Yellowjackets season one torments the adult survivors (and viewers) with the question of ‘what really happened out there?’ time after time, but the season one finale finally delivered some major reveals. While the show’s surface may deal with the brutal difficulties of surviving a plane crash and facing extreme hunger, it’s really focused on capturing the gory underbelly of female friendships. Here’s our take on the hidden significance behind season one’s most poignant reveals…
‘What really happened out there?’ Season one of Yellowjackets torments the adult survivors (and viewers) with this question time after time, but the season one finale finally delivered some major reveals.
Spoilers from here on out: We learn that Jackie dies not from cannibalism, but from freezing to death, and Lottie, aka the newly confirmed ‘Antler Queen’, is alive and well in 2021. These reveals are only the tip of Yellowjackets’ mystery-laden iceberg, bringing us right up to the point we’ve all been waiting for, where the hellishness that’s only been hinted at is set to explode. But all this groundwork confirms that the real threat facing the teen survivors in season one is psychological, even more than physical. While the show’s surface may deal with the brutal difficulties of surviving a plane crash and facing extreme hunger, it’s really focused on capturing the gory underbelly of female friendships, which can cut deeper than a knife (and even kill). Here’s our take on the hidden significance behind season one’s most poignant reveals: Jackie’s tragic death and Lottie’s eerie rise to power as ‘Antler Queen’.
Taissa: We’re talking ‘dying feels like falling asleep’ cold. - Yellowjackets
While the finale leaves us with many questions, (who is pit girl anyway?), the answers it does give emphasizes the show’s unique interest in exploring power as a concept. Jackie’s death and Lottie’s emergence as ‘antler queen’ distinctly reverses the power structures of High School life established in the series pilot. Pre-crash, at school, Jackie is a queen bee. Not only is she team captain, but she exudes a distinct, and radiant, ‘it-girl’ quality.
Coach Martinez: You possess something no one else on this team has: influence… - Yellowjackets
When the team descends into a fight at the campfire party, Jackie is the one who pulls them together. On the other hand, Lottie is the kind, subdued, quiet girl. The rest of the team, too, fits into recognizable “high school” tropes and dynamics - Shauna is the dependable but less popular best friend resents living in Jackie’s shadow; Natalie is the cool, dangerous rebel; Ty is the driven, ambitious one; Misty is the annoying outcast who is shunned by the team.
Post-crash however, these dynamics flip, big time. As a result, we see the girls break out of the high school roles assigned to them – making us understand how artificial those tropes can be, and how they’re incredibly dependent on context. Once Lottie runs out of her meds, she begins to have visions – behavior that’s not typically welcomed in a school setting, but which (among a bunch of hungry and desperate lost girls) transforms her into an eventual leader.
Lottie: We won’t be hungry much longer. - Yellowjackets
Meanwhile, as Lottie slowly gains power, Jackie loses hers. For one thing, Jackie doesn’t have the baseline skills needed to survive in the woods for months on end. Travis and Nat are given hunting privileges, Shauna is trusted with killing their food, but Jackie’s nuanced social skills and ability to control just aren’t as valuable here where the task is primal survival. She fails to assert herself as a powerful, and helpful asset, and it’s noticed that she’s not contributing. At the same time, she’s also not willing to give up her leadership role, become more of a team player, or learn new skills. Her spiteful and jealous nature comes out, and her “mean girl” streak isn’t seen as attractive here.
Jackie: Is this why we don’t have any food? ‘Cause you’ve been too busy running for mayor of pound town? - Yellowjackets
Like the plane, Jackie’s world has quite literally gone down in flames. And that’s a bigger loss for the most popular, revered girl in school – so that’s why she holds onto her past, and her power, for dear life. She’s often much cleaner than the rest of the girls, wearing clothes that look put together. She’s so reluctant to leave the crash site and move to the lake at Taissa’s suggestion, as leaving the wreckage means leaving the physical reminder of what her life once was and potentially giving up on rescue.
Ultimately, the crash allows the previously ‘powerless’ to become their true selves, for better or for worse. Misty is the earliest, most extreme example of this. She seizes this opportunity to be useful, finding herself in a position where her excessive survival skills are actually needed – and even though the girls still want to exclude her, they no longer can.
Misty: I took the Red Cross babysitter training class. Twice. - Yellowjackets
Back in “civilized” society, Shauna has been hiding her instincts (having an affair with Jackie’s boyfriend in secret), but once she’s trusted with the gruesome task of killing their food, she unleashes a dark primal power. In the wilderness, this gives her a higher status, while back in society as an adult, she again has to hide it.
Ty has to work through her powerful drive. Back in society, her ambition and desire to win can be viewed as problematic when taken too far, but in the wild, the stakes of her figuring out how to be successful are life or death. Ty struggles with which strategic voices to listen to, though; she consistently tries to make the rational choice, but is then haunted by superstitious visions or unconscious drives within herself.
So we can view the plane crash as a symbol of fiery rebirth that unearths the girls’ truest, and darkest, components of themselves. And as the previously ‘powerless’ unlock the ability to rise, Yellowjackets makes it clear that the ‘powerful’ can fall in an instant.
Lottie: Don’t you understand? You don’t matter anymore. - Yellowjackets
The season finale answered one of Yellowjackets’ most speculated questions: did Jackie really die, and if so, how? But despite the countless Reddit postings theorizing her identity as ‘pit girl’, or as the first victim of cannibalism, Jackie’s death was devoid of physical violence completely. In fact, her death is a direct result of the vicious verbal fight between her and Shauna.
Jackie: I don’t even know who you are anymore.
Shauna: Or maybe you never did… - Yellowjackets
While Shauna doesn’t literally kill Jackie with her bare hands, their heated argument is what causes her to sleep outside and freeze to death. So her words (and use of her status within the larger group) ‘metaphorically’ – and effectively – killed Jackie before the cold did. [1x10 35:24 - 35:31 ‘
Jackie: I-I can’t even f***ing look at you right now.
Shauna: Well, that sounds like your problem. So maybe you should leave. - Yellowjackets
Jackie isn’t physically hunted like the pit girl in the series pilot, she’s exiled, stripped of her power, and singled out for the kill. So this event makes it clear that the biggest danger facing the girls currently is that of psychological divisions and social dynamics. As Jackie outside is failing to light a fire, Shauna chooses not to help her – and since the other girls defer the choice to Shauna, this is condemning her friend to death.
Beneath the blood, guts, and oh yeah, looming threat of cannibalism, Yellowjackets is often focused on examining the seedy underbelly of intense female friendships. Jackie and Shauna loved each other with fierce intensity, which allows them to take each other down with viscous intent.
Their queen bee/subdued sidekick relationship dynamic shares close parallels with Jennifer and Needy in Jennifer’s Body. Directed by Karyn Kusama, who also directed the Yellowjackets pilot, the cult classic horror flick sees the two best friends face each other in a final confrontation with deadly results. In Jennifer and Needy’s final confrontation, Needy rips off her best friend necklace before stabbing Jennifer in the heart. By shattering their friendship, she metaphorically breaks Jennifer’s heart before literally stabbing it moments later. And while Jackie and Shauna’s friendship ends devoid of heart-stabbing violence, Shauna, like Needy, kills her ‘queen bee’ best friend by symbolically breaking her heart.
Shauna: I’m not jealous of you, Jackie. I feel sorry for you. Because you’re weak. And I think that deep down, you know it. - Yellowjackets
We can expect that Jackie’s death will have some serious aftershocks in season two, leading the girls to a significant turning point in their relationships with each other from here on out.
While we still don’t know how or when the girls turn to cannibalism, the show has planted many seeds suggesting that they experience a slow descent into extreme superstition and irrationality. And what Season 1 helps us understand is that –before someone is ready to jump into something as extreme as cannibalism – a bigger psychological shift has to happen, which is actually more fundamental than the physical violence.
A deeper meaning of the finale can be found in its title: ‘Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’. Directly translated as ‘thus passes the glory of the world’, this Latin phrase was commonly used in coronation ceremonies for the Pope. And by the end of the series, we see a literal changing of the guard. Jackie, the previously established queen bee dies. Her reign is over. But in her place, a new queen emerges - Lottie – and this crowning symbolizes a new era of values and outlook for the entire group.
Back in high school society, Lottie takes a medication called Loxipene, which is probably a variation on the real drug “Loxapine” that’s used to treat schizophrenia. And after she runs out of her medication in the wild, she exhibits behaviors like paranoia that, again, wouldn’t be looked on kindly back in their old world. Here, Lottie’s visions are initially only supported by Laura Lee. But as her premonitions start to ring true, she begins to accumulate believers across the team - most notably, Van and Misty.
Lottie: I’m not crazy.
Laura Lee: No. You have a gift… - Yellowjackets
At first, while the girls are still holding out hope of soon returning to their old lives, belief in Yellowjackets isn’t given much legitimacy. Laura Lee is often belittled for her devout faith until Lottie’s visions begin. But the more time the girls spend stranded, the more having something to believe in (whether it seems outlandish or not) becomes a driving force behind their survival decisions. Van believes that Lottie’s talisman will protect her from harm, and later, the group thanks the woods for the bear that saved them from starving.
Jackie’s gradual exile from the group is reinforced by the fact that she resists superstition and Lottie’s way. She doesn’t take part in the blessing for the bear and spirits. She tries to object after the girls on shrooms attack her as retribution for seducing Travis – again, back in society, she’s learned that stealing a friend’s man isn’t seriously punished, and she’s still acting according to those rules. But here, her “rational” arguments about how she’s been treated don’t matter.
In William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, a group of young boys stranded on a remote island also give up on the “rational” voices and descend into savage violence after they believe they’re being threatened by a dangerous beast. But, as the novel later reveals, there was never a beast on the island to begin with. Yellowjackets Season 1 doesn’t confirm or deny if supernatural elements play a role in the girls’ experiences, but their belief that this could be a factor completely changes the way they approach their survival.
Vanessa: I get that you’re scared, too. But don’t act like you have any clue what’s happening out here. Because you don’t. - Yellowjackets
In fact, this otherworldly belief, as spearheaded by Lottie, most likely will drive their descent into cannibalism. If Lord of the Flies is an example, the Yellowjackets are about to embark upon a dark path. But they turn to Lottie to reassure them that this may just be what sets them free. While Shauna may feel remorse and grief over Jackie’s death, this isn’t a moment that makes the group turn back; instead it pushes them forward to double down on their belief. They implicitly accept that brutality is acceptable in order to protect that belief and the core group.
Season one’s ending reveals that Lottie is still alive in 2021, leading a cult that bears the same eerie symbol etched across the woods. From this we can infer that Lottie’s cult didn’t end after the girls were rescued. From the looks of Nat’s kidnapping, present day Lottie has some unfinished business to attend to. Lottie’s arc throughout the season, especially when compared with Jackie’s loss of power, reminds us how having such unshakeable belief can be the key to unlocking one’s power and influencing others. And while everyone in the greater world post-crash fixates on the factual questions of what exactly happened in terms of cannibalism, the truth of the story and what happened to the girls can only be explained through understanding the nature of superstitions, visions and faith.
Yellowjackets makes it clear that being a teenage girl can be just as gory as surviving a plane crash. But, in the end, these relationships are more present in the adult survivors’ lives than anything else. The more Shauna, Taissa, Nat and Misty try to control and suppress their experiences in the woods, the more their memories haunt them relentlessly.
Lottie: It’s in all of us you know. Even him. Even you. - Yellowjackets
The show recognizes that having power is one thing, but staying in control of it is another. Ultimately, we watch the girls combat the deepest parts of themselves in an attempt to gain control not only over their situation, but most importantly, each other. And while the season one finale sends a clear warning that danger is certainly on the horizon, currently, the greatest threat facing the girls is the darkness within them all.
Villarreal, Yvonne. “‘Yellowjackets’ creators break down ‘heartbreaking’ finale — and your fan theories.” LA Times, 16 Jan. 2022,