Fans were left wondering whether three members of the Dutton family would survive a brutal attack.
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SPOILER ALERT! Do not read unless you've seen the season four premiere of Yellowstone on the Paramount Network.

The key art and previews for the season 4 return of Paramount's addictive series from Taylor Sheridan teased that "everybody pays." Fortunately for us, Sheridan didn't have everybody pay too much after last season's explosive finale. But there was blood -- lots of it.

If fans recall from the Aug. 23, 2020 finale, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) was the victim of a roadside ambush while his daughter Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) received an exploding package at work. Son Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) was also cornered by trigger-happy gunmen at the Livestock Commissioner's Office.

Yellowstone
A poster for 'Yellowstone' season 4
| Credit: Paramount Network

Good news! John survived the gun attack after Rip (Cole Hauser) had the good sense to bring in a helicopter to whisk his boss to the hospital. Beth walked away from her office explosion, but not without severe burns and a new mission to kill anyone who crosses her family. And Kayce both survived his firefight and participated in an OK Corral-type shootout with the baddos who were responsible for the attacks. The Yellowstone ranch was mostly left unscathed, though someone burned down the house that Rip shared with Beth.

In the midst of the madness, the story flashes back to 1893 where we meet James Dutton (Tim McGraw), the true patriarch of the Dutton dynasty and star of the upcoming Yellowstone prequel 1883. James is approached by local Native Americans who want to bury a tribal member on his Montana land. James kindly agrees. Does this mean the Duttons will become forever friends with the locals?

Yellowstone: 1883
Tim McGraw in old Fort Worth for '1883'
| Credit: Paramount +

Flash forward to the tribe casino, where a gambler is overheard talking about the recent hit on the Duttons. Red Bear (Gregory Zaragoza) captures the man, drags him to hell, and demands to know the whereabouts of the militia that was behind the attacks. Beth, meanwhile, has her own suspicions about the plot to kill her dad and brother; she thinks it was her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley), whom we learned last season was adopted by John and his now-dead wife Evelyn (Gretchen Mol).

Beth continues to harbor deep resentment that Jamie was responsible for her being sterilized as a teenager. So it's no surprise that she finds a new way to satisfy whatever motherly urges may be lingering underneath her hard shell: she meets a 'tweener at the hospital named Carter (Finn Little) who lost his father to drug abuse. She brings Carter home to Rip, who starts breaking the kid like a horse by putting him to work in the stables. And just like that, Rip and Beth have a son!

And don't expect any more appearances by Josh Holloway: his hedge fund manager character, Roarke Morris, is killed by Rip since he likely (or maybe not?) had something to do with the attack on the Dutton family.

The episode ends with a "loving memory" tribute to Allan Robert Murray, a sound editor on Yellowstone who died in February at the age of 66, and Milt Bradford, a longtime horse auctioneer who died in May at 71.

New cast members joining season 4 include Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) as Caroline Warner, the CEO of Market Equities; Piper Perabo (Covert AffairsCoyote Ugly) as Summer Higgins, an outside protestor who's against industrialized farming; Kathryn Kelly (Nashville) as Emily, a vet tech who cozies up to a cowboy.

Yellowstone airs Sundays on the Paramount Network.

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