Paramount Network’s Yellowstone season two premiere ended with John Dutton (Kevin Costner) being rushed to the hospital, suffering from a ruptured ulcer. He owes his life to a veterinarian who happened to be on the ranch, and the medical emergency has forced him to examine his relationships and future.
Season two episode two opens in the hospital. John’s on his feet and ready to go home, against his doctor’s orders. Reluctantly he gives in and allows his doctor to check out the sutures. The incision’s healing, but the doctor’s not happy with how John’s taking care of himself. He orders him to rehap by swimming twice a week. He also reminds John he brought this on himself by not following up when he was told there was a mass on the CT scan. A pill could have taken care of this problem, if only he’d done what he was supposed to. (John had assumed he was dying of cancer.)
Kayce (Luke Grimes) plays chauffeur and gives his dad a ride home, and the two bicker over potholes and bumpy roads. John winces in pain with each jolt and blames Kayce for aiming for the rough spots on the road.
John needs a break on the ride home and while he’s stretching his legs, he and Kayce continue arguing. John segues from criticizing Kayce’s driving to how Kayce’s handling himself now that he’s back home on the ranch. John reminds him he’s not supposed to fight. He should have let the wranglers take care of themselves after the barfight.
“How am I supposed to sleep in the same room with men I won’t defend?” asks Kayce. John has an unexpected answer. “You aren’t. I’m going to fix that problem too,” says John.
John gets philosophical, telling his son he’s figured him out. Kayce was convinced death was coming and believed his days didn’t matter. John reminds him he’s alive and needs to face up to decisions he made when he didn’t think he’d be sticking around. John, fresh off his own near-death experience, tells his son he needs to start living again. Kayce confesses he doesn’t know how.
Beth (Kelly Reilly) meets with Bob Schwartz (Michael Nouri) in her new office to begin snatching up the land surrounding Yellowstone Ranch. She’s her usual wicked self to the real estate agent handling one parcel, insulting everything from his teeth to his sense of humor.
Meanwhile, Monica (Kelsey Asbille) shows up for her first day teaching and is immediately the brunt of a misogynistic joke. She handles the student responsible well, calling out his condescending attitude while putting his behavior in historical context. (Very impressive, Monica!)
Beth and Bob check out a large parcel the realtor who disgusted Beth had mentioned. It’s not for sale, but Beth assures the owner that in fact everything has its price. She asks him to name his and as soon as he says $9 million, Bob writes a check.
15 minutes into the episode and we finally catch up with the wranglers. They’re busy working on stringing up a new barb wire fence when Rip (Cole Hauser) gets into again with Walker. (They butted heads during the bar fight revenge attack.) The other wranglers look on but remain silent. Rip believes Walker (Ryan Bingham) is disloyal to the ranch, something Rip cannot tolerate. More words are exchanged and then fists begin to fly. Walker pulls out a knife while Rip taunts him. The others realize they’re going to have take sides, but fortunately the fight’s over quickly when Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) puts a gun to Walker’s back and threatens to pull the trigger.
Walker’s done with Yellowstone Ranch and as he rides off, Rip warns he’ll find him no matter where he goes.
Cowboy’s hanging out in the bunkhouse when Walker arrives to pack up his stuff. Cowboy (Steven Williams) delivers some wise parting advice. “You run into trouble, walk the other way,” he says as Walker’s leaving.
Walker’s heading out as Kayce and John pull up to the ranch. Walker informs them he quit because of what went down at the bar. That’s not what he hired on to do. Plus, he’s not sure who’s really in charge. “I run it, and he runs it. You don’t listen to anybody else,” says John, sending Walker back to the bunkhouse.
As they drive off, John informs Kayce he’s making some changes.
John has Kayce sign a couple of papers making the chain of command official. Kayce wonders when he’ll begin his training, but John realizes they need to set the bunkhouse right first.
John changes the subject and asks about Monica and Tate. He wants to know why Kayce isn’t with them and tells Kayce he expects him to run the place “fair and honest,” just like his deceased brother did while he was in charge. In order to do that, he needs to set his life right.
Rip’s not done with Walker. He enters the bunkhouse in a rage and is about to go after Walker when Kayce grabs him, telling him John needs to see him at the big house.
John begins his meeting by telling Rip he’s the only person he can trust. Rip agrees but isn’t prepared for what’s coming next. John realizes this will be hard on Rip, but he needs Kayce out of the bunkhouse as he learns to run the ranch. That means Rip will have to give up his place and move back in with the wranglers. Rip is speechless as John explains what else he needs.
The men are having a good time watching sports and poking fun at Jimmy (Jefferson White) when Rip walks in with his bags. The room quiets as Rip grabs a beer and takes a seat at the table. The silence is broken when Rip talks about one of the teams. Jimmy further lightens the mood by making a joke about Colby’s mom.
However, the tension remains so thick you could cut it with a knife between Rip and Walker.
The following morning the wranglers are waiting around, unsure of what’s expected. Rip says it’s not up to him as Kayce has a quiet conversation with his dad. Kayce realizes Rip will be working against him, and John reminds Kayce that Rip’s respect doesn’t matter; he needs respect from the wranglers.
Kayce takes charge, issuing orders. Rip’s unimpressed but falls in line.
The wranglers round up cattle, but Jimmy allows a few to break through the line. Walker works on the strays and Rip follows…but not to herd the cattle. Rip rides up on Walker’s mount, chasing him through the trees. Rip knocks Walker from his horse and into a tree.
“You dead?” asks Rip. When Walker moves, Rip adds, “You’re about to be.”
Rip rides a short distance away and then gallops at Walker, still on the ground next to the tree. Before Rip can reach Walker, Kayce intervenes. Kayce rides his horse into Rip’s path, forcing him to rein in his horse. Kayce’s about to go after Rip when Rip tells him they’re going to do this in front of the men. Rip warns he’s not going to take it easy.
Walker gets to his feet and seems okay. He limps to retrieve his horse.
The wranglers circle up as Rip and Kayce fight. They appear evenly matched and are bloodied in short order. John watches from nearby, advising the wranglers to stay out of it. After the fight’s gone on a while, Rip whispers, “Come on, Kayce, take it.” Kayce punches him once more in the face, knocking Rip to the ground.
Kayce addresses the wranglers, reminding them there isn’t any fighting on this ranch. Anyone who wants to fight will need to fight him.
After the wranglers leave, John thanks Rip for making Kayce earn it. John wants Rip to get along with Kayce and to be there for him when needed. Rip admits he’s not sure John’s faith in Kayce is warranted.
Later at the dinner table Beth wonders why Kayce’s face is shredded. John warns her not to talk about work at the table and Beth goes off. She doesn’t want to be told what to talk about. She tosses her napkin and leaves the table.
Kayce chuckles, realizing nothing’s changed.
Beth spots Rip sitting out in a field, alone. She realizes what Rip is sacrificing for her family – in particular for her brother – and Rip acknowledges it’s what John wants. She admits that she worried her father would love Rip more than her but knows he doesn’t. Rip confesses this is his family, even if they don’t consider him a member.
It’s late when Beth visits her brother at his place (formerly Rip’s). She wonders why he doesn’t live in the big house and allow Rip to remain where he was comfortable for years. Kayce makes the excuse “grown men don’t live with their fathers,” but Beth’s not having it. She replies, “They also don’t kick other men out of the only home they’ve ever had.” (Beth remains my favorite character.)
Kayce thinks Rip is a bully, but Beth begs to differ. She blames Rip’s behavior on their father and the way he molded him growing up. When Beth tells her brother it sure seems easy for him to walk away from the life he built, Kayce says Monica doesn’t want that life anymore. The extremely perceptive Beth knows Monica left because she didn’t want Kayce turning into his father, which is exactly what he’s doing.
Kayce explains he’s just trying to protect the ranch because it’s all he has to give his family. Beth, fed up and frustrated, yells that she’s the one protecting it. She knows he doesn’t have it in him to sit on boards, go to meetings, and play the political games. Beth believes he’ll eventually get into a fight, injure someone, go to jail, and then lose the ranch.
“Go home, Kayce,” says Beth, not mincing words. “Go work on this. And you stay far away from him. When he dies, you can have this f*cking place. I will give it to you.”
Beth walks away before Kayce can reply.
The next day Kayce delivers his dad to the rec center for swim therapy. The pool’s filled with kids screaming and having a good time. Kayce parked so he could watch the therapy and he smiles as his dad warns him not to say a word while he kicks to the therapist. John, embarrassed to use a kick board for this specific exercise, tosses it aside. He dives underwater and swims through the crowd while Kayce smiles and shrugs at the therapist.
John comes up for air right where Monica happens to be doing her own physical therapy. They’re shocked to see each other in the pool, and then they hear Tate yelling out for his dad. Kayce’s surprised to see his son at the pool and exchanges a look with Monica. Will he follow Beth’s advice?
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 1 Finale Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 2 “A Thundering” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 3 “The Reek of Desperation” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 4 “Only Devils Left” Recap