Section: “A hundred years is nothing”
Reason: John Dutton is sworn in as governor of Montana. As John settles into power in his new office, he makes a bold move to protect Yellowstone Ranch from his opponents.
Review: After massive cliffhanger for the third season which left the fate of much of the Dutton clan up in the air, the fourth season of Yellowstone ended on a high note with Rip and Beth getting married and John Dutton declaring his candidacy for governor of Montana. As the fifth season begins, the Dutton era begins as John takes the oath of office and the legacy of his ranch and his family is seemingly secured. But now the question is whether John Dutton will make it through his four-year term unscathed. With a pulsating two-hour premiere, Yellowstone is back with more shenanigans, backstabbing, political machinations and more. Everything you love about Taylor Sheridan’s flagship series is back, even if it’s not quite as flashy as last season’s debut. With a two-episode premiere, Yellowstone brings everything you love about the series back for more.
Yellowstone‘s fifth season begins just as John Dutton (Kevin Costner) learns that he has won the election for governor of Montana. From that moment on, the premiere slowly unfolds the character ranking for this season’s chess match. How will Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) react to the possibility that the planned airport and hotel will now become impossible with Dutton in the governor’s mansion? How will Market Equities CEO Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver) react with the most powerful family in the state now controlling the future of her financial interests? Most importantly, how will Jamie’s father’s death draw him closer or further away from Beth (Kelly Reilly), his father and the rest of the Dutton clan?
Instead of directly answering any of these questions, Taylor Sheridan instead takes his time and focuses on the inauguration and celebration of John becoming governor and teases the general direction the rest of the season will take. It’s an interesting choice given Yellowstone’s history to put the drama right up front for the audience. This more subtle approach doesn’t mean the series has lost any of its edge, as there are several intense sequences in this first episode of the two-hour premiere, but they’re offset by flashbacks to Rip and Beth’s youthful days as young adults as well as time spent in the Bunkhouse with everyone’s favorite wranglers and cowboys. There is also time spent with Kayce (Luke Grimes) as he continues his role as livestock commissioner and awaits the birth of his second child with Monica (Kelsey Asbille).
The most notable in this season of Yellowstone compared to the previous four, the difference is in the plot. While only the premiere was made available for this review, there’s certainly a lot going on to kick off the fifth season, but not nearly as much urgency as we’ve seen before. In many ways, what happens in this episode undoes much of what has challenged the Dutton family and their ranch to this point, effectively resetting the game’s clock. It’s dangerous as these characters now all have massive targets on their backs and any skeletons in their closets or buried bodies (and we know there are a lot of them) could come back to haunt them and put any control they have , in danger. This is the first season where John Dutton seems out of his element since he started facing his mortality back in the first season. It’s also the first time since this series started that I don’t quite know where Yellowstone going next time.
Taylor Sheridan continues to write each episode Yellowstone, something he has done for the entire series outside of the second season (not so coincidentally also the weakest season of the entire series). The directing duties on the first episode fell to Stephen Kay, a regular helm of the program since 2019. Future episodes this year are directed by Christina Voros, also a veteran since the second season. It means the visual caliber of Yellowstone remains on top and continues to make amazing use of the Montana skyline. The majesty of Montana continues to serve as a breathtaking reminder of what John Dutton is trying to protect and also supports his steadfast political promises as governor, but it may also be a losing battle. Taylor Sheridan clearly knows where this story is going, and it’s hard not to feel that this season could be a turning point in the saga of the Duttons.
The opening of the fifth season of Yellowstone may not be as nail-biting or shocking as the last few premieres, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some twists and turns on the way. make no mistake, Yellowstone continues to be safe for no one, not even the main characters we’ve come to care about on a weekly basis. I’m thankful that this story is staying in a traditional weekly release format rather than a far more over-the-top seasonal drop. By teasing each episode, even the chapters without shocking revelations become destination viewing. I almost wish Paramount had chosen to start with just a single episode this season so we could have one more week to watch the Duttons protect their family and their country. But I’m also happy to get so much Yellowstone as I can. No fans will be disappointed by this premiere, as Taylor Sheridan’s family drama continues to deserve to be one of the most popular TV series.
Yellowstones two-hour fifth season premiere debuts on 13 November at Paramount network.