Yellowstone season 1 finale recap: John gets his house in order (2024)

Yellowstone season 1 finale recap: John gets his house in order (1)

NOTE: this post contains spoilers for Yellowstone season 1 finale, "The Unravelling Part 2."

There's a lot to wrap up in the final hour of Yellowstone season 1, from John's (Kevin Costner) fights against Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston), Jamie (Wes Bentley), Donnie (Hugh Dillon) and Governor Perry (Wendy Moniz), to the familial drama of Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Monica (Kelsey Asbille). What did they get to and what was left for Yellowstone season 2?

Here's our recap of the Yellowstone season 1 finale.

John vs the government

We see right away the wolves from the final moments of episode 8 have picked the bear Rip (Cole Hauser) killed clean, making it impossible for Fish and Wildlife to determine anything from it. That means Rip's only out is proving it was self-defense based on where he was. However, Donnie says he found no shell casings from Rip's gun where he says he was standing.

John does his own investigation, firing a couple of shots into the air and unloading the casings. The shells fall just to the side of him and don't move. This convinces John Donnie is lying and forces him to reveal he did indeed find the shell casings where Rip said. Fish and Wildlife lets Rip off the hook. John, on the other hand, says Donnie just made his list of enemies, believing he is siding with the likes of Jenkins and others against him.

Some of those others going after John is Governor Perry. When John meets with her and AG Stewart (Timothy Carhart), he tells them to kill Jamie's campaign, but they refuse. Instead, they ask John to step down as Livestock Commissioner because of his use of agents on the reservation and various lawsuits against him. John tells them if they want him out, find someone who can beat him, which they plan on trying to do.

As John leaves the restaurant, he spots Jamie and Christina (Katherine Cunningham). He backs Jamie up against a wall as Christina calls for help, which brings Perry, Stewart and security, but John never touches Jamie. John says Jamie never would have been able to walk up to him like that, claiming the only thing they have in common is their last name.

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Reshuffling the deck

John has a lot of things on his plate and possibly just a short amount of time to do it because of the cancer. He tells Rip to look into the Jenkins situation, emphasizing how much he trusts Rip by allowing him to call him John. Meanwhile, he plans to remove Jamie as the attorney for the ranch, put it into a trust and make Beth (Kelly Reilly) the executor, with the stipulation she or Kayce can't sell the ranch.

Beth relishes the opportunity to tell Jamie he is off the family payroll, visiting him at this campaign office. But after she leaves, Jamie actually feels free of the burden of his father. Though he's not out of the mess yet, as Sarah Nguyen (Michaela Conlin) overhears everything.

Jamie's new sense of freedom is challenged by a ranch day worker he tries to give money to, thinking he's on hard times. The day worker refuses his money and instead says the ties Jamie wears are just a leash his "master" cut because he knows Jamie's not going anywhere.

Rip hires Avery (Tanaya Beatty), a stripper, to get a recording of Rainwater and Jenkins discussing their plans. However, Avery doesn't just want money, she wants a job at the Yellowstone, knowing she can handle the job and the other cowboys. Despite the rule of not having women in the bunkhouse, when Avery gets the job done Rip hires her.

After hearing Rainwater and Jenkins' plan, John knows he's in trouble and his children aren't ready to take on the fight if he's gone. He asks Rip to make the problems go away. Beth overhears all of this and confronts Rip, telling him not to do anything reckless. Rip tells her the same thing, referring to her flirtations with Walker (Ryan Bingham). Beth makes it clear she and Rip aren't exclusive, but Rip says he doesn't care who she sleeps with, he just cares about her.

Beth doesn't take that warning to heart, however, as she and Walker run into each other later. They commiserate about being stuck on the Yellowstone and then kiss.

Setting the table for season 2

Yellowstone season 1 finale recap: John gets his house in order (3)

The rest of the episode is mostly setting up storylines for season 2.

Sarah reveals to Jamie and Christina she is a journalist. However, believing Jamie is a good man, she offers them a choice: serve as a source on the corrupt actions of John or be a subject involved in the corruption. Jamie decides to be interviewed, though we don't see what they discuss.

Monica is out of the hospital, and she and Tate (Brecken Merrill) are brought to Felix's (Rudy Ramos). Tate is clearly not happy to be there, going off and pouting. Monica also breaks down and cries about the state that her family is in.

Meanwhile, Kayce (Luke Grimes) is brought to the Yellowstone by Donnie after his incident with the drifter in episode 8. Kayce says he'll come back to the Yellowstone now that Monica left him, staying in the bunkhouse with the other cowboys. John tells him that he doesn't need anymore cowboys, but Kayce says he knows what John needs.

If he didn't before, he certainly learns when he, Rip and Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) pick up Jenkins. They attempt to intimidate him by putting a noose around his neck, tying it to a tree and only having a horse keeping him from strangling. Rip gets Jenkins to explain how he drives up property taxes on land to get locals out and that the car accident involving John in the opening episode was no accident, rather "a convenient opportunity." Rip signals to get Jenkins down, but Kayce runs off the horse and tells them to let Jenkins hang (whether or not he dies is not shown).

The final scene sees John and Beth at the dining room table. John presumably tells Beth his cancer is back, as she is stifling tears. Beth looks at the mostly empty table and tells John he should buy a smaller one. John remembers a time when every seat was full, though Beth refutes that, saying it was just a dream as she walks out.

John goes after her and tells her it doesn't matter how many people sit at the table, just that they have a place to sit. Beth makes her position clear though, she's not doing this for a table (aka the ranch), she is doing this for John. So if he wants her to keep the ranch from going away, he better stick around. John says he's not going anywhere.

All Yellowstone season 1 episodes are available to stream on Peaco*ck.

More on Yellowstone season 1

  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 1 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 2 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 3 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 4 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 5 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 6 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 7 recap
  • Yellowstone season 1 episode 8 recap

Yellowstone season 1 finale recap: John gets his house in order (4)

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.

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Yellowstone season 1 finale recap: John gets his house in order (2024)


What happened in the season 1 finale of Yellowstone? ›

The season ends with Kayce, Rip, Jimmy and Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) kidnapping Dan Jenkins in broad daylight and sitting him on a horse in the middle of nowhere with a noose around his neck.

What happened in episode 9 of Yellowstone season 1? ›

Next on John's agenda is forcing Jamie out of the race for attorney general. When Lynelle refuses to be strong-armed — in fact, the governor wants John to step down as Livestock Commissioner — he orders Beth to take her brother off the payroll.

What happened to John in season 2 Episode 1 of Yellowstone? ›

While John and his son Kayce (Luke Grimes) fear it could have something to do with his previously diagnosed colon cancer, it turns out to be something else entirely: a ruptured ulcer. Later, as he's taken to hospital in a helicopter, the show makes it clear that John's days are no longer numbered.

What happened in season 1 Episode 8 of Yellowstone? ›

Rip rides out with the Fish & Game officer, but the officer does not trust Rip so when a horsefly lands on her horse, she doesn't let him deal with it. The fly bites the horse and causes it to run. The officer is thrown from the horse and she lands on a metal bar, injuring herself.

Who is the bad guy on Yellowstone Season 1? ›

In season 1, Dan Jenkins comes into the picture as a land developer from Los Angeles who makes it his personal goal to take the Yellowstone ranch away from the Dutton family.

Did Rip intentionally lose to Kayce? ›

In the end, Rips falls to the ground, and Kayce declares victoriously, “if you wanna fight, you come fight me.” It's a big moment for Kayce and a huge sacrifice for Rip, as the latter likely lost purposefully at the behest of John Dutton.

What happened in the season 2 finale of Yellowstone? ›

As “Sins of the Father” drew to a close, the sheriff and Kayce raided the white supremacist's hovel and rescued a completely-traumatized Tate. Back at Yellowstone, John had no sooner broken the good news to Monica than Beth found Rip outside, as if watching over them.

What is Yellowstone Season 1 Episode 10 about? ›

John discovers his true alliances, Rip searches for answers, Jamie's political career is threatened, Beth takes on a new role, and Kayce returns home.

What happened in episode 5 of Yellowstone Season 1? ›

After getting the basics of what happened with Kayce, John sends Jamie to the reservation, telling him not to come back without Kayce. John promises Monica they'll get Kayce back, but after that they need to think about their situation. "Living day to day isn't living, it's surviving," he tells her.

What happened to John Dutton II? ›

John Dutton II was the late father of John Dutton III and the previous owner of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. He died years before the start of the series. He retired to let his son take over the running of the ranch and later suffered from cancer.

Does John keep the ranch in Yellowstone? ›

In the Duttons' case, they protect their way of life and ranch through the easem*nt, and keep their property whole, as John intends. The family can continue to live there, and the land can be sold or passed on to heirs.

What happened to the first John Dutton? ›

John Dutton Sr.

As an adult, he worked with his uncle, Jacob Dutton, on the family land and had a family of his own; his wife Emma and son Jack. John was ultimately killed in an ambush by the family's enemies.

What happens in Season 1 episode 7 of Yellowstone? ›

After Tate (Brecken Merrill) fights some nurses keeping him from seeing his mom, and Kayce then punches some of the security team, the doctor tells Kayce he needs to leave and take a break. They spend the night at a hotel room. While Tate watches TV, Kayce stifles tears as he fears what is going to happen to Monica.

What happened on Yellowstone Season 1 episode 3? ›

In the van, Kayce finds a young woman (Dakota Love), bloodied and duct taped. He cuts her loose. She asks if he killed the men who took her, which Kayce confirms. Kayce says they should call the police, but she doesn't want to involve them, she just wants to go home.

What happens in Season 2 episode 8 of Yellowstone? ›

Synopsis John and Rip seek revenge; Monica ponders the consequences of her living situation; Jimmy clears old debts.

How did John Dutton reroute the river? ›

This tension results in John Dutton blowing up a hillside to reroute a river, so Jenkins can no longer suck water for free irrigation and electricity. Later, you see Jenkins walking past trenchers in shock at the new rock pile from which a river once flowed.

What episode does Beth kiss Walker? ›

Season One Episode 5 Beth and Walker Kiss | TikTok.

What happens to Walker on Yellowstone? ›

Walker never had his heart set on working or joining in on the fighting. After quitting, Kayce drove him out of state to a train station in Wyoming, warning him never to set foot in Montana again, especially knowing that Rip would have killed him.


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