Spoilers below if you haven’t seen the season 3 finale of “Yellowstone.”
Season 3 of “Yellowstone” ended with a bang (or three) as all three (biological) members of the Dutton family saw themselves targeted for assassination.
Only daughter Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly, who had even more fun chewing the scenery this year) was possibly blown up with a package bomb in her office. Surviving biological son Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes, not quite as angsty and miserable this season) had gunmen charge into his office as Livestock Commissioner. And “seen it all” patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner, only slightly more mellow and less surly this year) was shot multiple times on the side of the road while trying to help a stranded woman and child change their tire. [Now how assassins would know to look for him on that exact road remains a mystery, but maybe they were headed to his house since that’s likely where John was headed before seeing the hapless, doomed motorists.]
Anyway, we could take bets on who survived the carnage at the end of the season, but it seems unlikely to me that any of the Duttons will die. [Although there’s a chance that Beth will, since that might make the most sense plot-wise and send Rip on the ultimate path of revenge.] Instead, I’m wondering who was behind those attempted hits…
–The marketplace equity team…Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway, haven’t seen him much since “Lost”) was told by embattled CEO Willa Hays (Karen Pittman, always welcome) to get rough with the Duttons. This was only a few scenes before all three were targeted for assassination. Reasons it could be them: A coordinated hit is something marketplace equity would have the resources to do. Plus, this would certainly qualify as getting tough with the Duttons which Willa had said specifically to do (“treat it like an oil deal in Yemen instead of a land deal in Montana”). And it would make sense that Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) was not targeted since he seemed the most open to making the land deal. Of course, it could also be that killing the Attorney General of Montana would be too brazen even for a multi-billion enterprise. Reasons it could not be them: Marketplace equity hasn’t been anywhere near as brazen in their menace and strong-arming tactics as past Dutton antagonists like Dan Jenkins or especially the Beck Brothers. Sure, Roarke had hired shady cowboys in the past to get under Dutton’s skin, but that was more to goad John into overreacting. Blatantly murdering three people–including the Livestock Commissioner–seems a lot like overkill, especially considering the biggest thing blocking their land deal is actually Gil Birmingham’s Thomas Rainwater. Odds: 4-to-1
Jamie Dutton and his father…Will Patton (excellent in his few scenes) had literally just told Jamie that he should “kill the king” earlier in the episode. Jaime–who’s been bullied and cursed out by his father and sister for most of his adult life–seemed at least open to the idea. Reasons it could be them: It would explain why he wasn’t targeted, and it would make sense given the conversation his dad had with him earlier. Also, he would seemingly stand to benefit the most from all three Duttons dying at the same time. Reasons it’s not them: There’s multiple reasons Jaime wouldn’t be targeted (he’s open to the land deal and/or he’s too high profile as Montana’s AG, something the federal government would take very seriously) besides being in on it. Plus, even if you believe he’s ready to kill his father and sister (and it’s hard to blame him at this point), I honestly don’t believe he would kill Kayce or be able to do it. Not to mention, it’s more than a stretch to think Will Patton’s ex-con would have the resources to pull off a coordinated hit on such short notice. And everything we’ve seen of Jaime, most of his schemes don’t come off so cleanly or competently (murdering that reporter spur-of-the-moment or covering up things that inevitably get exposed), which really makes it hard to believe he’d be able to pull something like that off without sweating buckets or succumbing to panic when Rip called him. Odds: 10-to-1 [I just think it would be so far from what we’ve seen this character be able to do, it would almost be poor writing if it was him.]
Angela Blue Thunder (with possible help from Mo)…As a huge fan of “The New World,” it’s been great to see Q’orianka Kilcher back with her most prominent role since that Terrence Malick movie 15 years ago. Reasons I think it is her: Thomas Rainwater gave a very over-the-top introduction to her supposedly evil character by burning sage and making it known he thought she was close to the devil incarnate. That’s quite a preamble to a character we haven’t seen really do anything bad yet, and was perhaps foreshadowing. Then there’s her conversation not long before the hits where she said now was the perfect opportunity to strike at Dutton because no one would suspect them. Also, there’s the idealogical component to her actions which the other two suspects don’t have. Historically, some of the most violent people often have something more than money motivating them, and especially since Jaime Dutton or Roarke would be risking losing a lot more money than they’d gain if their hastily-planned violence was traced back to them. Reasons it could not be here: She’s the least well known of the suspects, and we really don’t know much about her other than the characters who do know her are afraid of her. It’s not clear if she would have the capability or ruthlessness to order or plan three hits at the same time…but it does seem like she might. Odds: 2-to-1 …To me, she makes the most sense.
Predictions for Season 4: I could see next season playing out with the Duttons just assuming it’s Marketplace Equity, and going at them full force for a season-long conflict. Then towards the end of the season it’s revealed that it was Angela all along. Also, I believe John Dutton will adopt the boy he was trying to help whose car had broken down, especially since he’ll feel responsible for the boy’s mother dying. And if Beth dies, Rip will go on the war path…even if she doesn’t die, Rip will go on the war path.