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NEW UPDATE: Here’s how many ‘Yellowstone’ episodes are left

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If Paramount sticks to their original plan for Season 5, John Dutton’s story and Yellowstone will end with a small episode count.

This will be Season 5’s second half, a shorter run that is now scheduled for fall of 2023 after – to be frank – all hell broke loose behind the scenes.

The first half, or 5a, finished on New Year’s Day 2023 after 8 episodes. A mid-season break was announced without a premiere date for 5b. We now know this is because the scrips were never finished, and none of the cast has seen any material for the remaining 6 episodes.

Season 5 Premiered with Two Hour Event on Nov. 13, 2022
Featured Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Season 5
Season 5 will be 14 Episodes Long
The first half will be 8 episodes, leaving 6 episodes for the second half
And there’s our answer – for now. Sticking to the original plan means we only have 6 episodes of Yellowstone left.

How we got here

Season 5 was to be different from the get-go. The studio and franchise architect Taylor Sheridan planned a whopping 14 episodes for Season 5, then announced they would air as two separate halves.

Initially, Yellowstone Season 5 premiered November 13, 2022 on Paramount Network with Episodes 1 and 2. It would air on Sundays that November and December up to that New Year’s mid-season finale, Episode 8.

This was all, no doubt, a result of the tremendous, record-breaking success of Yellowstone Season 4, the most-watched television show of 2022. Paramount wanted more of Yellowstone for Season 5. Sheridan agreed, and production took on a hectic nature. Too much of a good thing, perhaps.

Without scripts from Sheridan, no one was able to schedule, let alone commit to, those remaining six episodes. Kevin Costner was asked to come back to film more in 2023, but the John Dutton star is already neck-deep in the second film of his own Western series, Horizon. The short filming window Costner granted Yellowstone in his Season 5 contract had already passed.

Greed Kills the Yellowstone?

The tension between Sheridan and Costner, however, began long before this. But throughout covering this debacle in-depth for years, it is Paramount that keeps coming to the forefront in my mind. Had the studio not requested a juggernaut Season 5, would we be in this boat? Like so many good things in America, did greed effectively kill Yellowstone?

It costs more to produce 14 episodes, to be sure. Especially when your lead Dutton is making over 1 million dollars per episode. But the return investment for a larger episode count through commercial advertisers during Paramount Network’s cable run, physical sales of DVDs and Blu Rays, etc. is something Paramount was willing to bet on. And it sunk the ship.

It’s also possible that Sheridan himself wanted to run 14 episodes to tell a grand story in Season 5. But the initial report from Paramount included a request for this increase.

Either way, Sheridan has around ten series in the works, all for Paramount, and he’s not going anywhere. Thanks to his properties, the studio has re-emerged as a top player in the Hollywood landscape after years of uncertainty.

And with Yellowstone proper ending, Paramount and Sheridan have already arranged for an immediate sequel to replace it. This sequel will allow for the entire franchise to stream on Paramount+ as they please – while the 5 seasons of Yellowstone remain on NBC’s Peacock thanks to an ice-age deal.

From this angle, Yellowstone isn’t dying. Rather, it’s being brought home in the age of streaming.

John Dutton, however, feels set to go the way of the dinosaur he and Tate found on his ranch in that very first episode. His death has been long hinted at, after all.

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