It’s only been on the air for two simmering seasons, but Paramount Network’s deliciously melodramatic neo-Western saga Yellowstone has already become one of the most prominent shows on cable television. As it heads into its anxiously-awaited third outing, it’s clear that the show has both the viewership and pedigree to keep the train rolling for countless seasons to come, with creator Taylor Sheridan only beginning to unfurl a sprawling narrative for his Big Sky Country drama. The key figures in that narrative are John Dutton (big screen icon Kevin Costner) and family, who own and operate the Dutton Yellowstone Ranch.
For those not in the know, the fictional ranch on Yellowstone is the largest in the U.S., and happens to shares borders with Yellowstone National Park. Those facts make it a coveted piece of real estate for double-dealing politicians and sleazy developers alike. While the Duttons have faced off against both over the course of its first 19 episodes, the family’s often brutal in-fighting frequently feels it could be the more likely cause of their demise. If the increasingly venomous battles between siblings Beth (Kelly Reilly) and Jamie (Wes Bentley) — coupled with his ongoing struggles with Papa John Dutton — have made anything crystal clear on Yellowstone, it’s that there’s little love lost between Jamie and the rest of the Dutton family.
In fact, things have been so tense between them that some Yellowstone fans on Reddit have begun to speculate why there’s such volatile feelings towards the character. One prominent theory is that Jamie Dutton isn’t a Dutton at all, or at least not like the rest of his siblings. If you’re wondering what exactly that means, the “Jamie’s no Dutton” theory posits that he may be John Dutton’s bastard child from an extra-marital affair, or even another “adopted” Dutton in the vein of Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser).
Why Jamie Dutton’s parentage could be so important on Yellowstone
We’ll almost certainly get a definitive answer to this intriguing mystery at some point during Yellowstone’s run. Until we do, it’s worth noting that these theories are not without logic. First and foremost, there was a telling moment in the series where Beth bluntly says to her father that he doesn’t love Jamie like the rest. John’s stoic silence toward that statement obviously speaks volumes to its truth. Anyone who’s watched Yellowstone can also see that Jamie Dutton doesn’t really even remotely share his siblings’ temperament, or even look like either. One sharp-eyed Redditor even pointed out that Jamie has a distinct Native American look and feel to him.
If Jamie is, in fact, the product of an affair (by John or possibly even his late wife Evelyn), that would certainly go a long way toward explaining John’s conflicted feelings for the man, as Jamie would be a constant reminder of a shameful indiscretion. It might even explain why John has on occasion been violent towards his son. As for Beth’s hatred, well, it’s clear at this point that Jamie meddled heavily in her romance with Rip — so it’s safe to say that the fires of disdain within Beth would only be stoked further if she saw Jamie as a less than welcome outsider.
As for Rip, he doesn’t appear to hold the same hatred for the elder Dutton boy. And Jamie’s uncertain lineage might help explain his and Rip’s largely unspoken understanding to watch out for each other. Whatever the case, it’s becoming clear that Jamie’s parentage will play an important role on Yellowstone moving forward, if only because it potentially casts shadow over his allegiance to the family. Given that the Dutton family’s shaky alliance is about the only thing holding their dynasty together, a maliciously motivated move by Jamie could signal the end of it all.