Does Rip kill Jamie in ‘Yellowstone?’

Cole Hauser in 'Yellowstone'
Image via Paramount

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Yellowstone.

Taylor Sheridan’s growing Yellowstone Cinematic Universe is an ever-expanding place of exciting storytelling and compelling characters that work together to weave audiences through an emotional story of power struggles, love, and heartache. As these stories move forward, we’re greeted with the idea that characters must die to keep weaving this tale.

Death — of course, changes everything, which impacts the bonds fans love and loathe in the series. The relationship dynamics in Yellowstone are one of the most exciting pieces of the Dutton family puzzle and undeniably a large part of the reason that fans continue to tune in to Taylor Sheridan’s expanding universe. These characters exist in a moral grey area (and that’s putting it mildly), but they still choose to find conviction and honor amid intense ups and downs. They’re also quick to point out the shortcomings of anyone who sets out to wrong them, even when those people are their own family.

Rip Wheeler and Jamie aren’t related by blood, and if we’re being honest, there’s not a lot that connects them except for the Dutton name, neither of which was given to either of them by blood. They both swore to John Dutton that they’d protect the family and its reputation. Being a Dutton means holding power, but also recognizing that a target is forever on your back because of it. The cost of prestige in the Yellowstone realm is often death, and you never know when it’ll strike.

Mixing death, oaths, and family promises set viewers up for a series based on passionate and tumultuous relationships. One of those is between Rip and Jamie, although you might not put those pieces together initially. Jamie is John Duttons (adopted) son, whom he never made a show of or told Jamie; it was a decision John and Evelyn made to give the boy a chance at a better life. Rip Wheeler could also be considered an adopted son of John, while no legal paperwork ever made it so; he brought the boy in under his wing and gave him a second chance too.

So, why are fans asking if Rip has killed Jamie in Yellowstone? What could cause these two to have come from such a similar place and evolved into something where murder might be on the table? You know the drill from here, grab your Yellowstone-loving bestie and let’s ride in.

Why would Rip want to kill Jamie? 

You might ask yourself why Rip would kill Jamie at all; what would the motivation be? These two share similar backgrounds, an outlook on life that can only come from a place of devastating loneliness and abandonment; shouldn’t they be forging a bond together instead of standing on opposite sides of a fence? The truth is, pieces of their story have brought them together in an unspeakable connection. Still, there’s something that can divide them with a vengeance stronger than anything they’ve experienced: Beth Dutton.

Beth, the love of Rip’s life and the bane of Jamie’s existence. She’s a layered character, strong and sassy, beautiful but haunted, brilliant and brave; she’s also tormented and still somehow clinging to hope that one day, it’ll all have been for something. She’ll keep the ranch in their family name, fix the broken pieces of her father, and live out her days with her husband — finding some peace she’s never felt before.

So, why is Beth causing their great divide? Well, the answer is complex, but the story has been told from the beginning, in varying stages of flashbacks and emotional clarity. Jamie took something away from Beth that changed the course of her life then and her future, and that involves Rip too. When Beth was younger, she found out that she was pregnant with Rip’s child; afraid of what could happen if she told her father or what repercussions she would face, she asked Jamie for help.

Jamie took her to find a clinic, but afraid people in town would recognize the Dutton name, he took her to a reservation to get the procedure. What Jamie was told next is where the life-altering moment happens. The woman at the front desk recognizes him as a Dutton and says he needs to get Beth somewhere else; the rule at their clinic is that abortions come with sterilization. That’s right, having the procedure at that moment meant Beth would never carry children again, and Jamie didn’t tell Beth about that when he told her to come inside.

This has led fans to wonder if Jamie is entirely to blame, and some even question why Beth holds so much resentment for Jamie. The truth is, she did reach out to him for help, but she didn’t ask him to take something away from her forever. Jamie knew what he was doing when he ushered Beth inside, and he didn’t give her a chance to have a say in that decision. He took away the future for Beth to bear a child of her own, which pains her every day of her life.

The story becomes more tricky when fans realize that Beth has still never told Rip any of it; he doesn’t know that she was ever pregnant with his child and she’s also never said to him that she can’t carry children anymore because of Jamie’s choice in taking her to the reservation. She’s scared that he won’t understand, that he’ll blame her for taking something away from him, and she’s scared of all the ways he’ll hurt, similar to how she does.

Rip hasn’t been made aware of that fateful day for those reasons and more, but it explains why fans wouldn’t be surprised if Rip takes Jamie’s life one day. As a man himself, Rip says that it’s never been important to him to bring children into the world, but he doesn’t know the other side of the coin, and Jamie should certainly fear the moment he finds out.

Is Jamie still alive?

For now, Jamie Dutton has escaped certain death, but we’re not sure how much longer he should expect that story to ring true. Jamie is a force, and regardless of our personal feelings towards the character, he has a dedicated fan base supporting his decision-making and owning up to his wrongs. The thing is, he continues to make decisions that aren’t just bad for the family but are ultimately putting himself at risk, and it’s hard to get behind him as he does it.

In season five, we see a new side of Jamie, one who acts carelessly and with more of his own interests in mind. In fact, the midseason finale will line up with Jamie and Sarah Atwood leading the charge to get John Dutton impeached. Of course, the rest of the teaser for the episode shows a lot of chaos on the horizon and Beth reminding her father that Jamie is waging war on them. This could be the moment some of the fan base has been waiting for; this could be the end of the road for Jamie Dutton.

Of course, it could be another twist in the story allowing him to escape his fate, but you can’t outrun it forever. Eventually, life catches up with you, and be it Rip or someone else, Jamie has more enemies than friends. More opportunities for someone to turn on him than to have his back. For now, Jamie Dutton lives to see another day, but we’re confident those days are numbered.

Could Rip still kill Jamie in season 5?

As we said above, Jamie is waging war on the Dutton family, so it would surprise no one if Rip were to be the one to end the madness. Rip is John’s right-hand man and the muscle he often uses to take problems out, so why wouldn’t he call on someone he respects and trusts if Jamie’s life needs to come to an end? Of course, we’re not sure that John would be the one to ever make that call, even with Jamie impeaching him; even with the ways Jamie has abandoned the Dutton family name, John cares for him. It might not be the fatherly love and appreciation you hope to see between a father and son, but he cares for Jamie nonetheless.

If we had to guess, we’d say Beth would be the one to put the “hit” out on Jamie, and again, Rip would be the one to answer the call. It would make sense for her to say enough is enough with Jamie’s latest impeachment stunt, but that wouldn’t mean she would tell Rip about his past discretions. Rip is bright, and he knows what Jamie’s latest raid against the Dutton family means, especially with John in a place of power; he isn’t going to let an enemy of their family continue to grow in strength.

Of course, if Jamie manages to survive these days around the impeachment attempt and the fallout that will undeniably surround him, Rip could still take him out when Beth opens up about the abortion clinic. Beth and Rip were married at the end of season four, and both Kelly Reilly and Cole Hauser have spoken out about their relationship this season and how they’ll need to go through things together to succeed. Beth is having nightmares and heartbreaking flashbacks about their past, and it’s only a matter of time before she opens up about what she went through with Jamie to Rip.

If not for himself, because Rip isn’t one to act on selfish interests, we can see him taking Jamie out due to the pain he’s caused Beth alone. He altered her on a fundamental level, and Rip will want some resolution for it.

For now, the world continues for Rip and Jamie, but with a midseason finale on the horizon and another half of season five to air, there are no promises about who lives and who dies.