Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 5 Review: Touching Your Enemy

War is hell and hell is very real on the latest episode of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Season 2 episode 10

This Yellowstone review contains spoilers.

Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 5

With San Diego Comic-Con 2019 in full swing last week, these Yellowstone recaps had to take a brief hiatus. Which is a bummer, because the second season’s fourth episode, “Only Devils Left,” finally offered viewers a few real-world signs of the many, many ills that are set to plague the Dutton family ranch. Namely, the death of an entire field of cows due to clover, which in turn forced Kayce (Luke Grimes) and the ranch hands to burn everything before the poisonous plant took root.

That particular series of events also led to the death of another local rancher’s son, who had confronted John’s (Kevin Costner) recently deputized livestock agent son and his fellow agent, the latter of whom was forced to kill the shotgun-wielding assailant. But these things (and more) are just the tip of the supervolcano, as this week’s episode, “Touching Your Enemy,” managed to make everything even worse for the Duttons and their interests.

Chief among the parties responsible for these headaches is Jamie (Wes Bentley), John’s prodigal son whose political pipedreams are coming back to haunt him and his family. Though before addressing his sins, it’s important to dwell on something that Kayce says to his father later on in the episode, when he finally opens up to him about his time as a Navy SEAL.

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“Soldiers don’t tell war stories anymore, dad,” he says. “Because wars these days, it’s just about trying to live through them.”

In context, Kayce is talking about a time when he had to kill an entire Pakistani family after the father used them as human shields while shooting at the American soldiers. As for how it applies to “Touching Your Enemy,” well, at least in John’s mind (and the minds of many other Yellowstone players), this is war. People have been shooting at each other, beaten to bloody pulps and threatened with all kinds of manner of violence. Property is destroyed. Livestock is butchered. And all because of a significantly large portion of family-held land in Montana.

Sounds like war to me, though a war with many names and faces and allies and enemies. A war whose participants never play fair and aren’t always on the same side, depending on whoever it is that they’re facing off with.

Which brings us back to Jamie. In season one, the wayward Dutton son had taken his father’s machinations about his political future to their most extreme conclusion by vying for the state’s attorney general spot. It wasn’t exactly what John had had in mind, but it was what Jamie wanted. At the beginning of this season, however, John and his daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) found, supported and endorsed a rival candidate for the party ticket, a move that all but kicked Jamie’s ambitions to the curb. So, in true prodigal son fashion, he returned to the Dutton family ranch and sought to repair the damage he had done.

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The thing is, as Jamie confesses to Beth in a rather boisterous fight between siblings, he previously gave an interview to a reporter that didn’t paint too kind a picture of their father. So she does what any good daughter would do and beats the hell out of her brother. She slaps him, knees him in the groin after he briefly pushes back, and drags him before John in order to force him to confess. Jamie timidly, but ultimately, does just that, though not before his father becomes enraged enough to smash a glass against the wall and exclaim, “What the f*ck did you do to me!?”

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Amazingly, though, John’s response is tepid compared to his many, many previous outbursts on the show, but that doesn’t mean that Jamie’s off the hook. On the contrary, it only means that the patriarch is too busy dealing with other things, like trying to figure out who murdered his livestock and why. He’s convinced that the villainous Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston), a constant thorn in his side since last season, is the man responsible for the act. After all, when the two men briefly met over breakfast a few episodes back, Dan did promise that he was going to destroy John’s empire.

The thing is, Dan very well may not be the man responsible for this particular bit of war. Or, at least that’s the conclusion that Kayce comes to after he violently confronts him and one of his men with a Yellowstone ranch hand. “I don’t even know how to kill cows,” Dan repeatedly claims throughout the hostile interrogation. “Though I wish I did.” The evident animosity notwithstanding Kayce believes him, but struggles to convince John of his findings as he stubbornly believes that Dan is somehow still involved.

As for Yellowstone’s many other B and C plots, many of them managed to steal a minute or two in “Touching Your Enemy,” though thankfully not too much. The better (and more deserving) of these is Monica’s (Kelsey Asbille) ongoing flirtation with her physical therapist, a fellow Native American. She and her estranged husband Kayce are still married, and they still love each other deep down (and not just because of their son), but the traumatic events of the first season have taken an impregnable toll on their relationship. So far, Monica has spent this season bettering herself on her own terms. As she spends more time with Martin, however, she finally manages to have at least some fun.

Otherwise, Yellowstone ranch hand Jimmy (Jefferson White) struggles to make some extra money at a horse sliding competition but loses badly. To make matters worse, fellow ranch hand Rip (Cole Hauser) cheers on the competition at Jimmy’s expense. A couple of flashbacks to Rip and Beth’s childhood, meanwhile, offers some explanation for their tortured relationship over the years. 

Rating:

3.5 out of 5