The Great Yellowstone Rewatch: S3 E4: "Going Back to Cali"

The Great Yellowstone Rewatch
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It's a strange trip to have lived in Bozeman and see it portrayed in "Yellowstone." In some ways it's accurate to the culture of the booming resort town, but they're not exactly slavish when it comes to the geography of Bozeman - still, this is the first time since I think the first season where we see any of Bozeman's real downtown, including Plonk, Bangtail Bicycles & XC Skis, and part of Meridian. Then an obvious pair of plants walk right into the camera - that guy in the plaid and the kid in the cowboy hat don't exactly look like they fit in, to the trained eye of a Bozemanite. That cowboy hat on the kid just seems a little too contrived to be right in front of one of the most urbane blocks in town. Then, a second later, we're swept off to "Bozeman General," the fictional analog of the real Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, which is definitely not shot in the real Bozeman.  

Now that the inside baseball is out of way, let's get down the nitty-gritty. Jimmy's laid up, badly injured, but alive. When he wakes up in the hospital, Dutton is waiting for him, reading the (also fictional) Bozeman Examiner. He outlines to Jimmy the bad news: three compression fractures, a hip so decimated they just decided to replace it, a concussion, and, apparently, something wrong with his arm. But I guess it's not all bad, since the doctor thinks he's going to up and walking that day.  

But as for the bill, which will be extraordinary, Dutton's covering that on the condition that Jimmy quits the rodeo, which Jimmy can't do since rodeo is "the only thing that ever made me feel like I'm worth something." Ok, says Dutton, you can do the rodeo, but you've got to learn roping since he's less likely have a broken everything roping. 

Then the nurse comes in because Jimmy's got to have his catheter removed. Just then, Jimmy's new love interest Mia enters. Jimmy's embarrassment turns to strange pride as Mia and the nurse both remark on how well endowed the patient is.  

As they walk down the hall, Mia reveals that she's a barrel racer with two dogs, which was the punchline to some knowing joke told by one of the Bunkhouse Boys an episode or two ago. Jimmy's growing up!

Another note before we proceed: I think I've called this out before, but this episode is directed by the very talented MSU-alum and noted neo-noir director John Dahl, best known for Red Rock WestRounders, and The Last Seduction. He's a Montana boy - born in Billings - and a criminally underappreciated director, pun intended. 

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After the credits, we join Rainwater and Mo Brings Plenty at the Painted Horse Casino, where Doug, the former lawyer of the late Dan Jenkins is having an informal meeting with them. The subject is a cease and desist issued to Rainwater by the state on behalf of Market Equities. It's unclear whether they're trying to get the land via eminent domain, or just trying to shut down an Indian casino next to the proposed town, but it spells legal trouble and a whole lot of legal fees for Rainwater. Doug finally just asks Rainwater why try to build a casino there anyway?

Rainwater's answer is the craziest thing he's said in three seasons, and you've got to remember here that I'm a big fan of Rainwater and I like to pretend the show is really about him and that Dutton is the villain. But what he says here is really lunatic. It boils down to this: there are two futures for the Paradise Valley. One is as an untouched paradise, returned to the wild and free Montana that Lewis and Clark would have seen. People will grow, hunt, or find their own food. Make their own clothes. Seek their own shelter. Uh huh. The other future is the over-developed "concrete world." Well, I think I know which one is more likely in the year 2021. Regardless, I don't see how building an Indian casino will make everyone decide to give up the trappings of the modern world and move into sod homesteads, but then Rainwater's the man of vision, not me. 

After Doug leaves, Mo tells Rainwater what he's got to do, which is "be like them" and fight the way they do. They need a lawyer, a real shark like Angela Blue Water. They agree to call someone mysterious, even though Rainwater opines that the reservation will never forgive him for it. But before that, he calls Dutton. 

Beth's fight against Market Equities is about to be taken up a notch. I haven't got the head for this complicated financial stuff, but the gist of it is that Beth wants to short Market Equities by leaking a little info that their planned community isn't a short thing, creating rumors of instability in the big company. 

Jake is training a colt with a flag as Governor Perry rides up. She asks him what he's doing, and he tells her without looking and seeing who it is. "Ah, f***k, you're the governor," he says. "Shut up, Jake."

She needs to talk to Dutton, but Dutton's at summer camp. Perry's security won't let her ride a horse, so instead Jake takes her up in an ATV. Dutton sees her coming and gets an amorous look in his eye. She wants to talk business, of course, specifically the plan to make Jamie DA and Kayce the head of the Livestock Agency. He directs her towards Kayce, and then tells Jake to drive back to the house and get Jamie, and to not be too quick at it, either, because the old horndog's got plans. 

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Kayce says no, of course, no, no, no, but Perry talks him into it by saying that the cattlemen of Montana need someone to protect their livelihood, period. Besides, she needs Jamie to help prevent the valley from becoming a city. She also says something that ought to resonate a little with modern Montanans: "That's the great conflict of my position. How to keep Montana growing without losing that thing that makes it Montana." Hmmm. Sounds difficult. 

Well, the long and short of it is that Perry succeeds where Dutton fails, and Kayce agrees to take the position. "Well, that's settled, then," she says. 

Beth's campaign of domesticity continues as she jumps the fence to Rip's house and brings a bag of fresh produce. He gives her a beer and tells her if she doesn't be careful, he's going to get used to this. They carry on a little before she calls him "baby," to his apparent delight. He asks her what he should call her, and before she knows what she says, she says, "wife." Then she clams up and runs inside to make dinner, leaving Rip looking troubled. Throughout, a YETI cooler is prominently featured, leaving me to wonder if they paid for such a plum spot. 

Governor Perry's hip to Dutton's plan, and puts up only a nominal effort to resist his plan, even though it is, as she says, "almost kidnapping." Finally, she gives up any resistance at all and agrees to spend the night at summer camp, saying that Dutton's "always three steps ahead of everyone else."

Before they get down to business, they reflect that this is the dream that people like Dan Jenkins and now Market Equities want to sell, only you can't buy this dream, you gotta earn it, live it, etc. 

The next scene rivals Rainwater's megalomaniacal speech for sheer preposterousness for several reasons. Mia's still attending to Jimmy in the hospital room, and the second he's conscious again, she asks about the condition of his tackle. Is it functioning, never mind the fact that he's just had a hip replacement surgery and has a broken back? He expresses some doubt, but his spirit is willing. She can tell from his general marble-mouthed bashfulness that he's a virgin. She presses him on it and finds out, yes, he is.  

Now, does this make sense? Could Jimmy, who appears to be in his thirties, who had a troubled past with substance abuse and running around with a bad crowd (now dead), could he really be a virgin into his third decade? None of the meth-addled girls that hung around during his dark and pre-Yellowstone days took him for a roll in the needles (not hay, get it)? Just my opinion, but I think the show is overcompensating a bit for the loss of Avery, who was a great romantic foil for Jimmy until the actress left the show. That isn't to say I don't like Mia so far, and it is fun to watch poor Jimmy squirm under Mia's aggressive advances, but come on, the guy's a virgin?

Well, no longer. She mounts his shattered body and makes him a man. 

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Boy, this episode is a real love fest so far, isn't it? Because next morning, both elder and junior Duttons emerge from their tents at the same time. They make awkward small talk before their respective women call them back to bed. They agree to postpone breakfast. 

Also in love, if you recall, are Beth and Rip. Rip's off to a livestock auction in Butte, and Beth's real worried. But Rip explains that the only reason he blanched at the word wife is because ever time he's ever tried to approach a future together she runs away. She reveals a reason that may explain why she's so mercurial with him, which is that she's unable to have children. Rip says that's ok by him, he doesn't even like dogs, much less kids. They agree to curtail the "wife" talk for now regardless. Rip goes to Butte, that lucky dog. 

In Roarke's trendy, rustic mansion seemingly made of reclaimed barn wood, he watches the news to find that Market Equities is down, way down. He knows right away that Beth is to blame.

In Rainwater's office, Mo scrambles to light a cleansing smudge of sweetgrass ahead of the arrival of Angela Blue Thunder (Q'orianka Kilcher). She pours her water out on it and tells him that he's pretty screwed, from a legal and monetary perspective. She agrees to help, but intimates there'll be a steep cost. After she's gone, Mo lights another smudge and even Rainwater bathes himself in it.  

Speaking of bathing, Tate doesn't want to do it. In the middle of being soaped up he runs off, which is ok with Kayce and Monica, who take the opportunity to resume the love fest. As before, the wolf watches, but they don't mind.

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Lloyd and Rip attend the livestock auction, where they bid on some cattle Dutton had his eye on. Teeter proves instrumental in separating the cattle they bought from the rest, and Lloyd expresses his satisfaction with her job performance so far but also remarks that she's so sexually aggressive that she's got the Bunkhouse Boys terrified.  

To wit, we cut to a scene of Teeter telling Colby to come up in the front of the truck and sit in her lap, which he declines. Then the whole truck of Bunkhouse Boys sees a mixed-gender group of bikers partying in one of the Yellowstone's fields. This means war.  

The boys pull over and note that the bikers actually cut the fence to get in. Ryan, Colby and Teeter confront them, friendly as can be, but the bikers won't have it. Inside of thirty seconds, it's a melee. Teeter, of course, throws the first punch. Our heroes acquit themselves well, but they're badly outnumbered. Thankfully, Lloyd and Rip drive up. Rip smashes, and I mean smashes, their rides. The bikers are livid, but Rip and the rest of the Bunkhouse boys calm them down a little with some well-placed punches and a few swings of a brand. Rip tells the leader that it'd be a good idea not to come back, but everyone knows they'll be back. 

And they do come back late that night, thinking they're going to get their revenge by burning the field. They find Dutton waiting, and not just Dutton, but Rip and Kayce, armed with assault rifles, and Lloyd with a pistol. Dutton raises his own rifle and throws them shovels. He suggests they start digging.  

Around dawn, once the bikers have dug holes big enough to be graves, Dutton makes like he's going to kill the men right in the holes, he asks them where they came from. 

"California," their leader says. 

"Figures," Duttons says, and I, for one, chuckled. 

He lets them go, of course, but he tells them he won't be merciful next time. And then he makes the biker repeat the following: "I'm going back to California. Montana doesn't want me."

As the bikers limp off, Dutton reflects to Casey that he's got things to do, like stop the damn airport. As far as Dutton's concerned, summer is over.  

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