It's a bloodbath for the Dutton family in the season 3 finale. Who's left from the wreckage, and whose mess is this?

By Omar Sanchez
August 23, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Danno Nell/Paramount Network

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Yellowstone season 3.

In the matter of a season on Paramount Network's Yellowstone, Wes Bentley's Jamie has successfully come back into the Dutton family and catapulted himself right out again. Known as the politico son with a problem standing up for himself, his family, and the Duttons' Yellowstone ranch, Jamie is now on the lookout for himself and himself only. In Sunday's shocking season 3 finale, more than one Dutton was left for dead by the episode's closing moments. And Jamie may have reached his point of no return.

"As an audience, it feels like the board got wiped and we can write some new things on that board," Bentley tells EW.

While it remains to be seen who is definitively dead, the Dutton family is assuredly forever shaken up. Leading up to the explosive ending, we witnessed patriarch John (Kevin Costner) on the brink of a compromise with Chief Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) to team up against Roarke Morris (Josh Holloway) and the hedge fund looking to snatch land away for an airport development. But John's kind gesture to help a family on the side of the road quickly turned to tragedy: A van snuck up behind John and an unknown assailant shot him repeatedly, leaving his fate in question as he stared up at the big Montana sky.

Who called in the hit and whether Morris had anything to do with it will be for theories leading up to season 4, which is shooting in Montana this month. But there's one thing we know for sure: John wasn't the only one with a target on his back.

In season 2, Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) was saved from a coordinated hit at her office by Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser). But this time, she didn't appear to be so lucky. By the season 3 finale, Beth was set on keeping the Yellowstone land without real desire for compromise from other parties. She went with her father, John, to Jamie's office to discuss the potential sale of the land, in a meeting that also included members of the Brocken Rock Indian Reservation and the hedge fund. Everyone in the scene was jostling to keep what they believe to be theirs — but Jamie had a different agenda.

"It's interesting to watch him let them try to play off their power moves," Bentley says. "Then Jamie drops the hammer and takes his power at the right moment." The scene of Jamie allowing the sale of the land was "one of my favorite shooting the whole series," Bentley adds.

Beth left the meeting asking her brother for a final word, a wish Jamie did not immediately grant. Back at her office, Beth's assistant informed her that a package had arrived in the mail. Before Beth could react, it was too late. Her office exploded, and the finale cut to the next scene, leaving Beth's fate a mystery.

Bentley describes Jamie in the aftermath of the finale as a man "without a spine, without legs to stand on." Below, the actor opens up about what exactly that means for the future of Yellowstone; what led up to the action-packed final 10 minutes of the finale, including the chess match for the Yellowstone land; and what he thinks about Jamie and Beth's broken relationship.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jamie's relationship with Beth is one of the most fascinating story lines of Yellowstone. How do you view their relationship as a whole, going back to the revelation that Jamie forced Beth to get an abortion at a young age?

WES BENTLEY: I found it all very moving, because [series creator ] Taylor Sheridan did a really good job making it seem hard to see him doing anything else, at least for a young man. But what he did was awful, terrible, unthinkable, inhumane — but that's also how you can describe my family. I thought it was a really good illustration of a man making a decision for a woman's body. [Yellowstone] is showing in physical terms what that means.

How would you describe how Jamie's relationship with Beth is today? That stare in Jamie's office was something else.

It's broken. There was always hope that they loved each other more than they hated each other. But I think Jamie, coming with the realization that he isn't even a Dutton, is realizing what he did cannot get fixed, or maybe he doesn't have the ability to fix it. He's trying to be strong there and stand up and say, "All right, it's broken. You're right. I'm not even one of you. But I still got to do something." But you know Jamie, he doesn't make the best decisions. He makes a choice, I'll put it that way.

Danno Nell/Paramount Network

The final 10 minutes of this finale are dripping in brutality. It's shocking, but also on Yellowstone we've seen similar things happen before.

When I read the script, I was like, "Oh?!" With Taylor, we'll be on a path down one way and he'll cut the branches on the side so we're going to tumble down with him. I think big, big, dramatic things happen, violent things happen, and in a lot of ways it defines the show because that's who gets the ultimate say. It comes down to that [brutality]. Outside of aliens landing, I don't know where Taylor is going to go from here. He gave himself the ability to go from any angle now. To restart or refresh, he definitely has left himself an open door for a lot of options. I think that's clever. He has a plan, so I think he was ahead of it. As an audience, it feels like the board got wiped and we can write some new things on that board.

Something that's been lingering since earlier this season is Jamie's identity crisis, given that it was revealed he was adopted by John. It's explained that John saved Jamie from living in another broken household, where Jamie's father killed his mother "for your own good." Where is Jamie's head at in the aftermath of the finale?

Jamie probably somewhere in him was always afraid something like this was true. He's a smart guy. Maybe he's fantasized about being from a different family; maybe if that family was there for him, he could connect with them and truly have a family connection that he felt was on a deeper level. But then to find out his [biological] dad is not a good guy, I mean, where do you go from there? I don't know. I have a great mom and dad. I'm lucky. Where I get my spine is from my family. You know what I mean? I stand up because of my family, right? For Jamie, who is he now? He has no spine or legs to stand on. I think Jamie finds family important. He wants that. He wants the love that comes with it.

The theories about the murder sequences at the end are going to run rampant. Do you pay attention to any of that?

I love fan fiction and fans guessing. I don't go online, but I get told these things literally on the phone with my mom. I love that, and you know, fans get involved and have theories and we're going to have a lot of fun with it. It's going to be a blast to hear about what fans think as a community. I mean, I was a Game of Thrones fan, so I had my own theories.

Murder and a sprawling family story. Sounds kind of like Game of Thrones. Do you see that with Yellowstone?

Yes, there definitely is [a connection]. The way the family dynamic works and the goals that kind of all fit together in some weird ways.

Maybe Jamie can go full villain. He's shown flashes before, and his final words in the finale are chilling.

I like how you're thinking. I agree with that. I think it's going to be a really interesting thing to see. I can't say if it it will or it won't, but that'd be a really interesting path to take.

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