At this time of year, Yellowstone fans are usually waist-high in drama, with each of the previous three seasons making their debuts in mid-June. That all changed this year, unfortunately, with COVID delays and the Olympics and other issues playing into Season 4's late arrival. But while there's no doubt much to worry about regarding that explosive Season 3 finale, and even though many fans are suspicious that Cole Hauser's Rip Wheeler might actually be the one destined to get killed off instead of any Duttons, the actor himself seemingly confirmed that Rip will still be alive and well going into Season 5.
This is quite the strange scenario for a few reasons. For one, barely anybody on the Yellowstone squad has been talkative about Season 4 ahead of the upcoming promotional push, much less addressing what comes after the next ten episodes. Second, even when the actors and cast members do make references to the future, they do so in the vaguest of ways. And third, Cole Hauser's effortlessly optimistic words about his Yellowstone future were uttered during an under-seen "Virtual Happy Hour" interview with Hall Wines months before fans were aware of the Season 4 delay. (Not that it's the first time he's seemingly spilled the beans.) When asked about getting back to filming in Montana for the next season, here's how Hauser replied:
Taylor's working on [the scripts] right now, and I think we will be back sometime in July. That's what I'm looking forward to, getting back to Montana. And after Season 5 - I mean, Season 5 is going to be wonderful. The way we ended Season 4... I can't give too much away. But the way Season 4 ends, I think the audience [will be] happily surprised with a lot of things.
To be honest, I'm kind of shocked that Paramount Network didn't send Wes Bentley's Jamie Dutton to non-threateningly put the kibosh on that video's release at the time, considering Cole Hauser seemingly confirms that his ass-whooping character Rip will still be around as John Dutton's enforcer in the fifth season. Granted, he technically doesn't say that Kevin Costner's John Dutton will be around, so that's still something for viewers to stay on edge over, especially with all the new characters coming to town.
But I think we can safely say that nobody needs to prep any depressing "Rip and Beth" compilation videos celebrating their time together. Unless, of course, Kelly Reilly's Beth Dutton ends up falling victim to something in Season 4. But I think we can all agree Beth would have survived through conditions that killed the dinosaurs, so she's probably okay.
Going by this interview, it would be a real boot-kick in the crotch if Taylor Sheridan decided to kill off Rip in Season 4, since Cole Hauser talked about how important it is to him that Yellowstone is now almost fully filmed within Montana, which has quite a bit of history for his family. In his words:
Well actually, my dad's side of the family, they're all from there; they're from Helena, which is the capital. And they've been up there since the beginning of time, so it was always kind of a dream of mine to go up there and do something. And then last year, this show decided to do 100% of the show in Montana. It's just an honor for me as an actor but also for somebody whose family has been there since the beginning. My great-grandfather was the first governor of Montana. He was a banker. Yeah, it's pretty cool.
How unfortunate would it be for Cole Hauser to finally get the chance to pay homage to his roots by filming in Montana, only to read about a scene late in the Season 4 premiere where he gets sideswiped-to-death by a car while trying to save the shot-and-bleeding John. I guess it's possible he could still just tag along with the production from a fan perspective (not likely) or as a brand new character, Rip's lookalike cousin Flip (somehow slightly more likely). However it goes, fans are going to riot if Rip gets killed off, regardless of if it happens in a few months for Season 4 or 30 years from now in a comic book spinoff. (I'd like to riot over all the Emmy snubs that Yellowstone suffered, but I'll hold off for now.)
While Yellowstone still doesn't have an official release date set up, fans can expect to find Season 4 arriving in front of our faces on Paramount Network this fall. And here's hoping we'll get to see some trailers first, and that the new season will bring fans first looks at the upcoming spinoffs, both the 1883 prequel and the 6666 companion tale.