S3 E1: " You're the Indian Now"
It's a tranquil dawn on the Yellowstone following the climactic events of season 2 - Jamie does his morning chores, his continued penance for his psycho murder of a journalist who was about to expose his father's darkest secrets. He's worn enough flannel and tended enough cows that he just might have burnt off his sins in purgatory. Will we see him in a suit again soon?
Dutton's getting dressed up - and you know he's more comfortable in ranch wear than formal wear, so it's got to be for something pretty important. He gets coffee in the kitchen at the same time that Beth does, still wearing the bruises of her brutal attack at the hands of goons paid for by the (late) Beck brothers.
And then there's Kayce, who spent two seasons winning his wife back and then had to go get his son back, shooting a handful of neo-Nazis in the process after being deputized as a livestock agent in his father's organization.
We get to see Jamie in that suit sooner rather than later - Dutton reveals that he's going to resign his post as the head of the Livestock Agency, and he hands Jamie a suit, telling him to come on, he can dress in the car. Incidentally, I think that having to change out of Carhartts and into a freshly pressed suit in a moving car would be difficult, especially if you expected to look halfway decent when you arrive. But then, with those land-yacht-sized pickups that the Duttons drive around, maybe they've got their own changing room inside. Kayce, who's about to go check the fields for remnants of the dangerous weaponized clover dropped in the field by the Becks. As he pauses, he hears his son wake up, screaming, from a nightmare of his time with the neo-Nazis.
As Jamie and Dutton walk through the Capitol to Governor Perry's office, Dutton tells Jamie to do exactly as he's told, and Jamie, eager to get back in his good graces, says "I will, trust me." Dutton takes the opportunity to jab his son with a scoff, who has both betrayed him and murdered someone to hide it, but whatever.
The trouble is that the optics of Dutton getting together a posse of gunhands and sieging two neo-Nazi trailer citadels (not to mentioning shooting and killing six people - Nazi people, but still) in order to retrieve his grandson aren't great. They suggest a titanic overreach of his position, a problem that Dutton plans to address by resigning the position in exchange for Perry and the DA helping to cover up the Dutton angle of the shootouts, which if investigated at length would reveal the Dutton's feud with (and murder of) the Becks.
Perry asks Dutton if he's thought about a replacement. He says he'll think about it.
Rainwater and Mo Brings Plenty watch news coverage from the Capitol steps. Rainwater is as pragmatic as ever about his frenemy Dutton, but Mo Brings Plenty, one of the guys who stormed the militia hideout in the mountains with Dutton, says that he fought with him, and that he showed honor in the heat of it where many men don't. Mo opines that maybe Dutton isn't the enemy they think he is.
Rainwater asks that if they're not enemies, what are they? Should they share?
Rip and Kayce patrol the fence and find, failing to find any clover. They've got to get the cattle into the field ASAP since hay is expensive. Still, they're reluctant to leave them unattended since the Duttons can't afford to lose any more beef. They decide to have the Bunkhouse Boys set up a chuck wagon and watch the cows all summer, camping in the field with them. Just like the old days.
Which is when ten yahoos in expensive suits come wandering over a hill. Rip and Kayce know well enough to know it means trouble, but they parlay with the head suit a**hole and find that he represents the ominously generic sounding "Market Equities", which manages resort properties. The Paradise Valley Sporting Club, the remains of the late Dan Jenkin's aborted real estate venture, has been bought by something called "Providence Hospitality Management." Rip and Kayce make clear to the slightly serpentine suit a**hole, who has the great villain name Ellis Steele, by the way, that he's not welcome this side of the fence. He offers them a free dinner at the resort, while Rip and Kayce just ride off. He's lucky they didn't just hang him there.
Speaking of real estate, Beth reports to her boss Bob that she's acquired 17,000 acres of land in the area. Bob's impressed. Bob fills her in on the Market Equity situation, and now it's Beth's turn to be impressed. "That's a big company," she says.
"It's the one you bring in when your goal is expansion, and your expansion is bigger than casinos and golf courses," he says.
Time now for some Bunkhouse Boys antics. As they build a secondary barn closer to the other side of the ranch, they begin to tell each other jokes, starting with Jimmy. Jimmy's joke is an aseptic clunker about a misunderstanding about a rich man's truck. No one laughs, although Colby is kind enough to allow that it was "almost funny." Ryan then tells his joke, which isn't much funnier but hinges on the perceived unpleasantness of dating "a barrel racer girl with two little dogs." I can't vouch for the accuracy of the joke, but at least the other Bunkhouse boys laugh. Then Rip comes in and tells Lloyd to get the chuck wagon ready because they're running a spike camp.
Beth then goes to a local store to buy a bottle of wine. Though faded, you can still see her black eye, and evident scarring from her beating. The woman behind the counter has similar marks. Beside her is a pickle jar for donations - the woman's little boy is ill. Beth tells her that the men who did this to her don't do it to her anymore, and the woman asks how she made that happen. Beth's advice is simple: "New boyfriend. Big-ass ashtray," recalling the moment that she smashed her attacker's head in with an ashtray.
As she drives back to the ranch, she gets a call from Kayce asking if Market Equities and Providence Hospitality is going to be a problem. She says yep, it will, and then asks Kayce not to tell Dutton. Then she says she has to go, because she can see someone trespassing in their river.
That someone happens to be charmingly rakish and almost certainly evil Roarke (Lost's Josh Holloway). He flirts with her, and she sort of flirts back while insulting him before leaving with a curt 'just stay off our ****ing land, ok?"
Dutton returns from his morning resignation. Beth asks him what he thinks about it all. He figures he's got the best of both worlds - he didn't ever want the position anyway, just the control, which he figures he's still got. So he meets in his office and pours himself a whiskey. Dutton offers Kayce the position at the Livestock Agency. Kayce doesn't want it, saying, "I ain't no politician." Kayce flat-out declines, saying that he's helping the ranch the only way he knows how.
Beth asks if she can make a suggestion. It can't be her, obviously, but it should be... Jamie.
Holy moly! Beth, who has spewed every kind of hatred and invective and ill-wish on Jamie over the last two seasons, suggests that Jamie should be the new head of the Livestock Agency! Could this be a kindler, gentler Beth??
Dutton says he can't trust Jamie and Beth tells him he doesn't have to trust Jamie not to betray him, he only has to trust him to do what will benefit him in the position, which is to keep his parish happy by doing what benefits the state's ranchers, of which Dutton is not just one of their rank, but probably the most important one. I'm not sure the logic is totally sound, but whatever. But did you ever think that Beth would ever suggest Jamie to Dutton for anything? The same Beth who has vowed several times to drive him to suicide?
At the Bunkhouse, the boys are enacting a human rodeo, shotgunning a beer, spinning themselves dizzy, and then running while they try to rope each other. Everyone gets hurt. But Jamie, who really doesn't want to take part, gets the most hurt, landing very hard on his back. He's a good sport about it, though, taking the spine-shattering hit with wit and a big swig of whiskey. He might be pretty badly hurt, as a matter of fact.
Rip comes in and starts yelling at everyone. They've only got one hour before they've got to be out in the fields working. Jamie slinks off to his bunk, seriously smarting.
Dutton finds Monica wandering around the mansion. She confesses she's gotten lost, and can't find her way upstairs. Dutton tells her the way, and then apologizes for Tate's kidnapping. She tells him it's not his fault that they took the boy, and that she's grateful for him getting the boy back. Then she speaks the episode's title. Just like it was for her people, there's always someone trying to take the land away from you, only "you're the Indian now," she says. Then she requests that Dutton take Tate with him to the cattle camp, saying it's just what he needs.
Rip and the Bunkhouse boys are about ready to set off for the camp when Dutton intercepts Jamie. He tells Jamie to put his horse in the barn and get his stuff from the bunkhouse, because he can't have the livestock commissioner living in the bunkhouse. He adds that if Jamie betrays him again, he'll consider his son dead.
The score swells as the cowboys set off for the pasture.
"Makes you wonder who's going to feed this world when there's none of us left," Lloyd says, getting philosophical.
"No one, Lloyd," Dutton says. "This world's just gonna go hungry."They set up camp, including a pretty plush glamping set up for Dutton and Tate. Rip heads back to the ranch, Tate sets off for kindling.
Then it's Rainwater's turn to have a sinister encounter with Providence Hospitality/Market Equities. Steele actually suggests that Rainwater may not be mentally fit to make a decision without a lawyer present. Rainwater gets that look in his eye. I think it's fair to guess that Rainwater and Dutton will get together to fight a mutual enemy this season?
Next is the most cringe-inducing scene in the entirety of the show: Monica notices that her class are fiddling on their phones, and she begins by lecturing them about how they like photos of people they've never met and look at screens too much. By the end, she's saying that some uber-evil "they" will kill your brother, and steal your child, and pollute everything you love. And you'll never notice because you're so hypnotized by a world that doesn't exist."
Having dispensed with that, we now see Beth knocking on Rip's new house in a sundress, holding a shot glass and a bottle of whiskey. Long story short, he decides to let her in the house for some country hospitality.
That night, Kayce tends to the herd while a chorus of wolves howl in the distance. At the camp, Tate and Dutton talk about the wolf, including that wolves can't get scared. Tate admits he has nightmares, and Dutton asks if he wants to talk about them. Tate describes his dreams, which are the standard stuff: falling, screaming without making a sound, etc. Dutton tells him that dreams are memories and imagination all mixed up into a soup. But you can change the soup, putting in your own memories and fantasies. Be a baseball star, Christmas every day, etc. Just decide what you want to dream!
Incidentally, I don't think that's how it works.
Dutton then describes a nightmare he's had. He pulls over to help a group that look like they need assistance, but it's not help they want (foreshadowing!).
"So it won't come true," the boys says.
But we're not so sure, are we?