This week’s episode of Yellowstone introduced us to a new character in the form of passionate animal rights and climate activist Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo). That might not seem like a big deal right now, and it might end up not being, but the show has a habit of building significant storylines around what seems initially like minor supporting players. You only need to look at Walker, Laramie, and Mia and how they’ve influenced the drama in the bunkhouse. We might even have a murder next week because of that!
Yellowstone Season 4: Who is Summer Higgins?
But it’s hard to say at the moment quite how important Summer will be. Perabo is enough of a star, though, that she’s unlikely to be a one-and-done character, and what she represents in terms of ideology is the kind of thing that Taylor Sheridan will take great pleasure in challenging and unpacking. There’s also the coincidence of the surname. Higgins isn’t quite Riggins, the prisoner who facilitated the attempted assassination of the Duttons under the orders of who we presume to be Garrett Randall, but it’s similar enough to be a bit suspect.
In “Under a Blanket of Red”, Summer was introduced as the leader of a group of protestors who were making their presence felt outside the Livestock Department’s offices, pouring paint over themselves and throwing rocks around. Kayce handling one of the protesters seemed to play into their hands as far as creating a stir for the media, and John only exacerbated the situation further by having Summer arrested.
It’s funny to hear some of John’s opinions on the whole animal rights thing – his angle is that people like Summer don’t seem to care about the animals that are displaced or killed in the growing of plant-based products, only those that are cute enough to campaign on behalf of – but he eventually, thanks in large part to having nothing else to do, decides Summer’s perspective might be interesting. He bails her out of jail and takes her for a tour of the ranch, and on the way there they share their ideologies – which might be more compatible than either of them first realized.
Of course, there is someone in the area who is much more of a threat to the land and livestock than John, and that’s market equities. If Summer develops an unlikely allyship with John, she’s likely to go up against Market Equities, and thus Beth. This, one assumes, is the likeliest way that Summer will be folded into the main plot. While John is acting like they’re not that different after all, chances are he’s finding a way to weaponize her against his enemies by stymying construction projects through noisy protests. This would also allow Summer to brush up against other characters such as Rainwater or Caroline Warner.