Warning: This article contains spoilers for season five of Yellowstone.

Yellowstone‘s mid-season finale kicked off with a bang, a burial, and a brand — and an emotional moment between Rip Wheeler and John Dutton. As fans saw in the last episode, Wheeler made a life-changing decision when one of John’s ranch hands, Rowdy, disrespectfully spoke about Beth Dutton. It was in this episode that we saw the repercussions of his actions.

In protecting Beth’s honor, Wheeler let anger get the best of him and ended Rowdy’s life, and while he went to John for help with what to do next, the landowner certainly wasn’t going to do it for him. No, Rip chose to end someone’s life, and he would clean up his own mess.

John drove Rip and Lloyd to the train station in one of our first peeks into its layered history, and we see the two ranch hands as they carry Rowdy’s body to send him off on his final ride. The tension is so thick that you could cut it with a knife as the two get back into the car, no one saying a word until John asks questions.

“He was a good hand and now he’s gone because he insulted you, but he didn’t insult you — he insulted my daughter which insulted you which leads me to my next question: is something going on with you and my daughter?”

Rip’s face said it all, and John nodded, not agreeing with what the young man had done but understanding it a bit more now. Rip loved his daughter and in honoring Beth’s name; he’d decided to protect her. He thought he was doing the right thing, and John saw then that Rip felt the weight of what that word meant, what it required.

It was clear that Rip had already pledged his allegiance to the family, so John knew there was one last decision to be made. The land owner brought his hands to unwind around a fire and for Rip to (hopefully) make the life-affirming pledge. Would he give all of himself to the Dutton family name, and would he be physically and emotionally linked to them forever?

Lloyd held up a hot piece of iron with the hooked Y shape, and a few moments later, we flash to a scene of Rip and Lloyd walking into the bunkhouse, Rip showing off his new brand. “The kid” was welcomed into the family at that moment, pledging his loyalty to it and receiving devotion in return. His life changed from that moment forward, and decades later, kissing the woman whose honor he protected, we’d say it was a decision he understood the weight of.

Rip is still ready to take care of anyone who dares cross the love of his life, although she’s willing to get her hands dirty too.

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