. Thomas wants Dan to agree to the selling him the land now so they can get started, but Dan wants to involve his attorneys. That doesn’t sit well with Thomas and finally Dan agrees.
Beth (Kelly Reilly) goes over the report provided by her assistant on Paradise Valley Capital Development. She looks through their Building Proposal Summary and notices only one bank is mentioned for funding – Akron Capital. She also learns Dan’s leveraged every penny he has and even has two mortgages on his house. Everything he has he sunk into this development. Moving the river screwed him up, and Beth’s ecstatic to learn the company’s trading at just $3 a share. “I’m going to be on his board by Monday,” she declares.
Beth’s assistant pulls the car over so she can chat with Dan’s wife. They head off to a bar with Beth’s assistant in tow.
Kayce picks up Tate and has to break the news that someone stole his dinosaur bones. They arrive at the hospital and Monica’s outside, waiting. She sends Tate inside with her grandfather. She admits she didn’t forget Kayce; she sees him differently because he brought his dad into their lives. She tells him he invents situations to run from and she’s not going to beg him to stay anymore. She wants him to leave but first she demands to know the true story about her brother’s death.
“He killed my brother. He was going to kill me. I had no choice,” confesses Kayce. “Choice was not to go,” replies Monica. She’s going to protect their son by keeping him from John and Kayce. She loves him, but she has to do what’s best for Tate.
Kayce’s devastated. He can’t even respond. He lingers in front of the hospital hours after Monica’s taken back inside.
Beth’s outside Dan’s place, smoking, when he returns home. Dan, upset, heads inside to find his wife. She’s got Beth’s assistant up against a wall and is doing her best stripper act while drunk. She doesn’t notice Dan and he leaves without saying a word.
He rejoins Beth outside and warns, “I’m going to ruin you. I’m going to ruin you and your entire f*cked up family.”
Now it’s Beth’s turn to issue a warning. She threatens Dan that if he hurts her dad, she’ll hurt him back. “This isn’t hurting you, Dan. This is just fun,” explains Beth. “Hurting you is going to be tomorrow morning when I purchase every share you’ve put up for trade.”
She adds, with a devious smile, that she’s only telling him because he can’t stop it.
Kayce’s gassing up his truck when a guy approaches asking for $10 to fill his gas can. When Kayce refuses to give him cash but offers to fill up the can, the guy turns him down and asks for the cash instead. Kayce and the guy get into a verbal argument that escalates to the stranger pulling a knife on Kayce and demanding everything he has. Kayce easily disarms him and then proceeds to beat him unconscious. A small crowd gathers and tries to get Kayce to stop. A woman films the fight on her cellphone.
Back at the ranch, John looks through the subpoena from the Broken Rock Confederated Tribes. According to the paperwork, the BRCT claims he’s in violation of the law which prohibits anyone from allowing their cattle to graze on tribal lands without permission.
Rip returns as John’s looking through the paperwork. The officer’s still alive and another one will be out tomorrow to examine the bear.
Jamie pulls up to the ranch, looking exhausted. John yells at him for being gone for two days without calling and Jamie apologizes. John demands he withdraw from the race because he’s needed at the ranch. Jamie refuses to quit, begging his dad not to take this away from him.
John doesn’t believe Jamie’s sacrificed anything. They get into a fistfight and despite John’s condition, he easily takes down Jamie and punches him in the face. “I’ve never met a man more in need of a beating,” growls John.
John reveals that Attorney General Stewart isn’t stepping down. John’s backing him, but if Jamie wants to run anyway he can. John kicks Jamie off the ranch until the time comes he’s ready to put the family first.
After he’s gone, John confesses he thinks he’s going to lose the ranch. “To be honest, I don’t even know who I’m trying to save it for anymore,” he admits.
After the fight’s over, Walker (Ryan Bingham) approaches Rip and asks if they can talk. Walker’s heard about life on the ranch and he wants Rip to know he refuses to do anything illegal for Rip or for Yellowstone. Rip reminds him he agreed to getting branded and pledged his loyalty to the Duttons and the ranch. Rip’s in no mood for this and tells Walker his chance to leave has passed him by.
Jamie, face bruised and bloody, returns to his campaign headquarters and informs Christina the Attorney General isn’t stepping down. Christina informs Jamie the Governor is supporting him not to please John but to keep John under control. She also assures Jamie that fathers who love their kids don’t beat them.
Jamie admits he really wants this position and Christina obviously is on his side and will support him. They kiss as she tells him to do something just because he wants to.
Over at Yellowstone, the cowboys play poker while Jimmy paces, visibly upset. Someone took his hat, and the guys don’t attempt to hide the fact they’re responsible. They toss him a new, much-better hat which apparently cost each of the cowboys a week’s pay. Jimmy’s speechless, smiling ear-to-ear.
Episode eight ends with a pack of wolves making a meal out of the dead bear.
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 6 “The Remembering”
- Recap of Season 1 Episode 7 “A Monster Among Us”
- Recap of Episode 9 “The Unravelling: Part 2”
- Preview of Yellowstone Starring Kevin Costner