Yellowstone season 2 premiere recap: A Thundering

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John Dutton (R- Kevin Costner) hands over the reigns to the Ranch to his youngest son Kayce (L-Luke Grimes) Season 2 of “Yellowstone” returns to Paramount Network starting Wednesday, June 19 at 10 PM, ET/PT.

In Yellowstone’s explosive first season, we saw the Dutton family attempt to defend their ranch at all costs.

In last season’s final episode, John Dutton stopped seeing the doctor for his cancer, but was still prepared to fight for Yellowstone Ranch and his position as livestock commissioner. Son Jamie is running for Montana State Attorney General against his father’s wishes. Jamie is also planning to use the press to destroy his father. At the same time, John sends tough-as-nails daughter Beth to tell Jamie he’s been replaced at the ranch and to retrieve all his assets associated with the family business.

Meanwhile, wayward son Kayce is dumped by his wife Monica and returns to Yellowstone despite years of resistance. He takes up residence in the cowboy’s quarters where he encounters Avery, the woman John’s loyal right-hand man Rip has recently hired. Elsewhere, Thomas Rainwater, the head of the local Native American tribe, and Dan Jenkins, a land developer, plot to create a casino resort that will encroach on the Dutton’s ranch. When Rip gets wind of the plan, he threatens Jenkins. He plans to let Jenkins go but Kayce orders him to hang by the noose he’s strung up on.

The first episode of the second season of Yellowstone, entitled “A Thundering,” opens with the sounds of labored breathing. The camera shows Thomas Rainwater surveying the landscape. It’s burning. A person covered in flames runs past and falls. (Stop, drop and roll! Always stop, drop and roll!). Then we see Rainwater is sitting with Jenkins. Part of his face is burned. When Rainwater asks what happened, Jenkins he aims a gun at him. As he shoots, Rainwater wakes up in his bed, screaming.

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At the ranch, Kayce, John, Rip, and others  free some bulls from a thicket. It’s a super-cowboy moment. Kayce goes into the thicket and retrieves a particularly stubborn bull. It’s reckless but he makes it work. His father seems impressed.

And… the credits roll.

An unfamiliar man approaches Yellowstone. The cowboys have wrangled the bulls back to their enclosures.

The unknown cowboy approaches and is directed to John. He tells John he’s looking for day work. His goal is to get to Arizona. John directs him to Kayce. He introduces himself to Kayce as Cowboy. Rip and John look on as he makes his case for day work. John is slowly passing the torch.

Elsewhere Jamie is being briefed on his schedule as he and his chief of staff Christina get ready for the day. Jamie goes out to get coffee.

Beth is in town where she agrees to a 6-month lease on office space. When she returns to the ranch, she fills John in on the space. And she shows him a woman she’s found that they can back for Attorney General against Jamie.

At the reservation, Rainwater is meeting with the members of the tribal council. They don’t understand why he wants to build a casino outside the reservation when there’s already one there. Why not just improve the casino they already have? Rainwater explains the new casino would be a destination. Plus, they’ll own the land and annex it into the reservation. He just needs the council’s approval for the loan for the land.

One of the council members objects. Rainwater was elected to bring change but the new casino isn’t change. He doesn’t see how it will help the community. He won’t vote for the loan if the only thing guaranteeing the community will improve is Rainwater’s promise. But Rainwater believes he won’t need the man’s vote.