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Why Fans Are Freaking Out Over The Latest Episode Of Yellowstone

Contains spoilers for Yellowstone season 3, episode 3

Yellowstone has never been afraid to kill off its major players. Heck — the series essentially opened with the brutal shooting of the main character's heir apparent. For this reason, the cliffhanger ending of season 3, episode 3 has every fan of Paramount's hit ranch drama awaiting next week's resolution with bated breath.

The episode, entitled "An Acceptable Surrender," threw the Dutton clan a major curve ball. Ever since the modern Western debuted back in 2018, viewers have been riveted by the show's sheer density of heartbreaking plot twists, but this one threatens to rob the fans of a particularly favored character.

On episode 3, the Duttons plus Rip (Cole Hauser), Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) and Governor Perry (Wendy Moniz-Grillo) come together to see branded man Jimmy (Jefferson White) test his cowboy skills at the rodeo. The light-hearted event takes an unexpectedly tragic turn, when Jimmy's mount charges out of the gate too early and tosses him violently. The greenhorn wrangler, who's been a mainstay at the Yellowstone Ranch since season 1, is knocked unconscious and we're left to wonder about his ultimate fate as medics rush the ring to tend him. The possibility that Jimmy has been killed off in such a frivolous way has fans on pins and needles.

Jimmy's death would really gut Yellowstone's fans

We probably should have seen something like this coming. Things have just been going too well for poor, pathetic, lovable Jimmy. After years of torment at the whims of bully ranch hands and epic saddle sores, Jimmy was finally starting to fulfill the promise of his recruitment and grow into his role as a career cowboy with the Yellowstone crew. To add insult to injury, he'd also just met a potential and promising love interest, Mia played by Eden Brolin (yes, that same Brolin). We should have realized that no one gets a happy ending forever on this show; in true Yellowstone form, Jimmy was due for a little tragedy.

For those viewers paying close attention, episode 3 actually foreshadowed this turn of events pretty explicitly. O.G. branded man Lloyd, who has become a bit of a father figure to Jimmy on the ranch, expressed concern that Jimmy's mind might have been elsewhere while he was preparing for the rodeo. If that's not an ominous pronouncement, we don't know what is.

The cutaway to John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) face after Jimmy's fall didn't invest us with a lot of confidence that Jimmy was going to be okay. The Dutton family knows how dangerous that kind of fall can be. Maybe John's just experiencing a little PTSD from his wife's death, or maybe he knows what a fatal tumble looks like before the EMTs even reach the body.

Fortunately, Jimmy's fate isn't sealed

That fall looked bad, but don't break out the tissues just yet. The cliffhanger ending suggests that the creative team behind Yellowstone may just be trying to milk the ultimately non-fatal fall for a week's worth of dramatic tension. They know what game they're playing, admitting as much in this cheeky Twitter apology. Although the show is certainly capable of ruthlessness toward its cast, losing Jimmy would be a major blow to the series' emotional mix.

Jimmy provides the audience with a window into the development of a young ranch hand, as well as one of the most satisfying character arcs outside the proper Dutton clan. When we first meet him during season 1, he's an ex-meth cook living in a trailer full of stolen DVD players. After Rip scoops him up and puts that Yellowstone brand on his chest, he begins a long journey toward a fulfilling life. It's part coming-of-age story, part redemption tale — and it's certainly got the viewers invested. Jimmy also provides much of the series' levity, a breath of fresh air that's often needed in the midst of Yellowstone's heavy drama. It would be a shame to lose all of that to an awkward rodeo fall.

To find out what happens, tune into Paramount at 9 PM Eastern on Sundays for new episodes of Yellowstone.