We’re nearing Yellowstone Season 5’s midseason finale, folks, but Taylor Sheridan is still serving entrees in lieu of the main course. Episode 5 gives us a fairly significant altercation between Beth and Summer, imparts some important life lessons ripped straight from the mind of Rip, and prepares us for a branding expedition that could span several episodes. Let’s get to it!

What Worked in Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 5

  • A fire burns in the distance but has yet to pose a problem. Everyone dismisses the threat, but I wonder if it will factor in later episodes.
  • A flashback shows John and Co. heading off to bring the cattle down from the mountains for some good ole fashioned branding; a plot point echoed in the present day. “No one knows what we do here anymore,” John tells Rip. “It’s time we reminded them.” He plans to invite the whole damned county to watch the event. I’m sure this will go well.
  • To execute this event, John wants to schedule a MEPP or a Manufactured Event for Political Purposes. He wants the whole shebang, including news crews, and his ever-loyal assistant Clara obliges. She also clears his entire schedule and is ordered to refuse future meetings. I hear ya, John. Meetings are a pain in the ass. No matter, Clara offers to schedule one giant meeting so that John can take care of everything in one afternoon. Nice.
    • Will this be like the wedding sequence in the Godfather, where Don Corleone holds meetings inside his dark office while a wild party wages outside?
  • Beth warns John that Summer is no different than Dan Jenkins or anyone else who wants to drive the cattle off their property. Summer disguises her objective behind a humanitarian cause, but she presents the same threat as a businessman striving to build an airport.
    • John uses the Godfather code of reasoning to justify his relationship with Summer: keep your friends close and your enemies closer. He can learn about his enemies through her, which makes sense, even if he’s allowing sex to alter his judgment.
  • Later, Beth and Rip have a brief skirmish. Beth hints that she may want to go on the branding drive with Rip and the gang. He doesn’t seem thrilled at the idea, which riles her up. “Okay,” he says, “let’s put away the crazy. Do you want to go?” After some more back and forth, she agrees to go, which she has always wanted. No one understands how to handle Beth more than Rip, and no one can tolerate Rip like Beth. It’s a match made in TV heaven.
  • Summer is like that annoying relative who shows up at Thanksgiving dinner and insists on talking politics. She joins the Duttons for dinner and makes the whole affair uncomfortable by commentating on anything that goes against her ideology. Beth, like the audience, has enough and tells Summer to meet her outside, and the two women engage in a bloody brawl that draws the ire of Rip. The big guy chews out both women, then tells them to fight with dignity and lets them take turns punching one another in the face. Summer finally relents, and Beth advises her to show respect in her home. “What respect do I get,” Summer asks. “You get exactly what you give,” Beth replies. (Later, Beth spits out a tooth. God, I hope that was worth it.)
    • This scene felt like a very on-the-nose reaction to society today. Too often, we are so drunk on our personal beliefs that we treat others who disagree like outright enemies. Beth and Summer don’t have to be friends, but they can at least respect each other’s points of view. Do you hear that you crazy Ds and Rs?
    • Hey, look! Kaycee and Monica each had a good laugh about the Beth/Summer episode! Maybe our former power couple is coming around.
    • John is rightly pissed off after the skirmish but admits to Rip that he envies Beth to a certain degree. She’s a wild stallion who follows no rules and caters to no one. In many ways, she’s the most unrestrained character in the series. That also makes her a dangerous wild card.
  • Dutton laments that it’s the survival of the unfittest these days. “To succeed today, all you need to know how to do is blame and complain.” John clearly dabbles with social media.
  • The episode ends with one of those fantastic sequences Yellowstone does remarkably well and shows the entire ranch preparing for their long journey. Music swells. John tells everyone to prepare for some cold nights and empty stomachs before giving a quiet “Yee-haw!” This show loves cowboys, which is why I love this show.

What Didn’t Work in Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 5

  • We’re spending a good deal of time with young Beth and Rip, and I’m trying to figure out why. It’s a little bothersome because neither character appears to have changed since their early days, making the flashbacks feel a tad redundant. After each memory, older Beth awakens and has a heart-to-heart with Rip that merely reinforces their relationship. It typically ends with the big guy discarding the conversation and slipping off to work. Rip’s not the emotional type.
  • Sarah’s entire plan is to … have lots of sex with Jamie and use their relationship to recuse the young man from representing the state or something. Jamie is a weasel, but he’s also smart. Unless he’s in on the joke, I don’t see why he would risk further alienation from his family for a quick fling with a mysterious woman.
  • Several important subplots were tossed aside in this episode, which is fine. However, it’s a stretch to suggest the governor of Montana could abandon his post for a week to go on a cattle drive.

MVP: Rip. The man has a nasty bark, but he’s also an incredibly patient cowboy who thinks before he acts. I admire the way he handled the Beth and Summer skirmish. Rather than talk down to the women, or order them inside, he offered some advice and stepped aside. He does this often with the Bunkhouse Crew and Carter. After I die, I want to return as Rip — minus the murder.

Best Line: “And you — I don’t know you — but I know this: you’re never going to convince someone to think the way that you think by insulting them in their own house. You don’t like the food, don’t f—ing eat it.” A lot of people should heed this advice. 

What Happens Next: This season continues to add many different elements that it’s safe to assume the entire enterprise will collapse at some point. I imagine Jamie is the dangling thread that will cause the Duttons to unravel. When and how the downfall happens is anyone’s guess, but a combination of natural and political obstacles may leave John in a lurch at the season’s end. At some point, he needs to fight back with force to preserve his land. What will it take for him to do what is necessary?   

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed the simplicity of this episode, even if it felt a tad drawn out. What did we gain from this chapter? Branding season has begun, and the Beth/Summer feud has changed for the better. That’s about it. Neither plot point required an entire episode. Did we need to see Summer debate God/nature with Tate? Or have another awkward dinner scene at the Dutton ranch? Or see Kayce, and Monica cry over their lost child for the umpteenth time? These moments felt superfluous, as if the writers were keeping us preoccupied while they figured out how to steer the remaining season.  

Still, Beth vs. Summer was excellent, as was the aftermath. In short, I’m still really into this season, so I can forgive a few side quests so long as the main narrative remains compelling. 

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

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