Yellowstone: Who Orchestrated The Season 3 Finale Cliffhangers On The Duttons?

Yellowstone Kelly Reilly Beth Dutton Paramount Network
(Image credit: Paramount Network)
(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Beware: spoilers for Yellowstone’s Season 3 finale (“The World is Purple”) are discussed below.

Yellowstone left jaws on the floor after the Season 3 finale by dishing out not one, but four finale cliffhangers. Besides Jimmy’s potentially fatal fall from a horse, all the other life-and-death questions come from what must be careful and nefarious planning. It all leaves one to wonder – who orchestrated the Season 3 finale cliffhangers?

Beth was blown up in her office, John was repeatedly shot on the side of the road, and a gunman came into Kayce’s office after gunfire was heard. It could be another year before fans learn who (if anyone) died as a result. Filming on Season 4 began not too long before Yellowstone’s Season 3 finale aired.

Ahead of learning what the aftermath of the multiple assassination attempts will be, viewers can contemplate who is behind trying to kill John Dutton and his two children. Jamie is the only Dutton who did not end the third season with their life in jeopardy despite foreboding hints beforehand. The Dutton’s top enforcer, Rip, was also spared. What does it all mean? Time to dig into the chief suspects.

Yellowstone John Dutton Kevin Costner Paramount Network

(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Multiple Culprits

Why Multiple Assailants Could Be Guilty: Yellowstone could simply resume for Season 4 by revealing that multiple assailants with varying motives for trying to kill the Duttons happened to strike simultaneously. One of the most significant pieces of Yellowstone evidence to support this theory is the different ways in which the attacks were carried out.

There was a bomb for Beth, roadside assassination by gunning for John, and a lone gunman for Kayce. The latter two seem to be more connected, while the bombing at Beth’s office does not. If it was the same person behind every attack, why would their modus operandi change? Jamie could have orchestrated the attack on Beth, while another culprit carried out the ones against John and Kayce.

Why It May Not Be Multiple Attackers: What are the chances that separate perpetrators would happen to strike at the same time? It sounds fairly unlikely. There are plenty of characters with a motive to harm John, Kayce, and Beth. Why would they decide to act at the same moment?

In truth, it seems like a reach for a show as staked in reality as Yellowstone. Plus, whoever did this forgot to take out the seemingly marked-for-death Rip, which is arguably the kind of blunder a single-minded assailant would make. Who would be dumb enough to spare him?

Yellowstone Josh Holloway Roarke Morris Karen Pittman Willa Hayes Paramount Network

(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Roarke Morris And Willa Hayes

Why They Could Be Guilty: Roarke was pushing for the Duttons’ land all season on Yellowstone and recently lost an ally in Wade Morrow. He could have gotten desperate after underestimating his adversaries. Willa was also on the receiving end of Beth’s swift retribution after she fired Beth in the penultimate episode.

In the Season 3 finale, a report disrupted the meeting over the land development deal. “Jane Doe” (almost undoubtedly Beth) had reported Willa for “workplace harassment.” Afterward, Willa talked to Roarke and said they would have to proceed by treating the situation like an “oil deal in Yemen.” Roarke agreed. Is a three-way killing spree what they meant by that?

Why They Could Be Innocent: It is not like Yellowstone to telegraph such an obvious plot development. Roarke and Willa did not come out and say that handling an “oil deal in Yemen” included murder. The inference was there, but without confirmation. Roarke and Willa could have just as easily meant pulling the same strings that Beth did to hurt Willa.

Plus, Josh Holloway has said that Roarke “likes Beth,” and while she has pushed him, I cannot imagine him okaying her death. It is too brutal a move for Roarke, even though he showed he could get his hands dirty (i.e., Wade). Willa and Roarke are businesspeople and using legal means to ruin the Duttons would be answering fire with fire.

Yellowstone Jamie Dutton Wes Bentley Paramount Network

(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Jamie Dutton

Why He Could Be Guilty: Jamie started Yellowstone’s Season 3 finale by talking to his biological father, Garrett Randall, about his adoptive father, John Dutton. The conversation quickly veered into some foreboding territory as Garrett gave not-so-subtle hints to Jamie about “killing the king” to take his empire (the ranch).

What are the chances it was a coincidence that Garrett would say that, and John would take a bunch of bullets shortly thereafter? I would say slim to none. Add to all of this that Wes Bentley indicated that Jamie learning about his biological origins could lead to something “awful,” and you have a recipe for a potential hit. Not to mention Jamie’s storied history with Beth could be a motive in her attack.

Why He Could Be Innocent: While Jamie recently found out he was adopted on Yellowstone, it is tough to believe that would so quickly translate into killing members of his family. Kelly Reilly did say that there was a love between Beth and Jamie, as a further complication to their messy relationship. John and Beth were not the only targets of the Dutton-centric hit either. Kayce was too.

Kayce had recently told Jamie that he was his brother no matter what (blood or not). Hence, there is no motive. Jamie could be counting on Kayce’s notorious self-defense skills to save him, and to that point, Kayce did get the heads up by hearing gunfire. That said, Jamie being the only Dutton not targeted by the family-wide assassination is the largest hurdle to believing in Jamie’s innocence.

Yellowstone Angela Blue Thunder Q’orianka Kilcher Paramount Network

(Image credit: Paramount Network)

Angela Blue Thunder

Why She Could Be Guilty: In the Season 3 finale, Angela Blue Thunder had a heart-to-heart conversation in the car with Thomas Rainwater, where she confronted him over talking to John Dutton like they were friends. She then told Thomas Rainwater to “kill him," with the “him” being John Dutton.

Thomas Rainwater and Mo did not seem too open to the idea. However, Angela was all in, and when she was first introduced, Thomas seemed somewhat wary of her. Does she have the connections to kill John Dutton somehow?

Why She Could Be Innocent: First off, I highly doubt that Angela is guilty. She is a lawyer, and nothing indicates she has a team of assassins on hand to do her bidding. Angela wanted Thomas Rainwater to do it. If she already had something in the works, why would she tell him to take John Dutton out?

Secondly, Angela and Beth seemed to get along during their time together on Yellowstone, so her trying to murder Beth’s father would be a stretch. Not to mention, more than one attack was carried out, which included Beth and Kayce. Angela did not mention harming either one of them, only John.

There is another suspect to consider. One Yellowstone fan theory posits that the California biker gang that made trouble earlier could have been behind the attack on John. I think the theory has traction, considering how that threat dissipated as quickly as it started. The main issue with it is why the biker gang would remember John and Kayce, forget to visit Rip, and possibly attack Beth.

Another entity that also has a motive to come against Beth, John, and Kayce would be the Becks. Both brothers fell to the Duttons last season after terrorizing Yellowstone’s central family. First, they had Beth brutally attacked, and then they kidnapped Tate. Kayce killed Teal, John shot Malcolm, and Beth survived the previous assault on her. All motives for the Becks’ relatives to target all of them. Malcolm and Teal Beck may have relatives willing to settle the score. It is tough to think they were alone in the world.

All of this said, who do you think did it? Vote in the poll below! Stay tuned to find out who was behind the attack on the Duttons. While you wait for Yellowstone Season 4 to arrive on Paramount Network and reveal who was behind the finale’s shocking cliffhangers, keep your eyes out for this fall’s premieres. Meanwhile, re-watch the first two seasons’ intriguing finales on NBCUniversal’s new streamer, Peacock.

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Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.