“Yellowstone,” a hit series from the cable TV Paramount Network, gave birth to several interesting characters including Walker played by Ryan Bingham. The hired ranch hand of the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch owned by the seventh-generation Dutton family, had several close calls, as he became involved with the squabbling people living on the ranch. Each season, fans would speculate if he would end up dead, as he’d been a magnet for everything that was considered bad in the world.
- 1 Get to know “Yellowstone”
- 2 All about the character of Walker in “Yellowstone”
- 2.1 His introduction to the show
- 2.2 Walker’s heart wasn’t into working at the ranch
- 2.3 He quit his job after he had enough of fighting
- 2.4 The “train station” sentence
- 2.5 Rip found Walker at a bar
- 2.6 Walker removed the Yellowstone brand from a former Dutton ranch hand
- 2.7 Walker found romance in the bunkhouse
- 2.8 Walker and Lloyd’s feud hit new heights
- 2.9 Lloyd stabbed Walker in his chest
- 3 Speculations on Walker’s future in “Yellowstone”
Get to know “Yellowstone”
Most of the younger generation, including the millennial online users who loved to talk about TV series in general, hadn’t heard of this drama series, even if it attracted millions of viewers. Some people were surprised that it accumulated a fan base that offered a bunch of T-shirts sold on various platforms, posted several speculative videos on YouTube, and wrote a collection of fanfics shared in online forums.
Paramount Network’s first scripted drama series
In 2018, Viacom rebranded Spike TV into Paramount Network, and transferred its main base inside Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, so that people could associate it with the iconic film studio. One of the new series that came out of the re-launching of the cable network was “Yellowstone.” The network executives green-lighted a 10-episode straight-to-series order, and hired the Oscar-nominated Taylor Sheridan, who wrote “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water,” to be its writer and director. They chose John and Art Linson along with The Weinstein Company (later removed from its credits) to be its executive producers. The network’s first scripted drama series made its television debut on 20 June 2018 – Keith Cox, Paramount Network’s President of Development & Production, said, ‘I wanted to find a great franchise that really defines the network, and I honestly believe that Yellowstone is that show.’
The premise of the series
The cinematic neo-western drama series was about a family headed by the seventh-generation patriarch, John Dutton, who owned the largest ranch not only in Montana but in the whole of the US. For several years, he had to keep the peace between his squabbling children, and battle it out violently with those who constantly attacked his family. The ranch’s size and location made it a center of many issues, as it bordered an Indian reservation and its namesake, Yellowstone National Park, America’s first National Park. “Yellowstone” was often compared to HBO’s “Succession” but without the violence, and “The Godfather” because of the intense family drama and violence seen in its narrative. The series’ writer-director said, ‘I wanted to take 19th-century issues and kind of slam ‘em into the 21st century.’
The main cast of characters
The Dutton family and the ranch were controlled by John Dutton (Kevin Costner), a wealthy widower who would do everything to keep the ranch from going down. His oldest son Lee – Dave Annable – was the one who was supposed to take over the ranch, but he died after a couple of episodes, shot by enemies when taking back cattle that were stolen from their ranch. The heir apparent, Jamie – Wes Bentley – was the ever-dutiful second son, and a lawyer who wasn’t interested in ranching but fiercely loyal to his father, and who was later revealed to have been an adopted son. The younger son, Kayce John Dutton – Luke Grimes – had a complicated relationship with his father, as he was generally referred to as the screwed-up son who had an American Indian for a wife, but in later seasons, established a better relationship with his father.
John’s only daughter, Beth – Kelly Reilly – was formerly involved in the corporate business as she was affiliated with a leading bank in Montana, before she was removed from her position by the board members. She also didn’t have any interest in ranch work, but would do anything and everything to make sure her family and their business were protected. The ranch foreman, Rip Wheeler, played by Cole Hauser, was John’s enforcer and right-hand man. He’d worked for the Dutton family since he was a kid; apparently John took him in after he killed his own father, who’d killed his mother and only brother.
Most-watched new cable series in 2018
Out of all the new drama series aired by a cable network in 2018, “Yellowstone” came out on top of the TV ratings game. The show gained an average of over five million viewers per episode and came out second overall behind “The Walking Dead” in all of the cable TV drama series that year. With the record-breaking viewership result from its debut season, it didn’t take long for Paramount network to order another 10 episodes to complete its second season. Just like the first season, the entire series was filmed in locations in Montana and Utah, and network executives were right, as viewers were hooked on the complex narratives presented in the show, including unsolved murders, betrayals, family drama, and other violent altercations.
Fifth season trailer earned about 15 million views
By the upcoming fifth season, it seemed that “Yellowstone” would get bigger as indicated by the amount of interest its trailer generated. When the teaser video was released on 29 September 2022, Paramount Network said it attracted more engagements on social media than the past four seasons, and had close to two million views in its first 24 hours; in total, it shattered records with close to 15 million views. The teaser showed John Dutton being sworn-in as the new Governor of the State of Montana. No one seemed surprised at the curiosity of the fans, since Kevin Costner looked incredibly great with his suit and cowboy hat, although the look was far from his ruthless rancher character.
A Screen Actors Guild nomination, a first for “Yellowstone”
In January 2022, the drama TV series earned its first SAG nomination for Outstanding Drama Series Ensemble. It was a huge deal for the producers, cast and crew, as it was their first nomination from a major award-giving body. They said it was the icing on the cake because it came after the fourth season finale garnered close to 9.5 million views. The show’s creator said, ‘It definitely hit the middle of the country in the beginning, and then spread out.’ He elaborated, and said that it started with friends from Montana and Nashville calling him about the show, and then later on his New York, Los Angeles, and Miami friends also reached out to him.
All about the character of Walker in “Yellowstone”
During the first season of “Yellowstone,” the character of Walker only appeared in four episodes, but in the following seasons, his status was elevated to a recurring character.
His introduction to the show
When he first appeared on the show, he was introduced simply as Walker, an ex-convict who needed guidance and a second chance in life. He was given a job by the ranch foreman of Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, as Rip helped him after his release from the Montana State Correctional Facility. Being a ranch hand at Yellowstone wasn’t his first foray into cattle breeding and the livestock industry; he was part of the workforce at the historic 6666 Ranch in Texas.
— Yellowstone (@Yellowstone) March 17, 2022
Walker’s heart wasn’t into working at the ranch
The ranch foreman was quite frustrated with how Walker behaved at the ranch, especially since he was the one who hired him. Walker didn’t have the heart to become part of the ranch and Team Dutton, not because he was affiliated with other ranches or Dutton’s enemies but because he just wasn’t interested. The worse part was that he kept running his mouth, creating tensions with other workers. Walker’s attitude came to the point when even Rip wanted him dead.
He quit his job after he had enough of fighting
Violence and death were a normal occurrence on the Montana ranch, and it seemed that Walker made the wrong decision to work for Rip. There was a time when he unknowingly become involved in a murder, conspired by Jamie Dutton and Rip. He didn’t have any choice but to help the men cover it up, and after that, he told Rip that he’d had enough, and announced that he was leaving, tired of the fighting. Walker wanted a new life somewhere more peaceful.
The “train station” sentence
People at the ranch were wary of Walker’s resignation. He made the mistake of confronting Rip and Jamie about the murder and the cover-up before he announced his plans to leave. After that, they calmly received his resignation, and he was told that he would be driven to the train station – the ‘train station’ was a Dutton Ranch code for arranged death or a place where they dumped the dead bodies of their enemies. He was supposed to be driven out by Rip to be murdered, so they could shut his mouth permanently. However, Kayce Dutton took pity on Walker and volunteered to do the task. He then made him vow not to speak about what happened at the ranch and then drove him out of Montana. He dropped Walker off at a Wyoming train station to avoid the others who wanted him dead, especially Rip who vowed to kill him if they saw each other again. He was fervently warned by Kayce to never set foot in Montana ever again, if he wanted to preserve his life and to live as far away as possible from the ranch.
Rip found Walker at a bar
“Yellowstone” fans were surprised to see Walker make another appearance in an episode from the third season entitled “I Killed a Man Today.” He found another job far away from the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, however, Rip and one of the ranch hands found him in a bar working as a musician. Rip knew that Kayce lied to him to save Walker, and so they kidnapped Walker and brought him back to Montana.
Walker removed the Yellowstone brand from a former Dutton ranch hand
When Walker returned to the Montana ranch, he asked for another chance to work for them. He was able to convince them not knowing that Rip and the Duttons felt that the best way to handle him was to make him part of their group. Even Kayce realized that he’d endangered his father by letting Walker go. Rip then asked Walker to prove his loyalty by helping them take revenge on Wade and Clint Morrow, who tried to kill some of their people. Before they hung the former co-workers in a tree, Walker skinned Wade’s Yellowstone brand from his body. He also helped dispose of the bodies. He then became officially part of Team Dutton.
Walker found romance in the bunkhouse
Walker wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, but then a woman named Laramie (Hassie Harrison) started flirting with him, and they ended up in bed. Laramie first appeared in the fifth episode during the third season of “Yellowstone”, working as a barrel racer and a ranch hand. Her friend Mia had a boyfriend named Jimmy Hurdstram, who worked at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, and was invited to live with him in the bunkhouse inside the ranch. Laramie tagged along and was immediately attracted to Lloyd Pierce (Forrie J. Smith), a senior ranch hand and Rip’s best friend. However, when she met Walker, she switched her affection and became his girlfriend instead.
Walker and Lloyd’s feud hit new heights
Walker and Lloyd didn’t see eye-to-eye from the moment he stepped onto the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The tension grew over the years, and escalated when Walker became romantically involved with Laramie, who initially took a liking to Lloyd. Knowing the history between them, Walker blatantly displayed their newfound romance in front of Lloyd. Eventually, a brawl took place between the two, instigated by Lloyd, which angered Rip as his best friend broke one of the ranch’s golden rules, which was no fighting on the ranch. Rip broke-up the fight, and then didn’t have any choice but to beat his best friend up as punishment.
Lloyd stabbed Walker in his chest
Lloyd made the ultimate decision to attack Walker again, despite the warnings that he received from Rip. He broke Walker’s precious guitar, and stabbed him in the chest with a knife – it was fortunate that a vet was around at that time to take care of Walker after Laramie removed the knife, so Walker recovered from his wounds. John heard about it and decided to let them fight it off until they were exhausted. Due to the altercation between his ranch hands, he forbade any women in the bunkhouse, and ordered them to leave immediately. During the fight, neither of them wanted to quit and so John stopped the fight. Rip broke Lloyd’s hand as a consequence of his actions and a warning to everyone not to start any fights inside the ranch. After that, both Walker and Lloyd agreed to stop fighting.
Speculations on Walker’s future in “Yellowstone”
Walker might not be one of the main characters, but he had one of the most interesting character developments. Here are some theories about Walker’s fate that the fans discussed in online forums or social media platforms.
A snitch who was working for an enemy
Many viewers were curious about Walker’s return in the third season of the show. Most didn’t believe in coincidences, because the moment he reappeared, bad guys attempted to kill John or ruin his ranch. They speculated that he was just biding his time while collecting information about the secrets of the ranch from the other workers. They also believed that he might be working for one of John’s enemies, and would surprise them soon.
Walker’s aloofness and seediness gave the fans a reason to doubt his loyalty
Since the writers of “Yellowstone” failed to give the audience a clear understanding of the reason why Walker was imprisoned before he worked for the ranch, fans continued to doubt his character. They couldn’t believe that Rip let Walker stay at the ranch, especially after his fight with Lloyd, even if it was the latter who instigated everything. No one on the ranch knew Walker that well to really vouch for his sincerity.
Fans thought he was untouchable for now
Walker’s mysterious past was a genius angle from the writers, because they could create anything from it. Most of the “Yellowstone” fans thought that it made him untouchable for now, because the showrunner had huge plans for him. The writers could easily turn him into one big baddie who could potentially ruin everyone inside the ranch without it looking forcibly pushed into the narrative.
Ryan Bingham, the actor who played the character of Walker, was once asked if there would be a major twist in the upcoming season five of the western drama series. He said that he had no clue at all, and further shared, ‘I think he’s been running from a lot of things in his past and not sure if he’d want to go back to where he just came from.’ He said that the actors weren’t allowed to know their character’s future. Ryan also said that he preferred not knowing Walker’s fate in the series, so he could arrive on the set excited about what would happen to him that day. Sometimes, even after he received the script, there would be last-minute revisions by the scriptwriter, and his fate could surprisingly change at that moment. Taylor Sheridan told him that as long as he didn’t ‘suck,’ he would always be part of the storyline, so viewers…relax!