Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Joins the Dutton Ranch in the ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 Premiere

Yellowstone Season 4 Paramount Network
Courtesy of Paramount Network

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched the two-hour Season 4 premiere of “Yellowstone.”

The Dutton family may have survived an attack at the end of the third season of “Yellowstone,” but the war looks to only be beginning and the first casualty of Season 4 is Josh Holloway’s Roarke.

The two-hour Season 4 premiere began with finishing the events of the Season 3 finale, with John (Kevin Costner) being driven to a hospital to treat his gunshot wound, Beth (Kelly Reilly) bruised and bloody and temporarily unable to hear — though still willing to light a cigarette — after a box blew up in front of her, and Kayce (Luke Grimes) firing back at those who came driving by blasting their guns.

Much of the first hour (titled “Half the Money”) was focused on the Duttons getting their feet back up under them, especially John, who was not happy to be discharged from the hospital to a home setup had to match the machines and careful rest a hospital would provide. Beth’s anger was equally palpable, but directed in different places — namely at Jamie (Wes Bentley), whose office she stormed into, throwing childhood items and threatening that she would kill him herself, convinced he was the one who put a hit out on the others. (Kayce was not convinced of this, however.)

At the end of that episode, though, Roarke was alone, fishing, when Rip (Cole Hauser) approached him with a cooler asking if it was his. Although Roarke kept saying no, Rip walked closer, insisting, and then opened it, tossing the contents — a rattlesnake — at Roarke. It had been aggravated by Rip shaking of the cooler and “got” Roarke in the face. (When leading up to the Season 4 premiere, Holloway cryptically teased that his character would “get his,” and here was that payoff.) Roarke ran into the woods, but it was futile; the venom worked fast and Roarke collapsed and then expired with Rip standing over him, with a boot on his chest.

In March, Variety reported that Holloway already had another gig lined up, though at the time it wasn’t clear if he would be juggling both. But now fans have the answer.

While the show lost one character, though, it gained a few more. When Beth was at the hospital visiting her father, she ended up bonding with a teenage boy named Carter (Finn Little) whose father was dying. She stood with him when the doctor gave him the bad news that his father had no brain activity left and fought to let Carter say goodbye. Carter ended up coming home with Beth in the second episode (titled “Phantom Pain”) of the two-hour premiere block.

After he tried to pull off a robbery, he told the cop that picked him up that Beth was his guardian. Naturally, she didn’t want to agree, but when the cop told her the world would be better off if the kid “went to sleep tonight and didn’t wake up in the morning,” she changed her mind.

Although neither Rip nor John was too sure about Carter at first, his arrival was kismet as Jimmy (Jefferson White) was too injured from is fall off a horse to continue working at the ranch.

The premiere episodes ended on an emotional but still hopeful note, as John took a horse out for an early morning ride as part of his physical therapy, leaving Carter to man the barn. But that feels like a brief calm before another storm, especially because of Jacki Weaver’s Caroline Warner, who made her debut in the second episode. If people thought Roarke was bad for their business, well at least he was the devil they knew. Caroline, the chair of Market Equities, wants to acquire the ranch and her methods are will be just as serious, even if she looks a lot more put-together when pulling them off.

“Yellowstone” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Paramount Network.