[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Yellowstone Season 5 premiere. Read at your on risk!]
Can somebody please give Monica Dutton (Kelsey Asbille) a break?! After what she and Tate (Brecken Merrill) went through at the beginning of Season 4 of Yellowstone, when Tate was forced to kill the man attacking his mother, it felt like things couldn't get much worse. Then, the Season 5 premiere happened. While John (Kevin Costner) was being celebrated as the new governor and Kayce (Luke Grimes) was busy working, a very pregnant Monica was having horrible stomach cramps. She tried to drive herself and Tate to the hospital, but the car crashed, and she was thrown from the driver's seat. By the time the rest of the family arrived at the hospital, Tate revealed that he had had a brother for an hour, but baby John had not survived. Just another devastating blow to Kayce and his family, and to Monica's happiness. According to Asbille, it's going to change her deeply.
"Oh man, she's been through so much," she tells TV Guide. "This is, I think, the hardest thing that she's had to go through, that both of them have had to go through. It just stretches the boundaries of who they are and will become. I think you really do see a very different Monica this season."
Kayce spent the end of Season 4 going on a vision quest, which gave him some disturbing previews of what was to come in his life as he chose between his wife and the Duttons. He told Monica that he saw "the end of us," but apparently that did not include losing their baby, and did include a choice that Kayce is not willing to make. Grimes tells TV Guide that he had a whole lot of questions for creator Taylor Sheridan about what the vision did mean, and Sheridan refused to say anything, because "he likes when we don't know what's going to happen."
However, we won't all have to wait in the dark for too long. "Throughout the season, that gets explained a little more, and by the end of the season, you know exactly what [Kayce] meant when he said that…As we know, Kayce's whole arc has been about picking between these two paths that he's got laid out in front of him, and they don't seem to be able to work simultaneously. It's the Duttons, or it's his family. And that starts to get cleared up a little bit, too."
Elsewhere, John hit the ground running as the new governor of Montana by "declaring war," — immediately demanding cancellation of the lease for the airport and declaring that non-residents of the state would be paying higher taxes. He wasn't going to let his precious land just be a playground for rich Californians or whatever, and he does not care at all that tourism is fairly vital to most economies. He also doesn't care that revoking the lease for the airport essentially amounts to a breach of contract, and hasn't got a lot of time or patience for the nuances of favors and political chess games. If he's got the power to say no airport, then no airport there will be. Of course, Market Equities is not here for that, and they've even brought in reinforcements to help with the mess—reinforcements with their eyes on an unhappy Jamie (Wes Bentley).
John also spent one of his first days in office firing his chief of staff and giving the job to Beth (Kelly Reilly), as if he'd ever let anyone else take that gig. She is, of course, still Beth, and is not only using some campaign funds a little illegally, but she's also using her charms to help her dad get what he wants, though she doesn't totally agree with all of his decisions. John is going so far as to talk about putting the ranch in a conservation easement, which makes it very possible that the family could lose it. "But it'll be whole," John told her. "And that matters more than any name on a deed." Um, who are you and what have you done with John Dutton?
Back on the ranch, Carter (Finn Little) has grown an alarming amount, and while he's not exactly the cowboy Rip (Cole Hauser) has been trying to make him into, he is most definitely not Rip's biggest problem. Cattle have been dying, and then the dead cattle are being eaten by wolves. At first, they thought the wolves were doing the killing, which sent them on a wolf hunt that ended with the death of a bunch of very well loved and protected Yellowstone park wolves ("These wolves have f–king Facebook pages!") with collars that track their motion and location. Those collars are now floating down the creek in an effort to divert suspicion, thanks to Rip's brilliant idea.
In a sequence of flashbacks, we learned that this was not the first time the Dutton ranchers have had to deal with dying cattle and reckless wolves. At one point, cattle were being killed thanks to a phone company spraying "EPA approved" weed killer before putting in a new line. The weed killer got into the creek and was killing everything it came in contact with. But of course, as we all know, the ranch hands of Yellowstone have a particular way of dealing with problems like this that may not be legally correct, but it sure is entertaining. In this case, they ran a bulldozer down a hill, and then attacked the phone company guy with his own "perfectly safe" weed killer. Turns out it's not so perfectly safe after all, and that guy is now very unwell. Is it okay for the future governor to shoot protected wildlife and attack men with weed killer? Probably not, but a rancher's gotta do what a rancher's gotta do.
Yellowstone Seasons 1-4 are now streaming on Peacock. Season 5 continues Sundays at 8/7c on the Paramount Network.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article confused flashback scenes with present day.