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What the Writers Strike Means for 'Yellowstone' Season 5's Return (Sigh of Relief for Fans?)

Updated: May 14, 2023

Audiences were saddled up for a wild ride on season 5 of Yellowstone, the Paramount Network cultural phenomenon that’s inspired record-breaking viewership and a whopping three spinoffs: 1883, 1923, and the upcoming 6666. But the ride has been wilder than expected, with real-life drama filling the void left by the ongoing mid-season break.

From confusion over how to watch the show (What? It's not on Paramount + ?) to filming delays to rumors about Matthew McConaughey replacing Kevin Costner, it's harder to keep up with than the Dutton family tree. Don’t worry: We’ve got you covered with season 5 cast updates, episode recaps, and the latest news about when Yellowstone season 5 is returning, including what the writers strike means for the show.

Will the Hollywood writers strike affect Yellowstone season 5?

Scriptwriters, who are part of the Writers Guild of America, officially went on strike on May 2, 2023, and no one can predict when it will end (if the strike of 2007 is any indicator, it could be months). However, good news for Yellowstone fans, it appears the strike will not delay the series. On May 5, Paramount announced that the second half of Yellowstone season 5 will debut in November 2023. And, the even bigger news: It will be the last season.

The series is somewhat unique in that creator and director Taylor Sheridan also writes the episodes, as he does for some of his other series, including 1923, Mayor of Kingstown, and “possibly” the upcoming 6666. Originally, the remainder of Yellowstone season 5 was scheduled to return this summer; however, filming was delayed, and rumors ran wild about why.

One “highly placed” Hollywood source reportedly told New York Post that Sheridan had not finished scripts in January when Costner was available for filming. Others speculated that contract issues with the star stalled filming, while Paramount maintained there was no news to report and Costner’s lawyer Marty Singer denied claims that the actor was only willing to work one week on the remaining episodes. Whatever the reason for the delay, Yellowstone fans can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the remaining episodes are on the way.

What is the release date for season 5 of Yellowstone?

The first eight episodes (or part one) of Yellowstone season 5 returned to Paramount Network on November 13, 2022, and episodes aired on Sundays at 8 EST/7 CST through January 1, 2023, ending with the mid-season finale. The release date of part two of Yellowstone season 5 is set for November 2023.

The complete Yellowstone season 5 will tout a whopping 14 episodes (previous seasons have had 9 or 10), not to mention the first episode of season 5 was longer than most movies. So, it's kind of like two seasons in one.

Which cast members returned for season 5?

All of your favorites returned for Yellowstone season 5, including stars Kevin Costner (who picked up a Golden Globe for his performance on the series in 2023), Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie Smith, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, Finn Little, and Gil Birmingham.

Also on the list: On-screen ranch hands Ryan Bingham and Hassie Harrison, who caused a stir in April when they went Instagram official as a couple in real life. Two other cast members—Jen Landon (seasons three and four) and Kathryn Kelly (season four)—also returned with their status upgraded to series regulars.

Country singer Lainey Wilson joined the cast in season 5. Avid fans will also remember that Paramount Network invited her to give a special acoustic performance that aired on commercial breaks during the season 4 finale. Some of her songs also appear on the Yellowstone soundtrack from seasons 2 and 3.

You know who's not in season 5? Matthew McConaughey, though he might be joining the Yellowstone universe in a future sequel.

What's happened in Yellowstone season 5 so far? (Spoilers ahead)

When the season 5 trailer dropped on September 29, 2022, it was shocking to say the least. The footage began with John Dutton being sworn in as governor of Montana and got more intense from there. If you're ready to catch up on season 5, dive into out spoiler-filled episode recaps below, colorful fan reactions included.

Yellowstone Season 5 Episode Recaps

Episodes 1 and 2: John takes office. Kayce and Monica experience a tragic loss. Beth makes a heartbreaking apology to Rip. A fatal conflict with protected wolves emerges. Fans are "devastated."

Episode 3: Kayce chooses his family. Beth meets her match… and lands in jail.

Episode 4: Beth’s infinite hatred for Jamie only increases (yes, it's possible) on a car ride home from jail. John forms an unexpected alliance with Rainwater.

Episode 5: Another family dinner goes horribly awry. Beth gets in another brawl (and fans nearly revolt). John calls Kayce his "only" son.

Episode 6: Rip shows his romantic side. John gives a friend a heartfelt send off. Political tensions rise.

Episode 7: We revisit Rip's dark past. Beth shows us her softer side—and her business side with a trip to the 6666 ranch. A plot emerges to impeach John (you know Jamie's involved), and Mother Nature stirs up trouble in the pasture.

Episode 8 (Mid-Season Finale): Kayce takes the reins at Dutton Ranch. Meanwhile, Jimmy fits right in with the 6666 crew. Jamie doubles down on being John's nemesis, and Beth finds out what the "train station" really is.

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