Life can change on a dime, and the Dutton family knows that all too well.
On the Yellowstone Season 1 premiere, eldest son, Lee Dutton, was brutally killed amidst a family feud.
On Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 1, John Dutton discovered life after death, in a manner of speaking. Go big, or go home in the world of Yellowstone.
There were plenty of surprises from the premiere, and change aplenty.
Beth is doing everything in her power to protect the Yellowstone and keep her father safe, Jamie is realizing that his new life as a politico is empty, and Kayce is stepping into his father's shoes as John begins to delegate his authority over to his youngest son.
But when it's revealed John doesn't have colon cancer like he's been lead to believe, it's impossible not to wonder if everybody hasn't been motivated by the possibility of his death.
If I'm in Bozeman this time next year, Jason here has instructions to poison me.Beth
Beth's sticking it to everyone who crosses the Dutton path, including her brother, Jamie. After losing her mother and feeling responsible, she's fiercely loyal to her father. But what is really keeping her in Bozeman, a place she cannot stand?
Whether it's an outsider trying to tumble the walls of the Yellowstone or her brother pulling at them from the inside, she goes to great lengths to cut them off at the pass.
Bob: What's a CRP?
Beth: That's the federal government paying us not to farm it.
Bob: Why would they do that?
Beth: To control the supply, Bob. That way they don't have to worry about local farmers diluting the market. It's pretty fucking shitty, but it's great for us.
Beth has big plans for the future of Yellowstone, and they include a 200 square mile moat of unusable government funded land. She's aiming for the same territory that has Rainwater inspired, and there's bound to be one hell of a fight to the finish.
They're both using the federal government to play their local game. It sounds too easy to do it at the expense of this great nation, but for shame on the government for their ridiculous loopholes and attempts to stop progress and keep the little man down.
Councilman: You were elected to bring change to the reservation. This isn't change. It's the same thing white men have been doing to us for centuries, and now you're doing it.
Rainwater: Yes. At last, someone's doin' it to them. This is where change begins.
The Yellowstone Season 2 trailer has suggested that Jamie is going to join forces with Rainwater for his political gain and to strike back at the family who is actively opposing him.
Beth and John set the stage for that by openly seeking another candidate to back in lieu of Jamie. When we see Jamie with his manager cum girlfriend Christina, he's out of his element. She's not his people. Even getting coffee is a joke to him now.
We haven't seen them drinking coffee on the Yellowstone, but can we assume it's done hard, fast, and simple? That pour-over garbage is for the birds. There's nothing like a fresh cup of coffee, but come on!
I loved the look on his face when Jamie openly defied the barista who suggested he let the coffee breathe before taking a drink.
He toes so many lines that he needs to get his rebellion on where he can. It was a satisfying win for him no matter how small, but arriving back at Christina's place to her pleasure over the slow brew made him reconsider it.
Beth found a candidate to back in the election who she believes Jamie will hate. When I spoke with Wes Bentley before the season began, he was excited about what might lie beneath the surface of this brother and sister.
With how badly she wants to cut jim off at the knees suggests something monstrous must have happene between them. But then again, Beth has held onto her believe that it was her inability to ride and general fear of life that caused her mother's death.
She doesn't see things through a clear lens, so how she views Jamie is also likely quite muddied.
Kayce is currently benefitting from the ranch she's going to great lengths to protect. John is slowly passing the torch for the future to his youngest child, even bypassing Rip when it comes to decisions about wranglers.
Rip didn't show emotion when John bypassed him for Kayce's input on hiring Cowboy, but Kayce narrowed his eyes as he took in what was happening.
There has always been a little bit of tension between Rip and Kayce, but they have to learn to work together now that Kayce is sticking around and getting a leg up from John. Rip has done everything for John, but blood is thicker than an outsider's loyalty even with a brand.
I would have wondered if Kayce would ever look sideways at Rip because of the criminal tactics he uses to care for the Yellowstone, but after the bar fight and bull stunt, Kayce was the one to suggest he would consider burning the joint down if ownership didn't start treating them with more respect.
Cowboy: Oh, you don't need permission to leave, Walker.
Walker: Here you do.
Walker and Cowboy share a past, and that was enough for Walker to warn Cowboy of the subtle differences of Yellowstone in comparison to other ranches. With as dedicated as some of the wranglers are to the ranch, how doesn't Rip see how detrimental Walker could be if he sticks around?
I'm not suggesting he should kill him, but damn, I would have thought it didn't need to be said! Does Rip like Walker's Elvis impersonation that much? It's worrisome that he'll one of the Jenga blocks that slips out of place bringing down the whole tower.
And let's be real here -- despite all of their terrible ways, we're rooting for the Duttons, aren't we? Or am I the only one?
At least Kayce didn't kill Dan Jenkins, although we can assume without John's help, he would have succeeded.
With Rainwater's nightmare at the beginning of the episode and Beth's discussion with Bob "tuck it in your sock" Schwartz, it never crossed my mind that he survived. Yet there he was to taunt John Dutton for another day.
Dan: You know, they say there's no greater failure than a parent outliving their child because it's the one failure that you just can't ever overcome. Ever.
John: You should have gone to the sheriff, Dan. You ain't getting cut down next time, 'cause next time, I'm doing it myself.
If he's still hell-bent on taking the Yellowstone, I wonder if he's going to be responsible for bringing Neal McDonough's character to town.
Granted, there are a plethora of reasons anybody could be coming for the Duttons, but leaving Danny Huston's Dan Jenkins alive cannot possibly be done without particular consequences!
Taunting John had to add to John's stress level that wound up rupturing his ulcer. John was left in the dark for a lot of stuff concerning the wranglers. Everything else seems to be coming up roses, including his brazen hidden attack against Jamie.
It was awfully lucky of the vet to be near the Yellowstone when John most needed medical attention, but oh my gawd that was horrific!
Is there anything better than Yellowstone when things start to go batshit crazy? Yeah, I don't think so, either.
What a fuckin' mess.John
Yeah, well, bright side. You don't have cancer. You're not dyin' yet.
Yeah, maybe not. But I've been livin' like it and that might be worse. So much to undo. I've got so much to undo.
Once everyone realizes that John isn't frail and dying, what will it mean to their current plans?
John has been living like he has no future. Will he continue to pass the reins to Kayce, or will he have another plan in mind? And how will Rip take that transition?
Will Beth be as interested in protecting a father who is perfectly able to protect himself? Given her mother's situation at the time of her death, I suspect so, but at what cost to herself?
I'm not sure how it will affect Jamie, but at least John has time to pull him back into the fold instead of completely ostracizing him.
What do you think lies ahead for this dynastic Montana family? Did the premiere live up to your expectations?
Hit the comments, and let's get this conversation started.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.