'Yellowstone' Season 4, Explained: Why Is Kayce Dutton Branded?

Yellowstone Kayce Dutton Luke Grimes Paramount Network
Paramount Network
Ever since “Yellowstone” began on Paramount Network, there have been questions about the brand, which means it is time for another history lesson. Is Kayce branded? Why the ranch brands people, which characters have taken the brand, and a lot more brand-related questions have flared up. That said, it is a topic undoubtedly worth diving into, so let’s get into it.

[Note: This post is written with consideration to new “Yellowstone” viewers, and those who might need a refresher.]

Why do they brand?

One very distinctive facet of the “Yellowstone” mythos is that those who are tied to the ranch “take the brand.” It is a voluntary process that characters take on as a sort of “baptism by fire,” the chance to gain a permanent second chance with John Dutton. The downside is that John also thinks he owns whoever wears it.

Related: “Yellowstone” Season 4: Where Is It Streaming? The Answer Is Here!

Jimmy is the first person that “Yellowstone” fans see get branded. Hence, Kayce’s brand is an aberration. Jimmy getting branded is how viewers know it is “a thing” or a so-called “rite of passage.” We later learn that Kayce is also branded, which only deepens the initial divide between Kayce and his family. It turns out that Duttons are not supposed to be branded.

Why is Kayce branded?

As a branded man, Kayce is “bound” to the ranch. John branded Kayce out of spite for Kayce leaving to be with Monica when she got pregnant with Tate. Viewers also learn Tate was conceived very (emphasis on very) early into the relationship, and the pair’s quick journey from paramours to parents helps explain the sometimes rocky footing their marriage finds itself traversing. They did not know each other well when they got married.

Who gets branded?

By the end of “Yellowstone” Season 3, everyone working in the bunkhouse has gotten branded. As fans have witnessed, the brand comes with privileges at a high price to get paid if John Dutton senses betrayal. For instance, Jimmy’s relationship with the ranch is both voluntary and not, as viewers glimpse in Season 4 with John’s insistence Jimmy go down to Texas to “become a man,” and Jimmy feeling indebted to John to return to the Yellowstone.

Who Is Jimmy? Why is Jimmy branded?

Jimmy is a rookie ranch-hand who later discovers a secret skill as a bronc rider in Season 3. A sweetheart at his core, Jimmy has to kick an addiction to meth when he first lands at the ranch in Season 1. His one-way ticket to “Yellowstone” is actually done as a favor by John Dutton for Jimmy’s grandpa. Jimmy is branded by Rip to seal the ominous deal of his redemption. 


So, there you have it. The inside track on why Kayce got branded and the brands meaning to the show. If you want to see how the brand continues to play out, you will need to watch new episodes of “Yellowstone” Season 4 when they air Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.