‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 Premiere: Who Lives? Who Dies? (RECAP)

Cole Hauser as Rip in Yellowstone
Spoiler Alert
Paramount Network

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the first two episodes of Yellowstone Season 4, “Half the Money” and “Phantom Pain.”]

As you’ll recall, Yellowstone left most of the Duttons in dire straits — John (Kevin Costner) was shot, his daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) may have been blown up, and his son Kayce (Luke Grimes) was avoiding gunfire by hiding behind his desk — when Season 3 ended. Meanwhile, ranch hand Jimmy (Jefferson White) was unconscious after getting back on a horse (after injuring himself in just that way previously).

So heading into Season 4 of the Paramount Network drama, we had a few questions: Who lives? Who dies? Was Jamie (Wes Bentley), turning his back on his family after learning the Duttons adopted him, responsible for the attacks? The first two episodes, airing back-to-back, addressed two of those three questions.

“Half the Money”

An Opening That Leaves You Breathless

Yellowstone picks up right where it left off, and if you find yourself holding your breath through the first 13 minutes, you’re not alone. The intensity level just keeps on rising. Rip (Cole Hauser) finds John on the side of the road — he’s used his blood to write down information on the van his shooters were in. Kayce takes out the two shooters who send him behind his desk, grabs one of their guns, and hurries outside. Rip calls, and as Kayce is telling him to get everyone to the ranch, the foreman tells him what happened to his father. They’re an hour from the hospital, but John won’t make it, so it’s a good thing they can send a helicopter. Meanwhile, Beth steps out of her office building, bloody, clothes torn, but alive, and takes a cigarette off a bystander.

Back at the ranch, Monica (Kelsey Asbille) grabs her and Kayce’s son Tate (Brecken Merrill), but she’s attacked by a man who’s gotten into the house. She fights back, but surprise! Tate shoots him. She grabs him and they hurry outside. Ranch hand Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) sends them to the bunkhouse, and on their way, they see the others fighting off more attackers — and Mia (Eden Brolin) has found her boyfriend Jimmy unconscious. After getting John to the medics, Rip returns to the ranch, only to find his and Beth’s cabin has been burned down.

Kelsey Asbille as Monica in Yellowstone

Paramount Network

And Kayce goes after the men who shot his father, refusing to let them get away and crashing right into the van. A shootout ensues, and by the end of it, everyone’s down … including Kayce?! He’s been shot!

Who Lives?

John, of course, survives, though he was in a coma, and he has to be careful just how much he moves or he risks dislodging a blood clot and sending it to his heart. Beth, too, is alive, though, as we’ll see near the end of the premiere, her back is scarred. While she’s visiting her father in the hospital, she connects with a 14-year-old, Carter (Finn Little), whose father is taken off life support and is very much a young Rip.

As he’s being transported out of the hospital, John sees Jimmy in PT — he’s relearning how to squeeze a ball — and that’s just one of many things he and Beth need to discuss, she tells her dad. To be added to that list: the fact that he fires the nurse hired to take care of him at the ranch. As for the other items, “we’ll talk defeat tomorrow,” Beth says. But at least that doesn’t include Kayce, who did survive his gunshot wounds … and has been going out, armed and camouflaged, to keep an eye out for those hunting them.

Kelly Reilly as Beth in Yellowstone

Paramount Network

John later makes his way to the bunkhouse to apologize for people coming after them to get to him and thank everyone for fighting back and protecting the ranch and his family.

Who Was Behind the Attack on the Duttons?

After a guy at a blackjack table runs his mouth, seemingly claiming responsibility for shooting John, Mo (Mo Brings Plenty) alerts Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham). The guy is Chester, who was dishonorably discharged from the army for conduct unbecoming. He’s done time for robbery and aggravated assault. He’s bragging about putting the hit on the Duttons together. Rainwater tasks Mo with figuring out if he’s telling the truth, and so Mo follows his instructions to “do it the way we used to do it” and gets on a horse and drags him behind him in a field. Once threatened, Chester seems to talk…

If you ask Beth, Jamie ordered the attacks, and she makes sure he knows that. “I’m going to tell you something, and it’s for me, it’s not for you. See, I want you to know it now so you can think about it and not sleep, worry and dread. I’m gonna kill you. But when I do it, I’m not gonna farm it out like you, you f**king coward. I’m going to do it myself,” she warns him. “I’m going to kill you. I’m going to f**king kill you for what you did to my family.”

Wes Bentley as Jamie in Yellowstone

Paramount Network

Who Dies?

After Beth manages to convince Rip to stay in bed a little longer at 4:30 a.m., he makes his way out to where Roarke (Josh Holloway) fishes … and throws a snake at his face. It bites him, then slithers away. Roarke stumbles away, Rip following, until he collapses and dies. “Good riddance,” Rip says and walks away.

“Phantom Pain”

Cowboys Recovering

While Jamie’s buying up land (not for the Yellowstone), John’s recovering from his gunshot wounds not by resting in bed but riding horses and planning to go after the militia that attacked him (“We’re going to kill every goddamn one of them”) and using his (not-a-Dutton-anymore) son for the warrants, to see where he stands. Besides, Kayce is out and about, he points out, but his son says he only got shot twice. (Kayce also doesn’t think Jamie was involved in the attacks, arguing that he leased the land for the airport to keep the ranch together and killers don’t seek their victims’ approval.)

Travis comes to the ranch showing off horses, and John sees opportunities: to get the world to “think of the Yellowstone” when they think of horses (by having the other man build him a team) and for Jimmy’s future.

Kevin Costner as John in Yellowstone

Paramount Network

Jimmy’s regaining the use of his hands, and for now, his movement must be restricted to physical therapy. His thoracic brace must stay on. When he returns to the ranch, John tells him, “you broke your word.” Jimmy begs him not to fire him, insisting he can still be useful. How? John thinks he’ll just get back on a horse and this’ll happen again. John’s done trying to make a man out of him, so he’s sending him off with Travis. If those boys can’t make a cowboy out of him, he’s not meant to be one.

A Couple New Faces Shaking Things Up

After a skull is found at the construction site for the airport, Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver), CEO of Market Equities, flies in. Unwilling to let construction be halted for a long as it could be, she meets with Rainwater to see if they can negotiate. Her company will fund the build for him, she offers, but he just sees that as a way for them to have influence over what’s built and to whom it caters. Build a casino that will bring in the big bucks, she says, and they’ll make his reservation rich. All he has to do is not hold up the build. It’s too good to be true, he says to Mo after she leaves.

Meanwhile, the ranch gains a pair of hands in the form of Carter, who tried to rob a convenience store with a screwdriver. He claims Beth is his guardian. So, when Rip comes home, Carter’s inside, eating tuna helper. “I think he might be our kid, baby,” Beth tells him. Carter’s Rip, 20 years ago, with the same options. She leaves it up to Rip, who first kicks Carter out, then brings him back, then puts him in the cellar for the night.

The next day, Rip ends up kicking Carter out of his car on the side of the road and drives off before returning to pick him up. If he wants to stay, he has to ask for a job. Can he ride? No. Rope? No. But he can retrieve a bag from the field. No stealing, or he’s gone, Rip warns before bringing him back to the ranch to be the new stall cleaner (and stay with him and Beth). He offers the kid some advice so he doesn’t blow the opportunity: Don’t think you deserve it. You don’t deserve it. And you never will.

Yellowstone, Sundays, 8/7c, Paramount Network