The truth about Rip & Beth's relationship in Yellowstone
Some of the greatest love stories of all time aren't defined by how easy it was for the couple to come together, but rather, how hard they had to work to finally find each other. Just look at the star-crossed romance of Romeo and Juliet, or to use a much more modern example, the long-simmering "opposites attract" love of Tony and Ziva from NCIS. That same idea could be applied to one of TV's latest hot couples, Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) and Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) from Yellowstone.
On a show full of deeply troubled characters, Rip and Beth are two of the darkest. They each have a troubled past that has led them down a difficult path in their present. And while they came from very different backgrounds, watching their romance blossom in its own unique way over the course of Yellowstone's three seasons makes it clear that despite it all, they are meant to be together.
That is just one of the reasons why the Yellowstone season 3 cliffhanger is so difficult for fans to stomach. Knowing that Beth's life potentially hangs in the balance after a letter bomb went off in her office is heartbreaking, especially when we've seen just how deeply Rip cares for her.
The road to Rip and Beth's relationship started long before the first episode of Yellowstone
Although we're first introduced to them in their adult life, Rip and Beth have known each other since they were children. When Rip was a young teenager, he witnessed his abusive father brutally attack and murder his mother and brother. With nowhere else to go, he was taken in by John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and started working at the Yellowstone Ranch.
Flashbacks during the second season gave viewers a window into the early attraction between Rip and Beth. Despite his hardened demeanor, Rip was nervous around Beth, who was not only confident from a young age, but also clearly knew she had power over him as the daughter of John Dutton, Rip's boss. In the episode "Touching the Enemy," a young Beth (Kylie Rogers) commands Rip (Kyle Red Silverstein) to kiss her. When he replies that he doesn't know how, she shoots back, "Me neither." For anyone else, the line might have been a moment of pure vulnerability, but with Beth, it carries more than a hint of provocation.
Rip does kiss her, and when viewers first meet the two in the premiere episode of the series, it's clear that they have hooked up periodically throughout their lives, including one incident that resulted in a disastrous pregnancy for Beth. However, their relationship doesn't kick off in earnest until the show's second episode.
They had a very unconventional first date
In the season 1 episode "Kill the Messenger," Rip and Beth have the kind of memorable first date that only the two of them could pull off. While they sit in Rip's truck swigging whiskey straight out of the bottle, they watch a pack of wolves eat a deer carcass in a field nearby. Beth comments, "I've done some morbid s*** on the first date, but this takes the cake, Rip."
He pushes back on the idea that this is their first date, but she argues, "Statute of limitations on our first date ran out years ago," implying that the two have perhaps been in a similar situation more than once. After Beth tells Rip that he's gotten older, he tells her that she hasn't aged at all, adding, "you might just cheat death yet."
Of course, Beth takes this as a challenge. She runs out of the car and toward the wolves, screaming and waving her hands above her head (a stunt Reilly performed with actual wolves). Rip chases after her and admonishes her for putting herself in danger. "It's only the things I love that die, Rip, never me," she replies, before adding, "Come to think of it, I'm surprised you're still standing."
This early scene between the two of them perfectly illustrates their dynamic. Throughout their lives, they've gotten close, until one or the other pulls away, restarting the cycle. This time, however, something clicks, and despite their personal demons, they begin to forge a real relationship.
Even though they're both difficult people, they love each other unconditionally
Even though their previous first dates didn't stick, their night with the wolves ends up being the beginning of a new chapter in their relationship. Watching their love develop over the course of the show is heartwarming, but it also illustrates why they haven't been able to figure things out with each other for so long. It's very clear that Rip and Beth love and care about each other deeply. However, it's also apparent that they are each troubled people whose difficult pasts have left them defensive and hardened.
Rip still suffers from the scars of watching his family die at the hands of his father, while Beth has her own wounds, notably from her brother Jamie's (Wes Bentley) cruel decision to allow her to be sterilized without her permission. While we see them break down some of these barriers over the course of the show, it doesn't come down easy, and it's hardly smooth sailing even once they're down.
When Beth, who has historically been the one to pull away the quickest, proposes to Rip in season 3, it's clear that no matter what, they can't imagine their lives without one another. It's one of the most touching moments in the entire series, even if it did lead to Rip sourcing a wedding ring for Beth from a rather unusual place.
Considering everything they went through to end up together, it's devastating to think that it could all come to a tragic end.