Paramount Network’s Yellowstone season two episode four, “Only Devils Left,” begins with a plane dropping what looks like might be hay to feed the Duttons’ cows. It swoops over the field and then takes off into the night sky after dropping its load.
The following morning Kayce (Luke Grimes), Rip (Cole Hauser), and Jimmy (Jefferson White) ride the ranch, repairing any breaks in the fencing. As Rip and Kayce talk about the chain of command – again – Jimmy notices a nearby cow looks funny. Rip and Kayce quickly determine the cow is suffering from bloat. They lasso the poor thing and Rip stabs it to relieve the gas. He then places wound dust in the hole as they try and determine what it ate.
Kayce walks a few yards and is shocked to see the herd scattered across the field, down on their sides and apparently dead.
Meanwhile, John (Kevin Costner), Jamie (Wes Bentley), Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Governor Perry (Wendy Moniz-Grillo) meet with Attorney General candidate Cassidy Reid (Kelly Rohrbach). It turns out she’s running unopposed now that Jamie withdrew from the race. Governor Perry explains she’ll have the current AG step down and she’ll appoint Cassidy Reid prior to the election. Cassidy promises to serve the state with pride and “to the letter of the law.”
Outgoing Attorney General Stewart (Timothy Carhart) is also in attendance at the meeting and offers to brief Cassidy on the most pressing matters of the office. While they’re talking, Jamie receives a call from Kayce about the dead cows.
Back at the ranch, John, Kayce, and Jamie look out over the hundreds of cattle that have died from bloat. Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) discovers clover that shouldn’t be there, and John declares the ranch a crime scene. He pulls his men out of the field and puts Ryan in charge of making sure not so much as a bird disturbs the scene.
John tells Kayce he knows who did it, but now they’ll have to prove it.
Elsewhere, Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston) and Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) are surrounded by their men as they walk the land where their casino and hotel project will be built. Thomas springs the news he’ll be annexing the land and the state won’t control what they do. Dan didn’t agree to that, but Thomas assures him it’s definitely part of the deal. It’ll mean they don’t have to deal with the state and instead all the licenses will be handled by the tribe.
Dan’s right-hand man points out that sidestepping regulations will anger a lot of important people, but Thomas isn’t worried. He does, however, suggest Dan hire security moving forward. He’s going to need it.
Thomas takes the stage to deliver a speech in front of tribe members. As he speaks, Dan’s associate won’t let go of the annex issue. He knows the contract will be voided if the land is annexed. “Are you familiar with the term Indian giver? Well, this is the opposite,” he whispers to Dan.
Dan understands that if Thomas doesn’t keep his word, he loses everything. But, he considers it worth the risk.
As Dan and Thomas dig a hole to mark the beginning of the project, Dan notices a cameraman out on the street surreptitiously snapping photos of those gathered for the ceremony. A member of the tribe is also challenging the development, explaining to a local reporter that he doesn’t believe this is best for the tribe.
A short while later Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough) learns about the annexation of the land while watching the news coverage of the groundbreaking ceremony. The reporter explains there are questions over whether the state will have any say at all over the usage of the land.
Malcolm demands to know who’s the contractor and his brother, Teal (Terry Serpico), assures him he’ll find out. Malcolm has decided they need to find a “less subtle” way to express their displeasure. “Did we bait that trap? I think it’s time we spring it,” threatens Malcolm.
Back on the Yellowstone Ranch, Sheriff Donnie Haskell (Hugh Dillon) and his men examine the field. It’s obvious there aren’t any tire tracks and John is certain the clover was dropped from a plane. The Sheriff’s skeptical someone would deliberately airdrop clover, but John assures him someone would. He even names that someone as the Sheriff’s golfing buddy.
John doesn’t have enough livestock officers to handle this big of a case and asks for help with the investigation. Sheriff Haskell claims he doesn’t have any men to lend, and John demands that he immediately deputize his men to do what needs to be done.
John pulls Donnie aside and reminds him he wouldn’t be Sheriff if it weren’t for him. Donnie finally agrees to deputize Kayce and John warns Donnie he better respond if they call on his men for help.
After the sheriff leaves, John tells Jamie to start collecting evidence. When they have enough, John wants Kayce to pick him up.
Jamie looks through the paperwork to figure out the nearest skydiving locations, believing the plane that dropped the clover will be one of theirs. While talking to Kayce on the phone, Jamie thumbs through the papers on John’s desk and comes across a trust. Jamie’s upset John placed the ranch in a trust and Kayce claims not to know what he’s talking about, even though he signed the papers. Knowing his father and sister, Jamie believes Kayce’s been kept in the dark.
When Kayce hangs up Jamie says, “What the f*ck, Beth!” out loud to the empty room.
Speak of the devil… Beth arrives and Jamie demands to know about the trust. He’s not in it and Beth confesses she doesn’t think Jamie is worthy of trust, that their father never will trust him again and that he doesn’t have a role in running the ranch.
Jamie thinks the ranch is only in a trust so that she can use the money to invest in her project. Beth actually agrees that’s what’s happening. She confesses the ranch is in it for $5 million now, but the risk is minimal.
Jamie’s angry and doesn’t think Beth sees the big picture. $5 million is half the ranch’s cash, which doesn’t leave them much wiggle room if the cattle prices go down. The ranch hasn’t turned a profit in six years and now there’s half a million dollars-worth of dead cow out in the field.
He demands she withdraw the ranch’s money from her investment.
As the sun’s setting, Rip and Floyd report in. They’ve discovered 360 more dead cattle. Bales were dropped throughout the valley, which means they need to move the remaining herd out of danger and into the mountains. It’s a rough trail but it has to be done to save the remaining cows.
The problem remains that the clover will take root and come spring the cows will feed on it again. They need to burn the field which means they’ll have to have water trucks on standby in case the fire grows too large.
The following morning the wranglers prepare to burn the field (without using horses). As they’re gearing up, an elderly man arrives. Jimmy’s sleazeball ex-friends beat him up and warned him Jimmy has one week to pay off his debt. Jimmy admits he owes about $8,000 but believes he can gather it up.
Morgan and Teal arrive at the Dutton ranch and are peering through the windows when Rip rides up, demanding to know what they’re doing. They ask for John and before the conversation can continue, two of Morgan’s men attempt to beat up Rip. That doesn’t go well for the men as Rip disarms one and uses him as a shield against the other.
Kayce rides up as the standoff is going down and kicks the gun out of the stranger’s hand.
Jamie hears the commotion from inside and hurries out to find Rip still holding the men at gunpoint. Jamie attempts to be the peacemaker and Morgan introduces himself and apologizes. John gives him one of those if looks could kill stares but allows him to continue speaking. However, he doesn’t immediately tell Rip to lower his weapon.
Malcolm asks to take a meeting with John, advising him they share a problem. John agrees, and Jamie explains they did call 15 minutes ago but he didn’t understand they wanted to meet right away. John wants to meet the Becks alone, sensing this isn’t the sort of discussion a lawyer should listen in on.
The Becks believe all the ranches will cease to exist within five to 10 years because of the casino and hotel. They can’t handle this fight legally, but they can “fight outside the lines.” Malcolm and Teal don’t think Dan Jenkins and Thomas Rainwater have the stomach for that sort of battle, but John knows better. (He has hundreds of dead cattle to take care of, thanks to Dan.)
The Becks believe they’ll be the perfect allies for John since their business don’t compete with his. They also believe they’ll win at any cost. John’s not sold on this, but he will consider all options. He warns he will always choose what’s best for his family above all else.
Jamie and John watch the Becks leave. Jamie believes working with them is like making a deal with the devil. “All the angels are gone, son. There’s only devils left. At least they admit it,” replies John.
John, Jamie, and Beth meet with new AG Cassidy Reid and ask her to look into the Paradise Valley Development Corporation. Jamie wants her to file an injunction, stopping the reservation from annexing the property into the reservation. He explains they’re doing this to avoid taxes and regulations, so they have a good chance of fighting this legally.
Beth interjects, attempting to cause her brother legal trouble. John cuts her off before Cassidy can figure out what Beth’s talking about.
Once Beth and Jamie are alone, Beth confesses she’s attempting to get him disbarred. “You should have never come home,” says Beth. When Jamie reminds her she told him to come home, she asks why he would ever listen to her.
Cassidy joins the Duttons for an uncomfortable dinner. Beth places Cassidy in Jamie’s normal seat, and when Jamie attempts to sit in their mother’s place, Beth warns him not to try it. He’s forced to sit next to his sister who makes matters worse by stabbing him under the table with her bread knife. Jamie finally excuses himself and leaves.
Meanwhile, Monica and Kayce have been carrying on short phone conversations throughout the day. She invites him over to her place and he leaps at the opportunity to be with his wife. They wind up in bed as soon as he arrives.
Tate doesn’t knock but fortunately the lovemaking is over when he enters his mom’s bedroom. He’s ecstatic to find his dad in her bed and joins them for a happy family reunion.
The following day Kayce returns to the ranch with the news he can’t find a manifest for the plane that dropped the clover. John wants him to keep looking but if he finds the person responsible, he should call the sheriff. John warns his son not to take matters into his own hands.
As Kayce heads off with a livestock officer, they receive a call about another rancher’s dead cow. They have to put their search for the plane on hold to check out the dead cow situation.
They arrive at the ranch and the cow hasn’t been moved. It’s obvious something was chewing on it and there’s an animal track next to the body. The rancher believes his cow was attacked by a wolf.
Unfortunately, the rancher doesn’t have any cowboys to watch over his herd. Although he will be compensated for this cow’s death, it’s quite possible the wolves will return to take out more of his cattle.
Kayce suggests he rent some mean mules and place them out with the herd.
They have to hang around for a sheriff’s deputy to show up, but there’s no one available to take the case. Kayce and the livestock officer head over to the neighbor’s place where Kayce finds the weapon used to kill the cow. It wasn’t a wolf after all.
The officer attempts to arrest the neighbor but his son arrives, brandishing a shotgun. Kayce tries to de-escalate the situation, but the officer pulls his gun and shoots the son. The son dies.
Back at Yellowstone Ranch, the wranglers prepare to set fire to the field. John has to leave the job of supervising to Rip after Kayce calls him about the shooting.
John arrives on the scene, initially worried it was Kayce who pulled the trigger. His next question is whether the shooting was justified. “He had a freaked-out kid pointing a shotgun at him. It was justified. Was it right? Right and wrong is so far from this place I don’t think it factors in at all,” says Kayce.
John reminds the officer he told him to call the sheriff for backup. He explains that he did but the requests were denied. He then takes the blame for what went down, admitting it was his call to continue the investigation.
Finally, Sheriff Donnie Haskell arrives and immediately begins yelling at John, assuming it was Kayce who pulled the trigger. John cuts him off by delivering a punch to his nose which knocks Donnie off his feet. John’s livid that Donnie refused to provide backup and denied their request for assistance after promising he would provide it. John says, “You want to blame somebody? Then you blame yourself, you son of a bitch.”
A while later, the Boyds watch the news and hear about the shooting and about Sheriff Donnie Haskell’s refusal to assist the livestock officers in their investigation of false claims of a wolf attack. “I know how we can help John Dutton,” says Malcolm.
Back at the ranch, John gives the signal to burn the field. He stands, hands in his pockets, staring at the wranglers as they set fire to the field and dead cows.
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 1 “A Thundering” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 2 “New Beginnings” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 3 “The Reek of Desperation” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 6 “Blood the Boy” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 7 “Resurrection Day” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 8 “Behind Us Only Grey” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 9 “Enemies By Monday” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 2 Finale “Sins of the Father” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 1 “You’re the Indian Now” Recap
- Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 2 “Freight Trains and Monsters” Recap