Paramount Network’s Yellowstone season four episode nine opens with Beth (Kelly Reilly) angry at Rip (Cole Hauser) for allowing her dad to walk into a diner full of armed robbers. Rip’s preparing to start the workday as Beth, still in bed, asks for an explanation. Rip reminds her there’s no way to stop John when he’s determined to do something, but he did his best to help him which kept him safe.
Rip points out she’s not worried about him. “Baby, I never worry about you. I know nothing’s happening to you,” says Beth. Rip warns something will happen one day. (And this is just the beginning of Beth’s no good, very bad day.)
Carter (Finn Little) saddles up John’s horse and John (Kevin Costner) asks if he can ride. When he admits he can’t, John sets about correcting that situation.
Carter complains about his testicles taking a beating when they’ve only gone a few feet, and John explains he needs to bounce with the horse. John’s patient and Carter actually learns quickly but admits now his legs hurt and his balls don’t. John imparts an important life lesson in response. “That’s life, Carter. Something’s always getting beat, no matter what,” says John.
John’s not impressed by Carter’s foul language and gives the horse a slap, explaining he’s going to ride the foul right out of the boy’s mouth.
They take a break and John shares that this particular area is known as Buffalo Valley. Back in 1889 his great grandfather James Dutton told the army all the buffalo were gone because he was concerned they would kill the remaining herd. James was aware buffalo were still in this valley and all the buffalo in this area are descendants of those buffalo John’s ancestors saved.
Carter questions why the army wanted to kill them and John explains their tongues were sold to rich New Yorkers and their fur was sold to wealthy women in France. Also, the army thought by killing them they’d get rid of the Native Americans. “Now the buffalo live on ranches or preserves. It’s not much different for the Indians,” says John.
Carter points out it’s not fair and John explains fair means one side gets exactly what it wants in a way the other side can’t complain about. John speaks the truth when he adds, “There’s no such thing as fair.”
Back at the lodge, Beth launches a cup at her dad’s head when he asks her to pour him coffee. She’s angry John’s not taking care of himself and she reminds him she watched him suffer in a coma for 60 days. She believes confronting armed robbers was just him looking for a way to lose his life. She refuses to “will him back to life” if he’s shot again.
Beth screams at her dad for placing himself in danger, again, for strangers. Everything they’ve fought for dies with him if he’s killed. She thinks he should have walked away but John says he’s not made that way. She suggests he get remade then. It’s obvious how much Beth loves her dad, but John’s unwilling to change his ways. He explains he does what’s right in his heart and soul; that’s just the way he’s wired.
Beth’s fury intensifies as she strips off her shirt and demands he look at her scarred back. She wants to know when he’ll get justice for the man who tried to kill their family. It’s obvious Beth remains convinced Jamie’s behind the attack and she indicates John’s false connection with her brother is keeping him from seeking revenge.
“Your child, he burned the skin from me and you did nothing about it!” says Beth.
John finally lets Beth in on what he’s found out. He tells her Terrell Riggins, a leader of Montana Free Militia, was behind the attack and Terrell’s currently serving life in prison. John’s explanation reveals he’s under the mistaken impression Terrell organized the attack to send a message to rival gang members that he’s not weak. John explains Terrell’s cornered and likely hiding behind his bunk just waiting to die.
Beth asks if he’s doing anything about it and John says he’s not. He won’t waste his life on that white supremacist. Beth leaves, angry and saddened her dad won’t make Terrell pay for ordering the hit.
After Beth leaves, John receives a call from Summer in jail. She explains the DA wants to ask for life in prison for protesting the airport.
News breaks that the armed robbers in the diner were members of a local militia. Sheriff Haskell’s death is mentioned and the reporter suggests there would have been many more deaths if John Dutton hadn’t taken action. She plays a clip from John’s speech accepting Governor Perry’s endorsement, saying his reference to a war being waged has the ring of prophecy.
Jamie (Wes Bentley), Garrett (Will Patton), and Christina (Katherine Cunningham) watch the news and Jamie’s upset his dad’s being called a hero. Christina and Garrett believe Jamie should flip his dad’s words – that he’s the opposite of progress – and use it as a campaign slogan. Jamie won’t win the vote of the ranchers by campaigning that he’s on the side of progress, but he could win other key voters in bigger cities.
Christina thinks now’s the time to separate from John by introducing the world to his real father. Jamie disagrees and explains his dad was in prison for murdering his mother. Shocked, Christina realizes once Jamie’s birth certificate is out it’ll ruin his chances. Jamie will need to put distance between himself and Garrett as soon as possible if he wants to have a shot at being elected governor.
Garrett overheard the conversation and volunteers to leave. Jamie doesn’t want that.
John shows up at the jail to visit Summer and he’s met with a friendly greeting by the sheriff on duty. He speaks with Commander Bill Ramsey (Rob Kirkland), the interim Sheriff following Haskell’s death, about Summer’s case and learns she’s meeting with the public defender right now. Bill will allow John to sit in on the meeting but first they discuss Sheriff Haskell. Bill reveals he wasn’t a fan of Haskell, describing him as a gambling addict whose services were for sale to the highest bidder.
Bill warns things will be different once he’s in charge.
Summer’s attorney explains that since Summer’s an outsider, they will be making an example of her. Her attorney warns Summer the jury won’t be made up of her peers and she’ll be viewed as the enemy. The attorney wants to make a deal and plead guilty to lesser charges, and Summer asks for a moment alone with John. Summer’s upset she’ll be in jail for 30 years and John reminds her she assaulted two officers. He also reminds her in Montana there’s plenty of room in jail.
John suggests she apologize but Summer refuses. Summer says she never should have listened to Beth and it’s obvious John has no idea what she’s talking about. Summer explains Beth told her to slap a cop and John promises he’ll get her out of this.
John meets with Summer’s lawyer and says he’ll have a word with the judge who, it turns out, owes him a favor.
Meanwhile, Kayce (Luke Grimes) meets with Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and Mo (Mo Brings Plenty) to discuss the wolf. Kayce explains most of the sightings are when he’s with Monica and Mo says the wolf is Kayce’s spirit animal. Kayce’s part wolf in his heart and that can be a burden. “He is the hunter most hunted, the killer most killed,” says Thomas. We’ve evolved alongside the wolf and they’re just like us. Men and wolves have tried to destroy each other, and it’s been said each exists to manage the spread of the other.
Kayce wonders why a wolf is protecting him and Thomas says he’ll need to ask the wolf. Mo believes Kayce will need to cry for a vision and Kayce admits he doesn’t know how to. Mo explains he and Monica can teach him when he’s ready. Kayce thinks he’s ready now.
In town, John notices Garrett in a nearby booth when he sits down at a diner’s counter for lunch. He recalls the last time he saw Garrett was when the judge handed down a life sentence and Garrett talks about his 30 years in prison. He blames John for putting him away and accuses him of lying during the trial. John shifts the blame back on Garrett’s own actions and says he raised Jamie with love and respect. He warns Garrett not to attempt to get revenge or else he’ll rid the world of him.
He pays for Garrett’s meal and says he should try and enjoy it since it could be his last.
Jimmy (Jefferson White) spends one final night with Emily (Kathryn Kelly) discussing their relationship before taking off for a week on the road. That conversation and his subsequent actions at horse shows reveal he’s truly matured.
Jimmy compliments Travis (Taylor Sheridan) on his performance in the arena, and Travis realizes Jimmy must be doing well on the 6666 Ranch. They talk about cowboying and working cows, and Travis admits the best work he’s ever done was in a field without an audience.
A gorgeous high-earning horse is introduced and Jimmy’s surprised to hear Yellowstone is a half-owner of the beauty. He’s also shocked to learn he’s about to head back to Yellowstone. “School’s over, Jimmy, and you came out of it a cowboy,” says Travis.
Jimmy returns to the 6666, kisses Emily, and reveals he’s about to return to Montana. Emily suggests he doesn’t need to leave Texas, but Jimmy explains he gave John Dutton his word. Emily respects that but is obviously sad to be losing Jimmy at the start of this new relationship. She kisses him one final time before they part company.
Night falls and John informs Rip, Beth, and Carter they’ll be eating in the big dining room because that’s where he likes to eat. He also reveals Beth’s not going to like this dinner. Rip opts to take Carter down the bunkhouse instead. She calls him “quitter” and Rip smiles, telling her to find him after her ass-whipping.
Beth refuses to take a seat, saying she prefers to fight while standing. She works herself up and finally John asks if she’s throwing a tantrum for no reason or if she’s psyching herself into being right. John’s ready to get into it – he’s ready to throw the table through the wall if necessary – and finally Beth takes a seat. Beth confirms she used Summer and John reminds her Summer isn’t an enemy. However, Beth says she’ll do anything to hurt their enemies and Summer was useful. She doesn’t care what happens to Summer; she only cares about her family.
John suggests she care about having morality while fighting, but Beth equates Yellowstone to a kingdom. “There is no morality here, dad. None. There is keep the kingdom or there is lose the kingdom,” explains Beth. If that doesn’t sit well with him then he should break his promise and sell this place.
John says if Yellowstone’s a kingdom then he makes the rules. Fight with dignity and no collateral damage. Plus, they don’t fight sheep – they only fight wolves. John confesses he’s never felt this way before but for the first time she’s disappointed him. Beth never expected to hear her dad say that and is even more surprised when he suggests he fight this battle himself.
John’s words cut deep when he says maybe it’s time she moves off the ranch and finds a different place to call home. (This conversation’s going to leave a scar worse than the ones on Beth’s back.)
There’s a happier ending to the day over at the 6666. Jimmy returns to Emily’s place and announces he’s not leaving. However, Emily doesn’t want him to break his word. She tells him to keep his promise but come back to her. Jimmy asks her to wait for him and she quickly agrees.
Back at Yellowstone, Carter sits in on the poker game and says it’s his first time playing. When he triples the bet, the ranch hands think they’ve been hustled. Teeter (Jen Landon) calls him a “motherf**king card-sharking little elf” – among other things – as Carter shows off his skills.
The mood’s light and everyone’s goofing around as Beth watches silently from the door. Walker (Ryan Bingham) is the only one who notices her and he steps outside. She admits she’s sad and lost the one thing she spent her entire life fighting for. She requests he play a sad song and Walker agrees, quietly grabbing his guitar. Beth says she needs a song to cry to and Walker plays “Hallelujah,” a song about a man who got killed but wasn’t ready to die.
The song does the trick and Beth cries her heart out. (Her sobs are absolutely heartbreaking.) Rip steps outside the bunkhouse and watches her cry while seated next to Walker. He doesn’t approach them and instead heads back inside, closing the door behind him.
Season four episode nine ends with Kayce ready to connect with the wolf. Mo warns him to beware of the coyote, explaining this process will take four days and four nights without food or water. Kayce’s worried he’ll die and Mo says, “You must stand on the cliff of death to understand your purpose in life.”
Monica tells Kayce to listen to Mo and do what he says. She gives him a kiss and Kayce heads off with Mo and Thomas for his vision quest. Once alone in the middle of nowhere, Mo and Thomas instruct Kayce on what to do next and warn that what he’s about to experience depends on how hard he prays and how much he suffers.
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