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[This story contains spoilers to the season five two-episode premiere of Yellowstone.”]
The last time Yellowstone viewers saw Kayce Dutton, he had a dire warning for his wife, Monica. “I saw the end of us,” he said, following a three-day vision quest. And viewers have been hanging onto those words for nearly a year, anticipating just how his prophecy might be fulfilled with the return of Taylor Sheridan’s hit Paramount Network neo-Western family saga.
Season five, which premiered with two episodes, jumped a bit of time to catch up with the Dutton family, to show patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) being sworn in as the Governor of Montana, prize daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) being promoted to his chief of staff and hated son Jamie (Wes Bentley) fulfilling his finale promise to jump on the Gov. Dutton bandwagon, after murdering his biological father in hopes of getting back in his family’s good graces.
The first hour, however, ended in tragedy when Monica (Kelsey Asbille) went into early labor and got into a car accident while driving herself to the hospital; she and son Tate (Brecken Merrill) survived the crash, but viewers are informed in the final moments of the premiere that the baby, who was named after John, did not survive. The premiere ended with youngest Dutton son Kayce (Luke Grimes) cradling wife Monica in his arms in her hospital bed.
“It’s such a tragic loss and you really see Monica at her rock bottom,” Asbille says of how Monica will grieve the loss of her second son, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in a joint interview with Grimes. “Throughout the show, she just wants to be a good mother, a good wife. A good person to her community, as well. And this really shakes her beliefs with all of that.”
But, she says, “There’s a very definitive moment where she does choose life and she chooses to heal.”
That journey for Kayce and Monica, who have seen their fair share of tragedy on the series, will actually strengthen the Dutton pair as the season goes. “They’ve chosen to lean on each other; they’re dealing with a common pain together,” Grimes shares, with Asbille noting that Native culture will play a large role in the grieving process, including an upcoming funeral ceremony — plotted with the help of co-star Mo Brings Plenty — that she says is an important part of Monica and Kayce’s healing. Unlike in previous seasons where trauma has nearly torn the couple apart, Grimes says this tragedy strengthens them — and isn’t what Kacey’s vision was referring to.
“There’s a scene between us [in episode two] where Monica asks Kayce if this is what he meant [and he says no],” Grimes tells THR of the ominous “end of us” warning, which came to Kayce during a Native ritual where he secluded himself in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water in hopes of seeking spiritual answers. When Grimes filmed the finale and shared the result of the vision, the actor wasn’t yet clued into exactly what Kayce meant. But just as he eventually got his answers, viewers will start to understand more about the message as season five unfolds.
“When I read that, I immediately went to Taylor and I was like, ‘Hey man, I know you don’t want me to know anything about the end of this story and that’s great, and I love that, but just tell me how to say this.’ He gave me enough to understand how to play the line, but didn’t give anything away to me,” the actor shares. “But throughout season five, you start to learn what that meant and specifically what Kayce saw, and then also, their plan to go through with it in a way that makes sense to them.”
He continues, “I think what we gather from that vision quest is when that woman says, ‘Here are two paths and you have to choose one,’ and Kayce just says, ‘Oh, god’ — that was the line, ‘oh, god’ — you realize there’s no good option here. So obviously, he knows what the choices are. And those will become more clear as the season progresses.”
Considering the land politics at play in the upcoming season, Kayce’s warning could certainly apply on a larger scale, with the metaphorical “us” referring to the Dutton family or Montana at large. John secures the governorship, in order to keep his family’s cattle ranch, with a bid to return Montana to the state and its people, protecting the farmers and ranchers who live with the land and not on it. “We are not New York’s novelty or California’s toy,” he warns to the billionaire land builders who become the season’s new enemies, a move that could “set the state back 30 years,” Jamie warns.
And while Grimes and Asbille tease that the fifth season will be so expansive and large in scope, that it might usher in the beginning of the end of this Yellowstone story, fans of Kayce and Monica have hope to hold onto. “I think that she is beginning to understand her place in the family and its legacy,” Asbille says with a nod to Monica’s hesitant role in the Dutton clan.
“This season really tees up where this show is probably going to go and what could go wrong, and what they’re going to have to do to deal with it,” Grimes adds of the Dutton family’s evolving battles on the series, which currently ranks as the most popular show on television and has spawned an entire Sheridan-created universe, including the Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren-starring prequel 1923.
“I think we’re moving towards the end,” Asbille echoes of the series, which, since its 2022 Emmys snubs, has become the source of debate about being a so-called “red-state show” — a label Sheridan emphatically refutes. “With all of Taylor’s work embedded in the Western genre, he really uses the genre to talk about issues that matter. It’s very subversive in that way. Whether that’s land politics or Native issues, I think that’s kind of the beauty of Yellowstone as well.”
The two-part fifth season of Yellowstone begins airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network, with episodes or the full season available for purchase on select streaming devices. (The series does not release on Paramount+; previous seasons stream on Peacock.)
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