Relationship: Beth Dutton and Rip Wheeler
Fandom: Yellowstone (TV series, 2018- )
Where to Watch: Paramount TV, Amazon Prime Video
Time Investment: 30 (one-hour) episodes over 3 seasons
Recommended for: Supporters of prickly pairings like Battlestar Galactica‘s Starbuck/Apollo and Veronica Mars‘s Logan/Veronica
Beth Dutton doesn’t do fear. The tough-as-nails corporate shark and rancher’s daughter—a.k.a. everyone’s favorite character in Paramount TV’s modern-day Western series, Yellowstone—decided as much when she was only a teenager, in the wake of her mother’s accidental death. (A death, you must understand, that she blames herself for, with her family’s blessing.) Beth’s utter fearlessness is what makes her the most dangerous and unpredictable member of her wildcard family in the fight to preserve their Yellowstone Ranch. It’s also what makes her uncharacteristically tender relationship with a certain cowboy so compelling. Because if there’s one thing that does rattle Beth Dutton, it’s the possibility of losing her childhood sweetheart, Rip Wheeler.
Rip, who serves as Yellowstone’s head wrangler and family “fixer,” is a Dutton in all but blood. Good thing, too, because he’s crazy about Beth and has been since they were a couple of teenage dirtbags. The pair met when her father, John Dutton, brought a near-feral Rip home with him after learning of the boy’s history: He’d killed his father, though not before the abusive monster beat Rip’s brother and mother to death. Since Beth was still reeling from the sudden loss of her mom at the time, the traumatized teens gravitated toward each other pretty quickly. (Well, okay, she sashayed up to him and boldly proclaimed him her new pet. After about two minutes of conversation and one invitation to check out her ass, he was fine with that.)
While describing their relationship as “on-again, off-again” is a dramatic understatement, no one who watches Yellowstone can have any doubt by this point that these two maniacs are MFEO. Even the way that Beth occasionally lashes out at Rip, with poisonous barbs composed of misplaced rage and self-sabotage that he patiently lets bounce right off of him, speaks to their indestructible bond. See, they can tear each other to pieces, but if anyone else tries it, they risk death. They take each other for granted, go years without talking, and sleep with other people. Yet they seem do it all with the instinctual understanding that, in the end, they will wind up back together.
A quick review of some of the show’s most romantic Beth/Rip lines will remind you why rooting for them is worth the whiplash:
“It’s only the things I love that die, Rip, never me. … Come to think of it, I’m surprised you’re still standing.”—Beth, 1×01, “Daybreak”
Her cutting remarks may scare off most people, but Beth at her absolute cruelest still can’t shake Rip, who knows better than anyone what’s in her heart. Maybe that’s why she saves her sweetest words for him too, like this ass-backward confession of love.
“ ‘I’m sorry’ are two words you never have to say to me.”—Rip, 2×04, “Only Devils Left”
For a man capable of transforming into a vicious killing machine with one word from the Dutton patriarch, Rip can be a total softie. Beth, in particular, possesses the power to him into a puddle of melted wax. She does just that on the day she apologizes to him for sleeping with the new ranch hand, despite knowing how much Rip despises the guy. Given that Beth very rarely shows contrition or even admits wrongdoing, it’s a big deal when she looks him in the eye and tells him she made a mistake and regrets any hurt she’s caused.
This response from him, though, is one for the books. By which I mean: the romance novels. Rip regularly implies or flat-out states that she can do anything she wants to him (MY HEART), but this refusal to even acknowledge that she owes him an apology is next level. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to believe he deserves her love or fidelity. But that only seems Beth more determined to give it to him. Their give-and-take brand of unselfish devotion is why I believe they’ll be OK in the end.
“Don’t say it. It doesn’t mean anything on a roof, under stars, like a bunch of fucking hippies. You tell me… Tell me when it saves me.”—Beth, 2×07, “Resurrection Day”
This, kids, is what we call “foreshadowing.” Who cares, though, when the result is a smiley Rip and Beth reminiscing about their rebellious youth and adoringly gazing into each other’s eyes on a beautiful Montana evening?
“I love you. I love you.”—Rip, 2×07, “Resurrection Day”
Not gonna lie, Rip busting through glass and ignoring bullets to the torso to rescue Beth from an attacker is a thing I have watched on a loop. The only part I’ve seen more often is where he pulls her into his arms (after she’s just bashed in the dead villain’s head for good measure) and instantly calms her down by uttering those three little words he’d been saving for when she needed them most.
“Yeah, baby, he did [call you his son].”—Beth, 2×10, “Enemies by Monday.”
By the Season 2 finale, every moment between Beth and Rip has become achingly romantic. Case in point: The two of them sitting on the steps of his new home, an early inheritance. Beth couldn’t wait another second to take him to the house after reading her father’s instructions, which were accompanied by a letter for Rip. In that letter, Papa Dutton makes it clear he considers Rip a member of the family. It’s basically the only thing Rip’s wanted since the day he first set foot on the Yellowstone all those years ago. Well, that, and the love of his life, who just happens to be a member of that family.
Beth worships her father, so it’s meaningful that she’s willing to share him with Rip. It’s one more sign they are, indeed, soulmates.
I am crossing my fingers and toes that we’ll see more romantic moments between these two in Season 3. Until then, I’ll have to content myself with this mashup of their top “dates” thus far:
I just want them to be happy! Is that so much to ask?
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