Warning: The following contains spoilers for the Season 3 finale of Yellowstone that are so colossal, there should be a better word than spoilers to describe them. If you want to be surprised when you watch (and haven’t done so yet), giddy-up and away!
Well, damn! Nobody can say that Yellowstone doesn’t know how to keep its audience on the edge of their seats — or, for that matter, how to knock ’em right the hell off. Sunday’s Season 3 finale was one shock after another — to the point that, although I think we’d all love it if Season 4 started next week — it’ll probably take us until next summer to really recover. What happened? What didn’t! Read on, and as the smoke clears, we’ll discuss.
‘HE’S LIVING PROOF THAT ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG’ | As “The World Is Purple” began, tensions were running high in the bunk house. Not only was Mia perturbed about Jimmy having been branded, but Lloyd was understandably a bit crestfallen to see Laramie waking up in Walker’s bed. At Garrett’s place, Jamie’s biological father shared the sordid story of the day that he killed his boy’s mother. He’d come home from a long haul to find Jamie screaming, using a crack pipe for a substitute nipple, and his mother getting screwed over the sink. “I knew that you had only one chance in life,” Garrett said, “and that was without her in it. So I did what I did” — and looking at what Jamie had become, he didn’t regret it, either. When talk turned to Yellowstone and how Jamie was about to lose the place that he’d been raised to run, Garrett told him that it wasn’t a place but an empire. One didn’t buy an empire, he explained. One took it. But how? “Simplest thing on earth,” said Garrett. “Ya kill the king.” (Gulp.)
During a meeting with Rainwater, Angela derided the chief and scoffed at his hopefulness that one day their tribe would again call Yellowstone home. “Not with you [in charge], we won’t,” she said. He was trying to go about things in a moral way, and there was no room for morality in a war. “Winners are never judged by how” they win, she pointed out. “They save that for the losers.” (She’s growing on me, that Angela.) When Rip returned home after his long, long night, Beth joked, “Who’d ya kill?” only to realize that, oh, he had killed someone. When he wouldn’t tell her the names of the deceased — maybe he didn’t know Wade’s son’s name, either — she decided that she didn’t care. A Nietzschean to the core, she believed in loving with your whole soul and killing anything that wants to destroy what you love. Now, “if you’ll excuse me,” she said, “I gotta kill someone, too.”
‘THAT TRAIN ONLY RUNS IN ONE DIRECTION’ | Later, Rip reported to John that he’d gotten back that “thing” that he wanted retrieved from Wade. Rip also reported that the dead man and his son had been working for a guy named Roarke. Name didn’t mean anything to John — not yet, anyway. But the day was young. Crossing paths with Kayce, John expressed his delight that his plan for his son was working out so well. And again, the day was young! En route to the rodeo, Mia pushed and pushed Jimmy to explain why he’d let himself be branded like he was John’s cattle. Laramie noted that Walker had been branded, too, but he was so fine, “he could have his a–hole on his chest, and I wouldn’t care.” (Deep thoughts from Laramie could develop into one of my favorite bits of this show.) At Jamie’s office, Roarke, Willa and Team Market Equities gathered with Rainwater, Mo and Angela, the governor, and John and Beth to decide the fate of Yellowstone. It did not go as planned — at least not as Roarke and Willa planned.
No sooner had Roarke begun making his pitch to Lynelle than everyone received a breaking-news text: Willa had been accused of workplace harassment by a Jane Doe. “Problem, Willa?” asked Beth. “Take that, you f–king bitch.” Excusing herself, Willa said that Roarke could speak on her behalf. Roarke? Oooh, said John, a lightbulb going off over his head. Anyway, after Roarke made his presentation, Jamie usurped Beth’s power of attorney, owing to the fact that she’d filed her paperwork in Utah, not Montana, and approved the Yellowstone sale to Market Equities so that the Land Commission didn’t condemn the property and bankrupt the Duttons. He didn’t have a choice, he argued. “There is no choice anymore, John,” added Lynelle. “There are only options.” Thankfully, Rainwater had a plan — to have Angela file a class-action lawsuit to block the development due to the impact that it would have on the local wildlife. “We stopped wolf hunting for a decade,” she said, smirking at Roarke. “What do you think we’re gonna do to an airport?”
‘THAT LAND IS MINE’ | Before Rainwater left, he asked John to join his lawsuit — it would serve both their purposes and wouldn’t cost the rancher a dime. As the office began to clear out, John took a swipe at Roarke about his “lost pet” (Wade). “You think you’re winning this game, you don’t even know the goddamn rules,” sneered the Dutton patriarch. “But don’t worry, I’ma teach ‘em to ya.” On his way out the door, he and Beth gave Jamie a chance to speak now or forever hold his peace; having turned a corner and started to buy into Garrett as his real family, he chose the latter. “From now on,” he told Lynelle, “what I do is for me.” Yikes — methinks Bad Jamie just got worse. At the rodeo, Mia overheard enough of a conversation to glean that Jimmy was done riding bucking broncos. Was he really just John Dutton’s steer now? “When I saw you rodeo, I saw a really happy man — and I fell in love with him,” she said. “Be that man, and you can have me. But be this one, and I’ll see ya later.” Good Lord, that girl got Jimmy to agree to once again risk his neck (and every other part of him!). Next thing we knew, he was back in the saddle at the ranch and getting thrown so hard, it left him unconscious.
En route back to his office, Rainwater insisted to Angela that he could and would beat the Duttons and everyone else by playing by their rules. That was folly, she reiterated. They make rules for the slaves and rules for the masters — and he was choosing the slaves’ rules. Maybe Mo would take matters into his own hands, she suggested, eyeing the driver. Maybe he’d kill John, “make war for our people, and then… we go home.” (How many targets can John have painted on him? Sheesh.) Meanwhile, at Kayce’s office the chairmen of the Stock Growers Assoc. came by to say that they wanted to make him Montana’s next governor. He laughed, but they were as serious as a heart attack. Better get used to wearing a suit, buddy! Elsewhere, Rip had his mother’s body exhumed for the sweetest reason that I reckon one could dig up a corpse — he wanted to take the ring off her finger to give it to Beth. Back at Roarke’s, a livid Willa noted that this s–t didn’t feel like a land deal in Montana, “it feels like an oil deal in Yemen — and from now on, that’s how we treat it.” Could Roarke do that? As Josh Holloway foreshadowed for TVLine at the start of the season, you bet he could.
‘THE WHOLE F–KING VALLEY’S DYING TODAY’ | As the episode and the season drew to a close, Beth and her secretary were cleaning out her office (and really all of Schwartz & Meyer) when the assistant began opening a box within another box that was addressed to her boss. Quicker than Beth could get out the word “Don’t,” ka-freakin’-boom! At the same time, gunmen burst into Kayce’s office and opened fire! And while John was helping a mother and her kid change her flat on the side of the road, a van pulled up. “You’re John Dutton, aren’t you?” asked the driver. “Yep,” he replied. With that, the back of the van flew open, and another guy filled not only John full of lead but the mom, too. (Probably would’ve offed the kid as well if he hadn’t wandered off to find the lost lug nuts.) Panicking when he couldn’t reach anyone on the phone, Rip rang Jamie, who at that point was so far gone, he said, “I don’t think you should call me anymore.” Oh, Jamie. At Yellowstone, Rip spotted a dying horse being pecked at by crows and, sadly, put it down. “I’d rather kill a thousand men,” he sighed, “than shoot another horse.” Finally, we got a last glimpse of John, significantly worse for wear but at least alive — perhaps owing to the fact that his hated cell phone had taken a bullet! “Doesn’t that f—kin’ figure,” he grumbled. Man, had he ever been right when he’d told Kayce that he wasn’t gonna have a good day!