Paramount Network’s Yellowstone season one episode eight ended with a pack of wolves feasting on the bear Rip (Cole Hauser) had been forced to kill to protect himself. Episode nine – the season one finale – begins with the sheriff and a Fish and Wildlife officer examining what’s left. Unfortunately, there’s too little of the bear still intact to determine what happened.
John (Kevin Costner) uses his own rifle to determine where the casings would have landed, if Rip shot the bear from close range while it was charging. The casings land nearby, which doesn’t seem to help Rip’s case since no casings have been found. Fortunately, John’s a good judge of character and realizes the sheriff was lying when he claimed he didn’t find any casings during his earlier investigation.
John takes the casings and hands them over to the Fish and Wildlife officer who’s understandably upset the sheriff was withholding evidence. The sheriff admits the casings were found right where Rip insisted he was located at the time of the shooting. Case dismissed.
The sheriff is definitely sleazy, and John warns him he’s made his way onto his list.
John admits to Rip that he believes the county’s turned on him.
Back at the house, Beth’s assistant, Jason (David Cleveland Brown), makes a horrible first impression on John when he steps outside the house and vomits in the bushes. Beth (Kelly Reilly) isn’t far behind and she explains to her dad who this sick stranger is. John lets her know Jamie’s no longer the ranch’s attorney, advising her he’s going to “take away the thing” Jamie left the family for.
John heads over to have a sit down with Governor Lynelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) and the district attorney. He wants Jamie out of the race, but they are unwilling to give in to his demand. Instead, Lynelle wants John to step down as Livestock Commissioner. She and the attorney general believe John’s legal problems will cause issues for the other politicians. John refuses and instead suggests they find someone capable of beating him if they want him to go away.
As John heads out of the dining area he hears Jamie (Wes Bentley) in another room. John confronts his son and snarls, “I never would have let you walk into a room like that, son. You’re going to make a great politician.” (It doesn’t look like these wounds will heal anytime soon.)
Back at Yellowstone Ranch, the men practice roping. Of course Jimmy (Jefferson White) falls from his horse, blaming his bad luck on putting his hat on the bed and calling his horse by the wrong name.
Later, John and Rip have another serious talk, with John admitting he doesn’t know who’s really behind the subpoenas. Rip volunteers to look around and John suggests he start with Dan Jenkins. The talk turns to John’s health, and he admits he doesn’t know how much time he has left. He’s decided not to go back to the doctor’s office for treatment.
Beth is next up for a talk with John. He wants her to put the ranch in a trust and she’ll be the executor. She promises she won’t sell it and won’t allow Kayce to sell it, either. John’s tying up loose ends and orders her to take Jamie off the payroll.
Beth stops in at Jamie’s campaign office, immediately insulting Jamie’s campaign manager, Christina (Katherine Cunningham), before turning her attention to her brother. She informs Jamie he’s no longer the family’s attorney and demands his gold card and the keys to his truck. For good measure she deliberately drops one of Jamie’s campaign mugs on the floor, taunting him that she’ll be able to buy one in a few months at a yard sale.
After Beth leaves, Jamie confesses he feels free.
Meanwhile, Rip watches the action at a strip club. He asks one of the women if she wants to make $1,000 and it turns out they know each other well. Her name’s Avery (Tanaya Beatty) and what she really wants is a job at the ranch, claiming she can out-ride all the men at Yellowstone. He doesn’t want her around the rowdy men, but she believes she can hold her own.
The next day the woman who’s been hanging around spying introduces herself to Jamie as Sarah Nguyen (Michaela Conlin). He Googles her and discovers she’s a reporter for New York Magazine. She reveals she’s learned Jamie’s a good guy, but his dad isn’t. She’s writing an exposé on John and offers Jamie a chance to be a subject or a source.
Before he can answer, Christina pulls Jamie outside. She demands to know what skeletons Sarah is likely to uncover. Jamie’s honest and admits it depends how deeply Sarah looks.
Sarah explains she wants to write a story on Jamie, labeling him a new kind of politician who wants to seek out corruption. He’ll have to turn on his father, and she assures Jamie he can’t win without this article. She doesn’t believe John will let him.
Elsewhere, Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) go over the final details of their plan. Avery is seated nearby, attempting not to draw any attention as she eavesdrops. She surreptitiously records their conversation.
Beth and John go over the legal paperwork at Yellowstone Ranch, with Beth certain it will take multiple attorneys to tackle the lawsuits and subpoenas. Rip interrupts and Beth’s asked to step out of the room as Rip gives John the scoop on what he’s discovered. He plays John the tape that has details on the casino and hotel which will edge right up to John’s property.
John reveals he doesn’t believe his kids will be able to protect the ranch so soon. Dan and Thomas are a formidable pair and John thinks the family may ultimately lose the ranch. John needs the problems to go away before he dies. When Rip asks how far away, John replies, “When they go away, they never come back. Ever.”
As Rip leaves, Beth tries to get him to reveal what they were talking about. She warns him not to do anything reckless.
The day’s work’s over so the ranch hands relax playing cards. Rip introduces Avery to the group and warns them to treat her like a cowboy. After he leaves, the guys recognize Avery from the strip club. She gets the upper hand by changing her clothes in front of them as they squirm and look away. “I don’t know why you’re all so nervous. I’ve had my ass in every face in this room.”
Avery warns the men she’ll cut off their penises if they do anything out of line.
The sheriff delivers Kayce (Luke Grimes) to John at the ranch, briefly explaining Kayce was jumped by a drifter and went overboard fighting back. Fortunately, he’s not under arrest.
Kayce and John take a seat on the porch, and Kayce admits he’d like to come home. John reminds him he just wants to leave him something to give to Tate in the future. Kayce then reveals Monica left him and as he heads to the bunkhouse, John tries to stop him. John says he doesn’t need another cowboy, and Kayce replies, “The only thing I’ve got left is to make a future for my son. This is the only thing I’ve got to give him. I know what you need.”
It’s back to cards at the bunkhouse and Avery’s fitting right in. The game’s put on pause for a minute when Kayce arrives and asks about an empty bunk. They point him to one and then scream at him when he places his hat on the bed. (That’s very bad luck.) Kayce, however, doesn’t believe in bad luck although the rest of the cowboys do.
The next day, Monica (Kelsey Asbille) arrives at her grandfather’s house, bandaged and using a wheelchair. Tate’s upset they’re staying there, and Monica can only listen to him cry in the yard. Her grandmother’s wheeled out next to her on the porch and it’s all too much. She breaks down crying.
Jamie and Christina show up at Sarah’s hotel room for an interview. She turns on the recorder and Jamie confesses he’s realized he has to destroy his dad in order to protect his legacy. However, he didn’t realize how difficult that would be. He collects himself and begins the interview.
Rip and Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) follow Dan down the sidewalk, and when he cuts into the parked cars, Kayce blocks his passage and pushes him into a truck. Dan’s taken to the ranch where he’s placed on a horse with a noose around his neck. Rip warns him not to look at him as he makes Dan confess the semi that ran into John’s truck (back in episode one) was a setup. Dan calls it a “convenient opportunity.”
Rip also makes Dan confess his plans to inflate the land prices, run up the property tax, and price people out. Dan warns John can either sell Yellowstone or lose it, and Rip makes sure Kayce understands what’s happening.
After obtaining the confession Rip says to cut Dan down as he screams obscenities, but Kayce hits the horse causing it to run off. “Let him hang,” says Kayce as he turns away. Dan struggles for breath, clawing at the rope around his throat.
Back at the ranch, John and Beth are the only two sitting down for dinner at the large dining room table. Beth’s crying as she tells her father he needs to buy a smaller table.
Beth heads outside for a smoke and John follows. She’s upset her family’s split apart, and she wonders where Kayce is since John said he came home. John attempts to comfort her, saying, “It doesn’t matter how many people sit at the table, honey. What matters is they have a place to sit. The table’s the only thing that matters. I need you to understand that.”
Beth explains she’s not doing it for a table, she’s doing it for him. When he dies, she’ll sell the table first. He promises he’s not going anywhere and they hug.
Season one ends with John, alone, walking his land.
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 Season 1 Episode 8 “The Unravelling: Part 1”
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 1 “A Thundering” Recap
- Preview of Yellowstone Starring Kevin Costner