‘Yellowstone’ TV: Is Rip Wheeler Masterminding Ultimate Frame Job on Jamie Dutton?

by Jon D. B.
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It won’t take a Yellowstone fan long to think of several reasons why Rip Wheeler would want Jamie Dutton dead. Is the ruthless ranch hand already hatching a plan that’s slipped under viewers’ radar?

As squirrely as Jamie Dutton is, he did once have the upper hand on his family. Being “the lawyer” of the pack comes with massive benefits, as he constantly reminds his sister, Beth. Yet that all fell apart when he proved himself both a true Dutton and a Randall by committing cold-blooded murder. Hot-blooded is more like it, too, all things considered.

The following speculation contains intense spoilers for Season 2 and 3 of Yellowstone – so be sure you’ve given both a thorough watch before diving in. Ready?

First, a smidge of scandalous recapping. If we’re discussing Jamie and murder, then the focus will obviously be Sarah Nguyen. Nguyen (Michaela Conlin) was an undercover journalist for New York Magazine using “Kendall” as her alias. Clearly, she’s not from Montana or she would’ve known to leave the Duttons alone. But she isn’t and doesn’t, and gets hired into Jamie’s campaign to dig up dirt on the family. She features prominently in Season 1, only to return for her demise in Season 2: Episode 6’s incredible, yet devastating “Blood the Boy” storyline.

Long story short, her journey ends very poorly for her as Jamie turns into a full-blown murderer. Daddy issues in tow, the adopted black sheep has given the journalist all the dirt she needs. After John Dutton finds out and tells him to fix it, Jamie begins to crumble. Hair extra greasy, he confronts Nguyen, knocking her unconscious against her car – before spiraling completely out of control and strangling her to death. Talk about irredeemable.

After all of this, Jamie knows he needs help. And he seeks it in the Long Black Train’s conductor himself: Rip Wheeler.

‘Yellowstone’ Theory: Rip’s Master Plan

To spare you another bout of recapping, let’s cut straight to the chase:

  1. Rip does not like Jamie. At all.
  2. Rip doesn’t use the Train Station for Sarah Nguyen’s “disposal”
  3. Instead, he enlists the help of another fellow he loathes, Walker (Ryan Bingham)
  4. All the while keeping himself free of implication

Through these four points alone, and a heavy dose of foreshadowing both in Season 2 & 3, it certainly feels like Rip is setting the gentlemen up, doesn’t it?

For one, Rip is smart, or he’d be dead six times over. Killing three birds with one stone (Jamie, Walker, and Sarah) seems like a win-win-win for the dark rancher. Staging her death as a “kayaking accident” through utilizing the kayak atop Sarah’s vehicle, then implicating Jamie & Walker through it all, keeps his hands clean – while it sets up these two to get caught. Or Jamie, at the very least. Remember: Sarah’s body is discovered and it is reported on heavily by the media. This is not true of a single soul that Rip (Or Lloyd) has taken to the Train Station.

So why change it up so drastically, if not to send Jamie to his own demise? All of Yellowstone knows she’s a “name.” She has family, she has a partner viewers have met in girlfriend Paige Nutter, and her absence would be notable unlike all those who ride the Long Black Train. All of this considered, her disposal would never be a clean one. Rip states this himself, even after the deed is done, with his telling line to Jamie:

“You know Jamie, at some point, the only way to get rid of the mess is to get rid of you. Don’t put me in that position.”

Rip Wheeler, S2:Ep6

Rip & Beth vs. Jamie

And then, after all of this – and all the insane events of Season 3 – Rip begins frantically phoning the Duttons amidst the assassination attempts on their lives. Once he reaches Jamie, the lawyer tells him never to call him again.

Something else is clearly being set up behind the scenes, here. Besides Rip knowing the family will now be better off without Jamie, could he also know about Beth’s abortion of his child? And 18-year-old Jamie’s sterilization of his fiance, keeping them from ever having that option again?

Beth doesn’t want secrets between the two now that they’re to be married, as she reveals. It’s hard to think of her keeping this knowledge from Rip, considering how much she hates Jamie, too.

All in all, too much sh*t has hit the fan with Jamie Dutton that’s mucked up everything Rip cares about for him not to be the one to deal with Jamie.

A strong reckoning is coming for Jamie in Yellowstone Season 4, methinks. And it goes by the name Rip Wheeler. We’ll find out when the highly-anticipated return hits this summer, 2021.

Actor Wes Bentley and his castmates (Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly) discuss Jamie Dutton’s journey on season one of Yellowstone.​

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