“The World Is Purple” only felt like a finale in its final five minutes, but when the fourth season eventually comes around, at least there will be plenty for the Duttons to be annoyed about.
This recap of the Yellowstone Season 3 finale (Yellowstone season 3, episode 10, “The World Is Purple”) contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I’ve said all throughout this season that the pace has been off; that it has never really felt like we’re gearing up for a big finale. And now that I’ve seen the Yellowstone Season 3 finale, ominously but mysteriously titled “The World is Purple”, I still don’t think that we geared up for it. To be honest, the closing hour barely felt like a finale at all, save for the last five minutes, which finally put the Dutton clan in serious danger all at the same time.
We’ll have to wait, like, a year to find out how much danger they’re in since the fates of at least three major characters were left unresolved. A bomb went off while Beth was cleaning out Schwartz & Meyer; we never saw the aftermath. Kayce, right after being courted to run for governor, had to flip his office desk and duck behind it as armed, masked men burst inside. And John was gunned down at the side of the road while helping an errant Californian and her son change a tire, an all-too-convenient setup that at least produced the season’s best joke: When, in the final scene of “The World Is Purple”, John reached a hand into his jacket to inspect his wounds, he pulled his much-maligned cell phone out of his chest pocket, a bullet hole in the screen.
That only leaves two major family members unharmed. The first is Rip, who managed to avoid any attempts on his life because he was busy exhuming his mother’s corpse so that he could give Beth her ring – he also tells the partially-decomposed body that he has met a woman he wants to spend the rest of life with, not that she was listening. On his way back through the valley, he spots a badly wounded, dying horse being set about by carrion birds, and angrily scares them off. After putting the horse out of its misery – “I’d rather shoot a thousand men than another horse,” he grumbles – he angrily tells the birds they can eat him now. And he angrily calls Jamie to tell him that he can’t get in touch with anyone else. Jamie tells him in the manner of an ex-girlfriend that perhaps he shouldn’t call him anymore.
Yes, Yellowstone season 3, episode 10 finally arrives at the moment – or several moments, as it happens – in which Jamie turns against his adopted family, prompted in large part by a conversation with his murderous biological father, though we’re to believe that it’s really a lifetime of being ostracized that’s led to this point. Either way, since as he smugly explains to Beth he has power of attorney over the Duttons’ land, he approves the sale of it to Market Equities in a big meeting between all involved parties, including Chief Rainwater and Angela Blue Thunder, and a scrubbed-up Roarke Morris, who we finally get to see interact with a Dutton who isn’t Beth. “Once you put a name to this face you’ll never forget it,” declares Roarke to John, who was earlier informed by Rip that it was a mysterious “Roarke” pulling Wade’s strings. “No, I don’t suppose I will.” We could have used much more of this throughout the season.
The question, then, is whether it was Roarke or Jamie or even Chief Rainwater who organized the hits on the Duttons in the Yellowstone Season 3 finale. Jamie might have bragged to Governor Perry that finally betraying his family wasn’t particularly hard for him at all, and he had no qualms about giving Rip the cold shoulder, but he’s still probably too lily-livered for this kind of thing. Chief Rainwater, too, doesn’t seem the type, even if Angela’s pontificating about not playing according to the white man’s rules makes for one of the best scenes in “The World Is Purple”. That leaves Roarke, whom Willa Hayes told to treat the situation like “an oil deal in Yemen.” He’s the likeliest culprit, though how he pulled it off so quickly and efficiently is anyone’s guess, and is also the kind of thing that Taylor Sheridan rarely bothers to explain in the pursuit of cheap thrills.
The long and short of it is that everyone will probably be fine, which betrays the big stakes of a finale but is also how very popular shows like this have to work in order to remain very popular; killing off major fan-favorite characters can’t happen at the drop of a hat, however much Sheridan has tried to create that impression throughout this season, with last-minute cliffhangers suggesting that Jimmy, Colby, and Teeter were all done for at one point or another, only to be confirmed as fine in the very next episode. There’s a much better than average chance that these seemingly impactful moments will just be used as motivation for the soapy revenge shenanigans of Yellowstone Season 4, and after virtually an entire season spent waiting for this season to kick into gear, that’ll probably be appreciated.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.