In the “Yellowstone” season 3 finale recap, John faces off with Market Equities, Jamie chooses sides and an explosive cliffhanger ends with a bodycount…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There’s nothing like a good cliffhanger and “Yellowstone” season 3 just ended on a massive ledge overlooking a cavernous future for the Dutton family.
All season long, John Dutton has been talking about enjoying his life to the fullest while actually living on the land he covets so much. He spent time in the furthest reaches of his ranch, teaching his grandson Tate how to live off the land while leaving the trappings of his cell phone connection far behind.
Sadly, John knew this paradise could only survive for so long but even he couldn’t have predicted the tragedy that befell his family in the final few moments of the season 3 finale.
In addition to the shocking conclusion, the Dutton family faced all new enemies after sitting in a meeting with the powers-that-be at Market Equities as they laid out an ambitious plan to build an airport smack dab in the middle of the Yellowstone-Dutton Ranch. Of course those plans also interfere with the long term strategy that Thomas Rainwater has for his people as he seeks to return the land that was taken from them many, many years ago.
How far would he go to get that land back? Just how dirty is Market Equities willing to get in order to get what they want? Is Jamie capable of orchestrating enough chess moves to build his own empire in one fell swoop?
These are all questions that deserve answers — and many will have to wait for season 4 — but for now let’s recap the “Yellowstone” season 3 finale titled “The World Is Purple”…
Not a Good Day
The morning after killing Wade Morrow and his son, Rip returns home to find Beth there waiting for him. She hands him a cup of coffee and then immediately asks him who he killed? Rip doesn’t want to answer and she reminds him that they are past the stage where keeping secrets is an option.
In return, Rip tells her that he can’t even remember how many people he’s killed but he’s not keeping secrets from her — he’s trying to compartmentalize the awful things he does so the ghosts that are chasing him don’t end up on her trail as well. Beth responds with a kiss while telling Rip that she’s off to kill someone of her own today.
Back at the main house, Kayce is getting ready for work and Monica can’t help but realize how much he’s enjoying his new duties as Livestock Commissioner. As much as Kayce complained that the job wasn’t for him, he’s settling into his duties and he’s actually finding a purpose.
The way Kayce sees it — he prefers to know he’s helping someone rather than something. Helping someone and you know it, but helping something — like say saving a massive ranch from being sold away — isn’t quite as fulfilling.
As he prepares to leave, John sees the spring in his step and he’s glad to know his son has started to enjoy his new job. John promises that he never thought this would be Kayce’s purpose in life but he dreamed it and apparently some dreams do come true.
Before leaving, Kayce tells his father to have a good day and John replies that he won’t because he’s all out of those.
By the end of the episode, John’s grim outlooks seems almost prophetic.
When Rip delivers Beth to the main house so she can leave with her father for the day, he tells John that he retrieved that property that had been stolen by Wade Morrow — aka the piece of his chest Walker cut off containing the Yellowstone brand. John had no more use for it now, he just didn’t want Wade to have it.
Rip also tells John that the man behind Wade Morrow’s return was named Roarke — and that name didn’t mean anything to him at the time but by the end of the day, he’d know it all too well.
At the Broken Rock reservation, Thomas Rainwater looked out over his land as Angela Blue Thunder arrived for a meeting. She tells him about her vision for their people and how she wishes that they laid down their weapons years ago, sold them and used that money to purchase the highest priced lawyers in all the land. By doing that, Angela believes the Native American people would be sitting in a much more powerful position than constantly squabbling to save the little bit of land that was handed to them after invaders stole the rest.
All parties would soon convene in the office of the Attorney General of the state of Montana as they decide the fate of the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch.
The Empire Business
Last week saw Jamie reconnect with his birth father Garrett Randall, who spent 30 years in prison for murdering his wife. As Garrett explains it to his son, he came home from a cattle drive one day to find his baby boy sucking on a crack pipe like it was a nipple while his wife was bent over by some strange man as she sold her body for drugs.
Garrett knew at that moment the only way to save his son’s life was to ensure his mother had nothing to do with him again. So he killed her and spent the next three decades in prison for it. As for his son, he grew up to become Jamie Dutton — the Attorney General in the state of Montana.
Considering his choices, Garrett believes he did the right thing.
But he also wonders that for all the ways that Jamie was raised by the Dutton family, Garrett can’t help but see that John didn’t exactly love him like a son. He may have given him nice clothes and an Ivy League education but did Jamie truly feel loved by his father?
It doesn’t take long before Garrett suggests to Jamie that it’s time he takes what’s his by any means necessary. Jamie has long feared John Dutton, which has made him cower away from ever taking what he truly wanted. Just like when Jamie previously ran to become Attorney General, John squashed his dreams when he refused to do as he was told.
Now Jamie is ready to make his own way in the world but it’s going to require him to go against the only family he’s ever known. Garrett reminds his son that John Dutton isn’t just a powerful man — he’s running an empire at the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch and the only way to stop him is through extreme measures.
“Simplest thing on Earth. You kill the king.”
~ Garrett Randall
Jamie scoffs at the suggestion while saying he’s not a killer but deep down he knows that’s not the truth. When he was threatened by a reporter a season ago, Jamie killed her dead to protect himself and Garrett can see that kind of vengeance in his son’s eyes.
Garrett knows deep down that Jamie is a Randall and the Randall family is only good at one thing — killing.
Later that day, Kayce arrives at work where he’s greeted by a group of powerful men from the Stock Growers Association. They’ve come to pay him a visit because a new Governor of Montana will be elected in two years and it’s time to start thinking about who will be sitting in that seat.
They want Kayce Dutton to become governor.
Of course, he almost laughs at the request at first because he doesn’t believe he’d be fitted for that job but they tell him the way he handled those cattle thieves is exactly why he’s the perfect man to lead Montana. The people in that state require a man of action — somebody stole some cattle and Kayce hunted him down and shot the man dead for his crimes. They want that same man to run the state.
Of course they know this isn’t a decision that can be made right there and then so the men give Kayce some time to think about it. A few months ago, Kayce couldn’t even imagine sitting in an office as Livestock Commissioner. Now he’s being groomed to become the governor of the state.
Rise and Fall
As John and Beth arrive at the state building, they are greeted by the group from Market Equities as well as Thomas Rainwater and his counsel, Angela Blue Thunder. They head into the meeting where Market Equities will present their plans to the Governor and the Attorney General.
In the room, Roarke begins to lay out the financial benefits to the state — as John takes note that he’s just found the man who hired Wade Morrow to come after him Before Roarke can get too far into his presentation, Willa Hayes is notified on her phone of a breaking story about an anonymous employee at Market Equities reporting her for harassment.
Willa is stunned at the accusation and just then she catches eyes with Beth sitting across from her. Beth can only smirk and mouth her response to Willa as proof that the sting she felt from losing her job really wasn’t going away until she had her revenge.
“Problem, Willa? Take that, you fucking bitch.”
~ Beth Dutton
Willa is forced to exit as Roarke finishes up the presentation as he awaits word from the Governor and Attorney General on what they plan to do.
That’s when Jamie strikes back.
He informs his father and sister that he’s the one who holds power of attorney over the ranch and he’s going to sell that plot of land to Market Equities for a huge stack of cash. Jamie reminds Beth that she filed her power of attorney documents in Utah and if she was a lawyer she’d know that doesn’t carry over to Montana.
As the real power of attorney for the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch, Jamie has decided to sell in order to prevent John and the rest of his family from going bankrupt once the land was taken away from them through eminent domain and they were handed pennies on the dollar for what it’s worth. Even the Governor isn’t willing to save John this time around as she tells him there are no choices anymore — only options.
Before leaving, Angela Blue Thunder played her hand by informing Market Equities that she would be filing a lawsuit against them because the airport would pollute the only river running through that valley, which would disrupt the delicate ecosystem of wildlife in the area. It’s the same play her people made to stop wolves from being hunted and Angela is more than confident she can hold up this lawsuit for so long that it will no longer be worth Market Equities’ time to fight it.
Thomas offers John the chance to join their lawsuit because that may be the best way possible to save his ranch.
Roarke doesn’t seem too concerned, however, as he reminds everyone in the room that his company built a pipeline right through the middle of Native American land and it was the United States government who did the construction.
On his way out, John finally speaks to Roarke about the “pet” he lost while reminding this slick outsider that he may be playing the game but he doesn’t even understand the goddamn rules. As for Jamie, he doesn’t have anything left to say to the man who raised him and the sister who despises him as he sells the land out from under them to his own benefit.
Even the Governor isn’t quite sure what to make of Jamie seemingly betraying the only family he’s ever known but he tells her the days of him doing everything to protect John Dutton and the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch are over.
“From now on, what I do is for me.”
~ Jamie Dutton
Ride or Die
After a night out seeking vengeance against Wade Morrow and his son, Jimmy and the rest of the bunkhouse boys returned home where many of them were branded for the first time. Jimmy already knows that pain.
He wakes up with Mia next to him but she’s starting to question if this ranch really is the best place for Jimmy. Mia then sees the rest of the ranch hands nursing their wounds after being branded and she’s really wondering the true nature of this place.
Later that day, Mia takes Jimmy to the rodeo where she’s going to do her barrel racing. It’s clear Jimmy misses this part of his life but he made a promise to John that he’d give up the rodeo after nearly being killed when he was tossed off a bucking bronco.
Mia knows deep down that Jimmy wants to ride again yet he’s loyal to a man who branded him with a symbol that somehow means he’s devoted for life. She can’t help but wonder why Jimmy would show such loyalty to him?
Little does she know that John gave Jimmy a home and a purpose when he didn’t have one not to mention the exorbitant medical bills he paid after a rodeo ride went wrong. Still, Jimmy can’t help but listen as she lays down an ultimatum that either he goes back to being the man she first met when he was happy just before being tossed of a bucking bronco or she’s going to leave the person he’s become thanks to John Dutton.
Back at the ranch, Jimmy decides he’s going to ride again despite the warnings from John and his doctors. He gets on the horse and rides until the bucking gets too hard and Jimmy is tossed again — except this time he’s unconscious with no one around to save him.
Kill Your Masters
On the car ride back to the reservation, Angela Blue Thunder tells Thomas that their people will never take back the land that was stolen from them with him in charge. He’s trying to play by the rules and the only winners in this game are the ones willing to break them.
She reminds Thomas that the United States government breaks every rule they’ve ever made so long as it serves their purpose. They’ll make agreements with other countries and when those agreements no longer benefit them, the U.S. government will break it and set new rules that will benefit them.
Angela noted that there are rules for masters and rules for slaves and Thomas has been treated as a slave for far too long. His driver and right hand man Mo is a man of war yet he’s tied to a leash. Angela suggests taking off those restraints and allowing Mo to do what he made to do — fight and kill for his people.
As for Market Equities, Willa Hayes was forced to step down as CEO after the allegations of harassment. Before leaving she tells Roarke that this no longer felt like a land deal in Montana but rather an excursion to obtain oil rights in Yemen. Willa suggest perhaps it’s time to take similar measures to ensure Market Equities takes control of the Yellowstone-Dutton ranch.
Meanwhile, Rip is visiting a local cemetery where he’s had his mother’s body exhumed. He reaches inside to take the wedding ring off her finger while explaining to her that he’s fallen in love with a woman he intends to marry. Rip wouldn’t feel right just handing her any ring so he wanted the one that his mother wore.
Sadly, Rip may never get to place that ring on Beth’s finger.
Back at Schwartz and Meyer, Beth is packing up the last pieces of her office while telling her assistant to steal all the supplies from the closet because fuck Market Equities. Just as Beth is grabbing her vast supply of liquor, her assistant arrives with an unmarked box.
It’s addressed to Beth and the assistant notes after opening it that there’s a box inside a box. Just then Beth screams “don’t!” but it’s already too late.
A huge explosion rings out as the windows and walls of Schwartz and Meyer are blown apart by a bomb.
At the same time, Kayce is telling Monica about the job offer that was just made to him about potentially becoming governor. That’s when he hears gunfire ringing throughout his office. Kayce drops his phone while Monica screams his name as he tips over his desk just as a masked gunman kicks through the door to open fire.
As for John, he stops by the side of the road to help a woman stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. He offers his assistance as he changes out the spare with the help of her son. Just as he sends the boy to look for the lug nuts he dropped, a van pulls past them and stops on the road.
He gets up to approach them to tell the driver everybody is OK but the man shouts back at him to ask if he’s John Dutton. John replies that he is and that’s when the double doors on the van open up and a man with a machine gun opens fire. John is cut down and the driver then backs up and kills the mother running away as well.
John is left dying and bleeding as he reaches into his pocket to fish for his phone. He pulls it out to discover the one time he actually wants to use it, the phone has been ripped apart by one of the bullets that cut him down. It figures.
After stopping to put a horse out of its misery on the side of the road, Rip looks up in the sky to see the vultures circling something else that’s dead or dying. As he races back to the ranch, Rip is unable to reach John, Beth, Kayce or anybody else so he finally calls Jamie.
Jamie picks up but tells Rip that perhaps it’s better if he doesn’t call any longer.
Little does Rip know that he’s returning to a home and family that’s been decimated. Beth may be dead after her building was bombed. Kayce could have perished from the gunman sent to kill him. And John Dutton is quite possibly taking his last breath after he was riddled with bullets.
And the other question left lingering — who did it?
Did Jamie decide to get into the empire business by taking out his entire family? Did Roarke Morris finally opt to get bloody in order to get what he wants? Did Angela Blue Thunder unleash war in order to take back the land that was stolen from her people?
There are a lot of potential suspects and the answers will have to wait until “Yellowstone” returns for season 4 in 2021.