The fourth season of Taylor Sheridan’s hard-hitting Western drama Yellowstone is due to premiere this summer. After the Paramount series’ devastating finale last year, the fate of John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner) is hanging by a thread, and some fans have predicted his position as the head of the ranch could finally switch hands.
John Dutton’s time as the ruthless leader of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch could be coming to an end in season four.
After a vicious attack against the Dutton family at the end of season three, fans are eagerly awaiting Yellowstone’s projected return in June, 2021.
While the culprits have yet to be revealed, it appears John was luckily able to escape with his life thanks to his cellphone stopping a bullet to his heart.
Even so, his leadership has been well and truly put to the test, and the Dutton patriarch may be required to step down from his duties at some point in the coming instalment.
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This would give his trusted ranch hand and manager Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) the perfect opportunity to step up and take his place.
Not only is Rip the natural successor to take over running the ranch, some fans believe his inevitable promotion has been seeded since the show’s very first episode.
One fan added more fuel to the theory on Reddit after spotting a huge clue in Yellowstone’s feature length pilot episode, ‘Daybreak’.
User bottiblue posted: “Anyone remember how season one started? John putting down an injured horse?”
The fan added: “Then the vultures flying overhead in the distance. What omens are the vultures? Unusual that both scenes were about injured horses.”
Vultures often symbolise approaching death, as the birds feast primarily on dead animals and are known to circle their prey during their final moments.
Plus, Rip’s distressing yet necessary response to coming across an injured horse has drawn direct parallels to John’s introduction in the series.
Although John appeared to survive his ordeal in the last scene of Yellowstone’s third season, this foreboding callback to episode one may still hint towards his impending demise.
Most fans can agree that Rip is the last person to want to take out his boss, so it’s highly unlikely his scene with the horse is foreshadowing a bid to kill John and take over the ranch.
However, the two mercy killings still have sinister implications for John’s condition in the upcoming fourth season, which could very well worsen if he isn’t rushed to the hospital in time.
With the ranch potentially in desperate need of a new head honcho, will Rip be the one to step up and take his place?
Yellowstone season 4 will premiere in June 2021 on Paramount.