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Kevin Costner’s modern Western smash Yellowstone concluded the first half of Season 5 on Jan. 1. As its burgeoning fan base eagerly awaits the season’s final episodes, arriving this summer, it’s time to take stock of our favorite two-fisted Montana ranchers and where their personal dramas stand now.
Young Rip Wheeler (Kyle Red Silverstein): In a flashback, he bashes in a cowpoke’s noggin with a rock for making a crude sexual comment about the recipient of Rip’s first kiss, Young Beth Dutton (Kylie Rogers). He deposits the dead offender in “the train station” — actually a lightly trafficked, unregulated patch of land at the Montana-Wyoming border, a place where the Dutton clan traditionally dumps its murder victims. It has become, as John Dutton will admit in due course, “a trash can for everyone who’s attacked us.” Rip is about to learn that the first rule of the train station is “We don’t talk about the train station.”
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Young John Dutton (Josh Lucas): He makes him an offer he can’t refuse: Declare undying loyalty to the ranch and its secrets or — as John’s top hand Lloyd (Forrest Smith) explains in the nicest possible way — end up in the trash can himself. The mark of loyalty is literally that — the Yellowstone Ranch “Y” logo sizzled into your chest with a branding iron. If you “ride for the brand,” as Young John explains, “you will have a home until the day you die, or this ranch is no more. Now that is something worth fighting for.”
Adult Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser): Still loyal after all these years, Rip uncomplainingly starts migrating the herd to a remote plain in the Texas Panhandle, ducking the brucellosis outbreak that’s killing bison and threatening the cattle. (Their relationship still hot as a branding iron, he and Beth do not neglect to plan her first nuptial visit, however.) Rip’s miscue in having a pair of wolves shot on the ranch is still reverberating in the local news, so it’s not a bad time for the bunkhouse boss to beat a retreat from the authorities’ reach.