“Yellowjackets” Episode 110 Recap: Unsolvable Mysteries

Gather round, light some candles, rip out some animal hearts, and throw back some “shooters” a la Misty. It’s time at last for the Yellowjackets finale recap. “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi,” written by creators Ashley Lyle & Bart Nickerson directed by Eduardo Sánchez (!!!), is here, queer, and ready to be dissected. I am obviously going long, so let’s get right into it. Past recaps here + pick-your-own-adventure-style Yellowjackets character quiz here.

Whew! We made it! And I’m happy to report that this finale does what finales should do. Some loops are closed, and some spiral into new loops. There’s certainly momentum heading into the next season, with a few major reveals happening in the final minutes of the episode.

“Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” opens with an aerial shot moving over the wreckage from the previous night. Bodies sprawled on the forest floor. It’s the first of several incredibly haunting shots in the episode. Director Eduardo Sánchez also co-directed and wrote one of my favorite horror movies of all time, the iconic The Blair Witch Project, known for its incredibly effective found-footage approach to horror. With its woods setting, its creepy yet simple horror imagery, its repeated mysterious symbol, and its found-footage title sequence, Yellowjackets is easy to place in conversation with The Blair Witch Project, another project that asks: What is real? What should we really be afraid of?

I would like to state for the record that I randomly made a Blair Witch reference a few recaps ago before knowing who was directing the finale, and that reference was a STRETCH? So like, call me Lottie.

A screenshot from the Yellowjackets finale of Lottie in the woods

Soon after they awake and stumble through the remnants of the previous night’s revelry — Lottie wanders toward the hollowed out tree trunk, which looks even more like an altar than it did before, and Shauna picks up the hunting knife with a wobbly hand, remembering — the little hungover maenads make their way back to camp, where they soon learn Misty did in fact drug them with mushrooms. Just like that, Misty’s on the outs with the group. But Jackie’s on the outs, too. The girls are still mad at her about Travis in a very outsized way, but as she puts it: “I’m not the one who went completely fucking insane last night.” She has a point. More on Jackie, obviously, in a bit.

While the girls reckon with the almost-murder that happened in the woods, the women in the present are busy covering up an actual murder. Shauna does not really like that word, but as she said herself last week, she did indeed stab Adam and then he died. Sorry girly, that’s a murder! Nat has enlisted Misty’s help, offering up to go to the reunion in exchange for Misty’s murder cleanup expertise. Indeed, she is thrilled to help, gathering the right supplies at work (according to her, 12% of killers are caught while buying cleaning supplies at the store) and bursting through the door at Adam’s place with a chipper attitude in stark contrast to the tense vibes of Taissa, Shauna, and Nat. “Who died?” she jokes. And then: “No but seriously, who is this guy?” Christina Ricci’s delivery remains TOO GOOD.

“Shauna, you’re the best with the knife — clearly!” Misty also jokes, gesturing toward the very stabbed body on the floor. This of course also serves as another reminder of their history together. They all know Shauna’s good with a knife. At one point, that was part of how they survived starvation. While Taissa and Misty clean up the blood, Shauna and Nat take to the bathroom to hack Adam’s body into pieces with an electric hand saw. “Do you still remember how to do that?” Nat asks as Shauna revs up the tool. “It’s just like riding a really gross fucked up bike,” Shauna replies. This whole situation really is so fucked and so unthinkable. They’re chopping up a man in a bathtub like it’s nothing. But truly, it’s nothing they haven’t seen or done before. They lived through such a traumatic and violent experience in their youths, and it makes sense that they’re desensitized to violence, that they can just go through the motions of doing what they have to do. Nothing can really faze them.

To Misty, it’s fun. After all, she liked living in the woods so much, being needed, being sutured to the team, that she made that choice to destroy the plane’s black box. Here she is again, needed by the team. It makes her giddy. And tbh, what would they do without her? She has it all planned out, having them hide the impossible-to-identify torso in the woods, throwing the hands and head into a coffin heading into the incinerator by sweet talking her way into one of her patient’s funerals (in case you were wondering, that is indeed the patient from the pilot that she refused to give meds to as punishment — Misty loves a Misery moment).

And Misty also ties up the loose end of Jessica Roberts, finally letting her leave and continuing to go along with JR’s book deal plans. Misty asks how she can possibly trust her, and Jessica Roberts gives a nice little monologue about how she’s a fixer for the rich and powerful and doesn’t even remember what it’s like to have a soul anymore. The money from the book deal could mean not having to do any of it anymore. Of course, they’re both bullshitting. JR has no intention of going through with this deal; she just wants out of this murder basement. And Misty has no intention of betraying her teammates by divulging their secrets. So Misty poisons JR’s cigarettes, and even though I’m sad to see her go (sure, maybe she’s not totally dead, but I kinda doubt Misty would miss her mark), it’s a hilariously executed death. It’s the first time we’ve actually seen Misty kill someone, though she does it so smoothly I do doubt it’s really her first time. Poisoning people does seem to be her modus operandi. It’s fitting. It’s sneaky. Misty is this strange combination of scary and child-like. She’s chaotic menace dressed up as youthful innocence.

I want to go back to Nat and Shauna in the bathroom cutting up a body, because Shauna says something in here that really gets to the heart of this episode and of the full season arc really. Nat tries to ask Shauna about Adam’s motive for killing Travis, and Shauna shuts her down. She was with Adam when Travis died. Indeed, we already know the blackmail plot and Travis’s death are separate storylines, but not all of the characters know that. “All this time, you’ve been looking for some big conspiracy. What if the truth is just that we’re all fucked in the head from what happened to us and you’re searching for answers that don’t exist,” she says.

And maybe we are, too. There certainly are mysteries at the core of Yellowjackets, and the finale’s ending throws fuel on the fire of one in particular, but many of these mysteries are, well, unsolvable. And the mysteries that have been solved are kind of straightforward! It’s not shocking that Jeff was behind the blackmail. It’s not shocking that Taissa was the lady in the tree. It’s not shocking that Lottie is the Antler Queen. Those reveals all do unfold like little mysteries, clues planted along the way. And then when they’re revealed, they’re not twisty in the sense that our minds are blown. Rather, they’re revelatory. They have stakes and consequences beyond the initial reveal.

I’m obsessed with Mo Ryan’s succinct and poignant explanation of the unsolvability of many of Yellowjackets’s “puzzles”:

There is no solving the problem of being a middle-aged person who’s lost touch with her ambition and her purpose, who’s stuffed her rage and dreams into the back of a closet, as Shauna did with her wilderness journals. There is no pat formula to rely on when you’re a teen trying to understand your friends’ weird or selfish choices, or your own deepest desires and fears.

Maybe Travis really did kill himself, Shauna suggests. And the twist that comes literally crashing through Nat’s motel door at the end of the episode does undermine that possibility a bit. But it’s still fascinating to consider. How much of how the Yellowjackets move through the world and perceive things is informed by their paranoia, their grief, their exposure to violence, starvation, and impossible choices in the woods? What’s a conspiracy and what’s just fucked up human nature?

The fun thing is: I think there’s a little of both.

Indeed, the finale continues the ambivalence that draws me to Yellowjackets. It feels simultaneously undeniable that there are supernatural forces at play and yet that everything happening could conceivably happen.

Back in the woods, a bear interrupts. Lottie hears it coming, and as everyone backs away, she asks for Shauna’s knife and moves closer. The bear, inexplicably, lowers itself. Almost as if it’s bowing. Almost as if it’s sacrificing itself. In one motion, Lottie stabs it in the back. Dinner is served!

As always, the needledrops here are fantastic. I think my favorite of the finale has to be the transition from the bear stabbing into the 25th reunion, scored by “Rump Shaker.” I mean, that instantly recognizable sax riff overtop of bear murder? I love when Yellowjackets smashes together tones in disorienting ways. This jump from the bear to the reunion is just such a fantastic transition altogether, because in both instances it’s sort of a celebration with an undercurrent of horror and dread. Lottie stabbing a fucking bear is a bad bitch move!!!! But it’s also…alarming?! Like, why did that bear bow down to her, and why did she so seamlessly slay it? Meanwhile, a decorated high school gymnasium is a horror scene in and of itself. Folding tables, prom-like decor, a bunch of adults with their sad little lives pretending they’re living the lives they’ve always wanted? HARROWING!

I was hoping we’d get to see grown-up Allie again, and boy do we! If you recall, she’s briefly seen in the pilot, talking to Jessica Roberts about how she was supposed to be on the plane. She’s the adult version of the girl whose leg Taissa — not entirely intentionally but also not entirely by accident — broke. Talking about how she was supposed to be on the plane is apparently her entire personality. In her thick Jersey accident, she bemoans the tragedy and talks about her “trauma bond” with the team to Jeff. The entire reunion is a bizarre celebration of tragedy. The community was undeniably impacted by the tragedy, but there’s a level of trauma porn to the consumption of the Yellowjackets. We’ve seen bits and pieces of that: the magazines in Adam’s drawer, the headlines Shauna pulls up when essentially cyberstalking herself. At the reunion, it’s hit even harder. This idea that they made it through something horrible. And yet, no one acknowledges that they’re still very much going through it. That they’re carrying secrets. That reaching into the past still really fucking hurts. Nat looks at a trophy case full of retro Yellowjackets memorabilia, including photos of coach Martinez, Javi, and Travis. She looks so fucking sad. A trophy case is, once again, usually something to commemorate celebration, victory, triumph. Here, it’s a glass case containing the dead. Morbid memorabilia.

So yeah, the vibes are off at this reunion. But that doesn’t stop Nat, Shauna, and Taissa from making a very hot and powerful entrance, joined quickly by Misty who literally throws down what she’s doing so she can join them in a slow-motion walk that turns heads. Girls walking through a high school in slow motion is one of my favorite teen movie tropes, and this iteration puts a Yellowjackets twist on it by making it adults returning to their high school’s halls. People look because there is indeed a sense of mystery and mythology surrounding them.

There’s lots of humor to be found in the reunion scenes: Shauna threatening to gut Randy like a pig if he ever reveals it was Jeff behind the blackmail. Shauna ordering four double shots of tequila and Misty excitedly referring to them as “shooters.” Allie’s entire energy (“Shut the fuck up, Doug, you’re a grown man” is one of my favorite throwaway lines in recent memory”). Even the sad parts are funny. Allie plays a slideshow of old Yellowjackets photos set to Enya!!!! She claims it’s time to heal…by remembering the past. Again, there are clear lines between those who were in the woods and those who were not, and it’s hilarious how badly Allie wants to be on the other side of that line when really she has no clue. She has no clue that these pictures are more triggering than healing. She has no clue that these women were, mere hours before, chopping up a man in a bathtub. It’s all a bizarre spectacle of performative grief, and the Yellowjackets themselves are spectators to it but also unwilling participants, being watched by everyone.

Allie says Jackie would have wanted Jeff and Shauna to share the triumphant prom king and queen dance at the reunion. We know the truth: Jackie would very much not want this. The idea is laughable and fucking terrible! But Jeff and Shauna have to do it; they have to perform. And Jeff in all his innocent optimism says “I think we’re gonna be alright” in Shauna’s ear as they dance for everyone. Shauna’s silent. None of this is alright.

Which brings us back to the woods. Everyone’s got bear meat, so at least there’s that! But even though this should be something to celebrate given the recent lack of food, it drives a further wedge between the Yellowjackets. No one wants Misty’s help cutting up the bear, Mari telling her to get the fuck away. Misty has been thriving on how useful she feels, how included. She craves connection, and she doesn’t know how to go about getting it.

Van takes the bear as additional proof that Lottie is tapped into something. In the attic, Van tells Taissa that when “it” happened (no one has said wolf attack/mauling/etc. out loud, so I do wonder if there’s something to the theory that there were no wolves or that this went down differently than how we were shown it) she was somewhere in between. Not dead, not alive. And that she sensed something was here in the woods with them. Taissa thinks Van is just trying to make sense of her trauma, but Van is firm with her. She believes. In something. “Ghosts, tree demons, wood sprites?” Taissa jokes (also I love the 90s dyke details of Van loving Scully and Sporty Spice). Factions are forming. There are people who believe and people who don’t, something that has been hinted at all along, like when adult Nat says that Travis “never believed in any of this stuff.” Once again, how do you make sense of the nonsensical? These teens have been drained of the things that once defined them: their homes, their families, their lives. And some of them are starting to let new things in. Dark magic at least suggests order. Wouldn’t it be easy to cling to that?

Then there’s Taissa in the present. We see her bristle at Van’s beliefs in the past. When Van asks if they should give thanks to some higher being for the bear meat, she tries to be supportive, letting out a hesitant “just make it quick.” Meanwhile, in the present, she’s participating in some sort of ritual — whether she’s totally aware of it or not. Simone goes home to pick up some extra things for her and Sammy, and as if she has never seen a dang horror movie in her life, she goes down into a dark basement by herself and then ENTERS A CRAWLSPACE after feeling a draft coming out of it and also finding a spot of blood! Again, the Blair Witch vibes are there. In the light of Simone’s iPhone flashlight, we see a table of offerings. The symbol, candles, and poor Biscuit’s head and heart. While this happening, Taissa’s finding out she won the election, something the polls had suggested wasn’t possible. We know this though: Taissa is willing to do a lot for what she wants. She once broke a girl’s leg to send a message. Did she perform some sort of sacrifice in order to win this election?

Or is that my conspiracy brain thinking again? Yellowjackets does such a great job of making me feel as paranoid and uncertain as its characters. Did Taissa do a ritual to win an election or is the real explanation something more complicated but also less plot-driven? What if this is another extension of her sleepwalking? If Van was a believer and Taissa was not but Taissa lost Van (we aren’t yet sure if she made it out of the woods or not), could this be her weird way of grieving that loss?

I believe adult Taissa when she suggests she doesn’t really know what’s happening to her when she’s sleepwalking, doesn’t really know what happened to Biscuit. I don’t think she’s lying or manipulating them, because none of the characters on Yellowjackets have really behaved in ways that have shocked me thus far. They all have specific patterns of behavior that we see form in their teenage years and that continue on into their adulthoods. Yes, Taissa can be cutthroat. She can also be out of control, especially whilst sleepwalking. But she doesn’t really lie, hasn’t really betrayed anyone she cares about. Even with Van, she might not believe, but she’s trying so hard to be a supportive girlfriend. Even when the unexpected happens on Yellowjackets, the characters react in expected ways. They make a lot of bad choices, but those bad choices are consistent.

Take, for example, Shauna, who repeatedly hurts and lies to people who love her. It’s literally her thing! She’s still lying to Nat and Taissa by making them believe Adam was behind the blackmail. The walls between her and Jeff may have dropped, but Jeff’s fantasy that they’re alright now is just that, a fantasy. He and Shauna cuddle on the couch after the reunion, making lil jokes about Shauna cooking a cat in a chili pot (ok I did truly LOL at that one), and Callie is rightfully confused. But they convince her to join them, and for a split second it’s like they’re a cute, normal family in the suburbs. But then a news report about a missing man shows Adam’s face and name. All three of them try not to react. Callie doesn’t know that Jeff knows about Shauna’s affair; Jeff presumably doesn’t know that Callie knows about the affair; Jeff and Shauna both know that Shauna KILLED Adam, which Callie doesn’t know. It’s not just a secret; it’s a cluster of secrets. And they’re all culpable of something, Shauna most of all.

In the woods, Travis is looking for Javi, who isn’t seen all episode. And Travis is brimming with intense emotions, a balloon about to burst. He seems almost embarrassed about what happened to him — by hooking up with Jackie and also by having a knife against his throat. His confusion takes the form of mortification. Nat tries to see if he’s okay, and he pushes her away. To admit he needs help is also to admit that what happened really happened. He was almost sacrificed. His brother is missing. When he finally breaks down and lets Nat in, admitting he loves her, it’s devastating. Their dynamic hinges on hurt and comfort. In the present, we see Nat finally throw away the photo of his carved up corpse. Once again, Yellowjackets performs an act of emotional time travel, its two timelines more entangled than simply the past being the cause and the present being the effect. They’re echoes of each other.

Lottie gives thanks for the bear meat, thanking the gods of the sky and the earth, thanking the spirit of the bear. We’re watching the beginning of something here. Again, characters are trying to make sense of their new circumstances. The farther they get from civilization and their before lives, the more they’re starting to make new rules and build a new world for themselves. Lottie might be…casually starting a religion. Laura Lee, after all, convinced her there was something divine about her visions. And now Laura Lee is dead, a martyr. Lottie brought down a bear with a knife. It shouldn’t have been possible. And yet. So yeah, Lottie probably is feeling pretty powerful and all-knowing right about now.

And on that note, I recently remembered that Lottie used to be really fucking rich. Private plane rich! In-house staff rich! I think Lottie and Jackie are two people who are used to having a lot of power and control. In Jackie’s case, that power has been leaking ever since the crash. She hasn’t proved useful enough to maintain it. The wilderness became this great equalizer for all the girls. Social hierarchies are starting to erode. New factions are forming. In Lottie’s case, the presence of these visions and her intuition about certain things like the bear have only intensified her power and influence. Doesn’t it kinda make perfect sense that the super rich girl on the soccer team would maybe become a cult leader? I mean, look at this photo of Lottie from the pilot! She looks like every popular girl from a teen movie, and a tiny gold watch is the height of 90s Opulence!

A screenshot from the Yellowjackets pilot of Shauna, Lottie, and Nat

Some of these characters are finding out exactly who they are in the woods. They’re either questioning everything they knew or doubling way down on it. Misty thrives here. Lottie’s visions give her power and control. And Shauna is no longer resigned to living in Jackie’s shadow. The crash upended previous dynamics. Coach told Jackie he made her captain not because she’s the best, but because of her influence. It’s ironic, isn’t it? In the woods, she has no influence.

Jackie is extremely not here for the bullshit. She wants answers for what happened the night before when the girls stormed in like a mob on her and Travis. She asks Shauna what she was going to do, and then everything spirals out, all the tension between Shauna and Jackie all season comes to a head. Jackie reveals to the group that Shauna had been fucking Jeff, and Shauna explodes on Jackie. She says she controlled everything about her life, from what she wore, to who she hooked up with, to where they’d go to college. She accuses Jackie of having main character syndrome. And yes, we’ve indeed seen all these things. Jackie even changes the music when she gets into Shauna’s car. She calls all the shots. When Shauna shouts that she doesn’t even like soccer, it’s such a gutpunch. Shauna’s entire life seems constructed to fit Jackie’s idea of who she should be.

But is Shauna innocent here? Of course not! She could have, at any point, stuck up to Jackie. She could have, at any point, refused to play her sidekick. I know, I know. Easier said than done. I’ve been the teen girl conforming to the expectations and desires of another teen girl. It’s perhaps why I’m drawn to and also fear Shauna. It’s absolutely why I (unfairly!) fear Jackie. Their friendship is familiar in its intensity, in its frankly cannibalistic feeling. I’ve known what it’s like to want to be consumed by someone else and also to resent that consumption all at once.

And also, Shauna’s so far from innocent that I actually think she’s delusional. Because as she was saying all these things about Jackie making choices for her, I nodded along, remembering those moments from the pilot. But then I rewatched the pilot and saw something else. Yes, Jackie suggested what she should wear. Yes, Jackie suggested who she should hook up with. But when Shauna snapped and said she didn’t want those things, Jackie backed off entirely. She told Shauna to do what she wanted. And then what did Shauna do? She wore the thing Jackie told her to wear anyway (the red boob dress). In fact, she dressed almost identically to Jackie for that party. Shauna has ingested and absorbed the narrative that Jackie forced her to be like her, but we see in the pilot her choosing to mimic and surveil Jackie. Shauna wanted to be like her. She wanted to consume her.

A screenshot from the Yellowjackets finale of Shauna and Jackie

This is definitely the best on-screen friendship fight I’ve seen since Booksmart. As with that fight, it’s easy to see where both girls are coming from. Yellowjackets really is so good at placing us in the mindsets of these characters, even when what they’re feeling is contradictory or wrong or complex. Shauna may feel like Jackie constantly tried to control her, but what Shauna did with Jeff was so cruel. It’s worth mentioning that none of this is about Jeff or about Travis. It’s about the two of them and no one else really. Here they are having this private fight in front of an audience, but it’s like none of those people are there. They’re both being selfish, and they’re both failing to see beyond the tunnel of their venomous friendship.

Should any of this matter in the woods? I mean, in some ways, it especially matters here. If they can’t be there for each other now, then were they ever really? Did they only love each other when they both fit into the neatly prescribed boxes of high school? When things were easy to define? I think about how I left the bubble of my high school and realized how different I was from some of the people I’d stitched myself to, how I wanted different things but absorbed the ideas of myself put forth by others. I know there are friendships that last beyond high school, but I also think part of growing up is letting go of the fantasy of best friends forever. It’s like the woods sped up and exacerbated that process for some of these characters.

We’re seeing it a bit for Van and Taissa, too. Maybe their relationship made more sense in the context of a secret gay relationship. Maybe these differences in what they believe out here in the woods are irrevocable. The romantic in me is rooting for them, and yet I also know how easy it is to hold on to young love just because you don’t know anything else and how dangerous that can be. Now here’s Taissa staying in a marriage where things are so fractured that they can’t even be in the same place. Patterns repeating.

Jackie tries to banish Shauna, and maybe before it would have worked. But Shauna stands her ground, and it’s a signal that the roles have officially completely reversed. Jackie’s power is gone. Shauna’s in charge. Healthy friendship, of course, shouldn’t work this way at all. It shouldn’t be a zero sum game. But I think of how Jeff reminds Shauna that their relationship has always been this way a few episodes back, how secrets and lies have always been a part of their relationship and so continue to be in their marriage. The power struggle between Shauna and Jackie has always been a part of their friendship.

Shauna tells her to leave, and the rest of the group agrees. Ben feebly attempts to intervene, but Lottie tells him to stay out of it. Again, there’s a mob mentality. Any resentment that any of these characters have had toward Jackie at any point lets them believe that this is how it should be.

It’s easy to see this as something that could go down at a high school sleepover, a massive fight leading to one girl’s banishment from the party. In the wilderness, the stakes are much higher. We keep seeing this happen, the existing dynamics and drama between the teens heightening into horrific proportions now that they’re away from the rules and structures of their previous worlds. Jackie, the least equipped person to be on her own, leaves the cabin, and no one follows her. Shauna watches as she tries and fails to start a fire.

And then Jackie freezes to death. The fact that it’s such slow, quiet death is so much more disturbing than if Jackie had turned out to be that hunted girl from the pilot. She dies alone. She dies because she and her best friend had a falling out and then both were too stubborn to admit they were being stupid. I know I spent the past couple recaps saying I was scared of Jackie and what she might do. But like Shauna, I was thinking of things in terms of how it might go down within the halls of a high school. I saw the golden girl Shauna saw in Jackie, the one who nothing bad could happen to, the one who had all the power. But they’re not in high school anymore. They’re in the wilderness, and both nature and human nature are doing strange things.

Before the harrowing final reveal of Shauna digging up Jackie from the snow, there’s a brief glint of hope. We see Shauna go to Jackie, apologize, invite her inside. But hope gives way to horror when we realize this isn’t really happening. Lottie gifts Jackie with hot cocoa — too good to be true. Shauna says she loves Jackie, and then everyone else says it in unison, a demented chorus. Laura Lee is here, and so is a shadowy man in the corner — the one we’ve seen grinning in the title sequence. “So glad you’re joining us. We’ve been waiting for you,” he says. It’s such a haunting sequence — part nightmare, part hallucination on the brink of death.

Shauna startles awake as if this is her dream, but it also seems like it could be Jackie’s dream, her mind’s way of grappling with the fact that she’s slowly dying. The hot cocoa indeed seems like the fantasy of a person freezing to death. In fact, people get hot right before they freeze to death. And the presence of ghosts (is the man the ghost of the guy from the attic?) suggests Jackie being welcomed into a new realm. But again, Shauna’s the one who wakes up from this. I interpret it as some sort of shared dream experience for both Jackie and Shauna (I coincidentally wrote briefly about the real-life phenomena of shared dreams when musing on this show last week — again, call me Lottie!). I can see both Shauna and Jackie dreaming of everyone telling Jackie they love her. “Everybody loved you,” Shauna said to her just a couple episodes ago. We’ve seen Shauna’s guilt manifest as a Jackie hallucination in the present, and now we know just how linked they are. We haven’t seen anyone eat anyone yet outside of the pilot, but Shauna did consume Jackie. She married her boyfriend. She became her.

So far, we haven’t seen anything as deliberately brutal as the sequences of a girl being hunted, strung up, drained, and eaten in the pilot. Those images have never left my head. Even though they haven’t happened yet when we’re in the 1996 timeline, it’s like they sit beneath everything. Like one of Lottie’s visions, a promise. Slowly but surely, the crash survivors are losing their grasp on reality. It’s hard to know what’s right or wrong when you’re young — made all the harder by something as catastrophic and isolating as being stranded in the woods. Someone should have brought Jackie inside. Someone should have come to her defense. They’re still playing by old rules, even as the game changes wildly before their eyes. It’s not the time for high school drama, and yet of course they can’t escape it.

Jackie’s death, for me, is the biggest reveal of the episode. Such a brutal way to go on so many levels. To be that lonely and cold and for it to have been so preventable. But another plot-level reveal happens in the episode’s final minutes. Just as Nat is about to kill herself with her shotgun, a group barges through her motel door. They abduct her, and we see a flash of one of them wearing a necklace with the symbol from the woods. As Nat’s dragged into a van, Suze leaves a voicemail on her phone saying she feels like someone is following her ever since she looked into Travis’ bank account. “Who the fuck is Lottie Matthews?” she asks.

Who the fuck is Lottie Matthews, indeed. Back in the woods, Lottie presents the bear’s heart to the tree altar in the snow. Her first followers — Misty, desperate to belong to something, and Van, desperate for meaning — kneel behind her. “Versez le sang mes beaux amis,” Lottie says (French that translates to: shed blood, my beautiful friends). “And let the darkness set us free.”

We’re going full cult in the woods, baby! And it looks like that cult made it out of the woods, too.

I do think this finale answered a lot of things that needed to be answered and also left things up in the air so we do have some momentum going into the next season. But more importantly, I think it still leaves so many things not just unanswered but unanswerable. I know the ambivalence of Yellowjackets needles at people. But it doesn’t read as lazy or incomplete writing to me. In fact, it’s part of what sets this show apart. There are a lot of interviews out there with the cast and creators today, and I have now ingested all of them, but this tidbit has stood out to me: The creators keep getting asked about Jackie’s journals. How could Jackie have written about movies she wasn’t alive to see? Ashley Lyle said this:

I will say, we did not necessarily anticipate people screen-shotting that the way they did. So to our minds, it was a character Easter egg, and not a plot Easter egg.

A character! Easter! Egg! See, this is why I love Yellowjackets. The narrative is built around people being mysteries, of human nature being a tricky puzzle box. Not built around conspiracies and plot mazes — though there are touches of those, too. Of course it’s fun to screenshot and dissect, to spin a web. We want to make sense of what’s happening just like these characters do. We want there to be a clean-cut, easy to chart path that leads to cannibalism, and preferably one that involves the occult, the paranormal. Because otherwise, accepting the alternative — that humans just sometimes do fucked up shit that’s hard to make sense of — is too scary to look at up close.

Today, I keep seeing so many articles that are like “Yellowjackets finale — EXPLAINED!” and I get it. It’s an SEO thing. Finale “post mortems” are part of the game of television coverage. But it’s also funny to me. To suggest that everything can be explained in a straightforward, digestible way.

My guess is if I were to poll my various Yellowjackets group chats about why Shauna let Jackie freeze to death, why no one intervened, why Shauna was so convinced Jackie was a bad friend when the pilot very much shows the opposite, we’d all explain it in different ways. And no one would necessarily be wrong! Those are the puzzles I’m most fascinated by on this show.

In real life, the times I’ve tried to figure out why people did certain things, especially things that hurt me, I’ve come up with unsatisfying, incomplete answers. It’s vexing work. I hope Yellowjackets keeps teasing us, keeps planting “character Easter eggs” rather than plot ones, keeps revealing things that ultimately are easy to predict but difficult to swallow.

Last Buzz:

  • Yes, that was the bear’s heart — not Jackie’s heart, people! Do you know the size of a human heart?!
  • So yeah, Lottie’s bear heart offering looks a lot like the dog heart offering situation happening in Taissa’s basement. But I still think Taissa isn’t knowingly participating in the occult but that this still has something to do with her psychological state/her tendency to be in denial about things.
  • There are so many good little creepy moments in the episode, like Shauna wanting to taste the bear’s blood before Akilah stops her. I think she was maybe just experiencing pregnancy-induced anemia, but it also works on the level of Shauna having blood on her hands in both timelines (Jackie’s death and Adam’s death).
  • Now that we’ve seen some sort of cult group, I keep seeing it theorized that Adam could have been involved in that somehow. Idk — I’m sticking to my convictions of Adam just being a random guy!
  • Someone in the A+ watchalong (WHICH WAS SO FUN BTW) pointed out that Adam had a very distinctive back tattoo that would surely make his torso more identifiable than Misty realizes. Oops! This has to come back to hurt them, right?
  • I can’t believe I caught that quick screenshot of Shauna digging through the snow last episode and then it turned out to be JACKIE’S DEATH. I really am feeling Lottie-esque. Should I start a Yellowjackets religion? JK JK.
  • So I do have a character-based theory about Jackie’s journals, which is that Shauna journaled as Jackie when she got out of the woods. We know Shauna had writerly ambitions, and that coupled with her guilt could lead to some good ol’ therapy journaling.
  • On that note, they’re absolutely going to eat Jackie, right? And I wonder if season two will play around the idea of Jackie being INSIDE all of them once they eat her — or at least inside Shauna, whose desire to consume Jackie will become quite literal.
  • I will miss writing these recaps and reading all of your thoughtful comments every week! I can’t remember the last time I was this invested in a show and this excited to write so many words about it!!!! (Maybe it was Sharp Objects? I was also obsessed with Dare Me, but it never caught on, so I didn’t have the added excitement of everyone talking about it all the time!!!!!!!) Thank you for letting me go long. Thank you for all of your hard citizen detective work. SEASON TWO WHEN?
  • I’ve said a lot, but I unsurprisingly have more to say! I will save it for the comments! I will try to reply to all of your comments!!!!
  • Guess what! The official playlist now includes the original theme song! Also, Liv Hewson and Jane Widdrop both made character playlists for Van and Laura Lee respectively, so here, have some playlists!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 861 articles for us.


  1. My new theory about Jackie’s journals is that over the years Shauna added little details to them in moments when she was consumed with guilt and grief, like we saw when she and Jeff went to Jackie’s honorary birthday brunch. It’s her way of trying to imagine the future that almost was, as well as her way of returning to the adolescence she was denied. All of the adult characters are living in various states of arrested development (which makes sense, given the nature of their trauma), so I think Shauna sort of role-playing that Jackie lived totally suits the way she’d navigate her own shit.

  2. In my opinion, far and away the best recap you’ve written this season, and the other ones are GOOD. Also the best recap/writing/analysis of the show I’ve read, which is.. a lot haha. Just… really great work here. Psychoanalysis is on point. Thanks for your work here!

  3. 1) Kayla, you are my favorite reviewer, and reading these recaps every week was an absolute delight.

    2) It’s hilarious to me when I encounter a friend who has not yet heard of this show, because it has fully consumed the lives of everyone else I know (META) and I truly wonder what what rock they are living under

    2) I was also obsessed with Dare Me (even bought myself a version of the middle finger sticker Beth has on her phone), but it failed to hit the zeitgeist in the same way, which is a giant bummer. I would be 100% here for some retroactive recaps, if you ever have the time!

  4. Your writing and analysis is the best on the web by far. Thank you so much

    A couple of comments and observations

    First, Showtime drops the show On Demand at midnight on the air date. That is why certain reviews come out sooner. I just couldn’t ever wait

    I feel the narration is totally reliable. The characters actually do what they do on screen unless it’s a dream sequence. shauna rear ended Adam. He couldn’t plan that. Shauna says he is genuine. He genuinely didn’t understand what was happening when she confronted him and like the prey in the wild, he tried to dart and zigzag to calm her down, but she just came at him.

    I am amazed that there is so little sympathy for Adam and shauna’s quiet brutality surrounding his death and disposal. His head and face were at the top of the bath tub as they dismembered him. I feel that it was supposed to be a turning point in how we perceived shauna, but viewers were already locked into our allegiances. Yes, it’s a product of her trauma, but we are less ready to accept heartless psychopathic behavior from misty.

    How viewers see the actions of so many characters are clearly influenced by their personal experiences and sensibilities about the archetypes — the sorority mean girl leader, the quiet, frustrated artist in suburbia, the kindhearted bad girl, the dedicated, focused competitive winner, the frustrated, bored suburban wife. As in life, we give the people we like extra moral breaks.

    I thought Jackie death was so surprising in the way it was not surprising. It was wilderness ordinary. After all, they had all spent the night outside in prom dresses, and no one seemed particularly concerned that javi, nat, and Travis were out of the cabin for the night

    But the argument that led up to her laving the cabin was perfect. So teenage you want shauna to leave, you leave Jackie.

    • Gentle disagree on Adam not being able to premeditate being rear-ended. It’s a fairly common lawsuit tactic. Get someone following closely enough behind you and stop short. Could be he’s just a regular guy, for sure – I wouldn’t be at all surprised at a red herring as involved as Adam from this show; a classic mystery device – but I think there are a lot of clues to support an ulterior motive. And the back tattoo – already highly suspicious with its mountains and map-like quality, and deliberate (i.e. this is not the actor’s tattoo) – I strongly think will come back in season two. At the least, Misty put too fine a point on not being able to ID him without head/hands.

      • I can’t find the specific article now (I have read…a LOT of the interviews with the showrunners in the past 24 hours) but one of them specifically said Adam is not involved in the cult and the tattoos were designed to be ambiguous. (It was something like “we looked at a lot of common tattoo designs to come up with something that could read as a clue but could also be innocuous.”) They also talked about how the point was to make the viewers as paranoid as Shauna is about Adam, to sort of see how trauma can make you believe things that aren’t there. So unless they are actively lying to mislead/cover a big future plot point, it sounds like the tattoos were just meant to fool us. (And it worked! I *absolutely* thought there was no way the tattoo art was an accidental choice!)

  5. Love this recap!! Random thoughts:

    1) I was on board with Adam being “just a guy” until the reveal of the cult at the end. Lottie’s influence has clearly spread over the years and it’s too much of a coincidence that Adam was trying to get Shauna back to a cabin in the woods (plus his tattoo feels significant/connected – it’s like a sort of map of mountains and maybe a lake?)

    2) Just me or did the heart at the Biscuit altar seem too big to be a dog’s? Could it be Adam’s that Tai got from his torso? Tai is really going full split personality now. Like it makes me think the “SPILL” actually meant “make a sacrifice”…

    3) I wonder if when they get back, Shauna lives with Jackie’s family/sleeps in Jackie’s room for a few years. We never saw her parents I don’t think. Goes along with the consuming theory.

    4) WHO is the girl who dies in the pit?! Mari??

    • I agree that the writing “Spill” was an order to make a sacrifice. Sheds new light on the press conference Tai gave – where she had told Simone she would announce her withdrawal from the race – but then she glanced at “Spill” and doubled down on her commitment to run – supposedly to spite the opposition who “vandalized” her house. It seemed like seeing it triggered conscious Tai and she had a tough time explaining the outcome of the press conference to Simone.

      And then I think about her adult sleepover with Shauna, where she said that even though she did all the things she dreamed of doing she didn’t feel it. Could it be that the part of her that emerges in her dissociative “sleepwalking” state has been making sacrifices to bring those desired life events to fruition, robbing rational, waking Tai from a sense of accomplishment? The nighttime Tai believes in ritual as much as waking Tai refutes it – from stealing Van’s amulet before the wolf attack to the alter in the basement.

    • I really hope they don’t write Tai as having a ‘split personality’ – that’s such a corny and overused trope. But they’ve established she’s sleepwalking, so I think that’s what it is – her trauma and repressed ritualist behaviour comes out when she’s asleep because she refuses to deal with it consciously.

      I also agree there should be more Adam (my question is, why was he on the news after being missing for a single day?) but the showrunners confirmed he’s not part of the cult. No idea what the tattoo was for, other than to be a red herring and also to maybe be their downfall when someone finds his torso and identifies him.

  6. ok full disclosure i haven’t read any comments yet at time of posting, this is just raw notes from watching last night + reading recap just now

    * “Those reveals all do unfold like little mysteries, clues planted along the way. And then when they’re revealed, they’re not twisty in the sense that our minds are blown. Rather, they’re revelatory. They have stakes and consequences beyond the initial reveal.” YES THIS

    * i assumed the heart on tai’s altar was adam’s, somehow? but the timeline wouldn’t work at all for that, and biscuit’s makes a lot more sense. but isn’t it big for a dog heart? maybe just a limitation on what art dept could do

    * oh my GOD the idea of tai’s altar being van grief, good lord, oh jeez

    * allie totally has a source. i refuse to believe that kiss from a rose was a coincidence, she’s trying to shake them all up. connected to lottie?

    * i think there’s probably more to be said about one of shauna’s themes throughout the show being her constantly wearing jackie’s life. the clothes, the yellowjackets [the team], the yellowjackets [plane crash survivors], jeff, jackie’s parents in present day — everything that is jackie, shauna in one way or another makes her own. it also ties in with jackie’s journal, and i’m super curious to see what else happens with shauna moving forward. (i love shauna and she is, at this point, utterly terrifying)
    * “We haven’t seen anyone eat anyone yet outside of the pilot, but Shauna did consume Jackie. She married her boyfriend. She became her.” yeah, this. shauna’s whole life feels like it’s her consuming jackie’s

    * i can’t get jackie’s death out of my brain. it kept popping in as i was going to bed, as i woke up in the night, when i woke up this morning. in a show full of tragic and haunting events, the circumstances here are affecting me perhaps the most deeply. my friends said it really well: “in high school (and always) you should be able to get in a fight and take the night to think about it and not have that result in the person dying!!!” who among us has not been a petty bitch for a day or two, and then come to our senses a day or two later! can not imagine if that resulted in my best friend dying. horrible.

    * ok so that grinning man was not ben? i couldn’t tell when i was watching, they look ~the same to me


    * i agree the ambivalence is the thing that fuckin makes this show

    * oh shit the journals weren’t planned? i’m disappointed, i’ve been putting a lot of trust in the intentionality of everything on this show—even allie’s age relative to theirs was explained in a way that i found satisfactory in the discord last night, that the crash had set most of the team back to graduate at the same time as her. or she could even just be organizing the reunion as a non class member? idk how these things work i never graduated a real highschool. i dearly hope that, on the whole, things will end up meaning things.

    * i’m also on team adam is just Some Dude i just think it’s more interesting & in keeping with the show’s concept of horror

    * i’m not convinced of it but cannot shake my theory that there maybe isn’t any cannibalism in the show after all?
    * but yeah no idk like, it’s so strongly hinted at, and it’s in popular consciousness as the show about the soccer girls who end up eating each other, and the assumption the whole time is that cannibalism is what their adult selves don’t want to get out. but we’ve seen some other shit going down that seems more horrible (to me) than, at the very least, eating e.g. jackie’s already-dead body. what if cannibalism is just a theory that society came up with, because it’s such a tantalizing forbidden fruit story, when the real horror was how they treated each other, how they let jackie freeze right outside their door, how this champion team turned on each other when they literally had nobody else
    * or maybe they make it without cannibalizing until days before they get rescued, and then are left with the knowledge that they did it and almost managed not to
    * or maybe just just start eating each other! but it ain’t happened yet!

    • other thoughts

      * when watching it didn’t occur to me that JR was dead, i assumed passed out with likely Legal Trouble coming up which could lead to a whole slew of consequences! but at this point i have been won around to JR being dead :sob:

      * very concerned for javi but i am relieved that this episode didn’t reveal that they killed him while chasing travis, which was one of my predictions coming in. whether it was mistaken identity or just Not Caring in the thrill of the chase? no idea.
      * but also…do we think there’s any chance he’s alive even if he made it to the snowfall? did we ever see him exhibiting any wilderness survival skills? i just remember him lying in between two logs and being left behind at doomcoming 😬

    • ALSO i think that shauna hallucinated the journals being gone when she killed adam; do we have any reason to believe that jeff took them for blackmail purposes? he already knew things from reading them years ago. feels really powerful and awful to me if shauna made up that they were gone to confirm suspicions she was holding

    • Yeah, re: the cannibalism like I don’t think that’s the real horror to keep hidden? We have real life examples of people in awful extreme situations who resorted to cannibalism. The circumstances of the cannibalism, maybe… but I’m inclined to wonder about a Reddit theory I saw the other day that knocked me on my ass. We know the group fractures. What if the ones who are found by the rescuers … don’t tell the rescuers there are others? Whether outright lying or just not mentioning it. I can see that being the level of horrific that you’d want to conceal

      • Oh shit – what if they fracture cult vs non-cult and Nat saves them by getting Shauna and Tai and Misty rescued but not the other cult followers? Except that’s a weird grouping and we know Misty is a fur wearing cult member. But still! Leaving people out there to keep survive off one another and carrying on a bee religion is pretty dark. But I could see all of them justifying that behavior if they aren’t full fledged believers.

        • i could imagine this working if the cult fractures after they start doing their cult things in earnest – space for misty to be a part of it and then pulled off by nat etc. feels wild for shauna not to be in the thick of it given her place in the current dynamics, but we have seen her being a little less bought in (“run”) and could def imagine that jackie’s death further splits her from lottie. sounds dangerous for shauna!

    • I was also wondering if the entire cannibalism premise was a red herring, and that Pit Girl was maybe just a sacrifice to attract a bigger animal for food. But yeah the writers confirmed it will happen.

      I think the thing they’re hiding is that they hunted and killed each other as part of a sinister wilderness cult. Misty’s dark smile when Jessica was like “so you ate each other? so what” implied that was barely scratching the surface of what went on.


    I can’t remember the last time I was so obsessed with a show! I’ve fully gone down the rabbit hole of reading theories and dissecting clues. One of the minor details I really loved is that the final shot of Taissa smiling when she wins the election is the shot of grown up Taissa from the opening credits! The fact that there are little hints even in the opening credits shows how much care and thought the showrunners put into this.

    I’ve already started casting adult Lottie and adult Van, someone suggested Shannyn Sossamon for adult Lottie and it would fit perfectly with the 90s icon casting for the grown up Yellowjackets.

    My one complaint with this season, which I hope they work on next season, is I would have liked more interiority/character development from Teen!Misty. I love what Christina Ricci does with Adult!Misty but I want to know more about what’s going on in Teen!Misty’s head given that she’s carrying this HUGE secret about destroying the black box. Yes she’s a follower and joiner, yes she likes being needed, but how is she feeling watching her teammates die knowing she could have prevented that? Misty is wild but she’s not lacking emotions, I have to imagine there’s SOME guilt there. Do we think the other Yellowjackets will find out her secret or that she’ll eventually tell them?

    In the present day, I definitely think that Misty is either working for Lottie’s cult or somehow playing all sides, basically whatever works out best for her. I lean more towards Tai making that sacrifice in her dissociated state given what we saw of her skepticism in the past but who knows! People change! Honestly, sacrificing a dog to win an election is probably not the worst thing a politician has done lol.

    • oooh yes i’m so excited to learn more about teen!misty’s interiority!! i think it makes sense that we didn’t see it in this season, which had a lot of other pieces to set up & follow through on, but now that we’re pretty well established i’d love to learn more about misty

    • My issue with Misty being involved with the cult in 2021 is that it makes her whole arc with Jessica meaningless: she kidnapped her because she thought Jessica killed Travis, or knew who did. If she was in on the cult shit then she wouldn’t need Jessica for intel. (This is all assuming Lottie / the cult killed Travis, which is what I think the ending implies)

  8. Also, thank you so much Kayla for these INCREDIBLE recaps! I’ve always loved your writing but I really do think part of why I’ve been so obsessed with the show is that I look forward to your take every week.

  9. Just going to list notes my gf and me came up with after watching the finale.
    Is Jessica Roberts dead? We assumed Misty poisoned her with fentanyl, like she thereatened to do to Jessica’s father. Does fentanyl instantly kill?
    Still don’t know what happens with Shauna’s first baby.
    What happened to Javi? The article covered how Adam Martin could have been involved in the cult. Maybe why he invited Shauna camping for the weekend.
    I think maybe Taissa turns into/acts like a wolf when she’s sleepwalking and that she actually attacked Van In the woods. Tai told her wife she is dangerous when she sleepwalks. Why? How? But none of the other girls said this in explaining what happened to Van. Actually we never heard an explanation of what happened to Van.
    Finally, who should play adult Lottie next season? My gf is rooting for Eva Green from Penny Dreadful.

    • To answer your first point while Fent is not like, an insta-kill, JR has no tolerance (she’d have gotten dopesick if she had) and if someone isn’t there within literally a couple minutes with naloxone she’s gone so, could go either way but likely dead.

      • It was helpful to her that she passed out blowing the car horn, because she will get medical help quickly. Just that she’s a fixer sets up her trying to blackmail them or get an exclusive on a book, instead of going to the police.

        When Shauna explained to Jeff how she perceived that the truth about the Yellowjackets would destroy all their lives, including Callie’s life, I couldn’t help but think that all their lives were destined for certain destruction. No matter what heinous acts any of them take in the future, they are all bound to cover up any crimes, so their lives (and the lives of their families) will not be destroyed.

        Does anyone think that Callie took the journals and read them? Do you think she will exert more agency in the subsequent seasons?

      • Point taken. In my mind, the adult versions of the characters should be people with some “star” appeal, I.e. Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis who is somewhat age appropriate. Finding that and someone with the same ethnic mixture as Christina Eaton may be difficult.

        • Difficult maybe, but important to at least try to get it right – everyone involved in the show, including Courtney herself, have said it’s crucial to cast someone with a similar ethnic background. Others have suggested Shannyn Sossamon, who would be great – she’s got the 90s background and she’s part Hawaiian and part Filipino, which is obviously not the same as Chinese and Maori, but it’s at least someone who’s mixed Asian/Polynesian.

  10. Can’t stop thinking about this show!

    They haven’t addressed Travis’s note: tell nat she was right. Misty just found the impression. Who received the actual note?

    When shauna and tai discuss tai paying for mat’s rehab, tai notes that she pays because nat “saved” them. How did nat save them? From the cult? Because nat and Travis have not been present for much of the cult advancement like the bear.

    Lottie is the heiress who could finance a cult 25 years later. There were men with the kidnappers

    It’s heartbreaking how each of the characters must sacrifice healthy supportive relationships to hide their guilt and shame — Kevyn who nat cared enough about to share news of their relationship with tai and shauna, Simone for tai.

    In a way, the men are actually loyal, supportive, forgiving, nonjudgmental. Adam, jeff, Kevyn. My perspective on jeff definitely began to change when he stuck up for shauna with Jackie’s parents. There is a simplicity and honesty to his thinking. He just says it as it is. No dissembling. And Simone too. There is too much self loathing in the survivors and of course the pathological need to hide their pasts that makes each of them destroy supportive relationships.

      • I bet it’s something like, “we can’t ever escape from the Lottie / the wilderness cult and one day they’ll find us”. It doesn’t seem like Nat knows Lottie is still alive because I feel like that would have come up when they were discussing the postcards and blackmail. But she could have said something along those lines, like “we may have escaped, but we’ll never really ESCAPE”. I do wonder if Nat, Shauna and Tai all resisted Lottie’s cult or defected, and then left those people in the woods when rescue came. Maybe Misty switched allegiances and helped them escape somehow, which would be fitting in terms of how she’s a slippery bitch who has no true loyalty but just needs to be needed.

  11. Lottie quickly became one of my fav 96 characters. I am still processing this episode. It was lingering and slow not in a bad way but in a ‘I’m slowly dying of consumption way’ and I loved it. Also, I’m looking at the directors of other episodes and um WHAT THE FUCK ep 4 was directed by DEEPA MEHTA????? Wow, I missed that.

  12. Not to be a Lottie, but from the start I’ve felt that the plot isn’t as complicated as we want it to be. But not in a bad way (I’ve worried that some episodes but this finale reassured me). In the way Kayla points out here – that characters behave consistently and the true horror is in what people do to each other. I still want there to not be a supernatural force or actually more, I want that to never be resolved like it is never resolved in our real lives. I’ve had weird things happen to me in the mountains and I’ve never known if they were products of my mind or the place. And I’ve never known if that matters – either way, there was a specific hill I never climbed. Does it matter if anything was up there, or if I’m left forever not knowing but wondering?

    Which brings me to Adam. I love a good cult story, so won’t be upset if he’s involved. It wouldn’t be that hard to get someone to rear end you. But! It’s more horrifying, and more true to Shauna, if he is just Some Dude(tm). Some dude who was genuine and kind and she cared for, some dude she used her own paranoia to justify cheating on her husband with, some dude she started to care for and who cared for her and so instead of getting closer she killed him. And then cut up his body in his bathtub. And convinced herself that she was somehow, in a fucked up way, threatened. That like Jackie, he forced her hand. That’s all more in line with Shauna’s character than that Adam is a cult member trying to manipulate her. And from the tiny glimpse we’ve seen of the cult, slow and careful plotting doesn’t really seem to be their MO.

    I’ve never doubted that Lottie was the antler queen or that she wasn’t the girl in the pilot. I suppose she still could be, we don’t know that Lottie Matthews is alive and not some martyred leader whose right hand follower, Van, now leads the cult in her stead. But again, and to echo Kayla, I don’t think the genius of this plot is in twists and turns but in the trick of making us expect twists and turns.

    Which makes me wonder about Tai. The intentionality of the alter was the twist there – not Simone finding Biscuit’s head or even the heart (I favor the it’s Adam’s heart theory – we know she went home between torso duty and the reunion. Biscuit was a small dog.). While the symbol, alter, and bloody remains were the shocking parts for the first watching, Sammy’s doll is the most horrific piece there. Also was it eyeless? I have to check but when she found it on the floor that night it was. Did she do that, or did Sammy? I’m thinking it was her. I don’t know about this whole sleepwalking fugue state disassociation bit. It doesn’t feel like enough of a simple answer because building an alter in a secret crawl space, killing a dog, and then bringing its head down there, are all pretty sophisticated behaviors. But what if, like Shauna convinces herself that Jackie and Jeff and Adam all “make” her do terrible things to them, Tai convinces herself that her sleep walking is entirely out of her control. What if there’s an element of suspension of disbelief in her own actions? And I love the heartbreaking idea that it’s tied to Van and I think that could be part of it for sure. During the attack in the woods, wolves or whatever, she’s or just up in the tree with the only weapons they have – she’s also wearing Van’s protective bone amulet. We know Tai is out for herself but convinced that her selfish behaviors are driven by good for the whole (breaking Allie’s leg = good for the team but teen Tai is the only one who wants Allie out, continuing her campaign=For Simone and Sammy, but neither of them wants it and both are suffering because of it). Maybe teen Tai wanted to believe but it went too far against what she saw as her rational personality, so she developed that split response to the cult while in the woods – her rational waking brain insistent that she has nothing to do with it and no belief, her unconscious sleeping brain driven by a desire to always come out on top and make sense of a senseless world in a way her rational self won’t let her.
    The more I think about Tai (who is one of my faves, this isn’t hating on Tai!) the more all of her actions against her son disturb me. She hide in a tree outside his window. Hides the paint under his bed. Sacrifices his dog and his doll. The night she is most upset with him is the night his doll is found with it’s eyes gouged out and a pile of twisted limbs. Horrifying, and heartbreaking. Waking Tai clearly loves Sammy. But theres something else going on – did Sammy come between her and what she wanted (Simone), does Sammy’s innocence remind her of everything she lost? Is she afraid to love Sammy because of whatever happened with her and Van, who was really only a child herself?

  13. some random thoughts / favorite moments!!

    -when Nat sees Misty’s tupperware (MISTY’S DO NOT TOUCH) that she used as a cover for getting stuff from work and Nat says “are you planning on taking leftovers?” and then there’s this FLICKER of a look on Nat’s face after, like she just remembered the full context, I found this tiny moment so hilarious and sad

    -something I haven’t seen talked a lot about is Lottie’s possible internalized guilt & trauma from the plane being her dad’s plane??? I think on top of her mental illness + running out of meds + trauma + shrooms induced psychosis there’s some sort of mental break happening under the surface there & part of why she is grasping for control

    -I kinda liked Jackie this episode as the only one being like WTF YOU GUYS YOU ALMOST ATE TRAVIS??? and how outsized the teen drama is contrasted with this very real concern, but also how real the drama is for everyone experiencing it! And Jackie dying this way is so much more sad than if she had been pit girl and it gives a new dimension to Shauna’s grief

    -more re: Jackie’s death, I thought it was weird at first that Ben didn’t go out to get her, like after the other girls had gone to bed or something, but I guess this just shows how much he has also given up and how powerless he feels (and is)… I’m pretty sure if he still had his leg he’d just have gone out and carried her back inside but he realizes he can’t really do anything, physically. I wonder if they’ll do anything with this in the next season, like part of Ben REALLY realizing he has no power despite nominally being the “adult”

  14. My new theory is that Lottie survived the woods. When she got home, she got some help, got back on her meds, and her life trajectory looked relatively “normal” for a while, at least as normal as life could be for any of them. She fell off the radar as everyone moved on with their lives.

    But maybe something happened and she got off her meds again. She starts having visions. The forest demands a sacrifice!

    She connects with some of the others – maybe Van is alive, and maybe Misty has been working with Lottie all along. They were her original two believers, after all!

    UGH I love this show and your recaps so much, Kayla! Thank you so much for writing these every week! I can’t wait for season 2 and for all the actors’ cute social media content in the meanwhile.

  15. The scene that I wish we’d gotten more of is actually the deeply ill-advised slideshow at the reunion. At first the adult Yellowjackets look annoyed, a little insulted (except Misty, who characteristically smiles chaotically). Then as the pictures go through, we see Shauna looking almost…bored? Barely even looking at the screen until Jackie’s picture comes up, then you can see the guilt and anguish she’s shoving down. Nat, meanwhile, is visibly affected when a large picture of Travis is shown, and Misty smiles fondly at a picture of Coach Ben.

    But where was Taissa’s reaction to seeing the very focused picture of Van? Whether or not Van makes it out of the wilderness, and although we know their relationship certainly doesn’t, there’s no way Tai isn’t as viscerally, inexorably tied to Van in the same way Nat is to Travis. Perhaps even more so, because Van and Tai’s relationship seems to predate the wilderness. I find it curious that it hasn’t come up at all, that once the slideshow starts, Taissa is cut out of every frame in a way that feels narratively deliberate.

    I suspect that with Simone’s discovery of Tai’s altar, we’re about to learn a lot about Van’s fate and how their relationship impacts Adult Tai, but I guess I’ll have to wait to see what season two brings.

    • I do feel like I can see the writers pulling strings a little too much when it comes to withholding who’s still alive. Wouldn’t living survivors have been mentioned at the reunion even if they didn’t show up?

      • One thing I did notice was the slideshow at the reunion seemingly confirmed Ben as dead, his picture showing while Allie says “were” and that Akilah is (I think) alive bc it shows two black women – as she says “and still are.” Presumably one is Tai but the pictures aren’t super great quality so idk

        • Allie created the slideshow, right? she might have just cut Taissa out of every image because she’s still mad at her for breaking her leg (and keeping her from both soccer-glory and trauma-glory)

  16. My new theory is that they really make a mistake with Jackie’s diary and now it’s like: oh, sure, of course is a character easter egg with no meaning at all. Yeah, sure, it was Shauna *wink, wink*

    Shauna is the one that really scares me, she shows no guilt at all!!!
    Even Misty shows more emotions. I wish there was a more character development with her.

    This was the best Kayla. Thank you.

  17. This ruled.

    I posted this in the subreddit & got some gentle pushback but I love the way they used Jackie. I think she’ll be the last innocent death we get on this show. Her only sin was being a kid in a situation where they no longer had that luxury and it cost her life.

    If creepy cabin guy denotes that this is an Overlook situation that’s also so, SO sad for Laura Lee who only wanted to see the kingdom of heaven and yet is stuck in these godforsaken woods.

    My current wild theory is that Lottie’s dad was part of a cult that Lottie inherited & the entire crash & them being stranded was intended as some sort of sacrifice for that cult? I know he’s presented as a skeptic in her flashbacks but why not lets get weird with it.

    I loved Shauna going to taste the bear blood – it read to me as her sort of giving in to the feral side of herself that’s emerging. I had the same thought about the jackie journal thing, she’s even the one writing in it in the flashback where they’re both on jackie’s bed.

    These recaps are the best, can’t wait for s2!!

  18. Thank you so much for your recaps!! No one in my life watches the show, so your recaps (and the twitter discourse lol) are all I have.

    Alright, now my actual comment: I agree that Adam is probably just a guy that Shauna has an affair with and something that Melanie Lynsky said in an interview really stayed with me: She said that people seem to want to find a “reason” for Adams existance and don’t belive, that he just finds Shauna attractive and doesn’t have an ulterior motive. She said it with regards to body and beauty norms in the movie/tv industry and it made me think about theories and what they are influenced by.
    (the interview is in Rolling Stone, the things she said about her experiece with “Heavenly Creatures” are also very intresting but unfortunately not surprising)

    • I think that is a really great point (about who we’re willing to see as a believable object of desire) AND I think if he is just some guy, Adam has serious issues with boundaries that make him seem suspicious. Showing up at her house in the middle of the night and then provoking her to let him in probably makes sense for both “some guy” and “suspicious guy who is not what he seems”!

  19. I’m frustrated at the lack of a finished arc. But that’s not reasonable as this was never intended to be a single season project.

    I DO find it uncomfortable that, with the huge notoriety the Yellowjackets received, the question of who else survived is used as a supply of teasers. Surely all our protagonists would know that Lottie came out of the woods too. But they never seem to mention or think about that, even as they try to learn about Travis?

    19 months in the woods… If the soccer nationals were at the end of the school year, and Shauna is just starting to be visibly pregnant weeks/months before the first snow; we are probably facing TWO winters in the woods. Lots of time for the masked cannibal cult to take shape.

    I do think Taissa is knowingly involved with Lottie’s cult. Another decade-spanning secret. I don’t think Adam is just some rando. I do wonder about what went on in the woods before the crash (dead guy, symbol etc.) I’m wondering if there’s going to be a Shining ‘Injun Burial Ground’ subplot.

    PS: The gun Nat is set to kill herself with is not a shotgun, it’s an ‘old fashioned’ lever action rifle. I’m no expert, but could it be the same one from the cabin? Or did Nat get a duplicate for some deep scary reason?

    • I think it’s reasonable to believe that although they know who was rescued, they don’t necessarily know who all is still alive or what they’re up to 24ish years later – although you’d think their death(s), if any died after being rescued, would make at least regional news, and they have a strong motivation to keep tabs on each other (more than other people who graduated together). But others could be off the grid like Travis was.

    • When Nat came back to NJ in the pilot, she got the car from the storage unit and specifically checked on a rifle in the trunk. When my partner and I were rewatching I said “Oh I bet that’s the rifle from the woods” but my partner noticed that it has a scope in 2021 but no scope in 1996. So either she modded it (doable, I think?) or it’s a different rifle. Definitely reminiscent of the woods, though, even if not intended to be the exact same gun.

      • Sort of an echo. She sought out a similar gun when she decided to get a rifle. Clearly she was familiar with one like it.
        And what has she been living on all these years? Taissa footed the bill for a VERY pricey rehab, apparently more than once, but she has a $50K car sitting in storage?

  20. I am stupidly very upset with Shauna like she’s a real person. Terrible friend! Terrible person! She doesn’t have Jackie to blame for her unhappiness. The Jackie ghost from earlier was right, it WAS totally her fault. If Shauna had been freezing out there, Jackie would have been there for her, I’m convinced of that.

    Also she’s way too OK about killing someone who was ultimately innocent.

    • Yeah if the roles had been reversed Jackie would have sulked for maybe a couple of hours, but I think she would have gone out to Shauna and brought her back in. That was ice cold (sorry) of Shauna and the others. I think Jackie had the most humanity left in her, despite her flaws and lack of wilderness survival skills. She lashes out and says bitchy things but she was horrified at what the others did to Travis, and she would never leave her friend out in the cold alone all night.

  21. I think Adam is just some guy, but that he is connected to Javi in that Shauna is the cause of both their deaths (I think Javi dies on Doomcoming night) and that she is fairly indifferent about that. It’s shocking how unconcerned the girls are that Javi has gone missing since the Doomcoming.
    I also think the symbol in the woods is just at the cabin, carved by Cabin Guy for an unknown reason, and the Lottie will notice it and take it on as the symbol of her cult.

  22. Fantastic recap! It was so good, I had to re-watch the pilot. I remembered Lottie took a prescription but didn’t know for what. I stopped on the scene and it’s loxapine – so she’s on meds for schizophrenia, which she ran out of in the woods. I mean, I thought season one was trippy and brutal – can’t wait for season 2!

    And whoever mentioned Shannyn Sossamon as adult Lottie, she’d be perfect. Personally, I’d like to see Michelle Rodriguez if she has the chops. Let’s make the show even gayer, amirite?

    Also, teenage girls are the fucking worst.

  23. Thank you again for these amazing recaps!

    Is anyone else really worried about Nat, Travis and Javi out in the woods overnight? If it was cold enough for Jackie to freeze to death, it likely wasn’t good for the three of them.

  24. Yes, Adam’s back tattoo is definitely going to bite them in the ass later! I can just see Misty’s exasperation with the other women, for being so negligent about this huge detail. Like, Hey I can totally cover up a murder and dispose of a body for you, but geez, WORK WITH ME, PEOPLE!

    Although I also wonder if Misty tripped up as well with Jessica’s car. If she actually did put gas in the tank, etc, someone (or a security camera somewhere) might connect her to JR’s car.

    If it comes to that I have no doubt that Misty will wriggle out of it — weirdly, she’s actually the most clear-sighted of the women, in some ways. But it would be great fun watching her manipulate that particular situation!

  25. Outside of the WTF of the cult inclusion at the end, this episode made me feel pretty sad. (I’m hoping the cult jumped in to “save” Nat, like how Misty jumped in earlier, and not try to do what happened to Travis. If it’s the former, how many cameras are in Nat’s room…)

    I thought it was so interesting that the writers went the route of “Death by Teenage Drama” rather than the horrors of ep. 1. It reminds me of 28 Days Later, and how the awfulness of humanity (the soldiers) trumped the zombies surrounding them.

    So interesting to see Young Misty flip. Jackie had gone and done her make-up for Doomcoming and provided (maybe not-the-best) guy advice, and then after the tide has fully turned, Misty calls out that Jackie didn’t say thank you in the impromptu bear prayer.

    I hope Javi found some cave or something to shield himself and Nat and Travis are there. The only other shelter I could think about was the plane.

    It feels like Nat is the last questioning person in camp. (She’s the only one who looks for Travis. A similar mirror to adult Nat and her single-minded focus.) I wonder if her earlier trauma experiences has her more set-up to not slide into denial whereas Shauna told Jackie to shut up when she mentioned what happened with Travis. It seems like the group just doesn’t want to think about what they did.

    My assumption is that Jessica Roberts is dead, but it would be cool if she wasn’t. I appreciate her as a foil for Misty and she has a similar chaotic survival nature that would be interesting to see play out more. As Tai hired her, I now wonder if she was hired because of the campaign, or because of the cult as well…..

  26. What if all the Yellowjackets needed was to play Shakespeare?

    You get it? Station eleven? Hehehe, I tweet that but nobody appreciate it, I know everyone have bettertaste here, right, right? Oh God, I’m a

  27. Thank you for these wonderfully thoughtful recaps Kayla, they’ve been an essential part of my Yellowjackets watching experience – they’re THE yj recap to read, in fact – and I had tears by the end of this last one.

    I am feeling BEREFT about Jackie but I appreciated the pairing of her and Jessica – both drifted off to sleep, both had Misty as a catalyst, both expressed a certain nihilism in the lead up, both thought they’d got what they wanted out of a situation…but the pointlessness of it all is so heartbreaking and Jackie’s dream in particular is going to haunt me for a long, long time. And now I’m just praying that the lead up to season 2 isn’t as drawn out as The Wilds is.

  28. I’m really pissed off about Jackie’s journal, tbh! Saying they didn’t think fans would pause to read for clues – it’s 2021! That’s just lazy and bad prop work. If they wanted to create ‘character easter eggs’, fine – make them films that had already come out! Including Bring It On, a film that came out in 2000, infuriates me. How could they not think that would make people theorise Jackie survives?

    And now they’re deliberately trying to make us look stupid, joking about how people thought Jackie was a time traveler (which: who thought that???). It’s just sloppy and makes me think less of the showrunners. I still obviously love the show and will continue to watch, but I have trust issues now!

    • Also, I’m sure they will retcon the journal next season and have it be Shauna who wrote those entries, but that’s ass covering IMO. There have been other anachronisms, like Tai and Van’s whole conversation about the Spice Girls – Wannabe didn’t even hit the US charts until January 1997, so how could they have such established opinions about a group they probably hadn’t even heard of yet? It’s a small detail, sure, but it takes me out of the storytelling and makes me doubt the integrity and intelligence of the writers.

    • i’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this season — they didn’t expect to blow up this much, can’t have expected us all to get as into analyzing every last detail — but now that they know, now that they’ve had the experience with the journal, they really have to step it up moving forward.
      (and i’m shocked, based on the props people i’ve worked with, that they didn’t think about continuity when writing the journal. the only halfway reasonable explanation i can come up with is that they really didn’t think anybody would notice that much and prioritized picking media that did the character work they wanted. very sloppy and shakes my trust, but, again, willing to give another chance)

      • Yeah I need to try and move past it, lol, but right now I’m still in disbelief that something that seemed so intentional was just a dumb error. Like in the entire process that would have gone into creating the journal entries and filming them – zooming in on them! – nobody thought to question the inclusion of the extremely millennial film Bring It On. Personally, if I had my own TV show, I would be meticulous about details like this, even if I thought nobody would catch it! But I don’t, so.

        • lmao I NEED to move past this journal thing too, like I want to believe that it’s on purpose! But there’s still this doubt, even though it’s such a momentary detail that, had I been watching this just on TV twenty years ago, I never would have noticed.

          I think maybe I’m hung up on it because it was the last flicker of hope that Jackie would live and that hope got thoroughly extinguished, or should I say frozen, in the last episode. And also because I just honestly don’t get how you could confuse those movies for being pre-1996.

          • I’m pretty sure the show runners said in an interview that the list was movies Shauna thought Jackie would like of she survived.

    • Having worked in TV it gives me sympathy-cringe, like when that Starbucks cup showed up on Game of thrones. I used to think if I made a show I’d never let a mistake like that happen, but then it’s a chaotic process with like 100 different people collaborating at warp speed to execute a vision that only the like, 3 busiest people are completely clear on. Add in shooting during covid and I’m like hey at least there wasn’t a Starbucks cup in the wilderness! (or is that where they got the hot chocolate?? lol)

  29. Yet again you killed it, Kayla. Thank you for these amazing recaps- I’m as sad to have to wait for these as I am to have to wait for the next season!

    A few reunion-related things have me puzzled (and maybe they’re intentional and will be explained later).

    Allie’s role at the reunion is odd to me. I know some have theorized that the age gap (since Allie was JV and a freshman at the time of the crash) can be explained by the team falling behind academically and having to catch up after they return to civilization. Maybe, but that doesn’t explain Jeff and Randy still being in the same year (unless they both flunked several grades). Perhaps she’s volunteered for the role (since she is clearly obsessed with the group), but her role as class chair seems a bit odd if she’s not a member of their class.

    Jackie being prom queen is also strange knowing now that she definitively died out there. Was this a posthumous nod? Or are they acknowledging an earlier prom vs the senior one based on everyone’s timelines being way off due to the crash and collective trauma surrounding it? I’m guessing it’s the former, but if it is then Jeff and Jackie never got their dance together in the first place (so calling on Shauna to take her place her seems less weird, since that was probably what happened in round 1 anyway).

    Ok, and in the woods, why are Nat and Travis the only two showing any concern for missing Javi?!? Even prior to Jackie’s death, why aren’t they organizing a search party for their youngest individual? I get that a lot is going on, but really? No one else thinks this is a fairly pressing issue?
    And after Jackie dies, he’s still not there. Nat and Travis are. I don’t think this necessarily guarantees his demise, but it seems strange that they aren’t more worried about him out in the frozen wilderness alone.

    So excited to see where all of this is going!! Season 2, you can’t come soon enough.

    • Allie retroactively being in their grade definitely doesn’t make sense! Also, what happened in her life to give her that accent 25 years later? Hahahaha.

      I’m not American so my understanding of your dances and other customs is fuzzy, but maybe they were homecoming king and queen? That happens at the beginning of the school year, right? So before the crash, which was sometime in late spring/early summer.

      Literally nobody in the cabin acknowledging Javi was so funny. For a second I was like…did Shauna just hallucinate Javi? She was the only one who ever interacted with him! But then I remembered Travis and Nat obviously have, and that would have obviously been a very stupid plotline. (I was never on the Javi is Adam train, but I think the writers definitely wanted us to suspect that! Every scene of young Shauna and Javi was immediately followed by a scene with Adam. And his name is Adam MARTIN? As in, MARTIN….ez? come on.)

    • Jeff mentioned to Shauna in the previous episode that he was “homecoming royalty.” So I assumed he and Jackie were homecoming king and queen.

      Allie has spent the last 25 years trying to make the Yellowjackets tragedy hers. (I loved the way Jeff’s wearied delivery made it clear how many times he personally has heard her say that she was almost on the plane that day.) I figured it was a situation where she basically insisted on organizing the Class of 1996 reunion in order to keep associating herself with the plane crash, and nobody else really wanted to do the work and so they let her handle everything.

  30. I think the man seen in the shadows of Jackie’s (shauna’s?) dream and by Van after “it” happened, etc. is death itself, personified. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions there is Yama, lord of death, which can show itself to people in different ways depending on their propensities. It seems fitting with the way this show paints hazily the line between real and supernatural that the very real and ever present fear of death could manifest in near real aka human like form.

  31. Misty not only hiding the cigarettes in the trash so that she gets Jessica to ask for her own death, but also telling her “do you have any idea how bad those things are for you?” is the most Misty thing ever.

  32. First time commenting. I’ve been enjoying your analysis as this show has taken over my life.

    Over the last few episodes, I’ve suspected cannibalism was a red herring, and now I’m all the more convinced of it. The killings are ritual sacrifices. When the girls spill human blood, the forest provides food. The forest gave them a bear either because of blood spilled during the Doomcoming orgy and/or because Javi is dead. It’s possible Lottie, Misty and Van (and maybe others) ritually sacrificed Javi, unbeknownst to the rest of the group.

    I predict that, next season, we’ll see the adults struggling with the possibility that ritual sacrifice helps them gain what they desire in the civilized world just as it apparently did in the wilderness.

    Consider this:

    Tai may not have been a believer in the woods, but I think she knows what she did to Biscuit, and I think she connects it to her miraculous win.

    Adam miraculously entered Shauna’s life after she killed that first rabbit in her garden. I think he really is just a random guy… but maybe, just maybe, he was under the spell of the demonic forces Lottie has connected with.

    Travis worked at a ranch. Interesting job choice. The wax Misty found at the scene of his death may have been from candles used for a ritualistic animal sacrifice. His death by hanging is curious, since hangings don’t involve SPILLING blood, so I don’t think it makes sense that the candles had anything to do with his death.

    If Shauna’s journals contain detailed descriptions of how they performed those ritual sacrifices, Jeff–who read the journals–may have tried his own hand at the supernatural to turn his failing business around. Maybe Bianca and the “bad loan people” are connected to Lottie’s cult.

    I think a dominant theme for season two will be the price of worldly success. As with season one, the show will give us plausible reasons for things that happen, but will also hint that ritual sacrifice can actually yield worldly rewards in civilized society as well as the wilderness.

    ONE FINAL OBSERVATION: I just re-watched the pilot. When Shauna and Tai are at the diner, Shauna asks if Tai has heard from any of the others besides Nat. “No,” Tai says. “Not for months.” I have not seen this clue discussed. What happened months ago? Who were they in touch with?

    Thanks again for providing a smart, fun place to talk about this show. :)

    • These are some interesting things to ponder. I do still think there will be cannibalism, but I also am certain it will be more tied to ritual sacrifice than hunger. I’m really intrigued by Tai’s alter/sacrifice situation – especially all of the ties to Sammy in her “sleepwalking” – and I think since the show is already playing with the idea that we interpret reality in a way that casts us as ‘the good guys’ and find ways to justify or ignore the parts of us we don’t like, the Tai/cult/Biscuit/sacrifice connection is going to lean into those ideas pretty hard. I love the other blood sacrifice brings about material good lines you’re drawing here, particularly because those material goods are all bad things that the characters instigate or work to create for themselves yet destroy the small, truly good things they seem to have in their lives. Tai gives up the stability she craves, the wife and son she clearly loves, for her political win. Jeff might not have been as exciting or as good at seeing Shauna as who she is as Adam was, but even before Adam showed up we saw evidence that Jeff was committed to making things work with Shauna (especially in retrospect, knowing there wasn’t an affair). And back in 96, the bear feeds them, but ultimately leads to the argument that leads to Jackie’s death.

      • brx, Yes–some of the characters may believe the occult is bringing “good fortune” into their lives, but like any deal with the devil in any horror story, there’s a catch. (The show’s creators have professed their love of Stephen King. In novels like Pet Sematary and Thinner, among others, King has played with the whole wishes-come-true-and-then-you’re-fucked theme. I may need to give them a re-read.)

        I’m not sure why there would be cannibalism if the forest provides the food they need. But I’m inclined to think Tai, not a wolf, attacked Van’s face. Maybe Teen Tai and Teen Lottie become heads of rival tribes. I’m not good at predicting plot points, but I’m pretty stoked about my thematic prediction, haha.

  33. So, I think there’s two threads to the Taissa occult angle:

    When Nat says her “Travis didn’t believe any of this shit.” line it’s to Taissa, giving me the impression that Taissa either gives credence to that angle or at the very least acknowledges the weight the occult/the symbol had in the woods. She doesn’t dismiss Nat’s theory about the wax completely.

    Secondly, while young Taissa is definitely sceptical about Lottie and the burgeoning beliefs in the group, sleepwalking Taissa isn’t. When she wakes up in the tree she has the protective bone amulet around her neck and, sure enough, it kept her safe from the woods. So while adult Taissa would definitely not sacrifice the family dog for political influence, the “bad” one certainly would.

    And I doubt very much that they’re going to eat Jackie. Properly prepared, that bear meat will definitely keep them for a while, so unless they’re planning on making Jackie Jerky(tm) instead of bear jerky there isn’t any real impetus for them to go full on cannibal and eat the corpse while it’s fresh.

  34. Thank you for these recaps, Kayla!! They’ve been a highlight of the Yellowjackets experience for me and I have been reporting all of the insights from your recaps and the comments to my girlfriend, who is also obsessed!

    I am hoping someone can answer a question for me!! When the A+ server shut down yesterday I was just about to read something about there being a production reason for why Misty, or maybe Van, was in the pilot pit/ritual scene, maybe?? It seemed super interesting/informative but then it disappeared into the ether. Can someone remember/explain?!?

    • They were filming the opening sequence when Covid restrictions kept most of the cast from being there, so it’s all stunt doubles except Misty because that actor could be there. I also read in an interview that they’ve been purposefully having all the characters share clothing – specifically they mentioned the red converse in that opening part, a number of characters have worn them. Except Jackie who doesn’t share her clothing. I think that’s what you were referencing at least!

  35. When Shauna told Nat that Travis may just have killed himself because of what they all experienced, she was opening the door to the pact between Nat and Travis. Nat said that they agreed they would never, ever kill themselves. If Travis did, that then allowed Nat to put the gun under her chin. So Shauna’s attempt to explain away almost resulted in Nat’s death.

    Excellent recap. Will miss your recaps as much as I’ll miss the show… until Season 2.

    • I so agree. And the ambiguity is whether Shauna said that because she wanted to offer an explanation that would provide solace to Nat, or whether she wanted Nat to stop investigating a connection between the blackmailer (Jeff) and the murder of Travis, or a bit of both. But it reminds me that Shauna is the smartest person in the room and quickly manipulates anyone — like Callie trying to control Shauna with her knowledge about the affair. Since I liked Shauna from the beginning, especially her kindness towards Javi, it’s hard for me to recognize the monstrousness of her psychopathic actions — like her apparent nonchalance about the Adam killing.

  36. I spent so much time theorizing in the server but I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you Kayla for everything you brought to these recaps. These have been such a high point over these past few weeks!

  37. Oh! I do have something to add. Apologies if someone else mentioned it already in the 127+ comments on this! Sic transit gloria mundi can also refer to a specific part of the ceremony of the coronation of the pope. (No longer used since Vatican II according to Sadie.) And in this, we do see Lottie moving into power as a spiritual leader of the group. The sic transit gloria mundi is also literally performed while kneeling, so there’s that.

  38. i think all my thoughts have already been commented! love love love these recaps and really enjoyed the A+ watchalong~

    season two hopes: development for the 1996 girls outside our mains! what’s akilah’s deal, what’s mari’s deal, what are the background yellowjackets’ names? i know some of that is covid filming restrictions- why have the full cast of survivors when they don’t all have lines? but it’s getting more frustrating the deeper we go!

    i’m still here banging my ‘laura lee isn’t dead’ drum- i refuse to believe anyone is dead until we see a body! i think jackie/shauna seeing her in the dying dream along with jacques the attic skeleton means *they* think she’s dead

    it would be very interesting for laura lee to find the survivors again and be faced with this cult/religion lottie has built in her grief- maybe that’s what triggers a back-to-reality moment!

    van my sweet summer child, joining the woods religion is not the best way to cope with this trauma! unfortch it is the best choice you have, so. this arc should be interesting.

    really love the commenter above who pointed out that misty’s throwing jackie under the bus took place after jackie was kind to her- doing her makeup, talking about boys, etc. teen misty is RUTHLESS

    does bear like. taste good? if you haven’t been starving in the woods that is

    last episode, we saw that jackie wasn’t eating or drinking, presumably because she was resigned to their collective fate and ready to die. that would have a big impact on her ability to survive hypothermia! if she was that much more malnourished and had that many fewer calories to fall back on, she easily could’ve fallen asleep never to wake.

    but seriously WHERE is javi

  39. Uh oh. Something I can’t now unthink – What if the bear was actually Javi coming back and they all mass hallucinated and killed him. And ate him. Because they could not accept what they were actually doing.

    That could explain the bear’s approach and lying down in front of Lottie.

  40. Re: Jackie’s death. (Sorry if anyone else has said something similar here already)

    I just saw a snippet of an interview with one of the show creators (it was a screenshot so i’m not sure which publication it was from) who said that, essentially, Jackie’s character was most symbolic of the civilized society, with it’s structure and rules, that they left behind after the crash, and that she had to die in order for the descent into cannibalism to begin.

    We all saw how poorly she adapted to life in the woods: she didn’t willingly participate in the daily chores, her only contribution to the group was to facilitate activities that were much more suited to sleepovers than to surviving in the wilderness (though they did provide necessary, if brief, emotional & psychological reprieve), and even as she started to lose hope and became more isolated, she still played passive aggressive mind games with Shauna and went after Nat like a schoolyard bully. And none of this is meant to pass judgement on Jackie. It’s just so clear that she was the most unwilling and/or unable to leave behind the suburban high school girl mindset, even after so many months in the woods.

    We see the woods bring out something hidden or lying dormant in almost all of the other girls, most notably Misty, Lottie, Shauna, Nat, and Taissa. But there’s really no discernible evolution for Jackie.

    Kayla, you kept mentioning that you believed that Ben, as the last adult in the woods, would have to die in order for the group to be free to become the cult we saw in the pilot. And I think that line of thinking was absolutely correct and very insightful, it was just aimed at the wrong character.

    Instead, it’s Jackie who serves as the symbolic and necessary death. She really was the group’s last, incredibly thin, thread connecting them back to civilization, back to their old lives and their old selves. Now that she’s dead, there’s really no one to remind them of who they used to be back in NJ, so they’re completely free to become new people. And those new people are apparently cultists who carry out ritualistic murder and cannibalism in order to appease some unknown (perhaps supernatural) entity in the woods and to ensure their own survival. But you know, desperate times, desperate measures and all that. (lol jk jk)

    I was late to the Yellowjackets party, but I’m fully obsessed now, and I’ve really enjoyed reading your recaps, they’re insightful and entertaining, and I can’t wait to continue speculating while we wait for season two!

    • I think this is really spot on! “Instead, it’s Jackie who serves as the symbolic and necessary death. She really was the group’s last, incredibly thin, thread connecting them back to civilization, back to their old lives and their old selves.” You’re right! I was directing that energy at Ben but it’s totally Jackie

  41. I had a theory about the girl in the pilot that has since now been debunked (I think) so I feel I can share it. I actually always thought it was Lottie. What appeared to be a brutal hunting of a girl I theorized was just an unfortunate accident – Lottie becomes unhinged without her meds and in a psychosis-induced panic, she falls into an animal hunting trap. I then theorized that the girls, starving, used the horrific opportunity to feed themselves. That’s it. Certainly horrible, but not the cultish horror that it is presented to be in the pilot. I think my theory kind of fed off that “is it awful or is it benign and I’m being paranoid” air about the show mentioned in the recap.

    Anyway, can’t wait for season two and waiting a whole year just seems cruel. I want more now!

  42. I was wondering if Jackie wasn’t an allusion to privilege. In high school, all of her strengths and her socio-economic standing enabled her to predominate. But of course, she thought she had special talents and worked for her standing and was entitled. In the wilderness, those talents were not valued, because many of them stemmed from her mom’s teaching that a woman can get a man to do anything she wants — in the wilderness, the women had the power. But being raised in privilege, Jackie did not recognize that her status had evaporated. When she confronted Shauna about Jeff and ordered Shauna to leave, she thought the others would back her up, because she believed that she was entitled to their support. Jackie may not be the moral force — she protects those in her inner circle who support Jackie, but no one else. I think that Nat and Travis are the moral forces, because they are both brutally honest and self-aware.

    Coach Ben represents the waning patriarchal force. Every time he tries to assert himself during the Shauna – Jackie squabble, Lottie shoots him down and he ends up deferring.

    Everything about the Allie present day character annoys me (as it was intended, but with no humor). She didn’t have a stereotypical thick Jersey accent in 1986, andshe shouldn’t be the chair of the class committee as many have noted because had been a freshman. But the accent was unneccessary.

      • Kayla, I love your writing, your deep analysis, and sensibilities. Your recaps are truly thought provoking. I just happened upon your site, and I am not queer myself, but I connect with the sensibilities.

        Have you seen The Last Duel? I see it as an allegory for Me Too. I think it is interesting that Damon and Afflect partnered with a woman to write the women’s recollection, which is the most moving. Even now, woman can be relegated to the level of property and conquest. I feel that the Adam Driver character reflects Harvey Weinstein, who gave Damon and Afflect their start.

        I didn’t understand before, but now I wish I had signed up for the A+. I am sure the discussion there was so captivating.

        Thank you so much for all your exhaustive and illuminating work.

  43. It’s a bit late to chip in with this. The idea came to me weeks back, but I didn’t think much of it until I was reminded by an unrelated essay.

    WENDIGO, sometimes rendered ‘windigo’ or ‘witigo.’

    This is a Northern New world people’s legend, in which an invasive spirit possesses hungry people, causing them to hallucinate that their companions are prey animals…and eat them.

    There’s a wikipedia page to start from. I think I was right to suspect some ‘Injun Burial Ground’ subtext. Especially when the maenads ‘see’ Travis as a stag during their mushroom trip.

  44. This makes me so much more curious about who that first girl that got drained was (in the pilot). They close up on the necklace she’s wearing and it’s the heart necklace Jackie was wearing!! Who took the necklace!? I think the only one matching the look of the girl is Mari…..

  45. I know I’m a little late, but some thoughts after watching. Hopefully nobody else has said all of this

    I think the most important shift wasn’t even Jackie dying, it was the shift from her heart necklace being a totem of “nothing will hurt you”, to the bone necklace from Lottie being that symbol. It makes me give credence to the theory that the girls faction off into two groups, with one group (misty, van, lottie, shauna and at least 2 others based on the pilot) believing in the cult/bone necklace, and the other group (mari, tai, nat and others) using Jackie’s necklace as a talisman of good luck and civilization.

    also random but In the pilot when Shauna is talking to Jessica, she says we “…scavenged and Prayed” with a weird emphasis on prayed, which feels like Shauna’s way of referencing the cult and then feeling like she’s fully honest/not lying about what happened. It seems like Shauna is a great liar when it counts but I think in general she just tells half truths so that she doesn’t feel like it’s a lie.

  46. Hi! I know this comment is way late but I just discovered your recaps. I so wish I’d been reading them along with the show all those months ago–I will in S2!

    Anyway, I did think I’d just toss in a comment here about that scene in the cabin, which I love, since your recap made me think about it again. It just struck me when you said someone should have stuck up for Jackie how somebody does–twice! But Jackie can’t accept it because the dynamics of the scene are so complicated even beyond Jackie and Shauna’s own friendship.

    Misty, who’s earlier been shown reading an occult book and later shown being one of the first members of the cult, sees a chance to lift her own standing in the group by calling out Jackie for not thanking the bear. But Tai tries to step in, saying Jackie doesn’t have to say it. Tai later also tells Jackie not to leave after Jackie’s attempt to banish Shauna backfires on her.

    Both times, though, Jackie gets angry at Tai, I assume because Jackie’s been resenting Tai’s wanting to be Team Captain since the day Tai led them to the lake. She accuses Tai of trying to pretend she wasn’t part of the bachanal (which she initially was, though she left before they started chasing Travis) and of wanting Jackie banished all along. It’s another one of those weird throwbacks, imo. I mean, I do think Tai wants to be leader and she is trying to take on that role when she stands up for Jackie. But I don’t think Tai’s been plotting anything like that. It’s like Jackie is feeling her own loss of power so much she’s assuming everyone else cares about it as much as she does. (Like how when she announces Shauna was sleeping with Jeff there’s a pause where I honestly expect someone to says, “Who’s Jeff?” because the importance of a guy named Jeff in connection to Jackie is so far removed from their minds now.)

    That also made me think of your pointing out how Shauna does stand up to Jackie, but then winds up wearing what Jackie told her to anyway, just because it made me think how we don’t see how she winds up doing that and there’s probably more complications there. Because Jackie does tend to neg Shauna a lot, and I suspect that from Shauna’s pov that’s where the resentment and feeling of being controlled comes from. Like Shauna might stand up to her in the moment, but fall back into insecurity in the face of Jackie’s easy confidence that she’s making a mistake. That would fit with how all of Shauna’s actual triumphs–like Jeff wanting her or getting into Brown–are things she keeps secret from Jackie, whose mom also can’t stop reminding Shauna how inadequate she is.

    After all, even in the pilot when Jackie tells the girls to say nice things about each other, the only nice thing Jackie says about Shauna (after insulting her twice) is that she’s the best friend she’s ever had.

    None of which justifies Shauna sleeping with Jeff, of course. It’s just a really believable dynamic where it seems like both girls have insecurities that make them poisonous for each other. Like I always suspected the reason Jackie put Shaun down so much was to try to hold on to her.

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