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Spoilers for Episode 4 of Yellowstone Season 2 are discussed beyond this point.
Following a lot of anticipation, Neal McDonough’s new Season 2 character finally came face-to-face with Kevin Costner’s John Dutton. The much anticipated Yellowstone newbie made his debut last week. But he had yet to go toe-to-toe with John. McDonough’s Malcolm Beck and his brother came to the ranch wanting to form an alliance with the Dutton patriarch. The latter was rightfully wary.
First, let’s back up just a bit. After a quiet episode for Kevin Costner’s character, the actor’s protagonist came roaring back. Yellowstone’s latest found John facing a full-blown assault on the ranch. Over 300 cows were killed by clover-addled hay that was dropped by a plane. Who did it? John seemed to think it was the sheriff's "golfing buddy."
John may or may not be right about that. The reason I say that, is the Beck brothers. Both of them have it in their best interest to form an alliance with John. What better way to make that happen than to perpetrate the cow attack?
Adding to the suspicion that the Becks are behind the cow killings is that they went to John seeking an alliance. After a brilliant scene where Rip (Cole Hauser) took down two of their security team, resulting in a standoff, the Becks made their pitch. Also, note that John took Rip with him to his meeting with the Becks.
PS: How sweet was John galloping in to help Rip? I would have also settled for a hug, or “you’re like a son to me” from John, but I will take what we got. Rip has a plan regarding the recent shake-up. His strategy in this episode was to be the one giving out the beatdowns, not taking them. He succeeded handily against the Becks' security.
Rip’s mentor, John, really showed quite a bit of gusto in this episode. He was quite boisterous and active. By the end of Yellowstone, John had decided to burn the fields. The ominous blaze hinted that that was not the only thing going up in flames. John’s resolve to resist the Beck brothers’ offer may be, too.
If the Becks did kill the cows, they were probably counting on John then taking them up on their offer, since he's getting backed into a corner. The Becks should own a private plane that could have dropped that hay. Will John start to suspect them? It is possible. He is savvy, and he should know that the Becks have as much to gain from, essentially, poisoning the cows as anyone else.
I honestly thought the Becks would come on as new rivals to John. Them wanting to make an alliance with him was not expected. If my suspicion turns out to be true regarding the Becks’ activity, any subsequent pact will undoubtedly be short-lived.
In related news, Jamie shared a bombshell with Beth and Yellowstone viewers regarding the financial status of the ranch. It has not turned a profit in 6 years! That may explain why the helicopter has been getting less use in Season 2.
Given the financial state that the ranch is in, John is more vulnerable than viewers knew before. Or, at least more vulnerable than this viewer realized. While things have been alluded to as being tight, the playing field that John was operating from felt a lot different than it does now.
Will John heed his son’s warning about collaborating with the Beck brothers? My guess is "no." Jamie tried to warn him that they are devils. To which John basically said that Jamie is one too. Ouch! If you were wondering where Beth got her love of barbed remarks, there is your clue.
Yellowstone also hinted that Jamie’s interview is going to come back and bite him and the Duttons. Please note that call Jamie got from the reporter and Beth being all over it. The forecast looks awfully gloomy for the ranching family. John forming a partnership with the Beck brothers could only make it worse.