Yellowstone‘s latest episode, “Horses in Heaven,” was an emotional story even before it aired, and with good reason. The fifth season hasn’t been too kind to any of our beloved characters, but Monica and Kayce Dutton have suffered a tragic loss that it’s changed them on a fundamental level. Kevin Costner’s John Dutton knows a thing or two about loss, and his speech to Monica after a heartbreaking experience was a bonding tool for the two of them.
Chief Thomas Rainwater and Mo helped walk Monica and Kayce through the loss of their son, also named John Dutton, and allowed them space to grieve and process the depth of their loss. Monica wanted to have a funeral for John that would honor him, and she wanted to bury him on the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. Rainwater and Mo told the grieving parents that loss, the funeral, and the experience of working through it all were private matters and that they were meant to honor their son.
The funeral was just that, an honor to John, and as Mo predicted, a horse was ready to take John to the great beyond. They buried the two close by so that they could journey together. While the thought was comforting, it wasn’t enough for Monica and Kayce, who had just lost it all. John sat with Monica after the ceremony and told her something so beautiful that fans everywhere were left in tears. Before telling her that John never knew heartbreak, he shared something deeply personal with her.
“That boy lived a perfect life, Monica. We’re the only ones to know it was brief. All he knew was you that you loved him.”
Monica feels blessed to hear the words from her father-in-law, and while the bonding moment between them is one rooted in tragedy, it gives them a new perspective on one another. John has experienced loss in several aspects of his life: his wife, son, and — as Monica and audiences everywhere learned tonight, a brother.
The words he spoke to Monica were words that he heard his parents talk to one another, John Dutton would have had a sibling named Peter and the loss is undoubtedly one he still feels. Monica knows about significant loss, too, but she will now walk a path no one ever hopes to navigate; learning to live without a child. It’s not something she’ll experience just once, she’ll feel it every moment of every day, and you can tell that it’s fundamentally shifted everything for her.
Monica being comforted by John is something we don’t see often, but we hope that this moment (albeit heartbreaking) will lead them to a place of understanding and, eventually, peace. They’re more alike than either might initially admit, and they could help each other navigate the immense grief that life unfairly hands them.
Yellowstone continues with new episodes each Sunday night on Paramount.