“Yellowjackets” is the little thriller that could.
The series, created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, debuted on Showtime Nov. 14. Since then, the show, which charts a girls’ soccer team whose plane crashes in the wilderness and the grown-up version of the girls dealing with their own (equally severe issues), has become a word-of-mouth sensation. Mixing survival horror, old fashioned whodunit and modern melodrama (with some supernatural flourishes sprinkled in), “Yellowjackets” has been one of the season’s few breakouts. It has consumed Twitter and a second season has already been ordered.
With the season finale nearly upon us, we thought it might be a good idea to run through our biggest questions before things wrap up (for now).
Major, airplane-sized spoilers for “Yellowjackets” follow.
Who was killed in the first episode’s prologue?
This is perhaps the biggest question, and the one that loomed over the entire season since it was the first one that was introduced. In the first moments of the very first episode, we are introduced to a tribe of occult figures (some of which we saw coming together in the “Doomcoming” episode); a girl runs through the woods and falls into a pit. She is killed. We see her distinctive necklace underneath a hood. But the victim’s identity (and the specifics of the group watching and encouraging the young girl to die) has remained obscured. (Although “Doomcoming” suggests that Lottie, the girl with visions, is indeed the horned queen.) In the twisty-turny “Yellowjackets” structure, this is a moment that happened before the main events of the series but after the flashbacks that have been parceled out each week. (It’s confusing!) So that is obviously the biggest question. Most think the victim is Jackie (Ella Purnell), the leader of the soccer team, due to the necklace and, you know, the fact that we have yet to be introduced to modern day Jackie, suggesting she didn’t make it out of the woods.
Who killed Travis?
This is obviously one of the biggest questions that has been pressing on the entire gang for most of season (and is one that is repeatedly brought up, double-underlining its importance). Who did kill Travis (Kevin Alves), the oldest of Coach Martinez’s sons and one of the survivors of the plane crash that actually got out of the woods. Travis’ death was staged to look like a suicide but the other survivors know better: somebody killed Travis. But who? And also: why? Hopefully we get some answers.
Is Taissa possessed or is it just extreme sleepwalking?
This is one of the bigger, more dirt-eating questions of season 1: Is Taissa (played by Tawny Cypress in present day and the electric Jasmin Savoy Brown in the past) actually possessed by some unholy demonic force? Or are her nocturnal walkabouts (which also include eating copious amounts of dirt) just a case of extreme sleepwalking, triggered by the stress of the campaign and her faltering marriage? This is connected to another question: Who or what is the man with no eyes that Taissa and her son keep seeing? Is that the same force that is taking over Taissa or is it something completely different? Is it taking over her son too? Or is this all a hallucination connected to her sleepwalking/mental strain? These are a lot of questions, perhaps too many questions to answer in a finale. But they are still very important and, you know, terribly mysterious.
Who flashed the lights in the cabin?
This is an older mystery but one that still demands an answer. When the survivors are schlepping it from the airplane crash site, looking for a place to set-up camp. They see a flashing light, alerting them to the cabin. Sure, it could have just been a reflection but this is “Yellowjackets,” a show that has trained us to look for clues in even the most mundane action. Surely there was somebody either in the cabin signaling to the girls or maybe something welcoming them to the cabin. While not one of those mysteries that looms over everything else, it’s still something that needs to be addressed sooner or later. We hope.
Who is the skeleton in the cabin?
Another cabin-related mystery is the question of who the mummified corpse in the attic was. (Did that old bag of bones do the flashing light?) It seems conceivable that at some point there will be a lengthy flashback to the history of the cabin and its lone inhabitant who died a sad death by himself in the attic. The woods have, if not a supernatural power, then a kind of natural influence on those who spend too much time there. It would be great to see that even before the plane crash and to finally find out what happened to that ghoul in the attic. If he wasn’t at least a little bit important, they probably wouldn’t have lingered on him so much…
How are they going to get rid of Adam’s body?
In last week’s episode, something genuinely shocking happened: the grown up Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) murdered Adam (Peter Gadiot), a mechanic she was having an affair with and who she assumed was blackmailing her and the other survivors. As it turns out, he wasn’t, and the blackmailer was actually Shauna’s husband Jack (Warren Kole). Also: Jack wasn’t having an affair. Listen, the point is that Shauna killed Adam and now they have to do something about it. She’s already roped Taissa and Natalie (Juliette Lewis) into her little murder conspiracy. And at the end of last week’s episode, Natalie shows up at the home of the delightfully unhinged Misty (Christina Ricci) to ask her for help getting rid of the body. The question remains: how are they going to do it? In undoubtedly the grisliest way possible. Also, a related question: what is Misty’s whole deal? Is she a friend or foe? And how much of the bad stuff in the woods was she really responsible for? She certainly didn’t speak up when the stew was being made with her poison mushrooms. What other havoc did she wreak, both then and now?
How did they get out of the woods? And why did the plane crash?
There is one question that supersedes all others – how did the girls get out of the woods? Who rescued them? How were they found? And what was left of them? Are there other survivors that we haven’t reconnected with? (To that last question, we’re guessing yes. Surely there’s a role for somebody like Uma Thurman right?) This raises more questions: were the girls in their “Lord of the Flies” occult feral form when they were discovered? How did they explain any of this stuff? Going back further, there’s the question of how the plane crashed in the first place. Was it an intentional or premeditated? How does that weird symbol factor in? And how will these ramifications reverberate through the rest of the show?
Will season 2 be any good?
“Yellowjackets” is often compared to “Lost,” the J.J. Abrams hit that ran out of steam in its second and third seasons as it did some epic wheel-spinning while becoming a ratings juggernaut and a true watercooler show (when the watercooler was migrating to online messages boards). The same is true of “Yellowjackets,” with its trajectory from prime-time also-ran to critical darling. The hope is that “Yellowjackets” can maintain its quality while also deepening the mysteries and mythology that make it so special. (Mercifully, “Yellowjackets” only has to fill – at the most! – 10 hours of programming. The first season of lost had a whopping 25 episodes; season 2 had 24.) Keep the faith, wear your letterman jacket, and pray for the best.
The “Yellowjackets” finale airs on Showtime on Jan. 16.