‘Yellowstone’ TV: Will the Bunkhouse Atmosphere Change Now That the Ranch Hands Are Branded?

by Lauren Boisvert

Yellowstone fans are sparking some theories about the branded ranch hands. Most notably, fans are speculating that the atmosphere in the bunkhouse will change. Not only are they questioning if things are going to be different, but how.

With the majority of the ranch hands branded and, essentially, part of a “brotherhood,” fans want to know how this will affect drifters and seasonal hires who come to the bunkhouse.

‘Yellowstone’ Brands: Will the Ranch Hands’ Attitudes Change?

Reddit user Justachocolateteapot speculated recently about the branded ranch hand situation; they counted up the branded ranch hands from each season, then stated, “the branded men went from being a minority in the bunkhouse to the overwhelming majority.” So, how will that change the atmosphere in the bunkhouse?

The user went on to ask, “Will it be harder for drifters and the like to be hired or be comfortable staying long?… Will there be a lot of awkward silences when one of the nonbranded hands comes in because they can’t know?” The questions are valid; user JakeTapperGlasses commented that they think more branded hands means the Dutton ranch is getting ready for war. “You can’t fight a war without soldiers,” they wrote.

So, it’s safe to assume that Yellowstone is taking on a decisively darker tone this upcoming season. With the additional branded ranch hands, the Duttons being attacked at the end of season 3, and the literal declaration of war from the season 4 trailer, it looks like things are going to take a turn sooner rather than later.

What Does the Brand Mean?

Used on the most loyal and dedicated ranch hands, the brand is a literal cattle brand in the shape of the Dutton ranch insignia. But, there was some initial confusion as to what the brand really means. Fans took to Reddit to clear things up; user ChaserNeverRests asked, “I thought branding was basically ‘You messed up so badly, you take this brand and we own you forever… get the brand or we kill you/leave you to die/leave you to the cops'”. They questioned why Colby and Teeter were branded, then, after surviving an attack by the Morrows; in this case, the brand ensures the ranch hands keep the Duttons’ secrets.

Redditor thehackneyedcarriage responded to the post, writing, “It is both a mark of being ‘beyond redemption’ to society, but also a badge of honor on the ranch itself.”

So, according to fans’ interpretation of the brand, it’s like becoming a “made man”; those branded know all the secrets, and need to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice. With the Yellowstone season 4 trailer revealed, it looks like the ranch hands are gearing up for war.