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The Ending Of Yellowstone Season 5 Part 1 Explained

If "Dallas" gave us the cliffhanger of who shot J.R., "Yellowstone" Season 5 is leaving us hooked on what happens to the Dutton family. After an exciting start to Season 5, the Montana-based drama series is showing no signs of letting up. The show's first four seasons have followed powerhouse rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his livelihood from encroaching developers, with the action spiraling into a moral grey area along the way. In the case of Season 5, fans have already seen John elected as governor of Montana, Monica mourning the loss of her baby boy, and a military visit to the Broken Rock Indian Reservation.

With the season's second half set to air in late summer 2023, rumors and fan theories are already trying to decipher what might happen next. Episode 8 of Season 5 — titled "A Knife and No Coin" — has left viewers with more questions than they have answers, and the fight between various members of the Dutton family is reaching its boiling point. Though it remains to be seen if we'll get a Season 6, the show's fifth installment still has a lot to answer for. Here's exactly what went down in the "Yellowstone" Season 5 midseason finale.

It's all out war between Jamie and Beth

Though the mid-season finale arguably has its more lackluster moments, the pinnacle of Episode 8's action arrives in the form of Jamie and Beth. Jamie's move into politics has now completely changed his character, putting him in a position to wage a fully antagonistic war against the Dutton family. Already having a personality that fans will love or hate — not to mention a sketchy past of his own — Jamie provides villainous melodrama from the opening moments to the closing credits. Bearing the brunt of his change in heart is Beth, who historically has no issue holding her own against anyone who crosses her path.

This all changes when Jamie stands up for himself in the name of saving the Yellowstone ranch. The gravity of the situation is fully pushed through in this episode, hinting at an all-out explosion that has been bubbling up since "Yellowstone" began. Not only are the pair planning to take each other to the cleaners legally, but are prepared to risk it all to get the other out of the way. It could easily be the end of "Yellowstone" as we know it. Though the effects of Jamie's thinking remain unclear, the Dutton family might not look recognizable when we see Season 5 return.

The opening flashback reveals a lot

Though Season 5 was already a fully charged outing for the characters of "Yellowstone," Episode 8 does a lot of work in order to set things up thematically. A lot of this centers around events that took place 30 years before which examine how John became the man of the show's present. Where Kevin Costner's version of the character often takes a backseat in pivotal events, the younger version shows a man who was much more proactive. Though Rip's memories are the focal point — especially the scene depicting how he got his brand — the flashback could set John up for a more hopeful redemption.

With the Dutton family in such dire straits, the Yellowstone ranch is a stray hair away from going down for good. In its hour of need, the "Yellowstone" story needs a hero — something younger John has now proved that he once was. The focus on his past could be setting John up to rediscover the personality that once set him apart in order the solve the big problems. 

Considering that the Duttons started Season 1 as one of the most respected and powerful pillars of the community, this turn of events could mean that glory is well on its way to being restored.

Can Jamie remove his father from office?

Viewers might think they are watching "The West Wing," as "Yellowstone" has pivoted from cattle ranch chaos into a powerhouse political drama. While the fate of the Dutton family hangs in the balance, Episode 8's main focus stays on whether Jamie will move forward with his decision to remove his father from the governor's office. In his speech to the assembly, Jamie announces a request for impeachment, which counterpoints John's support for Chairman Rainwater and the planned pipeline. Watching these scenes play off against each other only builds the stakes for more tactical point-scoring to come — which, in true Dutton form, will likely reach ugly heights.

Though she's hardly a daddy's girl, this storyline also shows how much Beth remains in John's corner. When the pair find out what Jamie has done, they consider it an act of war against the family unit. Judging by Jamie's villain-like behavior, they're not too wrong. 

There's an intensity to these scenes that's been missing so far in Season 5, one that rips the image of the Dutton family to shreds. While Jamie is hellbent on taking John down, there might be another factor to take into account — if John is incriminated by what happened at the train station, so is Jamie. As their go-between, Beth has been unaware that anything has happened at all, possibly meaning she could switch allegiance when she later uncovers the truth, bolstered by her blackmailing of Jamie.

The ranch isn't in good shape

It's safe to say that the Dutton family might have gotten too wrapped up in their own affairs. Jamie and John are playing the political game with Beth not too far behind, while Monica is learning to let go of her long-held resentment against John. However, while the family thinks their well-being is the be-all and end-all, their actual concern should be for the ranch itself. The foundation that the family is built on has gotten lost in the crossfire, suffering at the hands of their individual greed and immoral behavior. If there is no ranch, there is no "Yellowstone." So how can the basics bounce back as Season 5 develops?

The answer remains unclear. Kayce and Monica could prove to be lynchpins for the ranch's comeback, though while Monica finally feels as though she belongs, Kayce might be looking for an escape route. Even with them both on the same side, the success of Yellowstone goes hand in hand with the Duttons, who now might be split apart in a family war that hits "Succession" levels of melodrama. "A Knife and No Coin" reminds viewers just how violent and unsightly the family can be, which likely means the ranch has a further decline in store before it can bounce back.

Sarah could be heading down a dark path

Jamie has been carried away with his political ambitions, and Sarah is being dragged into his murky web. The mid-season finale of "Yellowstone" sees the pair getting intimate, with Sarah revealing that she would be open to meeting with hitmen on Jamie's behalf. If he asks Sarah to jump, she seems prepared to ask how high. Even at this stage, her involvement in Jamie's narrative could easily go one of two ways. It's still unclear whether Jamie is playing Sarah, or if he will be proven wrong later down the line.

As with all "Yellowstone" drama, viewers can always expect the unexpected. There's nothing to suggest that Sarah won't back out of her tunnel-vision confidence in Jamie's plans or if another Dutton might come along to tempt her with a more seductive offer. Her confident, corporate shark attitude hasn't exactly faltered, but her feelings for Jamie have taken precedence in the face of conflict when they probably shouldn't have. Regardless, it seems like Sarah is only one cog in Jamie becoming the snake that some Redditors already suspected he might be. After all, there has been another Sarah in the picture — and look how things turned out for her.

Kayce and Monica settle down

There is a softer touch to some of the action in this mid-season finale of "Yellowstone," and that centers around Kayce and Monica. The brief interaction between John and Monica hints at how much the Duttons actually consider her as one of the family, as she and Kayce realize that a home has been under their noses the whole time. The father and daughter-in-law relationship might often be overlooked in the bigger picture, but it provides some of the most intriguing and subtle nuances in the "Yellowstone" universe. After consulting her about Kayce coming on board, the two are offered a home at East Camp — moving one step closer to the life they always dreamed of.

It's not only touching and a much-appreciated bit of respite from the intensity of Jamie, John, and Beth's bloodshed, but it also drills down deeper into something that's been bubbling away at the surface. The episode shows Kayce finally confronting the feeling that he had to choose between Monica and the ranch, with John's open-mindedness and inclusion of Monica appealing to his rarely-seen softer side. If there's a light at the end of the tunnel for the Yellowstone ranch, it's Kayce and Monica, who are now in a place to expand their family and care for the ranch simultaneously.

The promised bloodshed fizzles out

Beth might have interrupted Jamie and Sarah's latest fling to smash his head in with a brick, but after this initial outburst, the mid-season finale ending became a lot more mundane. From its opening moments back in Season 1, "Yellowstone" has never shied away from a healthy splattering of blood and violence, so it's surprising to see Episode 8 wrapped up quietly. 

Still, it does end on a hopeful note, as fans are left with Kayce and Monica pondering the ranch's future now that they've been given the security of the home they've always wanted. It's sweet to see the move to East Camp, but it's an abrupt end to a mid-season break, hardly providing the cliffhanger that will keep viewers hooked until the second half of Season 5 airs.

Some have pointed out that this mundane disappointment could be because the overall action was paced too quickly. The fight between Jamie, Beth, and John happens in a flash, with the sibling brick-lumping possibly better explained and savored over multiple episodes rather than just one. The feeling of "That was it?" is not one that the creators of "Yellowstone" would have been looking for, with fans citing the excitement could easily be picked up — and replaced by — spinoffs such as "1923."

Family still trumps all

Though some fans on Reddit are still waiting for the action to pick up, the Season 5 midseason finale once again proves that it all comes back to the Duttons. No matter how many cattle illnesses, shootouts, or political agendas "Yellowstone" might add to the picture, it's the core family relationships that still have the most power. Though the political element is complex and timely, the blossoming war between Jamie, Beth, and John could still hold its weight regardless of the context. 

However, the fact that the stakes are so high means that the second part of Season 5 could be set up for the finale of all finales. With such a distinct wedge driven between Jamie and the Dutton family, it's likely that there's no going back — meaning that the only way out is a "Yellowstone" exit.

While the fate of "Yellowstone" as a whole still hangs in the balance, the dynamics signal why the show has been such a success. Something that the core program has maintained alongside its many spinoffs is a strong family unit that can easily spiral into disaster. It's safe to say that if any Dutton disappears, or if the ranch comes under new ownership, Season 6 could fall by the wayside in the same way that Season 8 did for "Game of Thrones." What will hook viewers now is the ways in which the family can possibly stick together and whether allegiances will change as the ugly truth comes out.

Rip's backstory plays a pivotal role

Much of Season 5 so far has delved into character backstories, and none has been more pivotal than Rip's childhood. With John and Rip's previous dealings with brucellosis explored earlier in the season, different facets of Rip's first years on the ranch are delved into at the end. In the midseason finale, it becomes clear that understanding young Rip is essential to understanding the changes in John. 

However, Rip's branding also gives us an idea of how the rest of Season 5 could shake out. Using this scene as the episode's opening is a timely reminder that once you're a Dutton, you're always a Dutton. Comparing Rip's childhood with Jamie's present, it stands to reason that the family may be able to find some way back together.

Though Rip in the present day has something of a reduced role in Episode 8, fans are theorizing what might happen to him in the second part. Though many Redditors agree that it is unlikely that Rip will be going anywhere, other users see a reason that he may well outlive Beth. While his actions in the immediate future of "Yellowstone" are unclear, the fact that Rip is appearing in other spinoffs makes his importance even more prominent. Who's to say that Rip — or his younger self — won't make more cameos further down the line?

John's ugly past might be exposed

One of the buzz phrases that circles around "A Knife and No Coin" is the train station — the events of which could easily lead to John's undoing. Also referred to as the Long Black Train, it's basically shorthand for the area where the Dutton family disposes of their enemies. Between them, they've racked up a fair few, and the area seems to be common family knowledge to all except Beth. Though some fans on Reddit have criticized the impromptu mass graveyard as a plothole, its significance is huge in the broader picture. By the end of the midseason finale, Beth finally finds out that the train station exists, setting the drama up for all hell to break loose.

With John — and, by implication, Jamie — now entrenched in the political game, any notion of the train station's existence would derail the life he has built for himself. Starting out as a respected member of the community, John could be bringing a witchhunt on himself if Beth chooses to move against him. At the same time, what hurts John will also hurt Jamie, with targeted leaking of information likely to play to their advantage. One thing is for certain — the train station becoming public knowledge means the ranch slips further out of the Dutton family's grasp.

A Dutton might not survive in Part 2

When all is said and done, siblings can often find a way to solve their issues, but the game-playing might have gone too far between Beth and Jamie. As fans sit with Jamie's actions after the Episode 8 finale, his villainous tendencies make one thing clear — he sees killing Beth as his only option. Jamie is no stranger to the murder of someone close to him, and his experiences, coupled with his increasingly terrifying attitude, make the choice even more of a possibility. Regardless of what happens in the second half of Season 5, it's bound to be unhinged, and the murder of a Dutton family member could be the final straw.

As far as Beth's safety is concerned, the jury is still out. While some fans think her well-being is guaranteed by her popularity among viewers, others are convinced that she won't finish the season alive. While the physical fighting with Jamie is reaching new heights, Beth's equally been taking a trip down memory lane, conquering obstacles she hasn't faced since the passing of her mother. This whimsical approach to Beth's hardened character could be setting her up for a fatal end — or just be another type of "Yellowstone" drama to keep us on our toes.

What can we expect from Season 5 Part 2?

With Season 5 of "Yellowstone" expected to make a return in the summer, there's plenty that has been left unsaid. A further six episodes are waiting in store for fans, which makes Season 5 the longest-running season to date. While the "1923" prequel has officially been renewed for a second season, the question of the core show's longevity is up for debate. With Kevin Costner's involvement in future seasons uncertain, the drama for the second half of Season 5 could easily reach life-or-death heights. Fan theories on what might happen have been circling thick and fast, with John's, Beth's, and Kayce's deaths all being predicted as possible options.

The most pressing concern is who will win the battle of the Duttons. It's a storyline that can only end one of two ways — with Beth's demise or John's successful lassoing of the Yellowstone ranch. Though it seems unlikely that Jamie will be written out, the question of how much damage he can inflict remains up in the air. Kayce and Monica appear poised to be the stable anchoring point of the season's second half, with Rip's role in the "Yellowstone" drama remaining a total wild card.