Yellowstone season 5, episode 4 recap – why does John release Summer?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 28, 2022 (Last updated: last month)
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Yellowstone season 5, episode 4 recap - why does John release Summer?


“Horses in Heaven” spends some time developing ongoing plot threads, but delivers a heavy dose of sentiment through Monica and Kayce’s loss.

This recap of Yellowstone season 5, episode 4, “Horses in Heaven”, contains spoilers.

The funny thing about Yellowstone is that the people we’re supposed to be rooting for would be the villains in just about any other story. It isn’t just that the Duttons frequently kill people, take justice into their own hands, and will stop at literally nothing to retain their power and influence in the state of Montana. It’s that they do quintessential evil rich a*****e stuff. In Episode 3, when Beth glassed a woman in a bar, Rip warned the local sheriff that he’d be opening a can of worms in even attempting to bring her to justice – discounting the fact that she did, in fact, break a beer bottle over a woman’s skull.

Yellowstone season 5, episode 4 recap

The moment was played for comedy. We’re supposed to just write it off as more Beth shenanigans. But it’s getting increasingly hard to do that since Beth is increasingly unhinged and doesn’t seem to be any more stable by the end of “Horses in Heaven”. In fact, she might be more highly-strung than ever, prone to behaviour that amounts to crazy even by her standards.

Jamie is no better. Beth calls him in to make the whole bar fight situation go away because she’s still blackmailing him with the video of him disposing of his murdered father’s body, so he strongarms the young woman Beth attacked to drop the charges, lest she open herself up to potential legal ramifications for initiating the encounter in the first place (she apparently said to Beth that she was taking Rip home and she could either watch or he’d tell her about it in the morning, which wasn’t shown last week but is in the “Previously on Yellowstone…” segment this week, so go figure.)

This is Jamie acting in his own self-interest, obviously, but the more you think about it, the more you realize how terrible these people are. Jamie’s protecting himself because he murdered his dad. Sure, he might have deserved it, but that isn’t how these things work (unless you live in Taylor Sheridan Land, obviously.) And after springing Beth from jail, she forces him to take her home, only to go ballistic when she spots the baby seat in the back and learns of Jamie’s secret son. She promises that, as recompense for having her sterilized as a teenager, she’ll strip Jamie of the gift of fatherhood and take his child away from him. Yikes.

A part of me thought – or perhaps hoped – that Beth wouldn’t be able to get away with the assault so easily, since the wolf problem doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and I wondered if maybe this season was shaping up to be about consequences. In an earlier season, sending those GPS collars down the river would have been enough, but not here. U.S. Fish and Wildlife warn John that while they might be willing to look the other way, the non-profit environmentalist organizations won’t be. The do-gooders will be knocking on John’s door sooner rather than later, and to fight them, he’ll have to know how they think.

The solution to this, it turns out, is John conditionally pardoning Summer Higgins and taking her back to the ranch for a working relationship she insists will remain strictly professional and remains so for about five minutes before she’s strutting around in her underwear bragging about how hard she’s working. (Another thing for Beth to be annoyed about.) John’s blatant abuse of power barely even registers at this point.

There is some genuine sentiment in “Horses in Heaven”, though. Monica and Kayce are having a traditional burial ceremony for their lost son, and John’s efforts to help Monica through the process are legitimately moving. The ceremony itself is also quite striking, and there’s an understated moment earlier when Rip insists on helping to dig the graves for Kacey’s son and the horse they’re burying with him, presumably to ferry him to the afterlife. I still wish Monica had anything to do in this show other than be endlessly physically and emotionally tortured, but perhaps we’re getting there eventually.

Oh, and Sarah Atwood finally makes a move on Jamie, seducing him with embarrassing ease and leading him into the bathroom for some ill-advised hanky-panky. It’s ill-advised for a couple of reasons. One is that Sarah is clearly manipulating Jamie and he’s an idiot for not realizing it. The other is that Beth is following them and, while they’re otherwise engaged, takes a photograph of Sarah’s ID so she can dig up some dirt. The search doesn’t yield any results immediately, but Sarah and Market Equities no longer have the sneaky element of surprise in their fight against the Duttons.

You can catch Yellowstone season 5, episode 4, “Horses in Heaven”, exclusively on the Paramount Network.

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