The tension between Rowdy and Rip finally came to a head — literally — in the December 18 episode of Yellowstone. After taunting Rip about Beth in a key flashback scene, Rowdy and Rip got into an all-out brawl. When Rip gained the upper hand, he bashed Rowdy’s head with a rock. Rowdy later succumbed to his injuries out on the ranch.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Kai Caster about Rowdy’s fate. He had been told Rowdy wouldn’t make it out of the season alive by creator Taylor Sheridan at his Texas ranch. “There were a couple of routes that he was thinking of at the time that he kind of filled me in on and just let me kind of be a part of the process a little bit just in terms of peeking into his brain a bit of where it was going But all of the outcomes led to me not making it,” Kai said.
Just before Rip went to get help, Rowdy told him not to tell John Dutton the truth about what happened. Rowdy knew that Rip would get into trouble over the fight, and Rowdy’s last act was looking out for Rip in a way.
“I think that moment was one of the main things that I talked about with Taylor because Rowdy is not just a one-dimensional character,” Kai told HollywoodLife. “I think that he finally gets to show this side of him at the end. He could be fully panicking right now and knowing he’s going to lose his life, but I think this moment is super important. When I read this, I was so happy that it was in there for Rip and Rowdy and just the development of Rip overall of just understanding that Rowdy is not going to make it, but he still cared enough about Rip to make sure he had a chance at not getting his ass handed to him in a way with John Dutton.”
Kai acknowledged that Rowdy had been a “snake” for the majority of the time, but this final moment allowed the audience to have “a little bit of sympathy” for the rebellious cowboy. Rip didn’t listen to Rowdy and told John Dutton the truth about the fight. When John agreed to cover for Rip, he made Rip promise to never leave the ranch.
“I think this also shows Rip as the strong figure that he is and what he grows up to be,” Kai continued. “It shows that even though he’s this tough guy, and Rip’s taking everybody to this train station pretty much every episode, I think that this shows that Rip does what he does and has meaning behind it and does the right thing no matter how it looks. . I think that helps move that storyline along in terms of Rip.”
Kai admitted that he doesn’t think Rowdy knew immediately that he wasn’t going to make it. However, he revealed that Rowdy’s “fear shows up a bit at the end there. He starts to panic. But then, once he’s alone, I think that panic subsides. It’s a beautiful shot of just him just dying in nature, so all you can do is kind of just be with that.”
During the fight, Rowdy pulled a knife on Rip, and that’s when things took a dark turn. Kai told HollywoodLife that he doesn’t think Rowdy intended to ever kill Rip.
“I don’t think it was on his mind,” Kai said. “I think that if it was I don’t think he would have, and I think my last lines prove that. Rowdy was a jerk, and he was not a nice guy. The best way to say it is he’s kind of like a frat boy in a cowboy. I think that once things get real Rowdy would choose the retreating decision. I think that Rowdy had love for Rip as like a little brother and stuff, but at the same time, he’s protecting his manhood and his pride and whatnot. I think that if it came down to it, if I ended up overpowering Rip, I don’t think he would have killed him. I think he would have laughed at him and walked away.”
Season 5 has focused a portion of its episodes on these flashback scenes. With all this focus on the ranch and the wolves, could Rowdy’s death come back to haunt Rip in the present day?
“In full honesty, I actually have no idea,” Kai admitted. “I think this storyline between Rip and Rowdy has had such an effect on present-day Beth, especially with her dreams. It’s been mostly her. I think that’s something that could be revealed. I, truthfully, don’t know. I haven’t gotten those scripts.”
Prior to filming, Kai went to Texas and trained with the whole cast. “I didn’t even know really how cowboy I was going to have to be until I looked Taylor in the eyes and he was like, ‘Get on a horse,'” the actor quipped. “But it was honestly such an amazing experience, though. I mean, I learned so much about horseback riding and roping and just about the cowboy lifestyle and general bunkhouse lifestyle. It was really just an amazing experience.”
A big mystery surrounding Rowdy was his name. What is Rowdy’s real name? Kai weighed in about what he knows. “I don’t know Rowdy’s real name actually,” Kai told HollywoodLife. “That’s a great question. I have no idea. I don’t even know if he has a last name or what his deal is, but we can call him Rowdy Caster I guess.” Yellowstone airs Sundays on Paramount Network.
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