Yellowstone Season 5, Episode 9: The Longest Wait Ever and What It Means for Kevin Costner

Yellowstone’s mid-season finale for season 5 left fans with a major cliffhanger that will have huge implications for the rest of the season. Kevin Costner’s John Dutton was shot by a sniper while giving a speech, and his fate is uncertain. This shocking development will set the stage for the back half of season 5 when the show returns in the summer of 2023.

The Major Cliffhanger: Is John Dutton Dead or Alive?

In the final moments of the mid-season finale, John Dutton is giving a campaign speech after being elected Governor of Montana. Suddenly, gunshots ring out and John falls to the ground, his fate unclear. The screen cuts to black before viewers can find out if he survived the shooting.


This is by far the biggest cliffhanger Yellowstone has ever attempted. John Dutton has been the central character since season 1, and the show would look very different without Kevin Costner at the helm. The cliffhanger leaves fans with months of anticipation, wondering if John will pull through or if this is the end of the road for the Dutton patriarch.

What John’s Death Would Mean for the Rest of the Season

If John does die from his wounds, it would set up major changes for the back half of season 5. The most immediate question would be: who shot John, and will they face consequences? The list of suspects is long considering all of the enemies the Duttons have made over the years. John’s death would also create a power vacuum within the family, with his children left to pick up the pieces.

Beth and Jamie’s rivalry would likely only intensify, both feeling entitled to run the family business and ranch. Kayce may feel responsible as Livestock Commissioner to step up and take his father’s place. Yet he has often resisted being part of the family empire. John’s absence would force each sibling to decide what direction they want their lives to take next.

There would also be ramifications in the battle for control over the land in Montana. John was beginning to exert his power and influence as Governor, but his death would once again leave the family vulnerable to enemies like Market Equities. Without John’s leadership, it could be an uphill climb for the Duttons to maintain their land and legacy.

What John Surviving Would Mean for the Rest of the Season

If John survives the shooting, he will likely spend at least part of the back half of season 5 in recovery. This could put a physical and emotional toll on the normally stoic, rugged cowboy. However, John surviving would enable him to continue his mission as Governor – namely, putting a stop to the rapid development and gentrification that is threatening the ranch’s way of life.

John would likely have to beef up his personal security detail after the assassination attempt. There may also be some introspection about who was behind the shooting and whether he can actually trust those closest to him. Beth already warned her father that he would make dangerous political enemies as Governor. The shooting may harden his resolve to use the full might of his office to go after his opponents while protecting his family.

A revenge plot is also likely, with John and the Duttons seeking vengeance against whoever ordered the hit. The back half of season 5 could see John narrow down suspects until the culprit is revealed in a climactic showdown. This would let Kevin Costner show off John Dutton at his most ruthless, cunning, and uncompromising.

How Long Will Fans Have to Wait to See What Happens?

Unfortunately for fans dying to know John Dutton’s fate, there will be quite a long wait before season 5 returns. The mid-season finale aired on January 1, 2023, and the back half is not expected to premiere until summer 2023.

This means fans will have to hang tight for about six months to find out how the cliffhanger is resolved and what’s next for the Dutton family empire. The long break is standard for Yellowstone, which always splits its seasons in half. But this gap is especially excruciating since it leaves viewers on such a dramatic cliffhanger.

The wait may be unbearable, but it allows the anticipation for the rest of the season to build even more. Yellowstone’s season 5 return will undoubtedly be a major television event next summer.

Examining the Major Fan Theories About Who Shot John Dutton

With John Dutton’s fate unknown, Yellowstone fans have plenty of time to theorize about who could be responsible for the shooting. Here are some of the most prominent fan theories making the rounds online:

Market Equities – The powerful firm trying to take over the Dutton’s land would have clear motivation, especially since John was becoming Governor. However, an attack this brazen would be a big risk for the company.

The State Attorney General – John and his political rival sparred over the airport sale. The AG could view John as a threat, but would likely prefer to beat him legally versus with assassins.

Roarke Morris – The business developer has clashed with the Duttons since season 1. But Roarke last appeared on the show in season 3, so his involvement would be more of a surprise.

Rainwater – The Reservation Chief is willing to take bold action to reclaim land for his people. But Rainwater has moved towards an uneasy peace with John, making his direct involvement murkier.

A White Supremacist Group – Various racists and nationalists have crossed paths with the Duttons before. Perhaps they tried to take out John before he could exert power as Governor. But a clear personal motive is lacking.

Someone from John’s Past – With John’s long, complex backstory, a blast from his past could make a surprise return. An old rival or ex-flame coming back for revenge is possible.

In the end, the culprit is likely to be someone unexpected. Yellowstone loves to surprise, so fans may be letdown if it’s an obvious choice like Market Equities. Theories will continue raging until the show finally releases John’s fate.

How Will Kayce, Beth, and Jamie React to Their Father’s Shooting?

The mid-season finale gave little hint about how John Dutton’s children will respond when they learn someone tried to kill their father. But looking at each sibling’s unique relationship with John provides clues about how they might react.

Kayce – As John’s most loyal son, Kayce will likely be devastated and angry. He already lost a brother, and will do anything to find who tried to kill his dad. Kayce may become John’s fiercest protector.

Beth – Expect Beth to become obsessed with getting revenge against her father’s would-be assassin. She has always been John’s most cutthroat child, willing to do the dirty work. Beth will leverage all her connections to make someone pay.

Jamie – Having been disowned by John, Jamie’s reaction is harder to predict. The sympathetic part of him will be saddened if John dies. But Jamie’s resentment towards his treatment may mean he moves on quickly. If John lives, their fraught relationship could grow even more complex.

Rip – Though not officially a Dutton, Rip Wheeler is fiercely loyal to John. He would likely be heartbroken over John’s death, and similarly vengeful if he survives. Look for Rip to lead the charge in protecting the ranch.

No matter the ending, John’s fate will force his family members to look within themselves and decide what they truly want for the future. By the end of season 5, the Duttons may have evolved permanently.

How Will John’s Shooting Change the Governor’s Race in Montana?

At the time he was shot, John Dutton had just been elected Governor of Montana in a close race. But if John dies or is incapacitated, it would trigger a seismic shift in the state’s politics.

If John only requires a short recovery period, he may be able to retain his office. But an extended absence or death would require a new election. John’s running mate is not yet known, so it is unclear who would take his place even temporarily.

The suddenly vacant Governor’s seat would leave an opening for John’s political rivals to seize power in the state. His pro-ranching, anti-development agenda could be in jeopardy. Having already won, John may be granted sympathy votes if he runs again after recovering. But his fragility could also open the door for fresh candidates to enter the race.

John had big plans for reshaping Montana as Governor. He wanted to divert funds away from Reservation land claims and into highway contracts that would benefit the ranch. But his political capital will take a hit if he is too weakened to see his vision through. John was already facing an uphill battle; his shooting may mean he loses the larger war over Montana’s future.

How Long Can Yellowstone Survive Without Kevin Costner?

If the worst happens and John Dutton dies, Yellowstone will have to contend with moving forward without its main star. Kevin Costner has anchored the show since the premiere, providing a commanding presence at the heart of all the Dutton family drama. But several factors could allow Yellowstone to continue successfully without Costner.

Firstly, the show has always been an ensemble, with rich arcs for Beth, Kayce, Jamie, and the ranch hands like Rip, Lloyd, and Walker. Leaning harder into these characters and their dynamics on the ranch could allow Yellowstone to thrive even without John. Introducing a new patriarch like John’s brother Could fill the void.

The show’s trademark blend of western aesthetic, high-stakes drama, and contemporary political machinations can continue engaging fans even without Costner. Yellowstone has built a lush, fully-realized world that doesn’t live or die based on one character. Plus, there are still the origin story prequels like 1883 to expand the Duttons’ saga.

However, Kevin Costner’s star power and acting gravitas would definitely be missed. The show may have a harder time attracting new viewers without his A-list name recognition. And some fans may lose interest in the more supporting characters if their favorite cowboy rides off into the sunset.

Conclusion: The Long Wait for Answers Begins

Yellowstone’s ninth episode ended on a heart-stopping cliffhanger with John Dutton bleeding out after an assassination attempt. What happens next will fundamentally reshape the show during the second half of season 5. Kevin Costner’s fate hangs in the balance, with John Dutton either surviving to take vengeance or dying to upend his family empire.

Fans now begin an excruciatingly long wait until summer 2023 when Yellowstone hopefully returns. Until then, endless speculation over who shot John will run rampant. The back half of season 5 is poised to be a major television event. After a months-long wait, audiences will finally learn if their favorite cowboy lives or dies.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does Yellowstone return for the rest of season 5?

Yellowstone is expected to return in summer 2023, likely June or July, for the back half of season 5. An exact premiere date is not yet announced.

How did John Dutton get shot?

In the season 5 mid-season finale, John Dutton was giving an election victory speech for becoming Governor of Montana when someone from a distance shot him twice. He fell wounded as the episode abruptly ended.

Who shot John Dutton?

It is still a mystery. The shooter was not revealed in the episode. Fans have speculated suspects like Market Equities, Jamie, or protestors upset with John’s policies. But the true culprit will not be known until season 5 returns.

Is John Dutton going to die?

It is unclear if John will survive the shooting. The two gun shots and amount of blood made his fate seem dire. But as the main character, fans are hopeful John will pull through and recover when the show returns.

How much time passed between seasons 4 and 5 of Yellowstone?

Approximately 6-12 months passed between seasons 4 and 5. This allowed certain events to take place, like Jamie being framed for murder and John Dutton running for Governor of Montana.

How many episodes will there be in season 5 of Yellowstone?

Season 5 is slated to have 14 episodes total. The first half aired 7 episodes, ending on the cliffhanger shooting. The back half of season 5 will likely air 7 more episodes continuing the storyline.

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