Showtime’s runaway hit Yellowjackets has viewers hooked for a bunch of reasons: There are the stunning performances from a cast of heavy hitters, including Juliette Lewis, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, and Melanie Lynskey. There are the hilariously hormonal antics of their younger counterparts trapped in the Canadian wilderness. There’s a promise of cannibalism. But above all, there are a million little mysteries for fans to track and discuss, making Yellowjackets must-watch viewing every Sunday.
With the final episode airing on January 16, some of these mysteries have been wrapped up or seem to be heading in a specific direction. However, the show is supposed to unfold across five seasons, so there’s plenty of time left for a zig to zag. Yellowjackets follows two timelines, one in the world of a girls’ soccer team hopelessly stranded and in danger of starving to death in the woods, and one more than twenty years later, showing the repercussions of the traumatic experience on the adult survivors. Things happened in those woods, and even though at least some of those girls were rescued, a part of them is very much still out there. Here are some questions and theories about what got left behind.
Warning: major spoilers ahead.
Theory #1: Jackie got eaten.
The very first episode shows a girl running helplessly through the trees, stopping to cry, and then taking off like her life depends on it. Moments later, she falls into a pit lined with spikes and is impaled. Her body is then strung up and slaughtered like a deer carcass and the rest of the crew chows down, wearing terrifying costumes that hide their identities. The only face we see in the scene is that of young Misty, played by Sammi Hanratty.
Figuring out who is under the masks and who fell in the pit has been an ongoing puzzle. The doomed girl has been assumed to be Jackie (Ella Purnell), partly because of her hair and build, and partly because the figure is shown to be wearing a necklace belonging to Jackie that she briefly gives to BFF Shauna (Sophie Nelisse) before getting it back. Jackie is also the Queen Bee of the Yellowjackets at their high school, but she proves herself to be pretty useless when it comes to survival. Over the season, Jackie becomes progressively less popular and it seems likely the rest of the team could eventually turn on her.
But there are a few issues with this theory, which leads to…
Theory # 2: Jackie survives.
This theory hangs on what could potentially be a production snafu. During a scene where adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) visits Jackie’s parents for the world’s most awkward brunch, it is heavily implied that Jackie is dead, or at least missing and presumed deceased. Shauna also takes a moment to visit Jackie’s untouched teen bedroom and even goes through one of her journals.
Eagle-eyed viewers spotted that on Jackie’s lists of favorite movies and bands were a number of titles that were released post-1996, when the fictional Yellowjackets plane went down. Was this a mistake made by the show’s prop master? Or did Jackie return to her suburban home, spend some time journaling about Titanic (1997) and Bring It On (2000), and then die or disappear under other circumstances?
Theory # 3: Lottie is the Antler Queen.
The figure holding court over her fellow cannibals wears a pair of antlers hung with pearl drop earrings. The show hinted that Lottie (Courtney Eaton), who was medicated for unspecified mental health issues until she ran out of her prescription in a haunted cabin, is the one wearing the crown. Then, in the penultimate episode, Lottie whips the other girls up into a man-chasing frenzy and directs Shauna to slit the throat of Travis (Kevin Alves), who, at this point, they’re all hallucinating to be a deer. Lottie dons the antlers for the sacrificial ceremony. Does she keep wearing them as the group grows increasingly feral? Or will they get passed around as the seasons continue?
Theory # 4: Adam is Javi.
Adult Shauna gets into a minor car accident with a man named Adam (Peter Gadiot) and before too long they’re having a passionate affair that gets more and more suspicious. Not only is “Adam Martin” untraceable on the internet, he seems to have lied about his college credentials. When confronted by Shauna about his lies, she discovers he has some reading material about the Yellowjackets stashed away in his studio. Well, Adam is dead now, but the mystery of who he is hasn’t abated.
For some reason, many people were convinced that Adam was actually Travis’s younger brother, Javi (Luciano Leroux), who is sadly ignored for most of the season. The show does seem to try and draw some parallels between Adam’s character and Javi’s, showing they both made art, while hinting at a closer relationship between young Shauna and Javi at the cabin. But how could she not recognize the kid at all, even if it was 20 years later? And why would Javi be messing with her?
Another theory is that he is somehow Shauna’s baby that she is pregnant with when the plane goes down. This really doesn’t hold water, as Gadiot is in his mid-thirties and it doesn’t make sense to cast him as a character who should be in his mid-twenties. And Gadiot himself said in an interview that his storyline was a “red herring,” telling E! that “he is actually just who he says he was.”
On the other hand, Gadiot is not in the writer’s room. Adam is definitely someone more significant than a random hook-up, as this emphasis on his back tattoo implies. It looks kind of like a mountain range, a map, or some creepy symbol, which is very on brand for Yellowjackets.
Theory #5: The group splinters.
The scene showing the cannibals contains far fewer people than the adventure begins with. They could all have been picked off, died, or eaten. The other possibility is that some of the girls were willing to go cannibal and some weren’t, splitting the group in two.
If the latter is true, it’s possible that some of the girls we haven’t seen in today’s timelines yet have survived to become adults—and maybe they’re still out in the woods.
Theory #6: There is an element of the supernatural at play
The show walks a line between hinting at the supernatural and exploring what could just be trauma-based reactions to thinking you’re going to die horribly and get eaten for over a year and a half. It’s probably more fun to not have the issue confirmed either way, but it would explain a lot.
For one, there’s Lottie. It’s heavily implied that Lottie is either schizophrenic or some sort of clairvoyant. At various times she seems to be breaking down or predicting the danger and demise of other girls. Still, just because her visions seem to come true, that doesn’t mean she is actually seeing the future.
Then there’s Taissa, who frequently hallucinates wolves as an adult (Tawny Cypress) and seems to start disassociating as a teen (Jasmin Savoy Brown), sleep-walking, climbing trees, and even eating dirt. Adult Taissa experiences renewed sleepwalking, seemingly triggered by stress, but flashbacks show that even as a very young child, Taissa was haunted by “the man with no eyes” who may or may not be making an appearance later at the cabin.
The cabin itself carries hints of evil spirits, containing a desiccated corpse in the attic and creepy symbols carved into trees around the area. Lottie ominously declares that “it didn’t want them to leave” without specifying what “it” is exactly. She seems to be right. First Taissa’s attempt at escape is foiled by a wolf attack on her girlfriend and then Laura Lee’s (Jane Widdop) plane blows up when she tries to fly out for help. Things are very spooky in the woods, but that’s something you could say even under the best of circumstances.
Odds and ends
The theories represent the larger storylines of the show, but there are lots of other little unanswered questions: Who killed Travis? Who took all his money? Where’s Shauna’s baby? And what was Nat (Juliette Lewis) right about all along? We can’t wait to investigate in season 2.
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