Yellowstone season 1, episode 8 recap: ‘The Unraveling, Part 1’


On last week’s episode of Yellowstone, Monica was struggling to recover after a terrible injury, John learned his cancer might not be gone after all, Rip witnessed a tragedy on the ranch, Jamie admitted he only wants power, and Beth was attracted to Yellowstone’s newest ranch hand.

As this week’s episode of Yellowstone, “The Unraveling, Part 1” begins, we find ourselves in a flashback. But the question is whose flashback is it. A young boy wakes up. He’s covered in blood. He sees an even younger boy dead in the corner and hears screaming in another room. He takes a frying pan and enters that room to find a man beating a woman. He hits the man over the head with the frying pan.

The scene then cuts to a young John walking with two other men. John has been called in to take care of a boy who was found asleep in a hayloft. It’s the boy who beat the man in the previous scene. The man was the boy’s father, and he killed both his wife and younger son before his older son stopped him.

The boy is named Rip and John takes him in. What a backstory — no wonder Rip is so loyal to John.

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In the present day, the Sheriff’s department has come to pick up the bodies of the Chinese tourists who fell to their deaths on the ranch and the bear Rip shot when it charged at him. The Sheriff is most concerned with the bear, given it’s illegal to kill an endangered species.

The Sheriff has to call the Fish and Wildlife Service in to deal with the bear. He’s concerned the agency will accuse Rip of killing the two tourists after they witnessed him shooting the bear. John realizes they’re in trouble and tries to reach Jamie but Jamie doesn’t pick up.

At the hospital, Monica is in physical therapy. She’s releasing how to walk as her great-grandfather looks on. Monica tells him when she’s released she wants her and Tate to stay with him.

Meanwhile, Kayce returns to the reservation to find his property in ruins. His neighbor tells him it happened to his place as well. He blames the man who was flying the drone above their properties in episode 6.

Back at the ranch, RIp meets the representative from Fish and Wildlife to take her to the bear. On the way, Rip tries to point out a horsefly on her horse but the officer doesn’t see it. When the fly bites the horse, though, it takes off running.

Rip rides after them and finds the horse has entangled them in a fence and impaled the woman on a fence post. Rip asks for the officer’s gun to shoot the horse but she refuses.

So Rip cuts the horse loose from the fence and then turns his attention to the officer. He cuts her loose and picks her and the fence post up together. He then loads her into the helicopter he’s summoned.

Elsewhere, a woman who works on Jamie’s campaign discusses her day with her girlfriend. We saw this woman briefly a couple of episodes ago when she passed John in a boat on the river while he was fly fishing.

Also, earlier in this episode, she makes Jamie’s campaign manager suspicious when she lists some of John and Jamie’s questionable deeds.

In sharing what happened with her girlfriend, she confirms that she has an agenda when it comes to the Duttons. She’s a reporter and she’s chasing a story on how John uses his power to make himself richer. She’s undercover in Jamie’s campaign to get dirt on John.

Meanwhile, over a round of golf, Jenkins and Rainwater are once again discussing their deal over the casino and hotel Rainwater wants to build on Jenkins’ land. Rainwater now wants the land and promises Jenkins ownership of the hotel.

He explains if the land is the Tribe’s and they announce they’re building on it, it will double Dutton’s property tax to an unaffordable degree, delivering Dutton’s land to Jenkins. They agree to the deal.

At the same time, Beth is trying to figure out how to wreck Jenkins. Jenkins has leveraged everything he has for the development he wants to build in Montana, making it easy for Beth to determine how to destroy him. As she plots, she sees Jenkins’ wife from the car. She brings her young attractive male assistant along to hang out with them.

Later, Beth waits for Jenkins at his place. Beth has gotten his wife completely sloshed. Dan watches as she dances provocatively on the porch with Beth’s assistant. Jenkins and Beth trade threats and then Jenkins drives off.

Kayce and Tate go to see Monica at the hospital. Monica tells Kayce she sees him differently after her accident. She knows Kayce killed her brother. When Kayce protests that he had no choice, Monica points out he never had to be there in the first place. Monica wants to protect Tate by keeping him away from Kayce and John and will take him away from Kayce to do so.

Later, a man threatens Kayce with a knife at a gas station and Kayce beats him senseless.

That night, Rip returns to the ranch. The Fish and Wildlife representative will be fine and the agency will send another the next day.

Then, Jamie drives up and John goes off on him for being unavailable. Jamie explains that his campaign manager has his phone so he didn’t know John called.

John tells Jamie to pull out of the race for Attorney General. Jamie refuses. They argue over whether Jamie has really earned the right to run. Finally, John punches Jamie, knocking him over.

John tells Jamie he’ll make sure the incumbent who was supposed to step down to make way for Jamie will announce he’s back in the race tomorrow. John will support him. Moreover, until Jamie’s prepared to put the family first he’s not allowed back on the ranch.

After the altercation Rip is approached by the new ranch hand, Walker. Walker says he’s heard the other workers talking and he wants to be clear: he won’t break the law for Rip.

Rip says he should’ve thought of that before he was branded. Walker protests that the brand was supposed to prove he could be trusted, not that he’d break the law. Rip menacingly tells Walker his chance to leave Yellowstone has passed and walks away.

In the meantime, Jamie returns to his campaign headquarters and discusses his fight with his father with his campaign manager, Christina. Jamie doesn’t know how he can run against his father, but Christina tells him that fathers who love their children don’t beat them up.  Jamie and Christina kiss.

Later, in the ranch hand’s living quarters, Jimmy searches for his hat. The workers got rid of it and got him a better one, making Jimmy happy. Walker comes in and broods in his bed.

Further out on the ranch, a pack of wolves find the dead bear carcass and start to feast on it.

Next week, Paramount Network will broadcast the second part of “The Unraveling” as well as the season finale of Yellowstone. Given how things are indeed unraveling in this episode, the conclusion should be interesting.

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It was good to see Monica finally come to some important realizations this week, and Jamie almost manages to do the same. Will sleeping with Christina finally give him the confidence to tell his father to get a new legal lackey? What will the wolf’s feeding on the bear mean for Rip when the new Fish and Wildlife representative shows up? And will Kayce become even more self-destructive now that he knows Monica’s leaving him?

We’ll see next week when Yellowstone‘s first season comes to a close. While you’re waiting, if you want more Yellowstone, take a look at our recap of the seventh episode and stream all eight episodes of the series that have already been broadcast by Paramount Network.