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In last week’s Season 5, Episode 4 of the ratings stampede that is Yellowstone, Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly), the two-fisted daughter of Montana’s new governor, John Dutton (Kevin Costner), and the most exciting character on the show, punched out a tourist at a bar for flirting with her man, explaining, “Some bitch from California tried to f--- my husband, so I beat her with a beer bottle.”
Her brother Jamie, Montana’s attorney general, sprang her from jail. But when she spotted a child seat in Jamie’s car, she erupted with hatred, almost causing their car to crash. Years back, when she was a pregnant teenager, Jamie had taken her for an abortion that included an unneeded hysterectomy, and she’s never forgiven or forgotten it. She has him under her thumb, because she has evidence that he killed a man. “You had my womb cut out of me, and God gave you a boy? I’m gonna take him from you!” she warns, then thumbs a ride to the funeral of Monica and Kayce Dutton’s son, the most moving scene of the season, with a masterful inserted shot of birds beating wings over a winding, dully shining river, one of several visual grace notes by ace cinematographer Christina Alexandra Voros.
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If you think Beth has learned her lesson and calmed down in this week’s Episode 5, “Watch ’Em Ride Away,” you don’t know Beth. When John invites Summer (Piper Perabo), the West Coast invader who’s advising John about how to placate Montana environmentalists, to a Dutton family dinner with a meaty menu, he warns Beth to be nice. This works about as well as when Beth’s patient ranch hand husband Rip (Cole Hauser, who continues to impress) pleaded, “OK, Beth, let’s put the crazy away.” Summer is a love interest of John’s, and Beth thinks she’s just out to take their land, like everybody else. And also that Summer is a “hooker” and a “hairy hippie giving syphilis to their sofa.”