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The Rip Documentation Details That Bother Yellowstone Fans

Contains spoilers for Yellowstone season 3

Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) is one of the most enigmatic figures on Yellowstone. While three Duttons were on the receiving end of a coordinated attack in the explosive season 3 finaleRip was off by himself putting an injured horse out of its misery. He doesn't even know his beloved Beth (Kelly Reilly) was just on the wrong end of a mail bomb that went off inside her office. This attack in particular is bound to test his rigor going into season 4

After all, one of the most exciting developments during season 3 was Rip and Beth's relationship. Beth finally went to her father John (Kevin Costner) to ask him if it was all right if she married Rip. John gave his full blessing, and Beth ecstatically went to Rip to tell him the good news. While Rip's madly in love with Beth, he says he can't officially marry her because there's no record he exists. There would be no way for him to go to the courthouse to fill out the paperwork.  

The conversation caused a stir on social media, as many fans took to Reddit to voice their confusion about why exactly Rip can't go to the courthouse. As it turns out, there's an in-universe explanation, but even the explanation raises a few eyebrows. 

How has Rip existed for all this time without any documentation?

The explanation for why Rip doesn't have the proper papers to confirm his identity is that he killed his father out of self-defense when he was but a wee lad. His dad took his family to the ranch and murdered Rip's brother and mother, leaving Rip as the only surviving family member. John Dutton ended up finding Rip, and took him in as his own. Obviously, John took steps to erase Rip from the public record to protect the boy, but not every fan on Reddit is buying this explanation.

In one Reddit threadYellowstone fans discussed how John's plan would really work and why he took that route specifically. Redditor u/mzak36 brought up the good point that, "You'd think with John's pull around MT that killing could easily and rightly be labeled as self defense, then he wouldn't have to disappear from society. Problem solved, Rip goes on with his life. Unless even 20 years ago John wanted to 'acquire' someone who literally could not leave the ranch." It's certainly possible John had more sinister motives when it came to adopting Rip. After all, he received a loyal enforcer who thinks that he owes his life to John and will do anything for him. 

Redditor u/fenbaldwin also pointed out, "He groomed Rip to be his pet serial killer. His job is to do hits for John and dispose of people. That's dirty work. Not existing keeps him off the radar of government and law enforcement." Rip was about 13 at the time he killed his father. That's definitely young enough to where John could have influenced him to believe that if he went to the authorities, they would have convicted him even though it's unlikely a jury would sentence a 13-year old to prison in what was clearly self-defense. 

Of course, not being able to get a marriage license is only the beginning of the problems Rip "not existing" would cause. Redditor u/ricky_lafleur raised the question, "What about a bank account and health insurance?" 

There are probably ways to get around those issues without any form of identification, such as getting paid in cash and seeing a sketchy doctor under the table. Luckily, when Rip told Beth he couldn't go to the courthouse, it sounded like she was fine just having their own ceremony and being married in their own eyes. We think that'll work just fine for a guy like Rip.

Hopefully, Beth has survived her attack, and there will be wedding bells when Yellowstone comes back for season 4