Paramount Network’s Yellowstone season four episode one picks up immediately after the devastating events of the season three finale. Season three ended with John Dutton riddled with bullets, Beth possibly blown up, and Kayce under attack in his office. After an excruciatingly long wait, season four episode one – “Half the Money” – begins with John (Kevin Costner) watching birds circle above as he lays on the side of the road. John’s scrawled details about the van as well as the direction it’s heading in the dirt.
A crow lands nearby but quickly flies off as Rip (Cole Hauser) roars up in his truck.
The action switches to Kayce’s office as he’s engaged in a ferocious gun battle. Kayce (Luke Grimes) takes out two of his assailants and tells Monica over the phone to get to the bunkhouse. Donning his bulletproof vest, Kayce appears unscathed and grabs the guns from the dead attackers. He heads into the lobby, ready to fire again. He emerges from the building just as law enforcement arrive.
Kayce calls Rip and tells him to gather everyone at the ranch, and Rip delivers the news John’s been shot multiple times. Rip doesn’t think John will make it and tells Kayce to look for a blue two-tone van.
Kayce makes arrangements to send a care flight to meet Rip since John won’t survive an hour drive to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Beth (Kelly Reilly) is bloody and torn up but alive. She manages to walk out of her office building and even has the strength to ask for a cigarette from a bystander, in a pure Beth move. She pulls in a deep draw as an officer tries to help her.
Beth looks ready to rip someone apart piece by piece.
Monica (Kelsey Asbille) is racing with Tate (Brecken Merrill) to the bunkhouse when she’s attacked by a man in a clown mask. She’s dropped her gun and is fighting for her life when her attacker gets the upper hand. She’s just about to be shot when Tate takes out the attacker with a shotgun.
Monica and Tate run toward the field and meet Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) heading into the house. He reiterates that she needs to get to the bunkhouse and she takes off running again.
Kayce and multiple squad cars spot the van and Kayce slams into it with his truck, leaps out, and opens fire. A gun battle between Kayce, the sheriffs, and a handful of attackers breaks out and thousands of rounds are fired.
The attackers are shot but so is Kayce! He sinks slowly to the ground, with blood staining his shoulder area.
Rip drives like a bat out of hell to meet up with the helicopter in a field, all while begging an unconscious John not to die on him.
Monica and Tate make it to the bunkhouse and discover the ranch hands are under attack but are dishing out better than they receive. They string one attacker up as Mia (Eden Brolin) screams for Jimmy. She finds him unconscious in the center of the ring.
Hours later, night falls and Rip arrives back at the ranch. Lloyd gives him an update and Rip orders him to get rid of all the dead bodies. He spots smoke in the distance and realizes the attackers burned down his place.
And 14 minutes in we finally get the season four opening credits! Wow, that was an incredibly explosive first act.
A flashback takes us to Yellowstone Dutton Ranch in March 1893. James Dillard Dutton (Tim McGraw) and two young boys are riding the land when they spot a cluster of Native American teepees. James rides out to meet with the Native Americans and discovers one of the people at their camp speaks English.
The English-speaker asks if they can bury his father on this land since he was born there. James grants him permission and offers food for the people and their horses. (Tim McGraw’s soon to be seen reprising this role in the Yellowstone prequel, 1883.)
Over at the hospital, John disconnects himself from the machines and wanders into the hallway. The nurses are shocked as is Beth who walks up at just that moment. She’s mostly healed – there’s a large, angry scar across her cheek – and John’s got a nice beard going, so a significant amount of time has passed. John demands to know who else was hurt. When he asks who they lost, Beth asks him to define “lost.”
The doctors put him back to sleep and Beth’s furious. He’s been in a coma and wasn’t expected to wake up, and now they’ve knocked him out again. The doctor explains he has a blood clot that could kill him and they need him to remain under sedation.
After stepping outside, Beth bonds with a 14-year-old boy whose father is dying in the hospital and helps him through the hardest moment of his young life.
Elsewhere, a drunken jerk is giving a casino worker a hard time when he inadvertently reveals he was part of the group that planned the attack on John Dutton. He claims to have put the team together that took John down. The man either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that this exchange is being caught on camera.
Mo and his men haul the man into a private room and learn his name is Checkers (Brad Carter). He was booted from the military and served time, and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) dubs him “The Great White Hopeless.” Thomas laughs when Mo says Checkers claims to have put together the hit on the Duttons. However, his mood shifts when Mo points out the wad of cash Checkers came in with. It’s more than a drug dealer would have on him.
Thomas suggests Mo use any force necessary to get all useful info from Checkers. “Do it the way we used to do it. Do it the way our grandfathers did,” says Thomas.
Checkers is taken to an isolated area and tied up. He’s then dragged behind a horse, screaming. Mo finally stops and demands info on the hit on the Duttons. Mo confirms Checker’s dead whether he talks or not, but if he tells what he knows he’ll go quicker. If not, Mo might be forced to go after his family, too.
Back at the ranch, it appears life is getting close to normal once again. Rip tells Lloyd that John’s expected home that day and he wants everything to look like business as usual.
John prepares to leave the hospital with Beth’s assistance, and she swears she never doubted he’d pull through. (She throws everyone else under the bus.)
They stop as they pass by Jimmy’s room and watch as he goes through some rehab. He can’t grip a ball, and John asks Beth what happened. She promises it’s on the long list to discuss later.
John’s loaded into an ambulance and has a police escort back to the ranch. There are officers posted at the ranch’s gate and they move aside to allow the procession through.
The EMTs lug John, still strapped to a gurney, up the stairs and into Jamie’s old bedroom. He’s furious there’s a hospital bed and equipment in the room and orders Beth to get rid of it. She won’t and reminds him it was part of the condition of his release from the hospital.
A way-too-peppy nurse named Maggie introduces herself and John looks completely over all this fuss.
After everyone leaves him alone for a minute, John manages to make it to the bathroom, shave, and then go downstairs. Maggie tells him to go back to his room and he fires her.
John and Beth have a chat outside and she reveals they’ve moved into the foreman’s house since the cabin burned down. Beth suggests they only talk about victories today and they’ll discuss their defeats tomorrow.
Their chat’s interrupted by Kayce emerging in full camouflage from the woods. He looks exhausted and explains to John that he’s hunting whatever’s hunting them. John’s upset no one will tell him the full story, and Kayce pulls his shirt away from his shoulder to show the scar left by the shootout.
“They came after all of us and we beat them,” says Kayce.
Kayce assures his dad everyone they sent is dead, but they still need to find out who’s behind the attack.
Beth stops by Jamie’s office as he’s on the phone with Roarke. She tosses a rat trap at her big brother and then a baseball before demanding he look her in the eyes. She’s waited two months for their dad to come home and reminds him he never visited John once. Jamie (Wes Bentley) claims he did call every day, and Beth indicates she believes he was involved in the attack.
“I’m going to kill you but when I do it, I’m not going to farm it out like you, you f**king coward. I’m going to do it myself,” declares Beth.
His first evening home John makes it out to the bunkhouse and it’s obvious everyone is happy to see him. He apologizes for what they went through and thanks them for fighting back. He promises he’ll never forget they protected the ranch and his family.
John assures them they can stop worrying about fighting and get back to just being cowboys. He pops open a beer and declares that the only thing that can kill him is him.
John passes out beers and prepares to engage in a little gambling with the ranch hands. He’s fine if they take his money or want to talk trash. He can handle it.
The episode’s title finally comes into play when Beth has a discussion with a random stranger in a bar. She doesn’t feel the woman is standing up for herself to her husband and reminds her she has “all the p*ssy and half the money.”
The stranger laughs and admits she’s never thought of it that way. When her husband returns from the restroom, she takes Beth’s advice and stands up for herself.
Beth returns home to snuggle in bed with Rip. She wants to sleep in, but he’s got something to do in the morning. Beth tries to get her way but Rip admits what he has to do is “something bad.” Still, there is apparently time for a little lovemaking.
As the sheet pulls away, we see the massive scarring on her back from the bomb blast.
We don’t have to wait long to find out what Rip had planned for the day. Roarke (Josh Holloway) is fishing in the stream when Rip shows up with a cooler asking if it’s his. Roarke doesn’t know who Rip is but seems suspicious as Rip approaches.
Rip opens the cooler and tosses a rattlesnake at Roarke’s face. Roarke runs off in pain from the bite as Rip calmly follows him through the woods. When Rip catches up Roarke’s foaming at the mouth and barely alive. Rip watches as the life drains from his body, acknowledging his death with a “good riddance.”
Rip retrieves the cooler and leaves Roarke alone in the woods.
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