Season 3, Episode 2: "Freight Trains and Monsters"
3 out of 4 stars
Another episode of Yellowstone opens with a gorgeously photographed morning. Everything is still at camp, and Tate managed to get some sleep untroubled by nightmares of neo-Nazis. He wakes up and discovers he overslept. He asks Dutton if they can still go fishing, and grandpa obliges, but not before making a biting observation about both trout and bankers, saying neither one of them "do a damn thing in the morning."
Tate asks the question that becomes one of the themes of the episode, if not the show itself: "Why can't we live right here? Like this, all the time?" Dutton says he asks himself the same thing every day. Cue credits.
Beth wakes up in Rip's new house, hearing him cooking. Tentatively, gently, even, she sees what he's doing. He's making fry bread for her, something his mother used to do. Beth smiles, accepts a mug of coffee, and tucks in to the fry bread, eggs and bacon. We've come a long way from the Beth who castigated him for inviting her to a music festival. Again, could this be a kindler, gentler Beth? A full three minutes is devoted to Beth eating fry bread and smiling/crying, and she's such a great actress that somehow it's interesting to watch.
Now Monica's waking up to find that Kayce's already off doing Kayce things. She wanders around the house looking crestfallen while strings play on the score. Finally, she goes outside and tells Jake she intends to go back to camp with him and see her son. He tells her he can't have her falling off the horse and getting injured, Dutton would have his head. Luckily, Rip's got a solution, which is that Jake rides a real monster of an unbroken horse while she rides his horse. Rip and Monica laugh heartily at Jake's expense. Rip even tells her that Jake "ain't the sharpest tool in the shed," even though this seems to be less about his smarts and more about the availability of horses. Poor Jake.
Tate's preparing the fish for lunch, and he needs lemon. Dutton, meanwhile, is getting phone call after phone call. "Work follows you wherever you go, Grandpa" Tate says, making subtext text. After his call is dropped on top of the hill, he somewhat tyrannically insists that the cowboys move their entire camp there. The score swells as they movie it bit by bit. Then, once it's done, Tate asks him if this is a better camping spot. Dutton looks at his phone, sees that he's got no reception, and says, "yep, this camp is much better." The thing is, Dutton, you could have just turned the damn phone off instead of making everyone move everything, but that's how millionaires like Dutton do it.
Jamie's getting used to his new job when he gets a call from the Sweet Grass County attorney, who informs him that a couple of thugs roughed up some barrel racing girls, locked them in a stall, and made off with their rigs, horses and all. The attorney tells Jamie that this could be good for him if he "handles it the right way," wink wink. In this case, the right way probably means making an example out of them. Jamie looks troubled, before sending our old friend, Agent Hendon.
Monica arrives at camp, happy to find Tate doing well. She's told that Kayce's off "looking for wolves." Dutton remarks that he didn't think Jake's mount was broken yet. It is now, is the concensus. Rip then thanks Dutton - not for the house, but for the kind note with the paternal tone. Finally, they conclude their conversation with a discussion of hiring. Dutton learns that Avery's no longer with the crew and says it's probably for the best not to have women mixing with the Bunkhouse boys. Rip says not so, and that, in fact, Avery's presence kept them "honest." Dutton says ok, he can hire a woman, but she'd better but ugly, mean or both, because he doesn't want to deal with lovesick cowboys, nevermind the fact that Avery was neither. But then, Jimmy was about a stone's throw from lovesick, come to think of it.
There is one more salient point to that conversation. Rip now runs the bunkhouse again, and it was Kayce's idea.
Kayce's walking through the woods looking for wolves, but he finds his wife. They make love on the ground while a wolf watches. Why not?
That night, Monica is telling Kayce that she too wishes every day could be like this, camping out under the stars. He says it could, but I think everyone knows better than that. A bit later, Kayce hears the sound of the cows lowing and goes out to check, armed with the rifle. He finds the voyeuristic wolf watching the herd, but he doesn't want to shoot. Instead, he speaks to it, telling the animal that he's not the wolf's friend, that they're natural enemies, and that he's giving the wolf one chance to go away. If he returns, Kayce will have to kill it.
Dutton, witnessing it, remarks that his father could do the same thing - that is, talk to animals and get them to listen. Dutton then expresses how delighted he is that out of the seven or so billion people on the planet, none of them know he's there (except for his family, his dozen or more employees, etc.). Finally, poignantly, he says goodnight, and Kayce says "I love you," which Dutton does not, for whatever reason, return.
The next day, at Schwartz & Meyer, Beth is conferring with her boss Bob. They suss out that Market Equities must be building an airport and a ski resort and a town, because they don't do anything small. Bob again tells her to keep buying whatever land she can in the area. Then she decides that none of this could have been possible without a Goldman Sachs hedgefund manager, because they're associated with Market Equities (again, this is all beyond me, and probably you too). After looking up who that manager is, she finds out it's - surprise - Roarke, the handsome interloper she discovered on the ranch last episode. You know, the one from Lost.
Beth observes that he's like "if Lucille Ball and Fabio had a kid." I get the Fabio, but Lucille Ball? Wouldn't the offspring of Lucille Ball be funny? Were the real offspring of Lucille Ball of funny? Note to self: look that up.
She immediately rushes over to where she knows Roarke is staying, and he quotes Jackson Browne lyrics at her. She confronts him about the airport and he comes right out with it - yep, they're planning an airport, and not a cute little one to service rich people's private jets, but a big one, with two terminals and 52 gates. Why here, she asks. Because there's not much wind, he says (and where in Montana is that?). At least he gets one fact right, saying he can't build northeast of Livingston because there's too much wind. The whole time they're saying this, by the way, Roarke is rolling himself a giant, hogleg-sized joint. I suppose that's one of the ways we know he'll be evil: all the good guys in Yellowstone drink whiskey or beer.
He lights up and tells her that while stories of her family shooting up their enemies and so on, all the Wild West stuff, will stop as soon as Market Equities builds their utopic resort city. She asks whether he's considered the ranchers around here. What will happen to them when all of this comes to pass. His answer is seductively simple: they won't be ranchers anymore. They won't have to be, because they'll be so gal'dern rich. He offers her a hit of the joint. She declines.
"Mind the flowers when you leave," he says, so she drives right over them. I like this girl, he says, taking a swig of his beer.
The job fair at the Yellowstone is in full swing, with men and women trying out to be hands. One in particular, a tough southern girl with an almost inscrutable redneck accent, distinguishes herself. She even manages to call Lloyd a m*therf***er! She tells them her name is Teeter. Rip hires her, despite Lloyd's assertion that she'll run through the bunkhouse like wildfire.
Beth is watching, and she asks where Dutton is. Rip tells her he's at camp, and doesn't to be bothered, but that he'll deliver a message.
At the Sweet Grass County rodeo, Agent Hendon arrives to find the horse thieves and women assaulters have already been apprehended and are tied up in a horse stall. The Sweet Grass County sheriff reiterates to Hendon what the County Attorney told Jamie: these guys need to be taught a lesson. Hendon's got a great idea for a lesson, so he tells them to put them, still zip-tied, in the back of the woman's horse trailer while he goes and gets her keys.
Hendon's plan is this: he's going to drive this woman's truck and rig, with them tied up in the back, and then he's going to take every turn hard, and generally drive like a maniac. Would the woman appreciate that, do you think? A boot-stomping country song plays during all the fun. But when he pulls back into the rodeo, the fun ceases: they open the horse trailer to find the guys dashed to pieces, blood and brains everywhere. Uh-oh, Agent Hendon, you're in it now.
That night, Beth is very much enjoying having the ranch to herself. She gets whiskey-drunk and howls like a wolf until Rip joins her in the corral. He turns on the lights and they dance.
Back at camp, Tate's got a hankering for biscuits, telling Dutton that "I'm going to need more than that" as he dishes them out of the dutch oven. Dutton says that Tate's just like his father, and that when he was a boy he'd eat a plate of his mother's biscuits for dinner. The last thing she told him before she did was that she had made biscuits for Kayce even though she detested making them, because she loved to watch him eat them. Dutton then bemoans the fact that he was up branding on the morning of his wife's birthday. Everybody gets sad, and he goes to bed. Kayce goes off to talk to him and Dutton says that sometimes he doesn't think there is a plan to it all, but Kayce tells him he just can't see the plan because they're standing inside it. Dutton looks skeptical.
Jamie's getting ready for bed when he gets a call from Hendon, who's in Sweet Grass Valley Jail. "Sir, we have a problem," Hendon says. Jamie doesn't say anything. So much for his new job.