After a lackluster second episode, Season 5, Episode 3 is Yellowstone at its best as karma takes on the Duttons in multiple forms.
Beth heads to Salt Lake City to take care of unfinished business; a trap is set for Jamie; Kayce makes an important decision for his family.
Yellowstone S5, E03 Synopsis
Season 5, Episode 3 Recap: ‘Tall Drink of Water’
Season 5, Episode 3 opens with a gorgeous, sprawling view of Montana as a young John Dutton, Rip, Lloyd, and Rowdy (the new 90s-era bunkhouse character, played by Kai Caster) survey the Yellowstone. As they do, young Rip finds the mutilated carcasses of a cow and her calf, then readies his weapon.
A shot rings out, and John comes to find him. Wolves are the culprit, just as present-day John and Rip are dealing with.
Young John then attends a rowdy public hearing on the reintroduction of said wolves to Montana. Historically, this took place in 1995, so Yellowstone‘s conference is likely taking place in that year, as well. Within, ranchers are furious over their dead cattle as a result of the predators, yet the state denies any “official” accounts of wolves killing livestock; something that directly mirrors reality to this day. So John does what he does best.
As Livestock Commissioner at the time, John confronts the state officials head-on, calmly demanding compensation from the government – or there will be hell to pay.
Back in Present Day, Beth Heads for Salt Lake City, Lloyd Has a Birthday, and Rip Gets a Visit from the Law
Back in present day, Beth heads back to Salt Lake City to tie up “loose ends,” as she tells Rip. Seeing her father on the porch as she leaves, she asks what he’s reminiscing on.
“Your mother. She was a magnificent woman, and she loved you very much. Wish she could’ve lived long enough for you to know that,” John tells his daughter. But she doesn’t buy it.
“You know, dad, you can love the memory all you want, but it can’t love you back. Find someone you can love while you’re still young enough to do it,” Beth advises. Once she’s alone in her car, however, the tough exterior melts away as she dissolves into tears.
Meanwhile, at the bunkhouse, it’s Lloyd’s birthday, and the “58-year-old” gets the warmest treatment from the bunkhouse boys we’ve seen on the show. Steaks all around from Gator to celebrate the old-timer – who apparently is a good 5-or-6-years younger than actor Forrie J. Smith.
Out in the stables, Carter is feeding the sweet calf that was orphaned by wolves. He and Rip finally have a level-headed moment, with Rip reassuring him that “orphans don’t get shipped off around here, in case you haven’t noticed.”
But before long, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Officers show up to the stables, and they’re already as on-top of those dead Yellowstone National Park wolves as we expected. They “ask” Rip to take a ride to the field where the wolves GPS collars stopped tracking their movements… And the game is a’foot.
Baby John is Remembered by Broken Rock, Jamie Gets Played
On Kayce & Monica’s ranch, Thomas Rainwater and Mo pay them a sad visit. They walk these grieving parents through the Indigenous ceremony they should hold for their late second son, John, who died an hour after his birth.
In the same conversation, Kayce reveals that the “choice” he is making as a result of his vision quest is choosing his family over the job of Livestock Commissioner. But that means he’ll need another job. And Mo recommends asking his brother, Jamie, for one, something Kayce hadn’t thought about.
Soon after, Jamie himself is paid a visit by Market Equities’ Ellis Steele and Sarah Atwood. Jamie walks them both through how their plan to continue on with the airport and hotel will fail. And Ellis finally looses his cool for the first time in Yellowstone history.
But Sarah sticks around and immediately begins laying it on thick with Jamie. Real thick. But after that, she gets into the brass tacks of ME’s grand plans, and winds up making Jamie an offer for a dinner date to reach a “soft landing.” And it turns out Ellis’ finally losing-of-his-cool was an act all along. They’re gearing up to play Jamie like a fiddle. And it’ll surely work.
Kayce & John Discuss the Dutton Future, Thomas & Mo Discuss Broken Rock’s Future
Back on their ranch, Kayce finally asks his father if they can bury baby John in the family graveyard. He, of course, agrees. Surprisingly, Kayce tells his father he’s stepping down as Livestock Commissioner in this same conversation. And John fully supports his son in taking a step back to be there for his family.
We then find Thomas and Mo discussing who will replace Kayce. “It was good having him on our side,” Rainwater laments.
Back at their casino, Rainwater pulls up to find Indigenous protesters shouting his downfall. And Angela Blue-Thunder awaits him at his own bar, where she cannot drink the liquor as a Native person. It is illegal (and yes, th is is a real American law).
These “slave rules” are exactly why Angela’s plotting to remove Rainwater from his position in order to seek real change herself.
Rip Wheeler is an Excellent Liar, and Beth is the ‘Rattlesnake’
As we return to the scene of the wolf-crime, we see more magnificent fibbing from Rip as he schools the USFWS officers. They ask to follow the path of the wolves’ GPS collars to where they stopped, then where they kept moving again. This is, of course, the path Rip, Ryan, and Colby took to dispose of the collars in the Yellowstone River.
But it is a perilous trek, and Rip wishes the officers the best of luck. “That mountain has killed some damn good cowboys. And you two aren’t good cowboys,” he laughs at them. They decide to take a chopper instead, making Rip laugh as he rides back towards the homestead.
To hide the scene of the crime, the field where the wolves were shot has been ripped up and tilled for the planting of alfalfa, which Rip also gives a tremendously convincing lie to cover before he leaves.
Over in Salt Lake, Beth moves to sell her old company, Schwartz & Meyer, in order to finally defeat Market Equities. To do so, she’s got to have a one-on-one with an old colleague. So she asks everyone to leave and lights a cigarette, which we know is when Beth means business.
“ME is going to sue me,” she tells the old colleague, Rob, as she lays out the cold, hard details of what Market Equities has over her. Here, we learn Beth is in truly deep water, and she knows it. She admits it. But she has a plan, as her cigarette signifies.
Through Rob, Beth is confident she can beat Caroline Warner, Market Equities, and that entire hellacious saga with one deal. It’s an offer that feels too good to be true, and Rob senses a “rattlesnake in this deal.”
“I am the rattlesnake,” Beth finally tells him in her Season 5 stinger. “But you’re not who I’m gonna bite.”
‘What a f*cking day…’
“What a f*cking day,” Beth says as she returns home, feeling fantastic about her plan. But before she does, she sends out a press release for her big deal with Rob, and we watch as Caroline Warner gets the news. Ellis fills her in on further details, before telling his boss that the ME board wants her back in New York. Ouch…
Even Ellis tells Caroline that Beth’s move spells “defeat.”
Back on the ranch, Beth wants to celebrate her victory, so she drags Carter and Rip down to the bunkhouse’s birthday celebration for Lloyd. But the cowboys are just playing poker, and Beth is incredibly bored. So she one-ups Rip and takes all the lads and lasses out to a “fake cowboy bar.”
And sure enough, Ryan’s new fling is on stage singin’ her heart out. Lainey Wilson makes her return as Abbey here, and both Rip and Beth flash actual smiles as they dance.
It’s the perfect night. That is, until a drunk stranger gets her hands all over Rip. She asks the “tall, dark and handsome” cowboy where his wife is, and Rip grins wide as points to Beth, who is giving this drunk the definition of a death stare.
“I’ll handle this,” the drunk stranger smiles.
“Please don’t,” Rip replies.
And as soon as the drunk woman speaks to Beth, the Dutton daughter absolutely loses it, smashing a beer bottle over her head, and a wild west bar brawl ensues.
This, however, does not end like previous public feuds on Yellowstone. Instead, there are direct and dire consequences. The police show up immediately, and the new Sheriff, Bill Ramsay, finally makes his return for Season 5. Ramsay’s here to uphold the law, and not any sort of ‘Dutton Empire,’ as he makes clear.
In short: He’s doesn’t care who Beth is, sending her off to jail in the back of a squad car. And Rip is furious.
Rip let’s Sheriff Ramsay know this will become “his problem” if he doesn’t let Beth go. But the staunch lawman doesn’t back down, and is carted off like a common criminal.
What a wild turn that night took.
We’ll find out Beth’s fate next Sunday, Nov. 27 at 8 PM ET when Yellowstone Season 5 returns with Episode 4, exclusively on Paramount Network.