There is no question that Season 5 premiere of Yellowstone will set up the chessboard for the season to come and, for once, it doesn't seem great to be king.
After a narrow victory, John Dutton (Kevin Costner) becomes reluctantly sworn in as Governor of Montana, which was teased in the season trailer but will play out on Nov. 13 when the show returns with two back-to-back episodes on Paramount Network.
The news hits hard for Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham), who has to deal with the new dynamics at play between him and the newly-elected Governor, and John's first order of business is one that makes Rainwater "feel like he's left out, hanging in the wind, and not knowing which direction to turn," Birmingham tells Metacritic about his character. "It's going to be very dangerous."
"I think in the past, Rainwater and John Dutton had a gentleman's agreement about maybe forming an alliance so that they could fight a bigger and greater force," Birmingham continues. But this season, "Thomas is going to be encountering challenges from different sides, including the ambiguity of John and the decisions that he makes and how Thomas is going to be affected by that. Where's he going to be able to turn? Where's the support going to come from?"
Equally unhappy about the victory is Jamie (Wes Bentley), whose political dream John is effectively living out. And it doesn't help that he has lost faith in his father's agenda, both as Governor and as the father figure he once looked up to.
"Now that John has done what he's done by taking the governorship — and this is someone who used to bash politicians and lawyers — I think Jamie sees that as a bit hypocritical and that, in turn, as maybe a weakness. Maybe John's just a man who has no idea what to do," says Bentley. "I think that's lessened the veneer of his, for Jamie. It's changed now how he feels about John."
Although no one is currently asking Jamie's opinion — or perhaps precisely because no one is consulting him — his percolating rage for the man who raised him is about to set these two on a rocky course.
"It's different than it has been in the past," says Bentley. "John was a heroic figure to Jamie, or at least a role model of sorts. Even though he was not always the best man, there was something that I think Jamie thought you should aspire to be. And that's changed for Jamie."
This is not the only relationship that has experienced a rude awakening. After last season's shocking season finale, where Beth (Kelly Reilly) blackmailed Jamie into killing his biological father (who had attempted to have the entire Dutton family assassinated) and captured his act on camera, the brother and sister have truly reached the point of no return.
"I think that they were very close at a point and then that broke," says Bentley. "Jamie has always latched onto that and wanted that back and thought it might come back one day, after enough time."
But as Beth's true feelings towards Jamie finally sink it, it dramatically changes the trajectory of their relationship.
"He's only now realized that she hates him — she actually hates him — and there is no reconciliation to be had," says Bentley. "Now he has his own hatred for her. So, where it's been complicated for the past few seasons, now it almost seems clear to him: 'This is my enemy.' No longer is he desperately trying to hold on to get something from her, but he now has to protect himself from her. And what does that mean? What is he going to have to do?"
Other members inside the Dutton circle are also questioning John's new political quest. Rip (Cole Hauser), for example, is worried about people prying into a life he managed to build and maintain against the odds (and legality).
"I don't think he likes the fact that there's a bunch of people in his backyard, you know what I mean?" says Hauser. "That's never happened in the past, and now the public is coming onto this hallow sacred ground that is Yellowstone Ranch. If this continues, people are going to know about it — they're going to know about me. You're talking about a character that doesn't have a license, who's totally off the grid. So, this year is interesting in that he's kind of thrust into being the foreman of a ranch, not having John to lean back on and having to learn on his feet. There's also a ton of responsibility that's thrust onto Rip."
As for whether Rip's assessment that John's governorship will result in the loss of Yellowstone Ranch will put a wedge between him and a wife that is fiercely loyal to her father, Hauser says only, "That's a good question. You have to watch."
With the ongoing friction, and a family crisis that is bound to either bring them together or tear them apart, we will be watching.
Yellowstone Season 5 premieres at 8 p.m. Nov. 13 on Paramount Network.