Yellowstone season 1, episode 9 season finale recap: ‘The Unraveling, Part 2’


Last week, on the penultimate episode of Yellowstone’s first season — and the first of a two-parter — things were starting to come undone for the Duttons.

Monica told Kayce she was leaving him and would be taking their son with her on Yellowstone. John and Jamie came to blows over the way his campaign for Attorney General was making Jamie unavailable for ranch business. Beth was confident she could take down Jenkins but she doesn’t know about the deal he’s made with Rainwater. And new ranch hand Walker told Rip he isn’t willing to do anything illegal for the ranch but Rip indicated he may have no choice.

As this final episode of the season begins, Rip and John are still dealing with the fallout from the grizzly bear Rip killed in episode 7. A representative from the Fish and Wildlife Service has finally made it to the scene. However,  wolves have eaten most of the carcass, making it impossible to use it to understand what happened.

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

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Meanwhile, the Sheriff questions Rip’s story because he didn’t find any shell casings. When John finds the casings in the Sheriff’s pocket though, the Fish and Wildlife official deems the killing an act of self-defense.

The Sheriff tells John he still wants to bring Rip down. John takes it as a sign that the whole county’s turning on him.

Later that morning, John tells Beth he needs a new lawyer for the ranch after Jamie “chose himself” in the previous episode. John tells her he plans to take away what Jamie left for though.

With that intention, he goes to meet the Governor and current Attorney General at a restaurant. He asks them to take Jamie out of the race for attorney general but they don’t seem inclined to meet his request.

Instead, they ask him to step down as livestock commissioner. They know he’s under federal investigation for sending agents onto the reservation at the beginning of the season, plus he’s under investigation by the EPA. The Governor doesn’t want the scrutiny he’s under to have negative ramifications for the other state officials.

John tells them if they want him out of office, they need to find someone who can beat him.

As John stalks out, he sees Jamie in a private room. John approaches Jamie menacingly as Jamie’s campaign manager, Christina, calls for security. John believes Jamie is behind the Governor’s request for him to step down and tells Jamie he’d never do that to him.

At the ranch, Rip finds John cleaning up in the barn. John asks Rip to figure out who’s behind the EPA investigation into him. Rip picks up on the subtext of John’s actions and asks him how much time he has left. John doesn’t know for sure. He’s given up on going to the doctor.

Back at the house, John once again approaches Beth. He asks her to put the ranch in a trust. Beth realizes what this means. John asks that Beth and Kayce don’t sell it. Beth gives him her word. John also instructs Beth to take Jamie off the payroll.

So, Beth goes to see Jamie at his campaign headquarters. Beth breaks the news that he’s being replaced and that she needs all his assets associated with the ranch — his credit card, bank card, and truck. Meanwhile, the reporter who revealed she’s investigating John in episode 8 eavesdrops at a safe distance.

After Beth leaves, Christina tells Jamie the development doesn’t change anything. But Jamie says it changes everything. He feels free.

That night, Rip hangs out at a strip club. He’s waiting for someone. Finally, he approaches a woman, Avery, as she walks in. He needs her to do a job, but she tells him what she really wants is a job on the ranch.

The next day, the reporter approaches Jamie and tells him her real name, Sarah Nguyen. He Googles her and discovers she’s a reporter. She tells him she’s learned that Jamie is a good man, but his father isn’t. She’s going to tell the world with her article. The only thing she wants to know is if Jamie wants to be a subject or a source.

Before Jamie can respond, Christina takes him aside. She needs to know what the reporter will find on him once she starts digging. Jamie admits it depends on how deep she digs. They need to play things perfectly in order to keep Jamie’s political career afloat.

Christina invites Sarah back for further discussion. Sarah proposes an article about Jamie that positions him as the kind of politician who seeks out corruption. And there’s no greater source of corruption than his father.

Sarah claims Jamie needs her to win. She doesn’t think his father will let him otherwise.

So, Jamie agrees to an interview with her. He comes to the conclusion that the only way to protect his father’s legacy is to destroy him.

Elsewhere, Jenkins and Rainwater meet to discuss their plans for their development. At an adjacent table, Avery records their conversation.

Flush with the information from Avery, Rip brings the recording back to John and gives him the highlights of Jenkins’s and Rainwater’s deal. John is stressed — he knows his children aren’t ready to protect the ranch. John needs this problem to go away before he does.

That night as the ranch hands play poker in their bunk house, Rip brings in Avery. He introduces her and tells the men to treat her like a cowboy. The men are speechless. but Avery does her best to make herself at home.

Walker stalks out commenting on how strange the ranch is. He finds Beth with the horses and tells her there’s something evil about the place. Beth confesses she’s felt that way her whole life. Walker wants to quit but they won’t let him. Beth confirms what Rip told him — he’s not going anywhere. Then she pushes him against a wall and kisses him.

Meanwhile, the sheriff drops Kayce off at the house. He tells John he won’t press charges against Kayce for beating up the drifter at the gas station in the previous episode because he’s a veteran. But he’s still going to come after Rip.

John tries to convince him that Jenkins isn’t the future of the area, but the Sheriff says people like him aren’t going away. John counters that he just doesn’t have the stomach to make it happen.

As the Sheriff leaves, Kayce tells John he’s won. John can’t figure out why none of his children understand that all he’s trying to do is preserve something for them. Kayce says he hears him and he’d like to come home.

John thinks that means Monica’s coming with him but Kayce confesses that Monica’s left him. He plans to stay in the bunk house with the other cowboys. John protests that he doesn’t need more cowboys, but Kayce says the only thing he has left is to preserve the ranch to give to his son and walks off.

Kayce enters the bunk house and requests an empty bunk. He immediately has eyes for Avery, who’s playing poker with the rest of the ranch hands, but gets into bed instead of engaging with her or anyone else.

On the reservation, Monica’s great-grandfather takes her and Tate home. Monica’s still unable to walk and take care of herself properly and Tate doesn’t understand what’s happening. As she watches Tate cry in the field, Monica questions what she’s done.

In town, one of the ranch hands follows Dan Jenkins. Rip then flanks him. When Jenkins runs, Kayce cuts him off and they toss him in a Yellowstone truck. They take him to the forest and hang him by a rope around his neck.

Before they kick the horse out from under him though, Rip demands Jenkins tell Kayce about how he gets land so Kayce understands what he’s up against. Jenkins explains how to maneuver someone’s land out from under them and tells Kayce he won’t be the last to try to take Yellowstone from the Duttons.

After Jenkins is done, Rip instructs the other ranch hands to cut him down. But Kayce kicks the horse out from under Jenkins and instructs them to let him hang.

Next. Yellowstone teaser trailer for recently announced season 2. dark

As the finale comes to a close, John walks across his fields towards the mountains.

Well, this first season of Yellowstone was certainly uneven at times, but it got better as the episodes went along. The characters are all deeply flawed and the show is often more of a dysfunctional family drama with some horses than a Western in the classic sense. But the flashbacks throughout the season were fantastic and helped give the characters greater nuance. Given the dire straights each character is still in, it’s hard to know where next season will go, but wherever that is, I’m sure it’ll mean more drama for the Duttons.

Yellowstone will return for its second season sometime in 2019, but if you want to revisit this season before then, you can read our recaps starting with episodes 1 and 2 and stream the entire first season on Paramount Network.

What did you think of the Yellowstone finale? Tell us in the comments below!