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Why Yellowstone Fans Think They've Spotted A Major Clue In The Season 4 Trailer

Ever since the cliffhanger ending of the "Yellowstone" Season 3 finale, fans of the Paramount Network's gritty modern Western have been waiting with bated breath for the answers to two huge questions: Who among John (Kevin Costner), Beth (Kelly Reilly), and Kayce (Luke Grimes) Dutton will survive the simultaneous attacks executed in the finale? And who of all the show's villains might be behind them? 

Now some fans think a short teaser dropped on the show's social media accounts might hint at an unexpected mastermind behind the attempts at killing off most of the Dutton clan — and it's a name that's been kicking around the fan theory threads since Season 3 came to a close.

The teaser itself is simple. It starts with an overhead view of a shallow river. Water flows around a cluster of rocks. Birds chirp in the background. Then a gunshot sounds, and the water is disturbed by a splash, the source just out of the frame. As the ripples die down, a white hat floats downstream and the music picks up, with a threatening grind that might have been borrowed from the main theme from "Jaws."

Then, following the hat, a trail of blood floating on the river splits around a rock into what's surely a deliberate "Y." The tagline over it reads "Every. Body. Pays."

Whose hat appears in the Yellowstone teaser?

In the absence of other clues, fans are focusing on the one detail in the trailer that might possibly be used as an identifying feature: the white hat. In the comments of the teaser's post on Instagram, speculation was rife as to whom the hat might belong to. Some think it looks like a hat worn by Walker (Ryan Bingham), the former prisoner who Rip (Cole Hauser) brings onto Yellowstone Ranch, but who never seems to take to ranch life — though others point out that the shape of the crown doesn't match up.

A few more fans suggest that characters such as Colby (Denim Richards) and Teeter (Jennifer Landon) have been seen in white hats before, though given what those two went through for the sake of the ranch in the latter parts of Season 3, it's tough to see them coming back and betraying the Dutton family so soon.

One fan pointed out that there's one antagonist with a good reason to be standing in the river: Roarke (Josh Holloway), who counts fly fishing among his hobbies. But Roarke seems to favor baseball caps over cowboy hats when he needs some headgear, so unless he adopted the latter as some kind of symbolic taking-over-the-crown type of gesture, it would be a little out of character for him.

Could Yellowstone be hinting at the return of a major villain?

Which leads to perhaps the most out-there theory yet, that the hat belongs to maybe the most prominent white-hat wearer on the show, someone who hasn't been seen since he was shot down by John Dutton way back in the finale of Season 2: Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough).

Like most of the show's antagonists, Beck and his brother Teal (Terry Serpico) had plans to make themselves a whole bunch of money if only they could get their hands on John Dutton's land. The Duttons took their revenge on the brothers, though unlike with Teal, audiences never actually saw Malcolm's dead body. The last he was seen, he was still alive and listening to John Dutton monologuing at him. Did he manage to survive his wounds and recover in time to seek revenge on the Dutton family? Don't the Duttons ever read the obituary columns, or is there no point since they're the leading cause of obituaries throughout the state? It may not matter. Some in the comments don't think the hat looked like Malcolm's anyway, and it would be a curious decision to foreshadow his return in a clip that also implies his death.

Curiously enough, the one detail of the trailer that didn't draw any speculation was who fired the gun that sent the hat down the river. Just about everybody who mentioned it thought, and hoped, that it was Dutton chief enforcer Rip Wheeler, enacting revenge for the attacks on the family.

Season 4 of Yellowstone premieres on the Paramount Network November 7.