This article contains spoilers for Yellowstone season 5 episodes 1-2.
Audiences have made Yellowstone’s Dutton clan television royalty for a reason. For 150 years within their fictional Montana kingdom, the Duttons have fought for their family and their legacy – and they fight hard. The way they play the game may have changed over that century and a half – trading guns for law degrees, or governorships – but their family motto remains the same throughout the generations. They will win at any cost.
In the 41 episodes we’ve been given so far, those who have opposed Montana’s first family have usually met a nefarious end, taking a one-way trip to the “train station.” Many have tried to destroy the Duttons or a part of the land they love, and while some enemies have certainly come close (the end of season 3 saw the family blown up, shot, and decimated), no one has truly been a match.
That may soon change.
Still in its infancy, season 5 of Yellowstone promises that two characters could finally be antagonistic forces that stop the Duttons in their tracks, or irrevocably hurt them. The premiere gave us the pleasure of meeting the beautiful and dangerous Sarah Atwood (Dawn Olivieri). Atwood represents the same ideals behind every good comic book rivalry – the best villains are merely the other side of the same coin that the heroes embody. Think Spider-Man vs Venom, Hulk vs Abomination, or Green Lantern vs Sinestro. The antagonists are virtually the same person, with the same skill set – they’re just willing to cross any lines necessary.
If Atwood had a shock of ginger-colored hair, you might mistake her for a long-lost sister of Beth (Kelly Reilly). In only a handful of scenes in the first two episodes, Atwood is already shown to have a reputation for being cutthroat. She’s clearly opportunistic, power hungry, and loyal to those she serves, namely Caroline Warner (Jackie Weaver) and Market Equities. In the first moments of her introduction, we even witness how she’s not afraid to use her sexuality to attract a young Market Equities flunky, much like how Beth has drawn in random bar flies only to spit venom in their face.
In fact, Atwood, in her first 10 minutes on screen, mirrors some of the more infamous Beth interactions from the previous 4 seasons. Atwood, like Beth, is much like a Black Widow, willing to toy with men if it means she gets what she wants. The first time we meet Beth, she controls a board room as she tells some lowly corporate Stooge exactly how things are going to play out, even getting said Stooge to thank her when it’s all done. As soon as Atwood walks into the Market Equities board room, every character in that room knows what’s going to happen. Neither woman is afraid to speak their mind, as they both appear to often be the smartest person in the room, or at the very least, the most brutally honest.
It can’t be a coincidence that Taylor Sheridan, in the conclusion of last season, wrote a very heated exchange between Weaver and Beth, and then the next time we see Weaver, she’s bringing in her version of Beth to take the Duttons down. This all but confirms Weaver is going to do everything she can to put Beth behind bars. If anyone seems like a real threat to the Duttons, it could be Atwood. As much as audiences cheer for Beth’s in-your-face attitude, Atwood is undoubtedly about to throw that directly into our face.
The show debuts its third episode on Nov. 20, where we will be reintroduced to now Sheriff Bill Ramsey (Rob Kirkland). When Kirkland spoke with Den of Geek, coincidentally he described Ramsey as an ‘immovable object’, so the Dutton family are certainly going to find themselves being pressured from several different sides.
The immovability of Ramsey is his steadfast belief in the law and the truth. We already got a taste of how different things in local law enforcement are going to look now that longterm ally Sheriff Donnie Haskell (Hugh Dillon) is gone, but Kirkland tells us that even John, in his new position as Governor, isn’t prepared for the fight Bill is about to bring.
“Bill doesn’t care who John Dutton is.” Kirkland explains. “He doesn’t care how many acres he has. [Bill] has the truth. He’s got the law on his side, he has the constitution, and that’s all that he cares about, regardless of who you are.”
In a previous article where we hypothesized how Yellowstone could end, one of the theories was that real jail time could be on the horizon for key members of the Dutton family – a theory Kirkland doesn’t exactly dismiss. Kirkland goes on to elaborate that John’s position as governor does not protect him at all. In fact, the rift it has created between John and Jamie, which was set up last season, isn’t the only possible family rift within the Duttons.
“Jamie is becoming even more distant,” Kirkland reminds us, “And we saw something going on with Beth and John in season 4, too. This all leads to John being a little bit more vulnerable. The governorship is going to expose him a little bit and John doesn’t have the law on his side any more. From the moment Bill steps into frame we’ll see that the creed of the Sheriff Ramsey Administration is the antithesis of late Sheriff Haskell’s. It’ll be crystal clear that the warning he gave John Dutton was a courtesy for Dutton and his ilk, and not an empty threat.”
So while Beth is likely dealing with her mirror image in Atwood, John seems to be dealing with his in Ramsey – another strong-willed man who thinks he knows what’s best for Montana. Kirkland sums it up best: “Bill Ramsay is not going to be John’s friend. People that are fans of John Dutton are probably not going to be a fan of my character. Bill is a tiger circling a lion and his pride. The higher that lion climbs, the more carnage he and his pride stir up, the nearer this tiger draws toward its throat.”
New episodes of Yellowstone season 5 premiere Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network in the U.S. and the day after on Paramount+ in the U.K.