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The Most Confusing Moments In Yellowstone

One of the biggest shows on television, "Yellowstone" is a cultural phenomenon that took off like wildfire when it first premiered in 2018. Created by modern Western superstar Taylor Sheridan and headlined by Kevin Costner, the series follows the Dutton family as they do everything possible to preserve their livelihood — a massive ranch that borders up against America's first national park. Of course, this proves a bigger challenge than the family initially thought, with greedy land developers, Native American tribes, and the U.S. government all vying for the land.

Taking place in Montana's beautiful Paradise Valley, "Yellowstone" is a masterclass in phenomenal acting, gorgeous cinematography, and compelling direction that makes you hungry for more. Yet, despite the show's high praise and strong fan following, not everything is so cut-and-dry with the famously "Made in Montana" series. In fact, there are some very confusing moments that are impossible to wrap your mind around. Aside from the overly violent nature of Sheridan's version of Montana, there are other parts of "Yellowstone" that have left us scratching our heads.

These are some of the most confusing moments in "Yellowstone" that have stuck with us, even a few years after seeing them for the first time. While we might never find any satisfying answers or conclusions, we can rest assured that these complications won't stop the Duttons from fighting for their land, nor us from watching the next pulse-pounding season.

Beth and Carter's relationship

No twist in Season 4 is more unexpected than Beth taking the young and troubled preteen Carter under her wing. Seeing him as a younger version of Rip, Beth brings the boy home to the Yellowstone to not-quite-adopt him into her new family. Though it takes some time for Rip to warm up to the boy, often putting him through the same grueling tasks he was forced to endure in his youth, the three of them eventually form a bond as a makeshift family unit and are welcomed into the Dutton family by John, who at the time is distanced from his flesh-and-blood grandson Tate.

While it's not confusing why John and Rip would take to the boy, it's strange how Beth develops so much affection for him so quickly. Until this point, Beth hasn't shown much interest in her own nephew, not to mention any other snot-nosed kid, so her taking to Carter — who used her to get out of a bad situation — is somewhat surprising. But the most confusing moment these two share comes near the end of the season when Carter calls Beth "mamma." Beth, who clearly desires to call Carter her own, flips out, and makes sure he knows that she isn't his mom, and he isn't her son.

It's a really heartbreaking and completely uncalled for moment that reminds us just how selfish Beth can be, which is confusing given that her entire Season 4 arc is about shedding that selfishness for the sake of her new family.

John's adoption of Jamie

While we don't see this unfold on the show, the fact that John Dutton adopted Jamie as his own son is a bit strange. After Garrett Randall brutally murders his wife, John takes a 3-month-old Jamie in as his own. There are moments, especially near the end of the fourth season, when it's very clear that John sees Jamie as his own son. That said, he has a very funny way of showing it. Often pressuring Jamie to prove himself, constantly undercutting him, and emotionally abusing him whenever he needs something from his son, John isn't exactly an overtly loving or caring kind of father.

For how little John actively seems to care his son — save for a few moments of compassion — it's hard to believe that he adopted him all those years ago out of the goodness of his heart. Equally, it's also hard to believe that John Dutton's oldest offspring Lee — who is tragically killed in the first episode — didn't notice that his mother never got pregnant with Jamie, and he had another brother apparently out of the blue. Given that Beth is a few years younger than Jamie, and Kayce is even younger than her, it seems like something Lee would've picked up on at some point in his adult life. But, at the end of the day, John still views Jamie as his son, at least depending on which season of "Yellowstone" you're watching.

Monica's unexpected jealousy

A moment that garnered a lot of criticism from fans happens in Season 4 when Monica Dutton challenges Kayce's fidelity. After Kayce catches the eye of the Yellowstone's former horse wrangler Avery, Monica is initially threatened by her presence, stating that she's Kayce's "type." Since Kayce has never shown any signs of cheating on his wife, Monica's off-hand comment feels at least a bit strange and pretty much uncalled for. Even though Avery comes onto the younger Dutton soon after — which also feel out of nowhere — he immediately rejects her advances.

Ironically, Monica was the one who has previously engaged in extramarital activity, though this is during her separation from Kayce in Season 2. During this time, Monica works closely with her physical therapist Martin to recover from a serious injury, and the two get somewhat romantically entangled. In fact, they do everything but hook up before Monica recognizes that she still loves Kayce. One thing is clear — if one of them was going to cheat on the other, chances are it wouldn't be Kayce.

Kayce doesn't spend much time around women other than his wife and sister, but if merely spending time with someone else is the sole criteria for marital jealousy, then Kayce should've been jealous of Monica's physical therapist a long time ago.

Why Jamie continues to trust Garrett Randall

When we find out that Jamie is adopted at the end of Season 3, it seems as if his entire life makes sense. It makes sense why John never seems to love him the same way he loves his other children — not that this knowledge excuses that kind of bad parenting — and it makes sense why Jamie never feels like he fits in the same way. Upon meeting his biological father, Garrett Randall, Jamie finds a new kind of kinship that he'd never experienced before, but even if he can't see it for himself, we all knew he was being played once again.

Though Jamie's hope to get to know his biological parent better is completely understandable even if Randall is a killer, what doesn't make a lick of sense is that Jamie continues to trust Randall after learning that he tried to murder his entire family. Whether Jamie likes it or not, he's still a Dutton; more than that, he still loves his family — well, he still loves Kayce, at least. Besides his familial bond, Jamie also knows better, legally speaking, and he especially knows how it might look if anyone ever finds out what he knows and keeps to himself despite its legal implications. 

Sure, this whole plot point is set up so that Beth can blackmail Jamie, but it doesn't quite add up when you think twice about it.

Beth blackmailing Jamie

Beth's plan to blackmail Jamie isn't nearly as foolproof as she thinks it is, and while she claims to have done it to get him back under her father's thumb, the truth is that it's nothing but pure revenge, which is why it'll probably come back to bite her. Beth's entire plan revolves around using a picture of Jamie carrying his dead biological father's body to the Dutton's infamous "train station." Of course, this comes after Beth orders Jamie to kill Randall in the first place, and rather than turn Randall in for attempted murder, for some reason he does exactly what she says.

Following him to the "train station," Beth herself snaps a photo of Jamie with the body before he dumps it. But not only does Jamie — who again, is a lawyer — just go along with this, but he seems to ignore the fact that Beth herself takes the photo with her own phone. Naturally, Jamie would never wish to turn himself in or confess to patricide, but if he ever wants to move out from under Beth's thumb, all he has to do is place her at the scene and she'd be an accomplice. 

Not only that, but the entire Dutton Ranch would be under investigation, considering how they've buried plenty of bodies at that exact location. As smart as she claims to be, it seems like Beth maybe didn't think this through.

Rainwater's plan for the land

Chief Thomas Rainwater — played magnificently by Gil Birmingham — has spent every new season of "Yellowstone" working towards the goal of absorbing either part or all of the Dutton's land into the Broken Rock Reservation. Like the show itself, this plotline has been a slow-moving process, one with seemingly very little direction going forward. Rainwater doesn't have a whole lot to do in Season 4, which is especially odd given his story's forward momentum in the previous season. Season 4 sees Rainwater relegated to helping John Dutton find his would-be-assassin and dealing with the antagonistic financial firm Market Equities.

Having begun construction of a tribe-owned casino, Rainwater hopes to bring more people and more money onto the Rez. Of course, this goes against his previously established goals of wanting to preserve the land and his people's way of life. In fact, Rainwater openly admits to not wanting to build a casino, yet this doesn't stop him from working with the Beck brothers to make it happen. If Rainwater is playing a different game, then we might need to read the rulebook.

While it's possible that the casino is meant to be a temporary solution to Rainwater's problems, the Rez's struggle with funding and Market Equities own ideas to expand Paradise Valley are both issues for Rainwater and his team going forward. Here's hoping they can solve them.

Beth hasn't told Rip her secret

In Season 3, we learned the understandable reason why Beth hates Jamie's guts — he had her sterilized when they were young. After taking Beth to a semi-sketchy abortion clinic after Rip gets her pregnant, Jamie is forced to either go through with the procedure and have her sterilized in the process, or risk tarnishing the Dutton family name. He chooses the former, and because of it, Beth is unable to naturally have children. Rightfully, this hangs over her for her entire life and severs her relationship with her brother, who she now abhors more than the devil himself.

While it makes sense that Beth would want to keep this to herself, what makes a little less sense is her secrecy from her now-husband Rip. Rip has always been understanding and loving towards Beth. Plus, he already knows that she can't have children, so theoretically he'd react no differently to this news. Although, the information might prompt him to try to kill Jamie. If four seasons of "Yellowstone" have made anything abundantly clear, it's that Rip loves Beth and will do absolutely anything for her.

The only reason we can think of for Beth's hesitancy to disclose this information to Rip is it was his child she aborted back during their teenage years — a child he never found out could've potentially existed. This news could shatter Rip and may even break the trust they have.

What's with all the flashbacks?

Some people love them, some people hate them, but flashbacks have always been a part of the "Yellowstone" journey. From secret looks into the lives of the Dutton kids when they were actual kids to deep dives into the historic Wild West, it's no secret that "Yellowstone" likes to revisit the past. Sometimes the flashbacks reveal something new about a character that we never knew before; other times, they feel pretty unnecessary and unfocused. So, what's the difference?

Season 4 of "Yellowstone" was a struggle for many fans due to the relatively unfocused nature of the plot. Whether it's sending Jimmy to the Four Sixes as a tie-in to the eventual "6666" spinoff, or various flashbacks that tie into the world of "1883," much of the focus of Season 4 seems to be setting up other stories. The flashbacks to the characters of "1883" really throw off the focus as they initially seem to tie into some overarching plot with the Dutton family and the members of the Broken Rock Reservation, but there is never any payoff.

These flashbacks rarely ever match the tone of their respective episodes thematically, leaving some fans wondering why they were included at all, especially since they aren't included in the Season 4 recap. If we wanted to watch more Wild West content, and we do, we'd just go watch "1883."

Why do the Dutton kids even stick around?

In the very first episode, titled "Daybreak," Kayce reminisces with his brothers Lee and Jamie about their strange and rocky childhood, with the latter two remarking that their father kicked all of them out at one time or another. Kayce is just the only one who stayed away. It's a great scene that opens us up to the world of "Yellowstone" and introduces these complex character dynamics within the Dutton family. Even Beth's introduction in Salt Lake City makes it clear that she also walked away from the family, at least in a physical sense, only to be sucked back in.

So, considering John Dutton is emotionally abusive to a ridiculous degree, and with all the violence and countless deaths that have occurred on the Dutton's ranch, it's a real wonder why Kayce and Beth return. Sure, Beth is motivated by loyalty and Kayce wants to make something for his son. But with everything they're forced to go through and all the trauma they've endured since returning home — including the death of their brother — it seems like a stretch that any of them would continue to care this much about the Yellowstone.

Even if there wasn't so much stress and strife surrounding the Dutton Ranch, John Dutton himself would be enough for most kids to want to get out of Dodge. Nevertheless, they're here to stay, and so are we.