It's the episode we've been waiting for since Yellowstone Season 1, and Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 5 didn't disappoint.
The cause for the tremendous rift between Beth and Jamie was revealed, and it proved, once and for all, that Jamie cannot be redeemed.
That the reveal coincided with his ascension to Attorney General of Montana cannot bode well for John Dutton's remaining eldest son.
We've spent a long time wondering what went wrong with Jamie.
While we've gotten snippets of his early life and the decisions John made for him when his own plans were considerably different, "Cowboys and Dreamers" didn't do anything to help us understand him better.
Whatever happened to Jamie to make him the man he is today was done well before his teenage years. Will we ever discover what that was?
So many people have assumed that John's wife had an affair that begets Jamie, but I'm not ready to jump on board that train.
After all, sending your son to university to study law doesn't seem like an action a father would take if he didn't trust the boy. John was setting up Jamie to protect the family like no one else in his family could. It seems like a vote of confidence.
But if John knew what Jamie did to Beth, he might not have made that decision. Then again, maybe it was that conniving action that scored him the free ride to a great future.
No, we don't know if John knows what Jamie did to Beth, but if John had been asked, history proves he would have wanted Beth to get an abortion. That's what he wanted for Kayce, and he wasn't even going to be the one bearing the child.
Today, John might make a different decision, but if Beth had gone to him for help, he would have suggested an abortion.
And, really, an abortion isn't the issue, is it? It's failing to act in the best interests of Beth's future that Jamie is guilty of by having her sterilized without her knowledge.
It's such an unconscionable act, and it paints Jamie in an entirely new light. He was already circling the drain, but even when he killed, it didn't seem pre-meditated. What he did to Beth was a calculated decision and one that seems to be based in fear.
It had to be fear of his father that drove him to do that, right? Or had Beth and Jamie already had a falling out so terrible that he'd willfully maim her, destroying her chances for a family in the future?
Most of you don't give two hoots about Jamie, but a story like this cannot stand without even more background. Before he dies (another theory), I hope we come to understand his motivations a little bit better.
Beth: I made two decisions in my life based on fear, and they cost me everything.
Rip: [kisses her forehead] Hey, not everything.
Beth has made two decisions based on fear. The first was the day her mother died. It's harder to peg which of her decisions around her pregnancy was fear-based.
Was it fear of her father? She could have trusted Rip, but she chose Jamie. One of them would go to the ends of the earth for her happiness, the other was more cowardly than she could have imagined.
It's hard watching Beth and Rip so happy. And they are happy. They're basking in each other. Even with her bouts of unhappiness, they've never seemed so carefree. It's clear they appreciate every moment they share.
Rip has taken to grinning all the time. He finds joy in so many different aspects of his life, from work to love. He was somewhat angry and more of an enigma during the first season, and now we know that his happiness is predicated on being joined with the woman he's loved since he was a teen.
It's hard to imagine what Rip would do if he knew what Jamie did, but I don't think he'd hold anything against Beth. He might be hurt that she didn't trust him when she needed him the most, but he wouldn't hold her decision against her.
Jamie, on the other hand, wouldn't stand a chance. Is that what will be Jamie's demise? If Rip killed Jamie, the Yellowstone would cover it up if they knew that Jamie sterilized Beth. I don't want that for Rip's heart, but he's killed for less. Maybe that's why Beth has kept it from him so far.
We've yet to hear from Jamie's campaign manager girlfriend, so it's possible she'll be resurfacing again now that we know why Beth made the promise to destroy the innocent little life.
Jamie has made so many missteps of late, but that didn't stop him from grinning from ear to ear at his swearing-in. Even John's interruptions didn't tank his glee.
Jamie: Thank you, Governor.
Lynelle: Thank your father.
Jamie: I know why I'm here, and it wasn't him.
But what does he think got him the job? Lynelle was right -- without John's approval, Jamie wouldn't have been considered. Does he think that others look at his coverup of the wrangler incident as a coup?
He sure didn't take long to gloat to Sheriff Randy.
Jamie is going to continue using cowardice and intimidation to get ahead. How long can that possibly last?
Kayce, though, is growing into a wonderful man, someone who makes his father proud. Considering the prodigal nature of his return, their relationship has grown beautifully.
On his first day, Kayce was already acting on behalf of the ranchers he serves. It wasn't an easy day to take office, but the results would have been far different if Jamie was still in that chair.
John has made some horrifying life and death decisions, and his son is doing the same. Kayce is protecting and serving, no matter the personal risk. But would Jamie protect Kayce in the same way Kayce is looking out for others?
Thankfully, Jamie remains so cowardly when it comes to his father that he'd do it whether he wanted to or not. Hopefully, there will never come a time when the family has to count on Jamie to protect them, but something tells me he's in that role for exactly that reason.
Kayce's plan to get money for the widow led to one of the best cowboy scenes we've had during Yellowstone Season 3. Being at camp was lovely, but seeing everyone come together to wrangle those horses was something to behold.
And the whole "fuck it" nature of the plan was absolutely perfect. Kayce and Rip have never been as alive as they were as they worked together to pull off that asinine plan. John's appreciation for Kayce's haphazard plan and his poor reasoning to support it was the best.
John had his hands full, too, as Rainwater and Mo tracked him down on the Yellowstone to discuss their shared interest to put an end to the airport.
I continue to appreciate Tom Rainwater's stance on the casino.
John: Well, I'm surprised you're against it, Tom. An airport right down the street from your casino? I'm no hotel manager, but that sounds like a good thing to me.
Rainwater: I have some ownership issues at the casino property.
John: Well, I'm not gonna help you with the problem that prevents you from buildin' the casino. I don't want a casino any more than I want an airport.
Rainwater: I don't really want another casino, either. It's an insulting and wickedly ironic revenue stream for an Indian Nation. It's the means to an and, and that end is this valley lookin' like it did before a white man stepped foot on it. We want the same thing, for very different reasons. And we can have our fight later, but we'll have nothing to fight over if they build a city here.
It's still unclear how the casino helps them reclaim the lifestyle they lost, but the way he talks about it makes a whole lot of sense even if it is rather depressing they have to use humiliating tactics to do it.
Preserving a way of life and reclaiming another isn't exactly the same, but their mutual benefit is worth working together toward the common goal.
Pitting Beth and Angela against the fight will be fun to watch. Beth can be ruthless in these situations because she understands the mindset of her opponents.
That's a point that Roarke seems to be missing. He's almost worried about her getting in over her head, but as she sat there agreeing with him that John should do all of the things to secure a financial future for his descendants that will last several lifetimes, Roarke didn't realize how formidable that made Beth to his cause.
Because while Beth understands Roarke's motivations, he seems unable to understand John's or Rainwater's, and that will be a contributing factor to the success of those without the financial resources to pound their opponents into the ground.
There are other, more conniving, things at play, as well. Putting buffalo very near the Yellowstone livestock is a calculated move to try to infect them. Rip knows it.
It's disgusting the lengths people will go to when trying to secure their financial futures. And why would anyone want the livestock to suffer? That animals are nothing more than a commodity is hard to swallow, even from this gal who loves beef.
Have we heard of Wade Morrow before? He has issues with John, but it seems like he's been out of the picture for a while. Maybe he wants to sell his land and get out, and John's refusal would be a hindrance to his plans.
With all that happened with the family, there was still time to incorporate some fun wrangler scenes.
Teeter connecting with Tate was fun, and she's starting to get under Colby's skin, too.
Colby seemed to want to have nothing to do with her, but he's beginning to see some charms to the oddly-talking woman. She's so crass, but it suits perfectly.
Ryan is starting to feel left out with all the action in the bunkhouse. If rodeoing scored Jimmy a girl as fine as Mia, Ryan wonders if he shouldn't consider taking up the sport.
But there is at least one girl who is available. If Yellowstone imitates life, it won't be long before Laramie connects with someone in the bunkhouse.
Close friends often tag along to fraternities and sporting clubs to find available guys who are friends with their girlfriend's beau, so it makes perfect sense to imagine Laramie taking a liking to someone or someone taking a liking to her.
The stark difference between the wranglers who get to enjoy life while those running the place have to take a backseat played out in two different ways.
As soon as Beth stopped her car in the middle of the drive, I knew she was going to join the celebration. She loves a good time, and this one was so close to home. Why not join?
Rip was ready to call it all to a close when he discovered his girl was behind the sharp increase in volume.
She played him like a fiddle, though, and managed to get him into her arms with very little effort on her part. Their smiles upon seeing each other were perfect.
Kayce, though, is still trying to balance his desire to join in with being the leader. He had a decision to make, and he followed John's lead.
Kayce: Should we join 'em?
John: I can't. I never had much luck leadin' men and bein' their friend. Maybe it can be different for you.
It could be a lonely life for Kayce, but he has a family that he loves very much. It's just as rewarding spending time with them to unwind as it is joining the wranglers in their celebration.
Choosing to sit on the porch was another indication that he's growing up and accepting responsibility for the family, exactly as his father wishes.
I know you have a lot of thoughts on what transpired on "Cowboys and Dreamers," so I hope you'll take a moment to drop down into the comments and share them.
And if you want to see it again, you can watch Yellowstone online right here via TV Fanatic.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.