S1 E6: "The Remembering"
4 out of 5
As "The Remembering" opens, that mournful guitar tune playing is the theme to Unforgiven, which I respectfully think is probably one of the greatest western films ever made, if not the very best. It's an audacious tune to borrow, and if nothing else demonstrates good taste on the part of the showrunners.
And as that bittersweet song plays, we see Kayce saddling up his stallion and riding into the sunrise for a little equine joyride. He lets the horse stop for a drink at a stream when a big ole grizzly steps out of the woods and gives him the evil eye. Kayce yells and screams, tries to make himself bigger, but the bear isn't impressed. Finally, Kayce reckons it's all over, and mutters to himself "sorry, son."
But that's before the only thing on the Yellowstone scarier than a bear appears: Rip. He fires off a shot and the bear runs off, thinking better of tussling with a guy like that. Rip, meanwhile, beats the crap out of Kayce before tipping his hat and leaving.
"By the way," Rip winks, "welcome home."
This is our first inkling that Rip and Kayce may have some personal history of some kind.
Back at the ranch, Dutton gives Monica a cup of coffee, and she takes the opportunity to ask about the branding ritual she witnessed last night. Her husband, after all, has the same brand and as far as we've seen so far he's the only Dutton to have it.
"They don't all do it, just the ones that got a second chance," Dutton tells her. "I guess that's the way they prove they're to be trusted."
Then Tate comes out of the house and runs up to John. John tells him to go back to the house and get the biggest donut.
As an aside, Yellowstone is not a show with many tender moments. And when they are even remotely tender, it usually follows a beating or a shooting. In the world of Yellowstone, Dutton and Tate are a cute pair, and a much-needed reprieve from hard-boiled drama.
Monica presses the point with Dutton, saying "if I'm going to be a part of this family I need to understand it. I need to understand why he hates you so much."
So Dutton tells her it was because of her. Kayce had gotten Monica pregnant, and Dutton had insisted Kayce take her to get an abortion. She asks if he had the cowboys brand Kayce, and Dutton says no, he branded Kayce himself.
"Okay, I understand now, thank you for your honesty."
This would be a great time for Dutton to say he was wrong, and that Monica is great for Kayce, and that Tate is the sole bright spot in his otherwise violent, bleak, existence. But that's not Dutton's style, and this isn't Terms of Endearment, so he lets it hang in the air instead.
As if to prove the point, however, Dutton returns to the kitchen of the Yellowstone and helps Tate pick out the biggest donut.
On the river, reporter Sarah Ngyuin (Michaela Conlin) and her girlfriend Paige Nutter (Amber M. Reyes) are ostensibly trying to escape from work by fly fishing, but Ngyuin is reading about Dutton's shootout with Broken Rock in the paper. She compares it to stories of crooked cops in New York. It'll be interesting to see where this goes...
In his office, Thomas Rainwater looks at the real estate options in the valley, trying to find land that abuts the Yellowstone. Even though he is told by the realtor that Dan Jenkins's plot is not what he's looking for, that he has no power source, Rainwater is intrigued. How have Jenkins and Rainwater never met before? They'll either be best friends, or complete enemies, but either way they do share one important trait: an abiding hatred for Dutton and his Yellowstone ranch.
Beth and Jamie drive to Helena to meet with the Governor about one of them getting a public office. Beth drags her feet, intent on showing up fashionably late. Once at the office, Governor Perry introduces them to Christina (Katherine Cunningham) and subtly suggests that she act as a beard for Jamie, as a man in his late thirties raises questions (what is this, 1860?). Beth, of course, has to get a zinger in - "can my whore be a 6 foot fireman who loves Jesus?"
Governor Perry, who may be tough enough to take Beth on, asks for a word with her alone. Perry basically tells Beth to grow up, that her loss at 14 made her a grown-up child bully, and that she's got to get help. Beth, of course, threatens Perry and calls her son a name. Again: classic Beth.
Perry calls Jamie back into her office and lets the cat out of the bag regarding Dutton's colon cancer, having heard about it from the livestock association. Jamie is blindsided. He leaves the office in a hurry. Afterwards, Perry tells the vacating Attorney General that she's concerned about supporting John Dutton for chairman of the Livestock Association because he's getting reckless, not the least by asking her to support Beth for public office. Perry says she's open to backing another candidate. But who...?
Back at the ranch, its Kayce versus Rip, round two. This time there's no blows, just cruel words. Rip says that his job is to protect the family, and that Kayce is the biggest risk to the family there is. He's tired of burying Kayce's secrets, he says. Rip tells Kayce not to come back to the family now.
Monica and Tate drive to school, where they find a schoolyard fight in progress. While trying to break it up, Monica takes a big punch and hits the sidewalk, blood pooling around her head. Tate screams and runs to try to help her.
Kayce gets a phone call about it, and sets off for the school with Dutton. Along the way, Dutton tries to discuss the shiner Kayce got from Rip. Kayce doesn't want to discuss it. Monica 's head is bandaged, and she might very well be concussed.
At the Yellowstone, Dutton returns to find Jamie and Beth lying in wait, looking to ask him about the cancer thing. Before he has to deal with it, he calls his friend Carl and tells him that he needs a break. Carl says he'll meet him after five.
Dutton tells them he doesn't have cancer, that the cancer was removed along with the foot of his colon. Then Dutton tells Jamie that taking care of the PR fallout is his job, while telling Beth to come with him.
Ooh, is Beth going to get some fatherly attitude adjustment? Dutton tells her to "man up," but not before shattering a glass in the sink. It's about as mad as we've seen the usually icy Dutton so far. "And don't ever mention your mother to me again," he says. "You forfeited that right a long time ago."
At Jenkins's country club, Melody Prescott (Heather Hemmens) has arrived. Prescott is Jenkins's fixer, his own personal anti-Beth, and he's paid the "armageddon rate" to get her there. She's full of ideas about how to fix Dutton's goose, a melange of scheming possibly involving protected cutthroat trout, game cameras to capture pine martens, etc. But the main part of her plan involves making someone other than Dan Jenkins the public face of the fight - even in Bozeman, there's an ingrained dislike for out-of-state billionaires, even among other out-of-state billionaires.
Thomas Rainwater, listening from the other side of the room, is very willing to become that face. Immediately, there is friction between Prescott and Jenkins as Rainwater outlines his plan. He will get a $60 million loan to build a casino, but he can't get the loan without owning the land. Jenkins has the land, and Rainwater asks for 115 acres of it for the casino, hotel and parking lot. Rainwater offers to finance construction, build infrastructure, and give Jenkins 15% of the profits of the casino. Jenkins, in turn, will have to lease access to the infrastructure that he will need for his subdivision. Being a simple magazine man, it's all a little above my head, but I've done my best to understand and explain it here.
Melody Prescott, however, is troubled by the arrangement, saying "Dan, wait," throughout the exchange. Finally, she pulls Jenkins aside and tells him the deal's too good to be true; she wants to dig into Rainwater's history. Jenkins tells her Rainwater is desperate, the enemy of his enemy, and that Dutton has no greater enemy than Rainwater. She reluctantly agrees to let him proceed.
Kayce and Monica have gone home, where Monica's grandpa Felix (Rudy Ramos) is making spaghetti while a shrieking Tate says that he wants to put the pasta in the water.
"Do I have your permission to teach this boy some manners?" asks Felix.
"Yes," Kayce and Monica answer in unison. So Felix takes Tate outside and explains that Kayce won't punish Tate because he doesn't want to be like his father, and that Monica won't punish him because, essentially, she's a softy. So if Tate is to grow up to be a good boy, he'll have to do so himself. Tate doesn't understand, of course. But before they can go inside, Tate notices a drone hovering over their property. Felix says that treasure hunters use them to find a place to dig, and Tate remembers their dinosaur (oh yeah, their dinosaur!).
Before anyone can do anything, Sam Stands Alone returns with a rifle and shoots the drone out of the sky. This is when they realize that whomever is operating the drone must be close - they notice a car down the road. Sam and Kayce race after it, but the car escapes without Kayce finding out who was operating the drone.
Finally, Dutton is getting his break, going fishing on the river with Carl. They talk about the problem with having children when they notice a boat coming. And who should be on that boat but the reporter Ngyuin, who recognizes Dutton as the cowboy who's been causing so much trouble with the reservation. The boat drifts on, but their eyes meet.
In the episode's final moments, Monica walks outside and collapses. Felix prays, "please, God, don't take 'em both." Kayce starts administrating CPR and mouth to mouth. Sam runs to the pickup and races away to get help, but as the music swells, we don't know whether Monica will die or not.
It's another solid episode, maybe one of the best of the season so far. It was interesting to see characters get out of their comfort zones, like seeing the usually ferocious Beth get a dressing down from Perry, and an even worse dressing-down from Dutton. And as for Dutton, it's also interesting to see a bit more of his humanity in the form of a simple fishing excursion with his buddy Carl, and more of his cute interactions with Tate.
Oh, and Kayce continues his streak of not killing anyone. Jeez, he's getting lazy.
Join us next week for season one, episode seven: "A Monster Is Among Us."