As Season 5 of Yellowstone races toward its first half finale, fans are anticipating a central character's departure from the ranch. In fact, four characters are leaving and there's reason to believe at least one won't return.

Another minor character also said goodbye to her cowboy boyfriend last Sunday (Dec. 18). There have been relatively few deaths this season but the landscape of the show has literally expanded, thanks to a mostly-eradicated disease called brucellosis that's resurfaced in Montana.

Are you lost? The Dutton Rules team unpacked it all during the most recent episode. Consider this a spoiler alert.

Because brucellosis has contaminated an important pasture on the Yellowstone ranch, John Dutton made the call to send half his heard south to Texas for the foreseeable future. Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) is leading that mission and he's taking Walker, Teeter, Ryan and Jake with him. Per his conversation with wife Beth (Kelly Reilly), he'll be gone a year.

This road trip allows creator Taylor Sheridan to whet our appetites for another long-rumored spinoff from Yellowstone. 6666 could be coming sooner than anticipated.

It's widely believed that Jimmy (Jefferson White) and Walker (Ryan Bingham) will be main characters on 6666, set to air on Paramount Network. During Season 4 of Yellowstone, Jimmy and fiancé Emily left to live on the 6666 ranch and this mission to Texas will seemingly give Walker the chance to do the same. It's about saving the cattle as much as it's about moving the franchise toward a new series.

Whether a year in Yellowstone time translates to one year in the real world remains to be seen. The show could use the break between halves to advance the calendar, much like they did between Season 4 and 5. To be clear, Hauser isn't leaving the show. His character is just going on a road trip.

Sadly, it looks like Lainey Wilson's character Abby has left the ranch. Ryan (Ian Bohen) and her were becoming a couple but when he reveals he's headed to Texas as well, she says goodbye. Neither actor knows what the future holds for them. The cast hasn't seen the scripts for Part B of Season 5 yet but several actors have told ToC that filming will begin in March.

Thank you so much for listening. Find Dutton Rules on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or wherever you podcast. You can also listen at the above player.

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