Yellowstone takes a bit of a break in “Watch ‘Em Ride Away”, lounging in its affection for the good old days while Beth beats the vegan out of Summer.
This recap of Yellowstone season 5, episode 5, “Watch ‘Em Ride Away”, contains spoilers.
There is so much about “Watch ‘Em Ride Away” that should be ridiculous that it’s almost embarrassing how much I enjoyed it – and that’s perhaps underselling things, slightly. I’d even say I found it deeply, oddly moving, which I suppose is the point, but nevertheless isn’t the kind of thing I’m supposed to be susceptible to in my official capacity as a professional complainer.
But here we are. The thing about Yellowstone is that it isn’t interested in both sides of the argument; it’s built on an earnest affection for cowboy culture, for the Montana wilderness, for the oldest of the old ways, all those that are gradually being replaced or forgotten about. You can see it in the character of Summer, whose arc isn’t to teach the Dutton family another point of view but to learn through them why hers is wrong.
Yellowstone season 5, episode 5 recap
This is why, I think, “Watch ‘Em Ride Away” feels so strangely poignant. It’s set around branding season, a week-long period when the cowboys must run their cattle down the mountains and round them up to be branded. It’s days on horseback with no food or comfort, the ultimate test of devotion to the lifestyle. This episode treats it with so much solemnity that I was half tempted to go and saddle up a horse myself.
For John, it’s an opportunity to swerve his responsibilities as governor for a while, but the constant presence of Clara – who, it’s revealed, is no stranger to horses, proving she’s one of the good guys – means that he ends up treating it as a kind of publicity event to show the people of Montana what the Duttons are all about. For Kayce and Monica, it’s an excuse to take their minds off their recent run of bad luck.
The main problem, as ever, is Beth. She’s already furious that John has invited Summer to stay at the ranch for the remainder of her sentence, since she thinks he’s literally sleeping with the enemy, and she strongarms Rip into inviting her onto the wrangling mission, even though he knows she’ll hate it and anything Beth is present for tends to rapidly take a turn for the worse. Such as dinner!
Since Kayce, Monica, and Tate are there, John insists that everyone eats at the table, which he knows is a recipe for disaster but insists on anyway. Beth continues making remarks about Summer, despite being instructed not to, and Summer makes a huge deal about all the meat being served, despite her being a guest in the house. Eventually, Beth has enough, invites Summer outside for “a walk”, and then starts laying into her.
This is basically how the Lloyd and Walker rivalry was resolved too – Taylor Sheridan loves the idea of people beating each other into friendships. Rip intervenes after a while and recommends they look less stupid by standing there and just trading blows until one of them gives in, which ends up being Summer, but at least she develops a taste for mashed potato after it.
The next morning, a more contemplative meal sequence – a silent breakfast as the stars still twinkle in the sky above the ranch – makes for a nice contrast. This whole sequence, which sees basically everyone except for Summer and Monica saddle up for their two-day expedition, is about as happy as Yellowstone ever gets, and manages to summons up a surprising amount of solemnity. Monica is crying by episode’s end, as she usually is, but this time for a happier reason, which she explains to Summer: “If it doesn’t make you cry to watch your family ride away, you probably shouldn’t have one.”