Yellowstone season 1, episode 3 recap: ‘No Horses’


When we last left Yellowstone’s John Dutton and his family, everyone was closing ranks in order to protect Kayce, who they suspect murdered his brother-in-law, Robert Long, after Long murdered his brother Lee.

John had Lee’s body cremated and Rip murdered the Medical Examiner to suppress the release of the forensic reports on the murders. Meanwhile, Kayce although admitted nothing, he was planning on re-joining the SEALs to avoid his wife’s reaction to the news he murdered her brother. Also, Thomas Rainwater saw an opportunity to bring down Dutton’s Yellowstone Ranch in the aftermath of Long’s execution-style murder.

Episode 3, “No Good Horses,” opens on a flashback. On March 30, 1997, a young Beth and Kayce are riding horses with their mother, Evelyn. Beth is uncomfortable on her horse and Evelyn is getting impatient with her.

Beth awkwardly steers her horse through an opening in a fence right at Evelyn’s horse, who rears in response. The horse falls and lands on top of the Dutton matriarch. We hear a crack. Evelyn commands Beth to ride to get her father even though Kayce is faster. Evelyn figures the accident was Beth’s doing, so she should be responsible for fixing it.

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Before Beth can find her father, John — who’s rocking a fabulous mustache — sees Kayce and his wife’s horses running past him and summons a posse to find them. Instead, they find Beth’s abandoned horse and Beth running a few feet behind. Beth can’t explain what happened through her tears and doesn’t know where Kayce and her mother are anymore.

Meanwhile, Kayce is still waiting with Evelyn’s dead body as night falls. As wolves begin to circle, John finally finds them.

Cue the credits.

In the present on Yellowstone, Kayce is having target practice in a field while Tate watches. Kayce’s an excellent shot but Tate’s unhappy. He knows Kayce’s practicing to rejoin the SEALs. In the car on the way home, Tate asks why Kayce is leaving again. Kayce tells him what he told Monica — they need money to pay the bills. Tate cries.

Kayce gets a text message. There’s a vehicle on the reservation that doesn’t belong. Kayce explains to Tate that sometimes people try to take advantage of the laws on the reservation and he needs to make sure this isn’t one of those people.

He grabs a gun and gets out of his truck. He looks in the window in the back of the vehicle and sees someone is tied up inside.

Tate gets out of his truck and calls for Kayce, distracting him. As Kayce turns away, a man starts shooting at him from inside the vehicle. Kayce returns fire and kills the man, as the vehicle drives off. After hiding Tate in a drain pipe, Kayce drives after the vehicle.

The vehicle crashes and the man driving gets out and runs away. Kayce pursues him with a lasso and brings him down. When he falls, the man hits his head on a rock and dies. This brings Kayce’s body count in the first three episodes of Yellowstone up to four. The man just can’t seem to stop killing people!

Meanwhile, in the drain pipe, a rattlesnake menacingly approaches Tate. Instead of running, Tate starts to beat it with a rock.

Kayce unties the young woman who was being held in the back of the vehicle. Then he goes to get Tate and finds him with the bloody dead snake.

The young woman says she won’t go to the police, she won’t ever tell what happened. She asks Kayce for a ride home.

Her parents are overjoyed to see her. Kayce tells them he’s taken care of the men who hurt her, but now he doesn’t know what to do. The girl’s father invites him inside to figure it out.

At the Dutton ranch, Jamie is talking to someone about what happened to the Medical Examiner over the phone. They suspect John was behind the incident but Jamie tries to convince them to go with the suicide story the family intended for the ME.

Jamie watches as Beth marches outside with a couple of bottles of liquor. She fills up a trough with water, gets in, and starts drinking while fighting with Jamie the whole time. It’s the anniversary of their mother’s death and Beth’s acting out.

At John’s office later, Jamie tells John he’s thinking about running for Attorney General and asks for John’s opinion. John sees the advantages but wants to think about it.

After talking to his daughter, the father on the reservation discusses the situation with Kayce. He indicates they need to make the men’s bodies disappear.

Kayce takes Tate home first. When Monica sees Tate covered with the rattlesnake’s blood, she runs to him but Kayce assures her Tate’s fine. Kayce and Monica have another heated exchange about how he no longer trusts her before he takes off again.

Under the cover of night, Kayce and the girl’s father bury the men Kayce killed in the desert.

On his way to an event off the reservation, Rainwater is stopped by the police and detained. John comes to see him in jail, making it clear he was responsible for the whole episode. John still wants the cattle the tribe took from him in the first episode and Rainwater will stay in jail until they’re back in his possession. Rainwater tells him he plans to buy back the Dutton’s ranch and erase John’s legacy from existence.

Back at the ranch, John finds Beth. He asks her to run for the state assembly. She has no interest but she won’t deny him. Together, they greet a team of people John has summoned to mount her political campaign.

Jamie listens from behind a wall as Beth and John discuss her political future. Beth takes a break and Jamie confronts her. Jamie takes her to the barn and they have it out.  Jamie resents John’s reliance on Beth and dismissal of him. But Beth only cares about pleasing their father even though the ranch isn’t important to her.

Then, Jamie implies that Beth became toxic after she killed their mother. Beth beats him up and Jamie punches her. She laughs that a real man would’ve walked away and stalks out of the barn.

Later, John approaches Jamie and examines his battered and bruised face. Jamie tells John he doesn’t need his permission, he’ll be running for Attorney General. But then he backs down and explains all the reasons why it would be good for the ranch. John says he’ll support Jamie, but he better not hit his sister again.

The developer Dan Jenkins is having a drink at a bar when he notices Beth. Jenkins approaches her. John had a river on the ranch moved, which messed up Jenkins’ plans for the subdivision he was developing. So, Beth knows if he’s interested in her it’s mostly because he wants revenge on her father. They have a cynical exchange they both enjoy, even if no one else would.

The next morning, the herd of cattle Rainwater took are returned to the ranch.

Once again, this was an uneven episode. By far the most compelling plot was the flashback at the beginning. The toxic relationship between Beth and her mother and the backstory on how Evelyn died gave some much-needed insight into how Beth became the person she is today. While both Jamie and Beth were more central to the plot in this episode, their nasty exchanges are becoming tiresome. Meanwhile, Kayce was off on his own adventure that once again resulted in him killing people. Why he continues to be the only person on the reservation who seems to be around when something criminal is happening is anyone’s guess. And why the subplot with Tate killing the rattlesnake was included is also unclear.

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Meanwhile, everyone seems to have forgotten about the issues around the deaths of Lee and Robert Long, while John just wants his cattle back again. Although it must have taken a lot of favors to get Rainwater tossed in jail, if John has that kind of clout, perhaps he should’ve used it instead of leading that posse to get his cattle back in the first episode.

The whole show still doesn’t quite gel. Plot lines are often sidelined or abandoned in favor of other ideas that seem more half-baked, like Kayce’s story this week. We’ll see how things progress next week on the fourth episode of Yellowstone.

In the meantime, check out our recap of the first and second episodes of the series and stream the first three episodes of Yellowstone on the Paramount Network.