Yellowstone recap: Tragedy on the trail, trouble on the horizon

Following last week’s relatively low-key episode (well, save for that flat-out throwdown between Beth and Summer,) episode 6 begins with a bang. The Broken Rock Indian Reservation is visited by a small military force, which seemingly has some sort of vendetta against stray dogs. To Mo’s (Mo Brings Plenty) dismay, the armed men – who arrive unexpectedly via choppers – are shooting the innocent animals.

Mo informs them they’re killing people’s pets that have simply wandered from their homes, but it turns out the itchy trigger-fingered brutes are part of a secret service detail securing the area ahead of the President’s arrival. Mo flashes his tribal police badge and calls Rainwater (Gil Birmingham.) When the Native American leader arrives, he discovers Angela (Q’orianka Kilcher) is actually behind the event, which she’s helped organize – as the President’s director of Native American affairs – so the POTUS can endorse Rainwater’s political rival.

Tensions are also rising in Jamie’s (Wes Bentley) bedroom, where he’s questioning Sarah’s (Dawn Olivieri) motives for continuing to sleep with him. She claims she has no ulterior motives, aside from maybe eventually helping him steal his dad’s governor seat and getting the airport project back on track. Given the steamy shower scene that follows, it seems Jamie’s totally onboard with this plan.

Back at the Dutton ranch, Summer’s snooping around the estate while the cowboys are still off wrangling cattle for the coming branding. She looks at old photos of the family, including some of John’s deceased wife, visits the Dutton’s private cemetery, and bonds a bit with Monica – who schools her on the virtues of the Dutton family and their sacred land – while helping her peel potatoes for the big branding party.

Meanwhile, most of the Dutton clan and the bunkhouse crew are enjoying a little downtime during the cattle round-up. Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Tate (Brecken Merrill) get some quality father-son time, while Beth (Kelly Reilly) enjoys an off-brand Marlboro and flask of whiskey in a majestic spot Rip has scouted for her. The former seems as happy as she’s ever, sidelining her usual fiery personality for some prairie-fueled contentment.

But it’s not all fresh air and postcard-perfect views, as tragedy has also followed the Duttons on the trail. John’s “old bastard” rancher buddy Emmett beds down by a tree for the night, but doesn’t wake up the next morning. John’s saddened by the loss, but is happy his friend got the perfect cowboy sendoff.

Things are literally heating up back at the ranch, where Gator’s preparing mouth-watering BBQ (seriously, this scene had me salivating for ribs) for the day’s celebration, and Ryan’s (Ian Bohen) country singer crush Abby (Lainey Wilson) is setting up to perform at the event. As the festivities get underway, John races back to break the news to Emmett’s wife. He comforts the widow as she cries in his arms, while the press – unbeknownst to John – capture the tender moment on camera.

John’s sometime-flame/Montana senator Lynelle (Wendy Moniz) is also in attendance. She informs him she’s started a relationship with the secretary of energy, and also strongly suggests he make some time to meet with the President while he’s visiting the state. John’s happy she’s seeing someone that makes her laugh, even if he’s a “hypocrite,” but balks at the idea he should play politics rather than brand his cattle.

Elsewhere at the event, Ryan and Abby dance, kiss, and agree to dive head first into a relationship that probably has no future. A teen girl also asks young Carter (Finn Little) to dance. John and Lynelle also wind up two-stepping on the dirt dance floor after the former is rejected by Summer. Rip and Beth, preferring to only be in each others’ company, enjoy the celebration from a distance.

For the second week in a row, it looks like Yellowstone will ride into the sunset with a rare, happy-ish ending. But not so fast. Before the credits roll, we catch up again with Jamie and Sarah, who’ve apparently spent the entire episode having sex. Cozied up beneath a blanket, they’re drinking and watching the evening news, where John’s not being criticized for ghosting the President, but rather having praise heaped upon him for his heartfelt moment with Emmett’s wife.

“I swear that man could fall in a pile of cow sh-t and come up smelling like a rose. I admit, he’s hard to beat in a fair fight.,” says Jamie. To which Sarah ominously responds: “I don’t think we can let him show up to the fight, Jamie.”

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