‘Yellowstone’: Piper Perabo on That Major Turn in Summer & John’s Relationship

Piper Perabo and Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone'
Spoiler Alert
Paramount Network

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Yellowstone Season 5 Episode 7 “The Dream Is Not Me.”]

In the last Yellowstone episode of 2022 — the midseason finale airs on January 1 — Summer (Piper Perabo) doesn’t just become more involved in work on the ranch. There’s also a big moment for her relationship with John Dutton (Kevin Costner).

Summer gets firsthand experiencing vaccinating the calves (in what Perabo calls her favorite scene of the season), and later, while everyone has a night out of fun at the fair, tells John she has a better understanding of why he does what he does and even thanks him for “kidnapping” her. That conversation ends with him using his cowboy hat to block the view as he kisses her.

Perabo discusses those big moments and more, plus teases the midseason finale.

Summer’s really getting a feel for the ranch this season. She tells John she understands now why he brands and vaccinates, though she won’t be eating steak.

Piper Perabo: Summer’s trying to a little bit loosen her boundaries but not say it’s like a free for all.

How much is her time on the ranch changing her?

I wouldn’t say it changes her in the fact that she’s letting go of her own beliefs, but her eyes are really open to other ways of conservation and taking care of the land. Definitely she has a much bigger perspective on the world than before she met John, and I don’t think that’s what Summer thought was gonna happen when he got her house arrest and her sentence commuted. But besides their relationship, this whole other thing is happening where she’s seeing ranch life and ranch work in real time and beginning to appreciate that choice.

We’re seeing Summer helping out — vaccinating and peeling the potatoes, although I noticed it’s like she peeled one potato and then walked away.

[Laughs] Somebody asked me about that the other day. I talked about this with Kelsey [Asbille, who plays Monica] when we filmed the scene, but I think Summer’s a lonely person. She comes out of that prison and the only one waiting for her is John Dutton. It’s not like there’s family, friends, nobody came and got her. She never talks about anybody else in her life. She never talks about parents.

Piper Perabo in 'Yellowstone'

Paramount Network

The Dutton family, for all its drama, is a very tightly knit group. Even the bunkhouse and how the bunkhouse overlaps with Rip [Cole Hauser] and Beth [Kelly Reilly] in the bunkhouse and the family, it’s all very tight-knit. I don’t think Summer’s really sure, even though she has to stay here, where she fits in. And so weirdly Gator [Gabriel “Gator” Guilbeau] is the most sort of open to Summer. OK, he made dove, but he said, I would’ve made something different if I knew. So helping out Gator makes sense, but no one really wants her around. And I think that’s a really lonely existence when you’re out in a rural place.

We have to talk about the fair. There’s the hat, but everyone knows what’s going on behind that hat.

Yeah, and it’s just what you think is going on.

How does Summer feel about John?

I think she really likes John, in spite of herself, in spite of her beliefs. There are those people that you meet in your life that just the heat is on. Also John is this person who has very strong beliefs and who’s willing to fight for them. I think that’s kind of rare in this world. And so Summer and John really connect on that level and in the big picture ideals of the world, like loyalty, protecting the land, fighting for what you believe in — John and Summer are very on the same page there. It’s all the other smaller things, like your daughter and my prison and all these other things, that aren’t working out.

How would you describe their relationship at this point and going forward?

Up until the fair, they were on the DL and you know when you’re kind of secretly dating someone and then you start publicly holding hands or people see you out to dinner and it’s pretty awkward because you’re like, “Oh, hi, you know blah blah…”? The hat is the beginning of the very awkward coming out.

Especially with that family and everyone on the ranch.

Everyone’s there, I know! I was like, couldn’t we just like hold hands and walk to the truck or something? Like, do we have to do this? You know Taylor, he wants like, “let’s rent a giant fair and do it in front of like 1500 people.”

Talk about working with Kevin on that relationship.

Kevin is a giant movie star and has done some of the —I think Bull Durham is one of the hottest movies ever made. He is so good at the building of a relationship, the tension, all of it. So really he and I didn’t talk about it that much. When I sit and talk with Kevin, we talk about music and movies and his band and stuff like that. I think the most important thing is that we have a kind of rapport and I don’t ask him, what does John Dutton think? Because Summer wouldn’t know. And as long as Kevin is cool with how we’re gonna do it, I mean, it’s his hat, you know? [Laughs] He has to do the hat thing.

Piper Perabo in 'Yellowstone'

Paramount Network

It seems like Summer and Beth are sort of warming up to each other after that fight outside and Rip being like the disappointed, annoyed parent.

Totally!

Talk about filming that scene.

Kelly and I worked on that fight for so long. We rehearsed that fight for so long so that we could really do it. I found it hilarious that Cole Hauser, who’s so tough and strong basically gets to sit in the house by the fireplace and just wait to walk outside. It was freezing cold. The ground was so damp. It took two full nights to film that. So we’re outside in the cold on the damp ground. She’s wearing a strappy sundress. She takes the sweater off nearly at the beginning of the fight. I’m like, “Hey Kel, you’re gonna be cold.” And then Cole walks out all disappointed, and I’m like, “bro, you’ve been sitting next to a warm fire for three hours. Your tone is really irritating me.” [Laughs]

But I like that Rip, especially because of Carter [Finn Little], reins in Beth just a little bit because of the boy. He has that line, is this how you wanna raise that boy? I’m a huge Rip and Beth fan, and I love the dynamic that Carter is bringing to it because when you have a kid, that’s something that you care about more than yourself and it’s interesting to see Rip and Beth navigate that. As a fan, I love watching that. So when I’m standing there exhausted and Rip’s upset, I’m also as a fan, like, “Oh cool, what did Rip say to Beth? That’s cool.”

Summer and Beth have agreed to get along, but as we see in this episode, that doesn’t mean that their dynamic is going to change much. Is this as cordial as things can get between them?

Yeah, I think this the best it’s ever gonna be. [Laughs] This is Beth on her best behavior and she kicked the s**t out of me. So let’s all be happy we got this far.

They’ve moved past throwing punches.

Beth and Summer I think have moved past throwing punches, at least on the reg.

But might Summer and John going public change that?

I mean… Beth on a bad day, I don’t think anybody’s safe. Maybe John, but that’s just because he’s so much bigger than her.

What else can you tease about what’s coming up for Summer?

What’s cool about what’s going on with Summer is a broader understanding of the Dutton Ranch. That’s one of the most exciting things about playing Summer: As she keeps expanding and understanding and in the bare beginnings of being included, my relationships with other people in the world also are opening up. As an actor that’s really fun for me to play. And I love being in western Montana. In real life, I fly fish and I horseback ride and so the more Summer engages in the ranch, the more I get to do the things that Piper likes to do, so it makes me really happy.

What was your favorite scene to film this season?

I loved filming the vaccination of the cattle. It was really a thousand head of cattle that were brought in, when you see the bunk house driving in that head of cattle to the tents. That whole sequence from the time John and the 40 riders ride out at dawn and Kelsey and I watched them go, I’ve never heard 40 cowboys take off in the dark on their horses. And so the sound of horse hooves on the earth in the super early dawn was so moving and American and powerful and they rode until we couldn’t see them in the dark anymore. And then when they pushed the herd back in in the daytime, when you bring that heavy herd of cattle and you see rabbits moving out of the way and all the things in the ground, you can feel the ground moving. Then you see the smoke and the dust and then you see the herd. That’s just a cool thing to experience.

And then being in the arena with a lot of the actors in the bunkhouse like Ian [Bohen, who plays Ryan] and [Ryan] Bingham [who plays Walker] and Jen Landon [who plays Teeter], [they] really know how to rope and they’re real actors doing the cowboy work. All I have to do is put the pretend needle in the calf. I don’t have to hold it down or catch it. Yellowstone is amazing because it’s not doubles, and that’s really cool to see in real life.

That scene made me want to see more of Summer and Teeter together.

Totally! I love Jen Landon so much. And also Teeter is such a good s**t talker. I wish everyone could see every take of Jen Landon because how she insults the boys just makes me laugh all day. I’m sure they pick her best one. Some of ’em are gonna be too dirty. They can’t put ’em on Yellowstone, but I think Teeter’s the best.

Yellowstone, Midseason Finale, Sunday, January 1, 2023, 8/7c, Paramount Network