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The ‘Yellowjackets’ Exit Survey

Showtime’s hit, ‘Lost’-like series about a stranded, starving soccer team wrapped up its twisty first season. Let’s discuss and theorize.

Showtime/Ringer illustration

After debuting last November, Showtime’s Yellowjackets became a breakout hit that thrilled theorizers who sought to unravel the mysteries of the soccer team that crashed in the Canadian wilderness and seemingly resorted to cannibalism—part of a traumatic and spooky experience that still haunts its survivors 25 years later. The series’ 10-episode first season concluded on Sunday, which means it’s time for The Ringer’s resident fans to share their thoughts on the finale, the season’s many twists and turns, and where the story will take us in Season 2 (due out in late 2022!) and beyond.

Spoiler warning

What is your tweet-length review of the Yellowjackets finale?

Ben Lindbergh: “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” delivered an exciting, twisty end to an engrossing season, but there’s plenty more meat on these bones.

Alison Herman: The real cannibalism was the friends we collectively turned on and cast out into the snow along the way! (Also the actual cannibalism, but we haven’t gotten there just yet.)

Katie Baker: Ladies be chopping.

Jacqueline Kantor: WHO THE FUCK IS LOTTIE MATTHEWS?

Aric Jenkins: A thrilling finish to Season 1 that unfortunately has left me as ravenous for new episodes as ... let me stop there.

Keith Fujimoto: Yeah, we didn’t get to the cannibalism, but hey, at least we know who the mysterious dude in the opening sequence is now ... kind of.


What was the best moment of the season?

Lindbergh: When my wife, while watching an early episode, said, “Jackie is a messy bitch who lives for drama,” an observation borne out by every one of Jackie’s subsequent scenes.

Herman: Misty snorting Nat’s cocaine so she won’t break sobriety. In her sick, twisted way, our citizen detective really cares about her friends!

Baker: So many things to list here, from the music to the conversation between Misty and the dead woman’s daughter at the funeral, but man, that last argument between Shauna and Jackie cut me right to the bone and was a marvel of portraying the thorny passion of teenage friendship.

Kantor: The reveal of the creepy lil’ altar in Taissa’s basement juxtaposed with her state senate win. Either she’s reverting to bloodletting muscle memory while sleepwalking OR she is still a Lottie disciple and sacrificed the dog for the victory. The latter is terrifying and compelling.

Jenkins: When Jeff, who I was still pretty iffy about at this point, absolutely sticks it to Jackie’s mother over her passive-aggressive bullshit to Shauna. Close second: “There’s no book club?!”

Fujimoto: Anytime Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis shared the screen. Also, shout-out to shrooms and that random Halloween rave where Adam and Shauna ran into Callie.

What was your least favorite part?

Lindbergh:

RIP, Biscuit. Judging by the wound on Taissa’s hand, he didn’t go out without a bite.

Herman: Why did the former Yellowjacket who the pilot makes a point of telling us is younger than the rest of the team organize the older girls’ reunion?! She’s not in the Class of ’96!

Baker: I’m not completely against the NJ state senate aspect, but the tone seemed off. It should be ever-so-slightly less Scandal and ever-so-slightly more Veep.

I also need a better explanation for the reunion chairlady, though I think I disagree with people who thought her accent was a bit much! She sounded pretty much exactly like a plurality of my friends’ moms and my mom’s friends growing up. The only shame is that she plus at least a few other Yellowjackets didn’t also sound that way in 1996. Based on the girls I played soccer with, some definitely would.

Also, where is Javi :(

Kantor: The man with no eyes. Too freaky, could do without him.

Jenkins: As satisfying as the finale was as a whole, there were a couple of implied plot developments that baffled me to a degree ... namely, not a single person thought to go outside to bring Jackie back in? Not even Coach Ben? That’s a ridiculously petty, borderline unbelievable way to die. And I’m sure it will be addressed in Season 2, but as of now I’m struggling to understand why the group other than Travis and Natalie isn’t fussed about Javi going missing.

Fujimoto: I’m now irrationally afraid of soccer teams, flying, varsity jackets, weird symbols, nursing homes, cabins, rocking chairs, tea, mushrooms, book clubs, people dancing to “This Is How We Do It,” etc.

Are you on Team Teen Tai (everything that’s happening has a rational explanation) or Team Teen Van (something supernatural is afoot)? And what’s your wildest Yellowjackets theory?

Lindbergh: I’m mindful of what Van says: “Don’t act like you have any clue what’s happening out here. Because you don’t.” One thing I like about Yellowjackets is that I can’t tell whether its mystery box contains something truly paranormal or whether what seems supernatural is actually the product of coping mechanisms, trauma, and teen drama. What I like even more is that I’m fully on board with the show whichever turns out to be true. So I suppose my wildest theory is that in contrast to Lost, everything in Yellowjackets will have a rational potential interpretation—and the series’ eventual ending will be better off for it, even if it disappoints some Reddit deep divers.

Herman: What I like about the finale is how neatly it splits the difference between “It’s all in their trauma-addled heads” (Adam sure seems to be Just Some Guy) and “There is, in fact, an occult conspiracy at work” (Travis’s death sure doesn’t look like a suicide). The show itself seems to land somewhere between Tai and Van, which of course only makes it harder to tell what’s what. Unlike a lot of mystery-box shows, the inability to say for certain is part of the point: The survivors left their baseline sense of reality back in the woods, and now they have to deal with their own unreliability along with everything else.

Baker: After the last episode I wonder if even Tai is on Team Tai anymore, OR—and this is also probably my wildest theory—if someone else, like Van, is the one spilling blood in the present day. After all, one of the people in Sammy’s drawings has red hair ...

Kantor: Strongly Team Tai. When it comes down to it, that may be the scarier option: The Yellowjackets’ biggest danger isn’t some forest demons but themselves, and this heart sacrifice (and subsequent potential cannibalism) is a result of trauma, starvation, teen hormones, and Lottie. The perfect mix for folie à plusieurs and/or a cult.

Wildest theories: (a) Maybe there isn’t actually cannibalism ... and they just kill each other as sacrifices? (b) Lottie IS the pit girl and her cult still exists, but under new rule (a different Yellowjacket) and still with her name.

Jenkins: I’d actually love it to be the case of Team Tai: the idea that humans, deprived of the right conditions, can descend into primitive madness is much more interesting, IMO. But if I had to guess now, I’d venture to say the show’s writers are on Team Van.

My theory is that Adam was in fact not Just Some Guy that Shauna accidentally killed but in fact was working with adult Lottie ... for reasons I have yet to fully determine.

Fujimoto: I’m with Van—there’s 100 percent some weird, spooky, unexplainable supernatural shit afoot. But I also feel like there’s some timeline fracking going on, like in Loki. Are there alternate timelines and the symbol is the mark of the show’s version of the TVA? Do variants of the survivors exist? Is Coach Ben really the sacrificial bear? Is this the beginning of the Yellowjackets Cinematic Universe???


Who’s the mystery man—the one with eyeswho appears in the credits and in teen Shauna’s (or possibly Jackie’s?) dream/vision?

Lindbergh: Given the dearth of other known suspects, I’m going to guess he’s the late cabin owner, whose corpse we saw sitting in the attic looking like Norma Bates.

Herman: Occam’s razor says the dead guy in the cabin. Honestly, though, I don’t care too much about the men on this show, ghostly ones included.

Baker: I’ve gone back and forth on this, but I interpreted the scene as dying Jackie’s dream, though maybe Shauna existentially tapped into it too. I don’t know who the man is (I initially thought it was the coach) but just assume it’s Cabin Man?

Kantor: The hunter guy who died in the cabin. But I’m not sure why he’s so important. I also perceived this not as Shauna’s dream but as Jackie’s vision as she approached death!

Fujimoto: It has to be dead homie from the rocking chair.

Which setting are you more drawn to: 1996 Canadian wilderness or 2021 New Jersey?

Lindbergh: The latter, which sort of surprises me given that the former is where most of the mystical, compelling-on-paper plot happens (not to mention the ’90s nostalgia). That I’m even more entranced by the present-day story line is a testament to the writing, to the well-drawn characters, and to Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Co.

Herman: Despite all the wolf attacks and severed limbs, I actually find the flashbacks way easier to watch. Plane crashes and fledgling cults don’t scare me as much as the crushing disappointments of adulthood! Much like Shauna, I’d rather drink a bear’s blood raw than deal with a teenage daughter as bratty and entitled as I used to be.

Baker: Wow, so rude to 1996 New Jersey, where I once roamed as a teen in a Coed Naked tee myself. Honestly, I love both. Shauna’s knife to my throat? I’d pick the forest, but even typing that makes me preemptively miss Juliette Lewis, so I’m glad I don’t have to choose.

Kantor: It was the wilderness until the finale ... but now I’m scared to go back there. But first, I want more 1996 pre-crash soccer clips, because there’s a missed opportunity in character study based on positions. Jackie’s forward vibes are extremely spot-on; she also probably always got shin splints during tryouts/preseason and conveniently got to skip conditioning. I think we need to see some more game footage, particularly of Lottie.

Jenkins: Complete credit to the show’s writers for somehow making 2021 Jersey nearly as fascinating as the aftermath of a plane crash, but yeah, you can’t top the Antler Queen and cannibalism in terms of intrigue.

Fujimoto: I’m very foreign to both, but I did enjoy Whistler during my short time there on a family trip. So I’ll vote for the Canadian wilderness.

Who was Season 1’s MVP?

Lindbergh: Play “Misty” for me.

Herman: Melanie Lynskey. The rabbit butchery! The “mutually assured destruction” speech! The nonchalance at butchering her murdered lover’s corpse! Adult Shauna’s arc is both the most acidly funny (there’s no book club?!) and the most emotionally poignant, telling a quieter story of discontent than those of her more melodramatic peers. All of it rests on Lynskey’s performance as a woman who can barely suppress her violent frustration—some justified, some taken out on poor, unsuspecting boyfriends. Maybe Callie will finally give her mom a break now that she knows what happens to those on her bad side.

Baker: In the wide world of sports, the debate about MVPs often comes down to: Do you go with the best player, on the premise that their absolute talent makes them by definition worth the most, or do you look for the player without whom an organization would totally fall apart—the player who is idiosyncratically most valuable to their team? Much to consider. Anyway, the first would be 2021 Misty (though even the best players make mistakes: torsos may be useless but tattoos are not, and are we sure the fixer is well and truly dead?), and the second ... is the second ... Young Lottie?!

Kantor: I don’t want to give it to Lottie, but I will. Honorable mentions: Young Shauna’s finale performance was heartbreaking. And pour one (cup of shroom-spiked soup) out for Coach Ben. He’s getting eaten soon.

Jenkins: So many great choices: Christina Ricci, iconic. Coach Ben, endearing as hell. But I’m gonna go with Lottie. Courtney Eaton is doing an amazing job portraying her descent (ascent?) into the Antler Queen. There are many intriguing threads in this series, but the biggest thing we’re waiting to see is her reign over the death cult.

Fujimoto: My heart says Misty, but my brain says Lottie. Both masterminds in their particular roles.

Van believes that Sporty Spice is the most underrated Spice Girl and that Scully is way too good for Mulder. What’s your hottest ’90s take?

Lindbergh: MLB’s steroid era was awesome, and its high-offense environment may not have been primarily the product of PEDs.

Herman: Tiny sunglasses were ridiculous then and they’re ridiculous now.

Baker: Michael Jordan’s baseball career was good, actually, and the MTV game show Trashed never got the respect that it deserved.

Kantor: Soffe shorts should be rolled twice so you can’t see the white band. And Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister aren’t worth the cost when you can get a perfectly good deal at Loehmann’s! (I guess that last one was my mother’s take, but now I agree.)

Jenkins: Nirvana wasn’t that good. Shhhhhhh.

Fujimoto: The clothes were bad. Very, very bad.

Pitch your best Misty spinoff idea.

Lindbergh: Now that Dexter’s dead, it’s time for Misty to take up the Showtime mantle of sympathetic serial killer with a complex love life.

Herman: A dating show in which suitors try to impress Misty with their finest steamed clams and she emotionally blackmails them into coming in for a nightcap. Whoever doesn’t flinch at Natalie’s gun has to be her soulmate.

Baker: An anthology show in which every episode is a different series that gets visited by a cinematic universe–appropriate iteration of Misty. (Is this what WandaVision is?) The episodes I would be most excited to see are: Big Love, Survivor, Fargo, Mindhunter, Mare of Easttown, The Sopranos, and Bluey.

Kantor: I deeply respect Christina Ricci, but I have no desire to see that character anywhere else. Ever.

Jenkins: The people need to see a Dexter-Misty crossover. Showtime’s got a potential gold mine here. Misty’s skill set is perfectly suited for serial killing—you saw how she injected those cigarettes with fentanyl.

Fujimoto: Misty takes over for Shaq on Inside the NBA. Let the madness unfold where it may.

Hey, it’s what we’re all wondering: Who gets eaten first?

Lindbergh: Jackie’s remains seem like the perfect frozen dinner, which is something I thought even before cocreator Bart Nickerson said “We definitely have an idea for a way to continue to use her” and “we would love to specifically use her for a few things that we have cooking.” Jackie’s former teammates would love to use her for a few things they’re about to have cooking, too.

Herman: I think there’s a chance Jackie still technically takes the title! What’s a Canadian winter if not a giant meat locker? It’s not like her corpse is gonna spoil by the time the girls run out of bear carcass ...

Baker: I thought it was Lottie pretty much from the start (mostly on account of the hair), but that no longer seems likely. I’m currently very intrigued by the “it’s Callie, in the present, somewhere else” answer, although (a) that would be really messed up!!!!!! as well as (b) in that situation the questions of “who is pit girl?” and “who gets eaten first?” would be decoupled.

Kantor: Javi. Shauna is best with the knife, but I don’t think she can handle Jackie as the first human she guts. Javi is probably dead too by this point. They’ll start with him.

Jenkins: For the first act of cannibalism, the show is gonna have to go big. (What, you think cannibalism is “big” enough? Psh.) Sigh … it’s going to be Coach Ben, isn’t it?

Fujimoto: Tough look for my guy, Coach Ben. His authority continues to plummet and there’s no need for authority when the spirits are doing the advising.