Beth and Jamie go to war while John's political career is put in the crosshairs.
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Yellowstone's mid-season finale kicks off with a continuation of the flashback that opened last episode. After accidentally murdering the cowboy that was disrespecting Beth (Kylie Rogers), young Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein) finds himself helping young Lloyd (Forrest J. Smith) dispose of the body at the "train station." Faithful fans of the series will recall that destination isn't actually an Amtrak terminal, but rather a canyon on the Wyoming border where the Duttons bury the bodies of their enemies.

The incriminating act cements Rip's loyalty to the family, but young John (Josh Lucas) decides it's time to make it official by having him marked with the ranch's "Y" brand. When Rip gets back to the bunkhouse, he proudly shows off the fresh sear, a rite of passage that's celebrated with whiskey and a seat at the poker table.

The next scene opens with another branded chest. It's now present day, and we're catching up with long-absent Jimmy (Jefferson White), last seen in season 4 leaving for Texas with his new fiancée Emily (Kathryn Kelly). He's happy and living the good cowboy life, working hard at the 6666 Ranch during the day and giving Emily foot rubs and drinking Coors Banquets at night.

Wes Bentley on 'Yellowstone'
Wes Bentley on 'Yellowstone'
| Credit: Paramount Network

Back in Montana, John (Kevin Costner) asks Monica (Kelsey Asbille) — because she "wears the pants"— if Kayce (Luke Grimes) will run the ranch while Rip's (Cole Hauser) in Texas moving the herd. He offers them a nearby fixer upper in exchange for their help. The two also share a sweet moment, as Monica thanks John for his supportive words following the death of her unborn child.

The sweetness is traded for swelling, sinister music in the next scene, where Jamie's (Wes Bentley) confidently strolling the halls of the capitol building. The attorney general's on his way to an emergency meeting of the assembly, where he addresses the legislature and senate. He calls out his father for costing the state billions of dollars and thousands of jobs by canceling the airport project's funding. He proposes a senate tribunal seeking impeachment.

Meanwhile, John and Lynelle (Wendy Moniz) are supporting Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) at a press conference denouncing the pipeline planned to run beneath the reservation's drinking water reservoir. But as the attending press begin receiving word of Jamie's attack, they turn their focus to John. Beth (Kelly Reilly) also gets wind of her brother's bold move — from verbal sparring partner Summer (Piper Perabo) — and discovers the senate tribunal is favored with a vote of 67 to 33.

The episode takes a brief breather from the escalating intrigue and drama to send off the Texas-bound cowboys. Jake (Jake Ream,) Walker (Ryan Bingham,) Teeter (Jennifer Landon,) and Ryan (Ian Bohen) pack their cold weather gear and say their goodbyes, while Rip and Beth plan to reunite in a week, when she'll fly to the Texas Panhandle. The scene also treats us to some young blossoming romance, as Carter and his crush plan a post-branding season date.

Of course, Beth's top priority is confronting Jamie, so it's not long before she's banging on his door. Or, more specifically, smashing through it with a rock, the same one she cracks across his smug face. When Jamie comes to, he's shockingly a step ahead of his sister. She's fully prepared to unleash the blackmail she's been holding over him since snapping the photos of him burying the corpse of his biological father. But he hits her with a bombshell, revealing those compromising pics were taken at the "train station," the same secret spot the Duttons have been filling with their foes for a century. Exposing him would also uncover years of Dutton misdeeds.

Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 8
Luke Grimes and Kelsey Asbille on 'Yellowstone'
| Credit: Paramount Network

Sarah (Dawn Olivieri) emerges, wrapped in a bed sheet, to toss some salt in the wound, prompting Beth to declare war on her brother before storming out. She next confronts her father, whose day is only getting worse. It seems word has also leaked that those protected, GPS collar-wearing wolves may have been killed on his land. When it rains, it pours.

John spills the beans on the "train station," which he further describes to his daughter as "a trash can for everyone that's attacked us." Beth isn't so much stunned by the existence of this mass grave, but more that Jamie is aware of it and can use it against the family. She suggests the only solution is to eliminate him, permanently. The scene ends without a clear response from John.

Back at Jamie's house, Sarah's tending to his head injury and plotting their next moves. Knowing his sister will likely have him killed, he wants to go on offense and asks his co-conspirator if she knows of any "group that has experience with this kind of situation." She is, of course, ready with recommendations of people who will "make it look like a heart attack or a car accident."

The mid-season finale could've ended on this dire note, but instead leaves us with a more pleasant conclusion. Kayce and Monica discuss John's proposal. Kayce reveals to his wife the vision he previously saw presented a choice between her and the ranch. But she fully embraces the idea of starting over, maybe even trying to grow their family again, and is hopeful the move will eliminate the need for him to choose: "Maybe this is the way we have both."

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