What the hell just happened?
Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 10 ended on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers, putting one-time champion, Dallas, to shame.
Whether that's a good thing or not will only unfold upon the beginning of Yellowstone Season 4.
I can't lie. I am not a fan of "lives hanging in the balance" cliffhangers. My ideal cliffhanger is more intellectual, giving you something to chew on while you await the show's return.
What we got on Yellowstone pales in comparison.
Oh, I know there will be fans of this type of ending. People who have been clamoring for more action should find this quite satisfying. But a quick and dirty dig into what the heck happened and who is behind the attacks proves rather fruitless.
The episode picked up only hours after Yellowstone Season 3 Episode 9. That's important if we want to try to piece together the puzzle that left all remaining blood Duttons either dead, gravely injured, or plain lucky.
With the battle of the land reaching its precipice, many people might want to put an end to the Dutton family. Three groups said as much in their preparations to get what they want at the cost of the Yellowstone ranch.
Jamie and his birth father, the Market Equities bunch, and the Reservation are all possibilities. Unfortunately, none of them had the time to pull it together so fantastically in such short order.
Jamie only just met his birth father. He's still hanging with the guy hours after meeting him. Garrett did a lot in a short time to rile up the anger in his birth son.
Garrett is a pro. He always says what he's thinking and then makes it seem like he's not quite as brutal as his words just indicated.
Jamie has more than one reason to believe he's about to lose the one thing he's spent his life protecting. Not only is he not a blood relative of the man who owns the Yellowstone, but John isn't being rational in how he deals with the threats to the ranch.
That's not a Jamie-only statement, either. Beth feels like John is going to lose in the long run if he doesn't take the offer for the land. Lynelle has already decided that it's in the best interest of the state to take the deal; she didn't need further persuasion in the theatrical meeting.
So with all of that swimming in his head, Jamie's really struggling with how to hold it all together.
Enter his blood daddy, Garrett. Garrett sees it as rather Shakespearean (a term that is often used in reference to Yellowstone). If you want to up-end an empire, you have to kill the king.
Garrett: John Dutton may have raised you, but did he love you, son? Does he love you, now? He loves the goddamned ranch. That's all he ever loved. You standin' here in my yard tells me you already know that. I'm your family, son. I'm the only one you got.
Jamie: Everything that I worked for, everything that I thought I was, I'm going to lose. I was raised to run that ranch. I built it into what it is today.
Garrett: Then run it.
Jamie: It's not mine. It's not for sale, not that I could afford it.
Garrett: Hell, nobody can afford the Yellowstone. The Yellowstone ain't a ranch, it's am empire. Empires you take.
Jamie: I don't know how to do that.
Garrett: It's the simplest thing on earth. You kill the
Jamie: I'm not a killer.
Garrett: You never killed? Yeah, you've killed. Of course, you've killed. You're a Randall, and killin' is our only gift.
He's not wrong, either. Whether physically or mentally, taking down John Dutton so that he cannot rise again is the only way this all ends cleanly for those who want to see the land redistributed.
John has never wavered in his stance that he would rather fight to the end than allow a parcel of his land to be lost. Not on his watch.
With Jamie taking a new hard stand that it's all about him and his future, going to the Randall family toolbox to pull out murder is right on target. But Jamie isn't a criminal mastermind. He practically melted when he killed someone by accident.
Jamie Dutton isn't going to turn so sadistic in hours. Even Garrett would have a hard time pulling off the events we saw.
What does he know of Jamie and the family? We'd have to later learn that Jamie has been in his view for a long time and that he's aware of the family's movements.
Kayce and Beth were taken down in their offices. John was found on the highway after the meeting. It took careful planning for everything to come together so beautifully.
Jamie and his father being at the center of it just doesn't fit.
The same goes for the Market Equities bunch.
Roarke just got done calling Wade, wondering why he hadn't checked in yet. He has no idea what went down the previous night and that his henchmen were put to an end by the Duttons and the wranglers.
Beth used another business tactic to attack Willa, one that seems rather pointless.
While most harassment suits in 2020 ended in dismissal because they'd rather not have the hassle of defending against them and looking poorly in the eyes of the public, that usually occurs when men do the harassing.
See Ellen Degeneres and what's happening there. She's clinging to the hope that her reputation can survive the bruising. Willa would expect the same.
Why would she risk her reputation further with shocking violence?
Sure, she asked Roarke to play dirty, but they didn't have the time required after the meeting and before the attacks to put a plan of that magnitude into motion. Even if they did, I'd question whether Willa meant THAT dirty. She likely doesn't know just how deep Roarke was already.
Then we have Angela and the Reservation. She's got a broader berth to act within because judging by her conversations with Rainwater; she's not too keen on his leadership qualities.
She talked more than once about putting an end to John Dutton, the man and the dynasty, and she doesn't seem in the least bit concerned about Rainwater's input.
Angela said pretty clearly that she'd prefer someone other than Rainwater to be speaking on behalf of the reservation because she considers him too moral.
Rainwater: We'll stand there again.
Angela: Not with you we won't. There is no such thing as morality. There's own the land, and there's lose the land. That's all you'll be judged by. Not how you do it. Winners are never judged by how; they save that for the losers.
Rainwater would not condone violence, especially to that extent, against the Duttons, a family he has grown to respect and, dare I say, like a bit.
Monica and Kayce are allies, and by extending the class-action suit olive branch to John, Rainwater still believes the two entities can work together to defeat evil.
I have no idea which of the three enemies at the gate could have broken through, but now we have to toss wildcards into the mix.
The Beck brothers got killed at the end of Yellowstone Season 2, and while they often operated as if they were in a silo, they had businesses and allies of their own. Someone in their circle could have spent the last few months planning the attack on the Duttons. That's all I've got.
But, back to Shakespeare.
Taylor Sheridan has said he knows where this saga ends. It's pretty clear now that we are not getting a happy ending for the Dutton family.
They've already grappled with more sorrow than most families do in the same time frame.
Jamie's mother got murdered, leaving the boy in their care. Evelyn died young. Lee, too, died tragically. Kayce has been running from demons his entire life. Beth, too, has felt a lot of pain. Jamie never felt whole. And through it all, John held onto the ranch as if it deserved all of his attention.
Morally, John didn't do right by his family. He lured in people to the ranch who didn't have homes or family and gave them a place to hang their hats, but not without emotional consequences. They pay with their lives.
We've always discussed what it means to take the brand, and the latest situations have shed new light on it. As much as people have disliked the barrel racers on the show this season, they've reminded the wranglers that there is more to life than fealty to the Duttons.
Mia: Do you know what a brand means?
Jimmy: It means I'm a part of something.
Mia: No. You brand something so that if it gets lost, everyone knows who it belongs to; that's why you do it.
Jimmy lost his life trying to escape.
Because, yes, Jimmy will die. Someone has to die from this finale. To have four lives in jeopardy and allow all to survive isn't going to happen. And Jimmy already had his third chance. He's not going to get a fourth.
While I didn't dig the way Mia manipulated Jimmy, she was right about the brand and his future. If he ever wanted real happiness, he wasn't going to find it at the ranch. Unfortunately, he wasn't going to find it with Mia, either. But he's young, and your first love can drive you to stupidity.
So, Jimmy will be our casualty.
John will survive the ordeal because of his proximity to Rip. Oh, poor Rip. Rip who killed again then visited his mama for her wedding ring and stumbled upon an omen of death -- a felled horse that he had to put out of its misery.
Hey, mama. I met somebody. I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with her. I could've gone to some store and bought her some fuckin' ring, but what does that mean? I'm sorry. I shouldn't curse. I want her to wear yours. Maybe you can, uh, maybe you can know her, too, somehow. I don't know. I love you, mom. Thank you.Rip
Beth didn't want secrets between them, but Rip couldn't stand the thought of sharing his most grievous offenses with the woman he loves.
Despite her persistence, the conversation took a turn that allowed him to hold onto that particular secret. But she'd learned enough.
Beth: I believe in lovin' with your whole soul and destroying anything that wants to kill what you love. That's it. That's all there is.
Rip: I believe in the same thing.
If she didn't love Rip before, she would have after learning how far he's willing to go to protect the family she loves.
Because protecting the ranch is protecting her father, and that sets Beth and Rip on the same course.
Perhaps it was that exchange with Beth that prompted Rip to exhume his mama again to get her ring and share his good news.
How he can separate hanging a man from a tree, branding a new group of wranglers, and his love for Beth and his mama is truly a feat to behold.
Seeing that horse on the side of the road, killing again, will save John.
Well, he was already saved by the phone in his pocket, but if he stayed on the road too long, he'd likely be at death's door again. Rip will follow the predators circling overhead, where he will find John.
They're both in the dark about Beth and Kayce, though.
Even though the symbolism with Rip and the ring and his mama could spell doom to his love with Beth, I think she'll survive.
Although she, too, had a brush with death and got another shot at life this season, I could imagine her being gravely injured, putting Rip in the awkward position to marry and care for her.
Do I think that's likely? No. But it could happen. It sure is tragic.
Lloyd's conversation with Rip about outrunning his past seems relevant, too. With this latest drama at the Yellowstone, he was already diving back into a well he didn't want to revisit.
I'd rather kill a thousand men than shoot another horse.Rip
Something tells me that Rip will be forced to kill a lot more men before this is over, and he might have to face the music for his deeds, too. It's people like him that usually pay the price for the atrocities they conduct on behalf of the families they represent.
If nothing else comes out of all of this, it's good that Beth gets the hell out of that Schwartz & Meyer building. It's brought her nothing but pain.
Kayce was on the precipice of life-changing success, and his kindness and compassion make him the true heir to the Yellowstone fortune.
Monica: You like it, don't you?
Kayce: I like having somebody to fight for rather than something. When you fight for a thing, the thing doesn't care if you win or lose because the think ain't alive. But when you fight for people, they care.
He would use it all for good. Jamie would use it for his own benefit, and Beth would never see it as more than a financial albatross, but Kayce loves what he does and what the Yellowstone represents.
Monica can see it all over her husband's face, and even though she seemed put out over his news that the people he represents want him to run for governor, she would support him if that's what he wanted to do.
Kayce: Hey dad. Have a good day.
John: I won't son; I believe I'm all out of those.
Kayce's conversation with his dad about destiny makes Kayce's fate more worrisome as he is just too happy to come out of this unscathed. And nothing would break John Dutton's heart more than the loss of his second son.
Then again, they could all survive, worse for the wear, and go back on the attack. Except that's not Shakespearean. Continued brushes with death without loss is cheap, and after a while, none of it matters. It has to matter.
When you step back from the brutality, the cinematography during the finale was outstanding. Nature was used to its full advantage, with stunning panoramas and glorious lighting. There is a lot to fight for in that area of the country.
Unlike Succession, where the possibilities for new drama seem endless, we can't imagine what lies ahead on Yellowstone without knowing who made it out alive. The only thing we know for sure is that no matter who remains standing, the war on the Duttons for their land will continue.
What did you think about the finale? Do you have any idea what lies ahead in Montana? How badly beaten did the Duttons get in this last skirmish?
We need to wait another year for answers or at least until filming photos and such start trickling in from those on set.
And if you know where "The World Is Purple" came from, let me know. I didn't hear the phrase, and I usually catch them to use with Yellowstone Quotes. This time, I came up empty-handed.
In the meantime, you can watch Yellowstone online over and over and over again. Buy the seasons, watch, and share with the world your thoughts on how Yellowstone will kick off its fourth season.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.