Spoilers for the Part 7 finale of Netflix’s The Ranch are discussed below.
The Ranch left fans with a doozy of a cliffhanger that Part 8, the series' final batch of episodes, should help to solve. When the Netflix series ended the first half of Season 4, several characters were left as suspects in the shooting (and possible death) of Nick, and among them were Sam Elliott’s Beau Bennet and Ashton Kutcher's Colt.
Part 7 ended with Nick entering his home and asking what a mystery assailant was doing inside. Said mystery guest cocked a gun and shot Nick, indicating a possible murder mystery could be afoot when The Ranch returns. The question that viewers are asking as Part 8 nears is who was behind that potentially fatal shot?
One line of theorizing had long-gone Darlene Roth as a potential suspect, but you can probably rule that theory out thanks to former Ranch star Molly McCook. The actress now stars on Fox’s soon-to-be returning comedy, Last Man Standing, having previously replaced Molly Ephraim in the role of Mandy Baxter-Anderson. McCook has now weighed in about Darlene and threw some water on the vengeful daughter idea.
Darlene is Nick’s daughter with Mary, so she would legitimately be connected to The Ranch’s massive cliffhanger if she was still around. However, Darlene has not been seen since Part 6 of The Ranch, though it hasn't stopped some from speculating that Darlene may have returned and shot her own father. And you thought Dallas’ “Who shot JR?” mystery was dramatic! Well, Molly McCook seemed to debunk the theory by telling TVLine:
I haven’t been back since [Rooster’s] funeral. I was at a Christmas party or a wrap party, and I think it was Ashton [Kutcher] who said, ‘We bring up Darlene all the time, and she’s working at a strip club in Florida.’ I was, like, ‘What?!’ I just find it hilarious that people are still talking about Darlene, and yet I had no idea [what the character] was up to. Clearly it could be anything!
Someone will need to check this alibi! Molly McCook explained that she has not been back to The Ranch since filming Rooster’s funeral, with Danny Masterson's character seemingly killed off in Part 6 following the actor's sexual assault allegations. That doesn't necessarily mean she didn't return, but the fact that McCook appeared to be unaware of the current storyline speaks to the possibility that the actress isn't getting the call to return.
It is important to note that Darlene has been mentioned by The Ranch’s characters as living far away from Colorado, where the series takes place. So while It is possible that Darlene secretly made her way back from Florida and shot Nick, it seems unlikely at this point. Molly McCook’s comment implies that she did not return to film anything for The Ranch’s final season. If Darlene actually shot Nick, you would think McCook would have filmed a scene or two for that reveal. (Of course, some fans also think that a still-alive Rooster is the culprit, so maybe Darlene isn't such a wild suspect.)
Of course, the identity of Nick’s shooter is obviously being kept under wraps between episode releases, since the creative team wouldn't want to spoil a huge plot twist. One recent example of secrecy was the surprise appearance of Lucifer’s Tom Ellis on the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, which happened after the actor had publicly denied that the cameo would happen. Is The Ranch similarly playing coy by having Molly McCook fib about not knowing of Darlene's current whereabouts?
Viewers may soon find out! Part 8 (Season 4B) will be one of this winter’s bit premieres, and it bows on January 24, 2020 on Netflix. Seasons 1 through the first half of Season 4 of The Ranch are currently streaming on the service. The Ashton Kutcher-led series will soon be joined by new content in 2020.