Yellowstone Beth Rip
Credit: Paramount Plus

Were Rip’s haunting words meant for Beth… or viewers?

From the beginning, Yellowstone has been a show on which anything can happen. Heck, they killed off one of John’s sons in the very first episode! And while this season started with Kayce, John and Beth surviving — in some cases, just barely — attempts on their lives, there’s been a dark shadow hanging over the Dutton family ever since.

It’s as if the clan cheated death, and it’s looking to settle the score. Indeed, several scenes in the December 26th penultimate episode — not to mention the trailer for this week’s finale, which can be viewed below — seem to be setting up the most horrific scenario possible: the death of Beth’s true love, Rip.

Furious at Rip for having allowed her dad to walk into a dangerous situation, Beth last week turned away from her man’s touch. When he pointed out — more amused than hurt — that she seemed a lot more concerned about John than she did him, Beth’s tough facade crumbled, at least a bit. “Baby,” she said, “I never worry about you. I know nothing’s happening to you.”

More: Kayce could be heading for a new love!

Ever the realist, and all too aware of the dangerous world in which he operates, Rip wasn’t about to let Beth live with that delusion. “It’s gonna happen to me one day,” he insisted. “It happens to us all.”

Though the word “death” was never uttered, there wasn’t a single doubt that the Grim Reaper was the “it” to which Rip was referring.

But that was only the first of several ominous moments. Another came when John tried explaining why he hadn’t sought vengeance against the man behind the recent attempts on the lives of the Dutton family. “Are you asking me to waste my life on that piece of [crap]?” he asked his vengeance-demanding daughter.

“No, Daddy,” she growled on her way out the door, “that’s what my life is for.”

Time and again, it’s been clear that there are no lengths to which Beth won’t go in order to protect her father and the ranch he so dearly loves. And by the end of “No Such Thing As Fair,” the stakes were been raised even higher when Beth’s actions led to an exchange which cut her to the quick. “You’ve really disappointed me, honey,” said an obviously pained John. “And I never thought I’d say that about you.”

Father John Dutton (R - Kevin Costner) and daughter Beth Dutton (L-Kelly Reilly) have it out on the Yellowstone Ranch.

“Me, neither,” replied a devastated Beth.

What did this exchange have to do with the specter of death hanging over Rip? Hang on. We’re getting to that.

More: Yellowstone’s all-time best characters, ranked

By episode’s end, Beth was so shaken that she needed desperately to do something we couldn’t picture her doing: cry. Seeking out bunkhouse troubadour Walker, she asked him to play a sad song. The one he choose? “This is about a man who got killed that wasn’t quite ready to die.” As he warbled and she wept, Rip watched from a distance, no doubt hurt that tough-as-nails Beth had shown her vulnerability to Walker, of all people.

As for us, we couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to Walker’s song and its theme than met the ear. Was this yet another bit of foreshadowing that soon, Beth wouldn’t heed a song to summon forth her tears?

Now, as we head into Sunday’s episode — titled “Grass on the Streets and Weeds on the Rooftops” — the stage seems set for the kind of tragedy usually reserved for daytime soaps. Beth is desperate to make things right with her father. Rip, no doubt aware that things are building to a crisis point, says in the preview video, “You need somethin’ taken care of, tell me, and I’ll take care of it.”

But no, that’s not Beth’s way. “This one’s just for me,” she tells him.

Could she throw caution to the wind and put herself into the literal line of fire? And if so, might Rip ride to the rescue… only to wind up paying the ultimate price? Horrible as that scenario might be to imagine, it might also be too tempting a path for the show to avoid pursuing. After all, the Beth who would emerge from so devastating a loss would be almost unimaginable.

Already, the thought of a Rip-less life has crossed the mind of Beth’s portrayer, Kelly Reilly. “I don’t know who she would become without [him],” she told our sister site, TVLine. “Now that she’s had that love and allowed herself to fully move into it, and we see how devoted she is and how much she adores him, to lose him would probably cut off the last link to her humanity.”

But what do you think, Yellowstone fans. Would the show really be so cruel as to take Rip away from Beth — and us? As we count down to Sunday’s finale, hit the comments with your theories as to how things will unfold. Then make sure to visit the gallery below in which we revisit some of our absolute favorite Beth quotes… at least a few of which we’ve already worked into our own vernaculars!

Video: YouTube/Betty TrendTV