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The Yellowstone Theory That Points To A New Head Of Household

Spoilers for season 3 of Yellowstone to follow.

Paramount Network's hit drama Yellowstone has always worn its influences on its sleeve. Allusions to westerns and plot developments that would feel at home in a Shakespearian tragedy abound in the story of the Dutton family and their ongoing struggle to maintain control of their super-sized Montana ranch. The intense inter-family drama the series serves up has led some fans to point to another possible influence: Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather Trilogy. It's not hard to see similarities between the Duttons' fight for supremacy in Montana and the Corleone family's mafia war in mid-century New York City, and some fans believe the latter might hold clues as to what direction Yellowstone might be heading.

Although the Dutton family is bound together by their stake in the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, throughout the show's three seasons, we've seen plenty of Dutton-on-Dutton fighting as each member's personal agenda comes to bear. In the season 3 finale, the family appeared to be seriously fractured by two events. Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley), who previously discovered that he was adopted, seemed ready to turn on his father. Meanwhile, three other Duttons — John (Kevin Costner), Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Kayce (Luke Grimes) — were attacked in a series of coordinated hits, potentially leaving any or all of them for dead.

The mysterious assassination attempts on the Dutton family do feel straight out of a gangster flick, and some fans on Reddit see parallels between members of the Dutton and Corleone clans. Presuming that's the case, there are some interesting ideas about who will survive to see season 4, and who may end up as the head of the family.

Will Beth become the head of the Dutton family?

In a recent Reddit thread about that season 3 cliffhanger, user sempercool16 posited a theory about the shocking episode and what might happen in its aftermath. "Very [Godfather]-esque level hits going on at the end," they wrote. "But if we draw the similarities to [The Godfather], Don Corleone survived his shooting but one of his sons took over as Don. The least suspecting son took over as Don. So maybe Beth survives and becomes the head of the family."

They are referring to the fact that part of the coordinated hits on the Dutton family included John, the current Dutton godfather, being gunned down in the middle of the road. While it's not a one-to-one parallel, the head of the Corleone family, Vito (Marlon Brando), was similarly gunned down while crossing the street in New York in The Godfather. Eventually, his son Michael (Al Pacino), who previously denounced the family business, takes over Vito's role.

The idea that series creator and writer Taylor Sheridan has been influenced by Coppola's iconic film series isn't hard to believe. In fact, in an interview with Deadline about the series, he confirmed as much. When asked about using flashbacks to expand the world of his show, Sheridan brought up The Godfather Part II as an example: "[I]t's not unlike, watching Don Corleone come over to New York at the turn of the century, interspersed with watching Al Pacino's Michael Corleone fully embrace the power of his family."

If Coppola's films influenced other aspects of Yellowstone, then we may soon see Beth's ascension to the Don's chair, according to sempercool16. However, while other fans have seen similarities with The Godfather, not everyone is in agreement about which characters correlate between the two stories.

Some fans have other theories about possible Yellowstone and The Godfather correlations

While sempercool16 suggested that Beth might end up being the Michael Corleone of the Dutton family and go on to take over the whole enterprise, other fans on Reddit had different theories. User royrogersmcfreely3 responded to sempercool16's post by suggesting an alternate view of the comparison: "If you're going by [The Godfather], then [Kayce] is Michael, Beth is Sonny and Jamie is Fredo."

Sonny (James Caan) also briefly served as the head of the Corleone family but was murdered not long into his reign. The possibility of Beth taking on a similar role as the doomed Sonny has been suggested before. In a thread titled "Yellowstone feels like the Godfather," which was created before season 3 even aired, user PistolCowboy wrote, "I see Beth as Sonny Corleone, hot headed and probably the heir to the thrown. But will she end up like Sonny?"

However, in yet another Yellowstone-as-The Godfather thread, user MontanaJoev had another role in mind for Beth: the only Corleone daughter, Connie (Talia Shire). "Beth is Connie on steroids," they wrote. "She's far more the Connie from Godfather 3 then the early Connie we see. In Godfather 3, she is right at Michael's side, and manipulates things behind the scenes."

Beth's role may be disputed, but two character correlation theories have had popular support: Kayce as Michael Corleone and Jamie as the weaselly Fredo (John Cazale). Could that mean season 4 sees the decline of John, the rise of Kayce, and the eventual deaths of Beth and Jamie? While it may be a fun exercise in speculation, The Godfather comparisons are sadly not a reliable source for spoilers. We'll have to wait until season 4 of Yellowstone premieres to find out.