Yellowstone spoilers: Attack on John Dutton was foreshadowed in series pilot

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This year’s gripping instalment of Western drama Yellowstone left fans reeling after a crushing cliffhanger in the season finale. Before the show’s return, long term fans and newcomers alike have been going through the Paramount series’ first episodes and may have unearthed a critical piece of foreshadowing.

Taylor Sheridan’s Western crime series Yellowstone seems to have given the game away from the very first episode back in 2018. 

The gripping saga of ranch owner John Dutton (played by Kevin Costner) and his dysfunctional family is usually considered a slow burn, but that all changed in the third season’s finale.

With the rights to his property now at risk, John suffered an even greater blow when unknown assailants gunned him down, his cell phone the only thing stopping a fatal shot to the heart.

Meanwhile, his children Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Beth (Kelly Reilly) suffered similar attacks, their lives hanging in the balance as the show heads into season four.

Although the Yellowstone Ranch still doesn’t know which of their numerous rivals could have staged the assaults, there’s no doubt someone has declared war on the family and will have to pay the price. 

The twist ending to this year’s third season was a jolt to the system for most viewers, who didn’t see such a dramatic cliffhanger coming after the trend of the last two instalments. 

However, some seemingly innocuous moments from the series pilot, Daybreak, contained some telling similarities to the last sequence of the latest episode.

A newcomer to the series posted some foreshadowing theories on Reddit, prompting some tight-lipped reactions from some of Yellowstone’s more clued in fans.

Reddit user FlowerBambiThumper posted: “I’m a firm believer that when a writer begins a story, he has some concept of where he wants to go. In some cases, they know the ending before they know anything else.”

Showrunner Taylor Sheridan may not know the exact direction of the series, but he has confirmed he has ideas for more seasons down the line.

However, their next comments may prove the Dutton massacre, among other revelations in season three, may have been in the pipeline from day one.

They continued: “We have been introduced to John, on the side of the road, during that awful tractor/trailer accident.”

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“But the very first scene of the whole series between John and one of his children, is Jamie taking care of John’s injury. For someone whose children drive his entire life’s ambition, that scene jumps out.”

Perceptive viewers were right to point out John’s early scenes with Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) perfectly set up their difficult relationship.

Their connection was made even more strenuous when the third season revealed Jamie had been adopted.

One fan commented: “He was dripping contempt for Jamie in that scene. Real foreshadowing there. He all but called him a sissy who doesn’t belong there.”

Moreover, the series starting with John’s roadside injury is surely far too similar to the conclusion of season three to be a coincidence.

That being said, the overbearing ranch owner’s failing health has been a constant theme throughout the series, especially when the second season began with a horrific heart attack culminating in some risky surgery.

John Dutton is expected to live to fight another day in Yellowstone’s fourth season, but his three bickering children may eventually be left to fend for themselves.

Yellowstone will return with season 4 in 2021 on Paramount and Peacock. 

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