‘Yellowstone’: The Full Timeline of Rip Wheeler and Lloyd’s Friendship

by Leanne Stahulak
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Throughout four seasons of “Yellowstone,” fans have watched the friendship between Rip and Lloyd waver and then grow stronger. So, we’re here to break down how they came to be such good friends, highlighting moments from key episodes that reveal Rip and Lloyd’s backstory.

Let’s take it back to the beginning when Rip first comes to the ranch as an orphaned, blood-boiling 14-year-old.

Lloyd Defends Rip From the Start on ‘Yellowstone’

We know that Rip came to the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch after killing his father. He ran away to sleep in a hayloft for the night. John Dutton finds him there and offers him a job instead of turning Rip over to the police.

The next thing we know, Rip is branded and working as the low man on the totem pole. We first see young Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein) put to work in Season 2 Episode 5, “Touching Your Enemy.” That’s also where we meet a young Lloyd (Forrest Smith) for the first and last time.

One of the older ranch hands starts teasing Rip about having a crush on young Beth Dutton. He keeps calling Rip “little orphan boy,” which we can tell upsets both a younger Lloyd and Rip. Rip eventually tackles the old ranch hand to the ground and starts beating him with a broken-off chair leg.

The other ranch hands pull Rip off and hold him. But before Rip can get beat up, Lloyd steps in and puts a gun to the ranch hand’s head.

“You had it coming,” young Lloyd says. “Touch that boy again, I’ll gut you in your fucking sleep.” He tells Rip to go to the barn and get some sleep.

How the Brand Brings Them Closer Together

The scene above kicks off Rip and Lloyd’s friendship on “Yellowstone,” but it only grows from there. We learn what the brand means to them, especially as the duo tries to teach Jimmy and Walker what it means to be branded. Rip describes it to Jimmy early on in Season 1.

“These guys, they just work here Jimmy,” Rip says. “But not us. This is your family. We’re your family.”

We see Rip and Lloyd treat each other like family over the first three “Yellowstone” seasons. Then, in Season 3 Episode 8, Rip asks Lloyd to be his best man, even after the old ranch hand says Rip should ask Kayce. Lloyd soon accepts, and the two share a heartfelt, quiet moment together.

But things go downhill for the duo at the end of Season 3 when they pick up Walker at a bar. Walker incenses Lloyd, and it creates all kinds of division between him and Rip going into Season 4.

The Divided Friendship in Season 4

Things already don’t bode well for Rip and Lloyd in “Yellowstone” Season 4 when Lloyd struggles to tell Rip that his house burned down in the attacks on the ranch. From there, things escalate further and further.

Walker baits Lloyd throughout the first half of the season, causing Lloyd to get more and more heated. Lloyd even takes his frustrations to Rip, telling him in Season 4 Episode 3, “I sure don’t know how much more my pride can take of that little son of a b****.”

Rip quickly sets him straight. “Lloyd, get your f****** head right. And leave your pride right here in this bunkhouse.”

Although Lloyd mentored Rip, John Dutton put Rip in charge of the ranch hands. The power balance between them has changed, so what Rip says goes. Even when it grates on Lloyd personally. And Lloyd sometimes has trouble taking that to heart, especially when Walker repeatedly pushes his buttons.

In Episode 4, “Winning or Learning,” Lloyd starts a fight with Walker in the bunkhouse. This puts Rip in a difficult spot because he has to punish the instigator.

“What’s the rule about fighting, Lloyd?” Rip asks him. “G****** you for making me do this.” Rip beats the stuffing out of Lloyd, even though it pains him to do it.

Even John has trouble believing how bad the spat is between the two of them, reminding Rip, “Don’t forget what he is to you.”

But John quickly takes back his words when Lloyd stabs Walker with a knife in Episode 6. John reprimands Lloyd for spending 30 years enforcing rules on the ranch and then breaking them. But he decides to let Lloyd live, given their history.

Lloyd pays for it, though, having to fight Walker until all the animosity bleeds out of them. John tells Rip he has to finish the fight off, but he won’t ask Rip to do it because Rip and Lloyd are friends. But Rip steps in any way, because there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for John. Even if it means beating the crap out of his closest friend.

Rip even tells Lloyd he loves him before going to town. You can tell it hurts both of them, that it had to be this way. But once it’s done and over with, the two finally start to build their friendship back up again.

This leads to the season finale, where Lloyd finally gets to be Rip’s best man at the wedding. Lloyd is one of only a few people in attendance, but we know it means the world to Rip because there are few people who have gained his trust and respect like Lloyd has. Here’s to hoping they only continue growing closer in “Yellowstone” Season 5.

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