After suddenly bleeding from the mouth and collapsing on the ranch, John (Kevin Costner) undergoes an impromptu surgical procedure by a veterinarian on hand as he doesn’t have enough time to make it to a hospital.
While John and his son Kayce (Luke Grimes) fear it could have something to do with his previously diagnosed colon cancer, it turns out to be something else entirely: a ruptured ulcer.
Later, as he’s taken to hospital in a helicopter, the show makes it clear that John’s days are no longer numbered.
The Best Car Insurance in the USA 2024
“Well, bright side: you don’t have cancer,” Kayce says. “Not dying yet.”
It’s a 180-degree turn from the show’s first season in which John’s aggressive, terminal cancer loomed large and provided the protagonist even more reason to ensure that his land and legacy remain intact.
The retconning of this storyline may be down to the fact that “Yellowstone” was originally pitched as a 10-episode limited series before it was renewed for its second season.
The scene in which Rip unleashes an angry bull in a local bar was inspired by real events.
Speaking on the show’s behind-the-scenes YouTube series “Yellowstone: Behind the Story,” Forrie J. Smith, who worked as a real wrangler for most of his life before he became a TV star, said that the sequence was inspired by one of his own cowboy stories.
Noting that it was “one of the wildest things” he’d ever done, Smith said he once “got called to get a bull out a bar” after some cowboys took revenge on local bikers who attacked them — which is exactly how the scene goes down in the show’s season two premiere.
Rip might have intentionally allowed Kayce to win their fight.
In episode two, after Rip (Cole Hauser) is demoted to make Kayce the ranch’s foreman, the two come to blows in full view of the other ranchhands and John.
While they both get several nasty hits in, it’s Kayce who ends up winning when Rip invites him to take one final punch that just so happens to knock him down.
After the fight is over, Rip walks over to John, who thanks him for making Kayce “earn it,” seemingly referencing the victory. However, this can also be applied to the respect of the other Yellowstone employees who all witnessed Kayce take on, and beat, the ranch’s most formidable wrangler.
By letting the boss’ son beat him, Rip selflessly pushes his pride aside to help signify to the others that there has been a change of the guard. They should show Kayce the respect and loyalty they previously showed him.
John and Governor Perry’s relationship, it turns out, goes pretty far back.
In episode three, John and Governor Lynnelle Perry (Wendy Moniz) meet up at a bar in Bozeman to discuss the fact that Jamie is no longer campaigning for the position of Montana attorney general. The two get nostalgic as they realize the trendy, darkly-lit bar they’re drinking in used to be a granary.
“I remember when you were a rodeo queen,” John says wistfully. “Leading the parade on horseback right past this place.”
“Yeah, well, a long time ago,” Lynelle responds.
The inclusion of this detail adds a new dynamic to John and Lynelle’s casual on-and-off romance. After audiences saw them hook up in episode one, it wasn’t made clear how long they had been romantically involved, or how far back these old friends really went.
If Lynelle was a rodeo queen as a teenager or in her twenties, it seems possible that her presence in John’s life could predate his marriage to his children’s mother, Evelyn.
The actor who portrays a younger version of Lloyd in the flashbacks is Forrie J. Smith’s real son.
The flashback to Rip’s early days in the Yellowstone bunkhouse shows a younger version of one of the oldest cowboys on the ranch, Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith). He’s the one who defends young Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein) when an older ranchhand starts to beat him, which begins their decades-long friendship and bond.
If you were thinking the actor looks like the spitting image of Smith, it’s because it’s his real son, Forest Smith.
Cocreator Taylor Sheridan enlisted some of his real cowboy friends for a cameo.
In episode five, cocreator Taylor Sheridan reprises his role of Travis Wheatley, a horse trainer and rodeo competitor who often visits the Yellowstone ranch to sell horses and catch up with John.
In episode five, he shows up for a horse-reining contest that Lloyd organizes to help Jimmy (Jefferson White) earn some extra cash. However, he’s not the only real-life award-winning equestrian sportsperson in the scene.
If you were curious to know who the others who mercilessly and effortlessly beat Jimmy in the competition are, they are the McCutcheon family, which consists of husband and wife duo Tom and Mandy, and their children, Cade and Carlee.
The family, who hail from Texas, were previously showcased on Sheridan’s reality competition series “The Last Cowboy” about the elite world of horse reining and, according to WFAA, are such good friends with the showrunner that he keeps a few horses on their ranch.
And just as Travis says in the scene, the McCutcheons are so good at horse reining, they’ve won millions from the sport.
There is a rare callback to John’s deceased son, Lee, in episode seven.
For someone who was set to inherit the ranch and continue the Dutton legacy, John’s eldest son Lee (Dave Annable) sure doesn’t get mentioned a lot in the series.
As viewers will remember, he was shot and killed in a shootout in the show’s pilot episode, which set in motion John’s decision to bring his other three children back to the ranch and work out who is the right fit to take over his role when he dies.
While Lee is all but forgotten this season, there is a nod to him in episode seven after Kayce agrees to once again live at the ranch. To give Kayce and his family space, John decides to move into Lee’s old cabin on the land, which leads to an emotional confrontation.
While moving his personal belongings into the cabin, John can’t help but feel like he’s desecrating Lee’s memory. It’s clear the cabin hasn’t been touched since Lee’s death, and John even apologizes when he starts making changes to the place.
The decision to not mention Lee again until this moment may have been intentional, as it’s immediately clear from this scene that John hasn’t fully moved on from his death. Up until now, he’s kept Lee’s cabin intact, almost as if he expects Lee to walk back through the door any day now.
Tate’s kidnapping is foreshadowed in episode eight.
The season-long feud between the Duttons and the Beck brothers, Malcolm (Neal McDonough) and Teal (Terry Serpico), ends dramatically with the kidnapping of John’s grandson, Tate (Brecken Merill), by a gang of Neo-Nazis hired by the Becks.
While Tate isn’t taken until the end of episode nine, his fate is teased in the prior episode when the Beck brothers are seen with photographs of John’s nearest and dearest — Monica (Kelsey Asbille), Tate, Kayce, Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Jamie (Wes Bentley).
As Malcolm pushes the photo of Tate toward his brother with the heel of his boot, he makes it clear that he has nefarious intentions to do something to the youngster by ominously saying: “Who he loves the most.”
A flashback to John’s father in the season finale is even more significant now that a generational saga has been built around “Yellowstone.”
In the final episode of season two, a flashback shows John’s final moments with his father, John Dutton II (Dabney Coleman). The two take a ride together before finding a picturesque spot on the ranch to sit and reflect.
At the time the episode first aired, cocreator Sheridan hadn’t yet launched his wider “Yellowstone” television universe, which has expanded the story of the Dutton family to show how they first found their ranch in Montana. However, now that the prequels “1883” and “1923” have both aired, John’s father bears a lot more importance.
In fact, viewers of “1923” — which is set to return for a second season to close out its story — are eagerly awaiting to see John II be born so they can join up the two disjointed branches of the Dutton family tree and put the mystery of the modern-day Dutton clan’s lineage to rest once and for all.