This post contains major spoilers for the Season Three finale of Yellowstone. Proceed with caution. Listen. Before this episode, I didn’t understand what happens when one tries to make an oil deal in Yemen, but I assume after the Season Three finale of Yellowstone, it’s violent. The build up between Market Equities and the Dutton ranch throughout Season Three has suggested that something major was going to go down. It’s a lot of drama over land purchases and hypothetical airports, but when Willa turned to Roarke and said, “We treat it like an oil deal in Yemen,” it was obvious that the last fifteen minutes of Yellowstone were going to be bad.
Last week, I hysterically tried to guess who would die on this season’s finale of Yellowstone, and I was the most incorrect person who has ever played that game. By the end of the episode, Beth (Kelly Reilly), John (Kevin Costner), and Kayce (Luke Grimes) were all in mortal danger. Jimmy (Jefferson White) wasn’t faring too well himself after getting bucked off that horse, either. If we took time to cover every moment in the finale, this would be thousands of words, so let’s hit the high points… specifically that last few minutes. We’ll catch up with our mainstays and discuss who the hell orchestrated all this chaos.Again, be warned. Spoilers ahead.Rip WheelerRip is the easiest place to start, I suppose. After killing two of Roarke’s hired men last episode, he returns home to tell Beth he did a bad thing again. When she asks who he killed, he says he’s killed too many men to count. Beth gives him a speech about the moral philosophy of Nietzsche, as lovers often do, and the two of them settle on the idea that morality isn’t real. That inspires Rip to finally make the move: it’s time to propose to his amoral queen. He has his dead mother dug up and her casket opened so he can what? Get her ring off her decades-old-corpse.Then, as he leaves her unturned gravesite, he holds her decrepit hand and says, “Maybe you can meet her in a way.” Be careful what you wish for, bud!
John DuttonJohn, who seems absolutely exhausted by the end of this season, tells Kayce that he doesn’t “have any good days left” because this show is trying to beat me over the head with foreshadowing. At first, it seems John’s no-good-very-bad day is going to climax at his joint land rights meeting with Governor Perry, Beth, Jamie, Chief Rainwater, and Market Equities—especially when Jamie surprises everyone and says he’s officially selling the ranch. But the big moment comes later, as John offers to help a woman and a child change their flat tire. As he’s finishing up, a mysterious van pulls up. Despite, John telling them that they’re all handled, the van sticks around. Eventually, the driver asks, “Are you John Dutton?” As soon as John says yes, the door flies open and a man blasts John with a spray of bullets from an assault rifle. They also take out the stranded woman, while her son is covered in the bushes. Fortunately, John’s phone seemed to catch the bullet that nearly hit his heart, but he’s not out of the woods yet.Kayce Dutton Speaking of getting sprayed with bullets, let’s talk about Kayce, who has somehow ascended to the ranks of serious contender for governor by the time this season wraps. Townspeople like Kayce’s style of leadership ever since he executed those cattle thieves a couple episodes back. He seems to be out of the muck of the Market Equities-Indigenous tribe-Dutton family standoff, but as soon as he’s been tapped for candidacy and relays the information to Monica, his office is stormed by sharpshooters. The last thing we see is Kayce turning his desk over and hiding behind it as Monica yells into the phone, “Kayce! Kayce!”
Beth DuttonI am biased toward Beth—she is my wild-haired queen of curse words and day drinking. Fiery and ready for action, I knew in my heart that Beth would be fine this finale because so much horrible stuff happened to her last season. How could they hurt her again? Here we are. As her father’s right hand businesswoman, Beth is put in quite a position when Jamie loopholes her and assumes legal authority over the ranch. But Beth has been playing dirty with Market Equities all season, and she’s not out yet. She releases a story on Willa suggesting that she has committed sexual assault on an employee she works for. That’s when Willa promises that she’ll get her revenge.As Beth is packing up her office, it seems that revenge might have already been delivered. Beth’s assistant brings in a box that she says is addressed to Beth, though she’s never seen it. Inside, another box. Before Beth can tell her not to open it, the box blows up, presumably decimating her assistant (I bet Beth’s former assistant who got fired for dropping coffee is pleased with that twist of fate). More devastatingly, that bomb was so massive that it likely killed Beth, too. I mean, windows are blown out and cars wreck outside, so this is no firecracker we’re talking about.Who Did All This Sh*t?The truth? Maybe everyone. The episode starts out with Jamie visiting his birth father, who reveals to him that the last time he saw his biological son, he was sucking on a crack pipe like it was a pacifier. Not great! But now that Jamie has returned, his father encourages him to take the ranch. When Jamie says it’s not his to take, his father says the way you get an empire is “you kill the king.” Immediately after, Jamie exacts his power of attorney and attempts to sell the Dutton ranch out from under John while sitting in front of him. When Beth and John go to walk out, Jamie tells them he has a lot to say, but remains quiet.
In that same meeting though, Chief Rainwater and Angela Blue Thunder are in attendance. Remember Angela? That fiery, dark-lipsticked indigenous woman with a law degree and rage to burn? The plans for a new airport don’t just affect the Duttons—it affects the reservation, too. After Rainwater tells John Dutton they should join forces, Angela gives a barnburner of a speech, saying that Rainwater only wants to play by “master rules.” She beautifully delivers a monologue about how the United States only works to benefit itself, changing the rules on indigenous people and then making new ones to keep them in place. She suggests that it might be time to play by the rulebook of the United States. Yikes, America.And then, of course, there’s Roarke and Willa, who decide that to defeat the Duttons, the rulebook they need to consult is not the American one, but the one used to make oil deals in Yemen. A cursory Google search of Yemeni Civil War will tell you how brutal that can be. There are bombs involved.With that lineup, it’s unclear exactly who exacted these massive attacks on the Duttons, or rather, which person exacted which attack on which Dutton. In a twist guess, it feels like Market Equities orchestrated the attack on Beth, and Angela and the indigenous people of Montana took out John and Kayce. Jamie, per usual, isn’t resourceful or aggressive enough to kill off his family, no matter how much they hate him.Then again—take a look at my guesses from last week. Don’t make me the authority. For now, we’re left with four big cliffhangers, one unburied corpse mama, and at least 10 months of long, painful waiting. Stay away from the train station.
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.
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