‘Yellowstone’ TV: Could Tate Dutton, Played by Brecken Merrill, Save the Ranch?

by Jon D. B.

While John Dutton certainly treats Kayce as the prodigal son, it may be his grandson – Tate Dutton – that saves Yellowstone Ranch for the family.

There’s no doubt that the Dutton’s and their famous ranch are in deeper than they’ve ever been at the end of Season 3. But will things get even worse in Season 4? It’s the Duttons we’re talking about, so chances are, they will. And we’ll be devouring every second.

The vultures and wolves are closing in to make their final kill. Market Equities, Roarke Morris, and a series of ghastly attacks leaving the families’ lives in the balance have everything going against John & his kin. His son, Kayce, is often pegged to be the savior of the family ranch through it all. If we look all the way back to Episode 1, however, it’s Kayce’s son that may just save them all.

For their part, a group of sharp Yellowstone viewers are developing a theory that could prove this.

Will Tate Dutton’s Bones Save Yellowstone Ranch?

On “Yellowstone“, any glimmer of hope for the Duttons shines like gold. Every time an avenue opens toward prosperity for the family, something – or someone – comes along to kill it. While these threats prove immensely entertaining (mostly thanks to Josh Holloway’s work as Roarke Morris), there’s got to be a glimmer of hope left after that devastating Season 3 finale.

Thankfully, this new fan theory may provide just that.

Looking way back to the pilot/premiere episode of “Yellowstone,” ‘Daybreak‘, fans now believe the key to saving the ranch has been right in front of us since the very beginning.

In this episode, we meet a tiny Tate Dutton, played by Brecken Merrill, as he discovers a fossil formation. Not just any fossil, however, but actual dinosaur bones on his family’s land.

While we have yet to see these fossils again since Kayce’s homestead was hit by marauders, they’ve got to come back into play, the fans argue. The fossils have been given their own storyline, so to speak – and their prominence in the very first episode is key, as well. At their very core, these historic treasures should prove invaluable to the Duttons.

The Game is A’foot

On Reddit, these viewers are working through the theory. They believe that the fossils’ absence since season 1 is beyond conspicuous, especially considering how prominent they were at the very beginning of it all.

Redditor phonebook29 states the theory, saying “all hope to save the property seems to be going up in smoke with every passing episode.”

“The thing that will ultimately save the ranch goes all the way back to the dinosaur bones found in the beginning of the show.

“Not sure how this will play out but I have always thought this was a strange thing to drop on us at the beginning of S1E1.”

As a result of their discovery, Redditors now claim “getting the ranch listed as a protected site is the only way to prevent Morris getting his greedy hands on the land,” according to EXPRESS.

Even if the fossils have to be “planted” back on Yellowstone land, we know the Duttons aren’t above this. In turn, if the ranch becomes a protected site of paleontological significance, then Tate Dutton’s discovery – and obsession with dinosaurs – will save “Yellowstone” for good.

Other fans continue to add to the theory, with one pointing out she believes “they might genuinely find them or plant them there. Or they’ll find a burial ground there.”

Even if the original fossils don’t turn back up, there’s bound to be more on the land.

Child of Both Yellowstone Worlds

Moreover, it is Tate Dutton’s dual heritage that has him as the perfect person to lead Yellowstone Ranch into the next generations.

Tate’s mother, Monica, is a Native American born near the lands of the Dutton Ranch. After marrying one of the Dutton boys, Kayce, she gives birth to Tate – their only son.

A key part of Monica’s role in the show revolves around her Native American heritage. As such, the duality of Monica’s development has been incredibly interesting to watch over the first three seasons. As she becomes increasingly torn between her Native American upbringing on the reservation and her love of the Duttons – where will Monica’s loyalties land?

And in turn, where will Tate stand? During the “Grandpa’s Story” reel below, John Dutton asks Tate if he knows how to ride a horse.

“Course I do. I’m Indian,” Tate smiles.

“Yeah, maybe so,” his grandpa John replies. “But you’re a cowboy today.”

From here we know, of course, that Tate tells his grandpa, later on, he’s chosen to be a cowboy. The key to saving Yellowstone, however, will be Tate deciding to be both.

“Their relationship started out a bit rocky, but John, played by Kevin Costner, and Tate (Brecken Merrill) have developed a very special bond that’s become central to the Dutton family.”

Eager for more of Yellowstone’s cutest little star? We’ve named The Best Tate Dutton Moments Throughout the Seasons.

Season 4 of “Yellowstone,” cable’s No. 1 drama, returns in 2021 on Paramount Network.