“Yellowstone” has been captivating viewers since 2018, with its dramatic story of a Montana family desperate to hang on to their family’s legacy as the modern world threatens to swallow up their little piece of paradise. But Dutton family patriarch John’s quest to hold the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch has sometimes made him bitter enemies and forced him to go outside the bounds of the law to keep them at bay.
From the neighboring Broken Rock Indian Reservation to corporate interests, ruthless criminals, and local governments, his fight has only gotten tougher. In the series’s fourth season, John lost the loyalty of at least one son, and he lost another when Kayce moved off the ranch to keep his family safe. As the investment firm Market Equities closes its grasp on the surrounding valley, John decided to run for governor of Montana. At the same time, there’s a new sheriff in town, and Beth discovered that Jamie’s father had ordered a hit on their family.
Those and other ongoing storylines were left unresolved when the most recent season concluded, and we’re starting to put thought into what we could see next season. Will Kayce come back to his father’s side? Will John win the governor’s race? Here’s what we want to see in Season 5 of “Yellowstone.”
Kayce’s return to the ranch
At the opening of Season 4 of “Yellowstone,” Kayce Dutton is the livestock commissioner, and he’s just survived a brutal assault on his office from armed gunmen. Hearing that his father is hospitalized from a similar attack, Kayce doesn’t just want justice, he wants revenge. And he gets it, gunning down the assassins in a fiery shootout on a Montana highway, against the orders of local police who feared endangering innocent lives. At the same time, Kayce’s wife, Monica, and their son, Tate, are targeted at the Yellowstone ranch.
Everyone survives, including Monica and Tate — thanks to Tate’s quick thinking with a shotgun and the help of the ranchers — but in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on him and his family, Kayce decides that living on the Yellowstone may be too dangerous. Relocating to Pryor, Montana, Kayce and Monica buy a house, and before the season is out, it’s revealed they’re expecting another baby. Before leaving, Kayce promised his father he’d be back, but with his wife and son prospering, it’s hard to see the family-first Kayce returning unless forced to do so.
And that’s exactly what we’d like to see, because the absence of Kayce from the main story in Season 4 was one of its most frustrating aspects. Perhaps if Yellowstone’s enemies begin to close in, John will feel compelled to “circle the wagons” so to speak and bring all of his wayward children home, Kayce included.
Rainwater’s comeback as a villain
A major player on “Yellowstone” since its inception, Chief Thomas Rainwater has always been a worthy adversary for the Duttons. Not only is he a powerful community leader and similarly ruthless individual, like John Dutton, he operates under his own strict moral code and is guided by his commitment to his people. More than a stereotypical baddie, Rainwater is a principled hero to his own cause. But his goals conflict with the Duttons, and in the first season, he proved he could go toe-to-toe with John.
But over the past few seasons, Rainwater’s status as a full-throated foe has diminished. First when he entered into an uneasy alliance with John and Dan Jenkins, and later when his antagonism took a back seat to Market Equities. In Season 4, Rainwater acted almost as a friend to the Duttons, particularly Kayce, whose wife is a member of his community. Even more disappointing to fans, the vicious ally he brought in at the tail end of Season 3 — a feared lawyer named Angela Blue Thunder, who promised to help make life better for the people of Broken Rock — has seemingly been forgotten.
If Season 5 is going to redeem Rainwater as one of John’s fiercest foes, he needs to become a major antagonist again. Bringing back Angela Blue Thunder and having the Broken Rock Reservation make a serious play for the Yellowstone is the most important plot line we want to see next season.
Summer redeemed as an ally
Introduced at the start of Season 4, Summer Higgins was a liberal activist and apparent foil for the Duttons. Hoping to expose what she saw as animal abuse at the Yellowstone, Summer was not welcomed to the series by many fans. After being arrested during a peaceful protest, it’s actually John himself who bails Summer out, and uses that little bit of goodwill to help her see the beauty of his way of life on the ranch. After a brief fling, Summer does seem to come around, but it all comes crashing down for her when Beth’s machinations get her in serious trouble with the law.
Facing life in prison, it’s once again John who comes to Summer’s aid. Not just because it was his own daughter who set her up, but because he seems to have developed some genuine fondness for her. In the end, John gets her sentence greatly reduced, and it’s said she could be out of the slammer in a matter of months. Though a polarizing figure with viewers, there’s some real potential for the character as an ally.
Because Summer is still the lead of an apparently influential activist group, she could become a valuable asset, particularly as the issues at play threaten to go national. Summer’s hatred of big business may run even deeper than John’s, and turning Summer from foe to friend in their fight with Market Equities could be the kind of unexpected twist Season 5 needs.
Beth accepts her role as a mother
One of the most ruthless characters on “Yellowstone,” Beth Dutton is also perhaps one of the most sympathetic, with a childhood marked by tragedy and a lifetime of guilt and bitterness. When she was just a little girl, her mother was in a horse riding accident that she blamed on Beth, and because she was unable to get help in time, her mother died. The guilt she carried from that incident was made worse when, as a teenager, her brother forced her to get an abortion and she became sterile as a result, forever driving a wedge between the siblings.
But with the introduction of the teenaged Carter — an orphan taken in by Beth in Season 4 — she has a chance to finally have the love and family she’s always wanted. It just remains to be seen if she’ll accept it, since she told Carter in no uncertain terms that she is not, and will never be, his mother. But it’s hard to deny that she is exactly that: She’s his mentor, role model, and caregiver. Her husband got him a job on the ranch and has been a disciplinarian to the rebellious teen, creating a family unit between the three that’s as real as any blood relationship.
A vicious, even cruel woman at times, if “Yellowstone” is ever going to give Beth Dutton any sort of redemption, having her accept her role as Carter’s mother may be the first step.
Jamie wins the governor’s race
Once a powerful member of the Dutton empire, Jamie Dutton has seen a precipitous fall from grace over the past few seasons of “Yellowstone.” The fourth season in particular really put Jamie through the ringer with a roller coaster of big events. After discovering he was adopted the season before, Jamie sought out his birth father, Garrett Randall, and the pair began to form a father-son bond. Not long after, Jamie’s old flame, Christina, resurfaced, with their baby in tow, and wanted to help him run for the office vacated by Governor Perry.
Unfortunately, now estranged from his adoptive father, John Dutton decides he’s going to run for governor himself, if for no other reason than to ensure Jamie doesn’t win the seat. Though the finale left it up in the air as to whether Jamie might still run (but more on that later) we still could see an epic political father vs. son campaign dominate the series’s fifth season.
Considering all Jamie has done to protect the Yellowstone ranch and his family, the abuse he’s suffered from Beth, the manipulation of his adoptive father, and the murder of his biological father, Jamie is sorely in need of a win. What better way to level the playing field between the two than for Jamie to win the governor’s seat, beating John fair and square? Many fans feel John could use the comeuppance, and this seems like the perfect way for him to get it.
John finds out about Jamie’s son
When running for attorney general, Jamie was introduced to young, whip-smart political staffer Christina, and the two quickly began a whirlwind romance. They lived together for a short time, but she left him when he decided to return to the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch, seeing his family loyalty as a lack of backbone. But later, when Christina learned Jamie may have murdered a reporter, she also revealed she was pregnant with his child — though she wouldn’t let him be a part of her life until he left the Dutton’s homestead.
That time finally came in Season 4, after Jamie discovered he was adopted, purchased his own ranch, and built a relationship with his biological father. Re-emerging with their baby in tow, it seemed like Jamie and Christina might just become the perfect political family during his next run for office. But by the end of the season, it was clear that the Duttons, even John, still saw Jamie as a part of the family, even if they were estranged. Whatever animosity John may feel for Jamie’s supposed betrayal, it still hurts him. That’s why we’d like to see what will happen when John learns of Jamie’s child.
With options for the next generation of family dwindling, the discovery of another grandchild could prompt a reunion between father and son. Could it also prompt John to bury the hatchet and abandon his run for governor? With John’s obsession with family legacy, the possibilities are compelling.
Carter grows into a better Rip
Striking up an unlikely friendship with Beth, it wasn’t long before the teenaged Carter came to live on the Yellowstone. Though it wasn’t an easy road, Beth, Rip, and Carter are now essentially a family, with Carter an orphan taken in by the Duttons the same way John took in Rip when he was around the same age. Rip’s life as a surrogate Dutton began with the murder of his father, and Carter’s began with the death of his own, as well. Carter’s path mirrors Rip’s in many ways and it will be interesting to see how that plays out with Carter’s future on the ranch.
On the one hand, we could see Carter become a tougher, hardened teen in the same way Rip did, helping the Duttons in their many schemes. Or perhaps if Beth does indeed accept her role as a mother, Carter could have the family bond that Rip never did, making him a parallel version of the ruthless Rip. But with Tate off with Kayce and Monica, and seemingly uninterested in carrying on the Dutton legacy, it could be Carter who stands to be the next generation of the family.
We’re hoping to see that play out, with the orphaned teen growing closer to the family and becoming a new, better version of Rip Wheeler. Though we don’t expect to see it happen overnight, as he’s still very young, we could see the beginning of the journey in Season 5.
More of Lloyd’s past on the ranch
Escalated from recurring star to the main cast ahead of Season 3 (via Deadline), Forrie J. Smith’s Lloyd Pierce has been a veteran stalwart of the cowboy bunkhouse. A tough, no-nonsense rancher with a soft side, his heart of gold shone through when he was one of the first to show kindness to the outcast Jimmy when he arrived at the Yellowstone. In Season 4 he had his biggest story yet, getting involved in a romantic love triangle with barrel racer Laramie and Walker, culminating in a near-deadly encounter.
In the aftermath, it was Rip’s job to discipline the old timer, leading to an emotional fight that forced Lloyd’s best friend to crush his hand to teach him a lesson. But despite all we’ve seen of Lloyd, we still know very little about him, especially his years on the ranch. We know he’s been there a long time, as one flashback to Rip’s earliest days showed, and we think it’s high time we find out more.
Whether it’s through more flashbacks or just an episode that gives us insight into his loyalty to the Duttons, it’s long past time that Lloyd’s story is told.
An expanded role for Walker
A key character in the first season of “Yellowstone,” Walker was a man looking to put his violent past behind him, but found that joining the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch was not the clean break he was looking for. Drawn into violent feuds and dangerous games with a number of rivals, Walker wanted no part of it. He stood up to Rip, which put a target on his back, and when he wanted to leave the ranch for good, Rip sentenced him to death. It was only Kayce’s compassion that saved Walker from the train station.
But he came back to the ranch toward the tail end of the third season, and while tensions between he and Rip have cooled, they never went away. During the fourth season, he became the object of Lloyd’s hatred, thanks to his relationship with Laramie, and the two got into a fight that left Walker with a knife in his chest. By the end of the season it seemed they’d settled their differences, but we’re hoping there’s more in store. Walker has always felt like one of the series’s most underutilized characters; a charming, guitar-playing cowboy with a conscience and swagger, and in Season 5 we think it’s time he stepped up into a bigger role.
With Jimmy leaving for the Four Sixes, there’s now some room for Walker to get the spotlight, and we’d love to see him play a bigger part in the story.
The end of Market Equities
Since the beginning of the third season, the investment firm Market Equities has been a major thorn in the side of the Duttons. Nearby rancher Roarke Morris acted as a rep for the firm and continually harassed the ranch, while their CEO, Willa Hayes, took aim at them in the board room. Through the past two seasons, they’ve schemed their way into power in Montana, and seem poised to make a serious play for the Yellowstone with their new CEO, Caroline Warner, at the helm.
After hiring — and firing — Beth Dutton in an attempt to control the family, and being burned for her efforts, Warner now has a personal motivation, which makes Market Equities exceptionally dangerous. They have the power, the money, and the means to be the Dutton’s biggest threat yet, so it’s likely that Season 5 will see them make some major moves. We’ve seen them making inroads for a while now, and it’s about time they strike. We don’t want them to succeed, though. In fact, we want to see them go down in flames this season.
From Dan Jenkins to the Beck Brothers, “Yellowstone” has done an excellent job of introducing a new villain slowly, having them make their big move, and then concluding their story when the time is right. For Market Equities, the time is now.
More connections to 1883
In Season 4 of “Yellowstone,” we were treated to a pair of flashbacks to the earliest days on the Yellowstone ranch. More than a tease for a then-upcoming spin off, the scenes showed John’s ancestor, James Dutton, making a life for himself in the mountains of Montana, and having friendly relations with the neighboring tribes. Since then, audiences were given a full season of flashbacks, with country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill reprising their roles in the 10 episode series, “1883.”
The series stood well on its own, but fans of “Yellowstone” also got some important insight and key connections to their favorite series. We finally learned why the Duttons settled in the valley, and why the land is so important to them. We also saw James Dutton’s first promise to his daughter, a promise handed down through generations. But we also saw an ominous prophecy from the elder tribesman Spotted Eagle, that one day his descendants would return to take back their land. Whether that prophecy is due to come to pass yet or not, we’d love to see some more solid references to the events of “1883,” now that we know how the ranch was founded.
Whether that’s a glimpse of Elsa Dutton’s grave or a mention of Spotted Eagle’s prophecy, connecting the two series more concretely seems right. With another spinoff, “1932” also being prepared, it’s possible we’ll see mention of that era, as well.
A major role for the new sheriff
During the fourth season of “Yellowstone,” corrupt Sheriff Donnie Haskell — who is on the take for whoever is willing to pay him — got caught up in a botched diner robbery and found himself dead from a gunshot to the neck. Because John had the sheriff in his pocket, this became a serious problem for him, which was compounded when Haskell’s office was given to Bill Ramsey. Introduced in Season 2, Ramsey is a dedicated and compassionate officer, and when he’s promoted to sheriff, he makes it known to John that he was aware of the corruption that preceded him.
He also makes it crystal clear that he is going to run things differently, suggesting that he will not be as easy to buy as Haskell. We’re hoping this will make Ramsey a new enemy for the Duttons in Season 5, rather than a brief roadblock. We’ve seen the Duttons face a number of threats in “Yellowstone,” but the law — and the government — has almost always been on their side. Giving them a powerful enemy within the police department would provide a new angle for the series to follow, as John’s efforts to keep his ranch haven’t always been above board.
Should Ramsey expose their many crimes, it would certainly add a compelling new twist to the series.
A final showdown between Beth and Jamie
For four seasons, Beth Dutton has held a deep and abiding hatred for her brother, Jamie. The schism between the siblings was finally revealed in the third season, when flashbacks showed a teenaged Beth becoming pregnant, and Jamie helping her get an abortion. But without telling her, the procedure made her sterile, something she would never forgive. Beth’s bitter resentment has continued to escalate throughout “Yellowstone,” leading to her manipulating Jamie into murdering his own birth father, Garrett Randall.
In the season finale, Beth made sure to document his crime so she will forever have the dirt to destroy him on a whim. But as the rivalry has escalated, some fans have grown tired of the ongoing bitterness between the siblings. Whichever side of the fence you stand on, it’s easy to see how this feud might get tiresome with no resolution, which is why we think Season 5 is the right time to see it come to a head.
How that would play out we can’t predict, whether one might wind up dead, or they’d finally hash out their differences. But a final showdown between Jamie and Beth is long overdue. Perhaps Beth discovering that Jamie has a child — the very thing he robbed her of — will set her off to finally bring the hammer down on her surrogate brother.