‘Yellowstone’s Jefferson White Defends Jimmy’s Decision to Get Back on a Horse
The wait for Yellowstone Season 4 is going to be tough, with multiple members of the Dutton family and one of the ranch hands’ lives hanging in the balance.
In the Season 3 finale, Jimmy (Jefferson White) got back on a horse after previously suffering a serious injury in the rodeo and was bucked off. Meanwhile, John (Kevin Costner), Kayce (Luke Grimes), and Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) all came under attack.
But “it’s really worth the wait,” White promises TV Insider as all three seasons are available to stream (and binge) on Peacock. Here, the actor looks back at his character’s Season 3 journey and teases what’s next.
With Season 3 coming to Peacock, let’s look back at Jimmy’s arc. At first, it seemed like he found himself a home of sorts away from the ranch with the rodeo, right?
Jefferson White: Yeah, absolutely. It feels like the rodeo is the first time that Jimmy felt a kind of independent sense of belonging. It’s like an identity that’s just his.
That’s also where he met Mia, and that was new for him. What did he see in her?
His whole life he’s never really had anyone that believed in him or saw him the way he wanted to be seen. At the Yellowstone, he’s found a family of sorts, but they still see him as a f**k-up, they still see him as a project, they still see him as an idiot kid, and Mia feels like the first person in his life who’s seen him how he wants to be seen, which is as this confident, successful, rodeo cowboy. She sees something in him that no one else ever has, and that’s huge for him.
And having Mia and her friend at the ranch and in the bunkhouse really changed up those scenes.
Yeah, that was such an amazing gift. We’ve been doing those bunkhouse scenes for three years at this point, so having Hassie Harrison and Eden Brolin and Jen Landon, who plays Teeter, in the bunkhouse in Season 3 was such an infusion of energy. It’s so exciting for me to see all these characters who we’ve established, and we understand their relationships with each other, get just completely exploded with these three new characters who are so different and each have their own very distinct energy that they bring into those scenes.
Jimmy got seriously injured, and John helped with the bills but said he had to give up rodeo. How did that feel for Jimmy?
That’s really hard for him, especially since this is the first time he’s ever really felt proud of himself. It’s the first time he’s ever really felt like a success as a person. He gets caught in this incredibly difficult position, having to choose almost between this newfound sense of belonging he has at the Yellowstone and the loyalty that he feels to John Dutton and then the exciting possibilities of his life in the rodeo and his life with Mia. It’s incredibly hard for him to be caught between those two mutually exclusive possibilities.
That leads to him making the decision to get on the horse in the finale despite getting injured.
I don’t think he’s made a decision but for him, getting on that horse represents the possibility. It’s not like he signed up for another rodeo. He wants to believe he can do it. He wants to believe he’s free to make a decision. More than anything, he wants to feel some sense of personal agency, some sense of getting to choose. I don’t think he’s making a choice there, he’s just trying to feel free to make a choice.
So getting back on that horse, I think, represents one possible future and then it goes so poorly, so quickly, that I think if he knew, obviously, what was going to happen, he wouldn’t have gotten on the horse. I don’t think he could possibly have anticipated that disastrous outcome.
Is there anything you can tease about Season 4?
It’s incredible. I think Season 4 is the best season yet. We shot it all in Montana, and that really has a transformative effect. I really think it’s an incredible season.
Season 3 had a kind of slow burn pace to it. It was like a slow, simmering build to that finale, which obviously had such a climactic explosion leaving so many of the Duttons in danger, and Season 4 just starts out at this breakneck pace. The first episode of Season 4 is my favorite episode of the show yet, so I just can’t wait for people to see it.
Hypothetically, how could this near-death experience affect Jimmy going forward?
He’s used to being young and invincible. I don’t think he really considers his own mortality. He’s been kicked off so many horses and hurt over and over again that he always bounces back pretty quickly, but I think this time it’s different because, if he gets back up, not only would he be very badly injured, but he’s also broken his word to John Dutton, which is its own kind of consequence. The only ally he’s ever really had, the only people that have ever really supported him, is the Yellowstone, and to break his word with John Dutton, he’s seen the consequences of what it means to break your word to John Dutton, so I think that’s a really scary new reality to be living in, or would theoretically be living in.
How have Jimmy’s feelings about John Dutton and Rip and the way the ranch is run have changed, especially after the events of Season 3 and the brand?
When Jimmy first took the brand, he had no idea what it entailed. Basically Rip showed up and his options were, take the brand or go to jail. So the last three seasons have been the process of Jimmy learning what that actually means and how deep those loyalties lie, and especially in Season 3, seeing Wade strung up to a tree and killed as a result of betraying the brand, I think Jimmy is just now learning what he signed up for, and there’s a lot of apprehension and a lot of fear regarding that. He signed a contract not really knowing what he was signing away, and he’s just now confronting that for the first time.
And seeing the brand taken back, that moment was so startling.
Yeah, terrifying. Jimmy obviously has a sort of rough background, but he’s not a killer, he’s not a violent person, and so I think that also seeing what Rip is willing to do and really intimately seeing Rip involved in that violence, I think, changes his perspective on Rip, too. Rip has been a sort of older brother figure who’s taken care of Jimmy and been so kind to Jimmy, but he’s seeing a new side of Rip he’s never had to confront before. It really complicates that relationship, too.
We keep seeing how naive Jimmy is compared to everyone else.
Yeah, it’s really, everybody else is maybe a little more familiar with what this ranch is like, what John Dutton’s like, what Rip is like, and Jimmy is learning about this all for the first time, and it just kind of goes deeper and deeper and darker and darker. Every time Jimmy learns more about what it means to wear the brand, that decision he made becomes more painfully apparent.
What makes Yellowstone a good binge, now that it’s on Peacock?
It’s incredibly immersive. The world, the locations are such a character. It’s such a sort of escape of a show, and it’s kind of amazing in that way because it’s both an incredible escape into this cowboy fantasy but also sometimes painfully real and painfully contemporary. It’s really unique. It kind of is simultaneously this mythic cowboy fable but also painfully real and, in some cases, painfully true. It gets you on all fronts. It’s incredible scenery, iconic actors — Kevin obviously — but also real human stories on a real micro level.
Yellowstone, Seasons 1-3, Streaming, Peacock
Yellowstone, Season 4, TBA, Paramount Network