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Who Died in Yellowstone's Season 3 Finale?

We have some theories about what happened

Liam Mathews

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 3 finale of Yellowstone. Read at your own risk!]

Who shot John Dutton? Season 3 of Yellowstone went out with a great big bang Sunday night, ending on a cliffhanger that left the fates of Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) uncertain after they and their father John (Kevin Costner) were attacked in a coordinated hit seemingly orchestrated by Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway), the finance guy who's trying to buy the ranch to build an airport on the land. Roarke was possibly working in concert with spurned son Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), who, now that he knows he doesn't have any Dutton blood and will never get the love and approval from his adopted father he wants, has completely turned on his family. John survived getting shot by a gunman -- he was saved by his smartphone, which blocked a slug from hitting his heart like a modern-day bullet in a Bible  -- but we don't know what happened to Beth, whose office was blown up by a mail bomb, or potential future governor of Montana Kayce, who was attacked by gunmen in his own office. 

It'll be a long wait until next summer when we find out for sure what happened, but for now, we have some theories about who set up the attack, and who survived. 

The big question is if Jamie was involved in the attack. While it seems extreme that Jamie would take such violent action against his family, in Jamie's mind, they're not his family. His family is his biological father, Garrett Randle (Will Patton), who told Jamie he's a killer like all Randles and advised him to take the "empire" of the ranch by "killing the king." Besides, John has always been excessively hard on Jamie, and might not even love him at all, and Beth openly hates him for making her get a hysterectomy without her consent when they were teenagers. So Jamie wouldn't even be killing his family, in his mind; he'd be destroying the enemies who stood in the way of him claiming what was rightfully his. Like a true Dutton. 

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Garrett seems like a bad man, though, and I would say he is manipulating Jamie into getting a better lot in life for himself. He told Jamie that he murdered his wife, Jamie's mother, and threw away his own life with decades in prison in order to free Jamie from the life of neglect and misery the drug-addicted Randles would provide for him. He justified it as a twisted act of love by a very sick individual, arguing that Jamie was better off being raised by the Duttons. And it's true that Jamie Dutton has made more of himself than Mike Randle would have been able to. But Jamie has never felt like he belonged, and Garrett seems to have gotten in his head by telling him Jamie's worst suspicions about his family are true. He told him that John never loved him, only the ranch, and that Jamie should take the ranch, since he was raised to do so. Jamie is someone who needs approval from a father figure to make choices about his own life, and Garrett gave him permission to fight on his own behalf. So Jamie legally outmaneuvered Beth and took power of attorney to agree to sell the land to the developers. But if Jamie takes the ranch, Garrett probably feels that he would personally benefit. He would go from renting his own little patch of land to being part of the family that owns the largest piece of land in the country. Jamie doesn't trust his old family, but he shouldn't trust his newfound family, either. Garrett's influence could lead him further astray than John's ever did. John did tell Jamie he loved him, in his own gruff way, after Jamie found out he was adopted. Garrett selfishly gave Jamie permission to indulge his worst impulses.   

Garrett's advice that Jamie kill the king and the empire, combined with Jamie coldly telling Rip (Cole Hauser) not to call him anymore after Rip called him worried that he couldn't get ahold of the other Duttons, indicates that Jamie was involved in the attack. But the complicating factor is the attack on Kayce. Jamie and Kayce don't have much of a relationship, but they mostly get along, and Kayce recently agreed in principle with Jamie that the family should sell the land, even though John was never going to agree to it. The brutality of the attack, especially against Kayce, just seemed out of proportion with what Jamie needed to do. He could do his killing using the legal power of the Attorney General's office, not literally.  

On the other hand, Jamie is incredibly angry and bitter, and may have partnered with Roarke on the hits as a big statement to himself to back up his claim that "From now on, what I do is for me." And even if he wasn't involved, at this point he probably would still align with Roarke against his family, so it all amounts to the same whether he was involved or not. Roarke probably set up the attempted assassinations after being told by Willa Hays (Karen Pittman) to escalate the conflict. Maybe Hays herself signed off on it, in retaliation for Beth's false allegations of sexual harassment against the equity company CEO, but I would guess not, considering Hays' respect for Beth as a worthy adversary.  

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As for who lived and who died, my prediction is that Kayce and Beth both lived. Kayce was a SEAL and can kill anyone. He can handle gunmen in his office. And Beth survived the bomb somehow, though she'll be badly injured. Yellowstone is a soap opera, and it can find a way for its best character to survive getting blown up. Her injuries will be the latest thing keeping her from her star-crossed lover Rip, who went and got his deceased mother's wedding ring to give to her (more on that in a moment). If any major character doesn't live to see Season 4, it will be Jimmy (Jefferson White), who got bucked off a horse while trying to prove he could still rodeo and got hurt even worse than he did the first time. Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that Beth survived because I can't imagine Yellowstone without her, but I hope I'm right. The only characters who definitely died in the finale were Beth's employee who opened the bomb and the poor woman from Encino whom John was helping fix a flat when he was attacked. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And her son will have John Dutton looking out for him for the rest of his life, which has its pros and cons. 

The season ended on a cliffhanger, and had no shortage of wild moments throughout its run, but the wildest moment of the season, and maybe the whole show, came just before the final attack, when Rip had an undertaker dig up the body of his mother so he could take her wedding ring to give to Beth. We saw her well-embalmed (good job, Eddie) but still greenish and slightly rotten body as Rip told her how much he loved Beth. To me it was a ghoulish sight, but the show played it pretty sincerely, with swelling strings on the score. Very weird! But death doesn't faze Rip, unless it's a horse. And Yellowstone wouldn't be Yellowstone without going way over the top sometimes. 

Yellowstone has been renewed for Season 4, which is expected to arrive on the Paramount Network in 2021.  



Paramount Network