Unpacking the Meaning of the Yellowstone Season 4 Finale

The Dutton family ended the fourth season of the Paramount modern Western melodrama Yellowstone in a solid position. This is a far cry from the shocking cliffhanger of Season 3.

Early in the season, it was revealed that John Dutton (Kevin Costner), Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly), and Kayce Dutton (Wes Bentley) were simultaneously attacked by Garrett Randle (Will Patton), Jamie Dutton’s biological father (Luke Grimes).

And Season 4 got underway. John was still in a coma as the other characters each dealt with the trauma of the attack in their unique ways. After Tate is forced to kill an assailant, Kayce’s wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and son Tate (Brecken Merill) remain in hiding.

Beth, who has suffered permanent scarring, uses deception to get a top job at Market Equities, the company now headed by ruthless CEO Caroline Warner (Jackie Weaver). As he gets ready to run for governor of Montana, Jamie banishes himself from the Yellowstone ranch and forms a relationship with his biological father.

Yellowstone Season 4 Finale

The formerly under-siege Duttons appear to recover from their trauma as swiftly as we’ve anticipated from stoic cowboy types. Kayce understands that Monica and Tate require a change of scenery, though. He relocates his family to a comfortable home from his father’s property.

Soon after Kayce makes contact with a passing wolf, Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and Mo Brings Plenty (Mo Brings Plenty) advise that he seek a vision to aid in his quest for information. A foul-mouthed teenage fugitive named Carter (Finn Little) has been semi-adopted by Rip (Cole Hauser) and Beth, who have hired him to muck out the stables.

Beth is sterile due to an abortion she had as a teen (which Jamie approved of without her knowledge, making her fiercely despise him ever since). Therefore Carter is the closest thing she’ll ever have to a son. She fights every mother’s impulse to avoid growing too attached to him.

Yellowstone Season 4 Finale
Yellowstone Season 4 Finale

In the past, Beth experienced extreme jealousy over John Dutton’s “relationship” with vegan hippie activist Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo), exhibiting a pretty unsettling possessiveness toward her father. Beth coerced summer and her companions into protesting a Market Equities construction site.

Summer foolishly pushed back against a federal officer when the protest descended into a fight. The authorities decide to punish her severely, and John’s intense disapproval of Beth’s mistreatment of Summer almost forces her to leave the ranch.

Spinning Off & Out

The erstwhile misfit Jimmy (Jefferson White) returns from his extended stint at the 6666 ranches in Texas in the Season 4 finale, “Grass on the Streets and Weeds on the Rooftops,” a subplot that effectively acted as an extended backdoor pilot for Yellowstone’s next spinoff, 6666.

Jimmy’s arc on Yellowstone is resolved with John’s permission, Rip’s long-awaited acceptance, and a tearful, macho nod from Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith). The conclusion finally catches up with Kayce, who has been imprisoned in a field with a fence around her for at least a few days in the show’s chronology once these parallel (and annoying and very uninteresting) storylines are resolved.

His older brother Lee Dutton (played once again by Dave Annable), who passed away in the series’ first episode, visits him. An evil creature posing as Lee’s brother, Lee yells at Kayce to open the door as blood spurts from his mouth.

Other visions start to come to Kayce before one final spirit—possibly the wolf following him—appeals as a young Native American girl. She depicts Kayce’s roads splitting apart to illustrate decisions that seem awful from every angle. He says to Monica, who is expecting their second child that he indeed saw “the end of us.”

To see Terrell Riggins (Bruno Amato), the prisoner who shared a cell with Jamie’s biological father, face-to-face, Beth connives her way into a fictitious conjugal visit. The Dutton attack’s paper trail points to Riggins, but when Beth arrives looking for answers, he denies involvement and repeats what he said to the “other guy.”

Jamie is the other male. With this information in hand, Beth launches a kamikaze attack. In essence, she kidnaps a priest and forces him to marry her and Rip in front of John, Clark, and Lloyd. She approaches Jamie with a revolver in her hand and offers him some undesirable options after he admits Garrett ordered the hit. Beth offers him one last escape route.

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The judge in Summer’s case sentences her to 37 and a half years in prison; after a speech that condenses most of Yellowstone’s clumsy conservative politics into one nasty rant, she becomes eligible for parole after 14 years.

John is indignant when Summer, who had changed her plea to guilty with the claim that she would receive a 15-year suspended sentence, is hit in the gut. Summer Higgins will still serve some time in prison despite his efforts to have the majority of the sentence commuted because she is a vegan activist from a blue state.

Garrett is discovered by Jamie all set and ready to travel. His father is aware that the truth regarding Jamie’s parentage will be a problem if Jamie intends to run for governor. Garrett and John Dutton finally had their scene together in the penultimate episode, which crackled with everything left unsaid.

Although Garrett had previously insisted that he killed Jamie’s birth mother to keep Jamie safe, their relationship had a history that seemed to be simmering with various grudges. When Jamie Dutton pulls a gun and shoots his biological father, perhaps we will finally witness the Dutton mark triumph.

The following is a tweet that Yellowstone sent out on paramountUK:

Both men sought to stake a claim on Jamie Dutton. On the other hand, Beth is standing there ready to capture a picture with her phone when Jamie dumps Garrett’s body just over the Wyoming state line. She and John now own Jamie, which was her idea, not her father’s.

The Duttons are somewhat more robust in the Season 4 finale than they were in the dramatic Season 3 conclusion, but it’s possible that they still don’t fully understand what it has cost them to get there.

Yellowstone often avoids moralizing when it comes to the Duttons’ frequently horrible behavior, but “Grass on the Streets and Weeds on the Rooftops” may set the stage for a future reckoning.

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