Yellowstone’s fourth season explored various avenues in the wake of the assassination attempt on the Dutton family. But while his kids scatter in different directions as a response to their trauma, patriarch John (Kevin Costner, Let Him Go) has been surprisingly inert when one might expect him to go in guns blazing. Good thing last week’s episode, “Under a Blanket of Red”, introduced someone who might get him moving.
That person is none other than Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo, The Big Leap), a spunky – albeit reckless – activist and protester who gets arrested and subsequently bailed out by John. Though their ideologies seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, they have more in common than Summer originally believes and may even be able to forge an interesting friendship.
Perabo spoke to Screen Rant about the surreal experience of joining the series after being a fan, and shared who Summer’s biggest opponent might be this season.
Screen Rant: Your introduction last episode was a bold one, and I love the banter between Summer and John. What can you say about developing that dynamic, as almost equals coming from opposite sides?
Piper Perabo: Yeah, I was a big fan of Yellowstone before I was ever on the show, so I feel like I really know it. And [I’m even a fan] of Taylor Sheridan’s work – Hell or High Water, Sicario, and Wind River are all the films that I love and am familiar with. I feel like I have a big picture of the kind of heroes that he writes, and John Dutton really fits into that pantheon of heroes.
There’s a reserved power. Unlike Kayce, who jumps out of his truck with his gun drawn, John really shows up and assesses the situation. And his power really precedes him; he can come in quiet. And so I thought a lot about that when I was thinking about how to go up against him and build somebody who could sort of speak his language – or at least try.
Going into the sixth episode, are there any other dynamics you’re excited to explore outside of John?
Piper Perabo: I’m really excited about Summer and Beth’s [Kelly Reilly] relationship.
I don’t think there’s really any man that could take Beth Dutton, but this season, there are two women who try and take her apart. Jacki Weaver, she’s another big boss that comes in this season. And you would think when Beth brought Schwartz & Meyer down, that they would just fold with their tail between their legs and go away. But actually, they send in the biggest boss of all, and Jacki Weaver comes in.
I don’t know if anyone can take Beth, but having two women coming from different sides may be a good plan.
You said you were a fan of Yellowstone beforehand. What is it like to be on set and insert yourself into this world?
Piper Perabo: It’s really cool. I felt like I understood the geography of the ranch from watching the show. It’s so bizarre when you first drive up the road that comes to the ranch because you can’t see the barn. You go over a hill before youcome up where the other buildings are. And so from the road, can’t really see anything.
As I came up the road, I thought, “It’s gonna be all spaced out in a weird way that you can’t understand.” That’s how film is when you show on a film set: the kitchen set is next to the prison set, and it’s all crazy. But what’s crazy about driving onto the ranch is that it’s all real. It’s real, and they play it real. You can walk from the horse stalls over to the bunkhouse and then walk up to John’s house. And it’s amazing to see it all there for real.
We know Summer is an activist for animal rights and the environment. But what else can you tell us about her background or motivations?
Piper Perabo: Summer is not from Montana, and she comes to this place to protest with not a lot of knowledge about ranching and its history. And personally, I think that’s a mistake. When you go into a community, it’s so important that you know and understand the community and understand the dynamics that are working there.
What’s incredible about Summer’s relationship with John is that, actually, John and Summer both care about the conservation of the land. And I think John sees even before Summer does that they have this common goal. That’s what brings them together at the start, and I think his deeper understanding and appreciation for protecting the land starts to open her eyes to a bigger picture.
If you had any advice that you could give Summer, what would it be?
Piper Perabo: If there was any advice I could give to Summer, it would be to stay away from Beth Dutton. But Summer hasn’t seen all three seasons previous of Yellowstone, so she doesn’t know that. All she knows is that’s John’s daughter.
There’s really no way to help Summer now. She’s in it, and she doesn’t know what she’s up against.