This article contains major spoilers for Yellowjackets.
Viewers and fans are buzzing with thoughts following the violent and contentious season two conclusion of Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s Yellowjackets. Season two contained nine episodes, with the conclusion titled “Storytelling” and directed by Karyn Kusama. The filmmaker of Jennifer’s Body expertly depicts the fine border between faith and illusion. The episode also addresses the topic of whether the wilderness hides the paranormal or if it’s an example of how trauma and PTSD impact human life in adulthood and the people around them. The entire cast gives noteworthy performances, but Simone Kessell and Juliette Lewis particularly stand out.
“Storytelling”, metaphorically, brings the adult characters back to the wilderness. In the grand season finale, Lottie proposes a sacrifice of one of the former Yellowjackets. She believes that this is the only way to put a stop to her haunting visions, Tai’s sleepwalking, and the team’s other issues. The woman slowly spirals into insanity and the others decide to intervene and call for the crisis team, which is later canceled by Van (Lauren Ambrose) and Taissa (Tawny Cypress). In the end, the group decides to once more entertain Lottie’s ideas, leading to the fatal ending.
Back in the wild, the soccer team creates their own ceremonial rules by allowing the cards to make the decision, but in the end, the wild chooses Javi. As Travis (Kevin Alves) says goodbye to his brother and Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) takes care of Javi’s flesh, coach Ben (Steve Krueger), afraid of the team’s primal desires, decides to leave the shelter and travel to the newly discovered cave.
After the team finally feeds, the survivors give into Lottie’s delusional thinking and choose Natalie as their Antler Queen. Shauna is visibly frustrated with the outcome. Evolving into a shell of a person after losing Jackie and a baby, and essentially serving as the team’s butcher, the teen believes she’s the one who should lead.
Back into the present, things get from worse to worst. The finale of “Storytelling” is one for the books as everything leads our characters to Lottie’s compound, including Callie (Sarah Desjardins) and Jeff (Warren Kole), the police: Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) and Matt (John Reynolds), as well as Walter (Elijah Wood), who surprises us all and ultimately turns into the cold-blooded killer.
But what is truly gut-punching is the adult characters coming back to their primal instincts, as if 20 or so years haven’t passed; just like that, they’re back in the wild. They gather in the forest by the roaring bonfire and let the cards choose again. This time, it picks Shauna. Despite claiming they had moved on and healed, Misty, Taissa, Van, Natalie, and Lottie put on the masks and immediately they turn against Shauna, wielding the weapons and beginning a chase.
At last, Callie saves her mother, but everything changes in a split second when Lisa (Nicole Maines) finds them and turns the rifle towards Natalie. As Radiohead’s “Street Spirit” begins its haunting tune, Misty runs towards Lisa with a syringe filled with poison, but Natalie makes an ultimate act and stands in between the girl and Misty, pushing Lisa away. Misty, who always thought of Natalie as her ultimate best friend, turns out to be her end.
In the following scenes, it becomes obvious as to why Lewis’ character decided to do it. Natalie protected Lisa because she felt guilty her whole life about letting Javi die. By protecting the girl, the woman felt like she was finally doing a good thing. In the end, perhaps she believed she was being sacrificed to the wilderness as her younger self says, “This is exactly where you’re supposed to be”. As the woman sees herself in the plane with Javi and young Lottie, Natalie takes her last breath and lets the darkness consume her.
As the saying goes, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. After all, Coach Ben makes the ultimate choice and sets the shelter on fire. As the episode concludes, the girls are left without a cottage in the dead of winter. “Storytelling” ends with the survivors grabbing whatever they can and running out as “The Killing Moon” by Echo & The Bunnymen plays in the background.
Episode nine, as well as the entire season, is filled with symbols. As mentioned before, there is an element of putting on a mask. Once the adult characters put on their masks, they become someone else. Imaginably, they disassociate from their identity, and they let “the wild” versions do what’s the most difficult. They become numb as they gaze at Shauna and see not a person, but a prey. When pondering the scene, it’s easy to see correlations to masked killers from slasher films whose masks act as shields.
We also finally find out who the Antler Queen is. As Lottie claims, the wild chose Natalie as their leader, because it spared her. Not only in the finale, but throughout the entire season two, there are references to the deer and antlers. Interestingly, when it comes to antlers in dreams and visions, if one sees deer antlers, it means that the happiness will be short-lived. Deer antlers also indicate physical strength and endurance, as well as the tenacity required to survive.
Last, but not least, we have a Queen of Hearts card, a card that haunted Lottie in visions for the entire season. In tarot, normal cards can also be utilized. The Queen of Hearts is shown in classic playing card decks as wearing an extravagant robe and holding a flower. The flower, which occurs in all four suits of the queens, indicates self-growth; queens are spirits who are fully in control of themselves. Her look means to convey a queen’s sincerity and compassion. She embodies self-love and can gift space to others. It’s intriguing to know this, as the card shown in Yellowjackets has its eyes blurred with a black pen. It perhaps refers to them at their most primal, like Shauna, who covers her eyes when butchering Javi, as to, again, disassociate herself from the act.
With the season finale, many already started hypothesizing about what’s to transpire in season three. We’ll certainly continue to see the bloody rules unravel further as the team struggles to survive. Perhaps adult Lottie’s words from “Storytelling” are foreshadowing. In the scene where they draw and Tai initially refuses, Charlotte says, “Taissa, are you refusing a draw? Because you know what happens when you do.”
Also Read: We’re Living In The Age of Queer Horror
But what can we expect to happen to adult characters in season 3? Another clue may lie in the way Van reacts to Charlotte’s words as the woman is examined by the ER. Taissa assures her they’ll see each other soon but she must be taken away for some time. Kessell’s character whispers, “We gave it what it wanted. It’s pleased with us. You’ll see.” Van’s facial expression says it all—she’s terrified, perhaps scarred all over again, but also hopeful. Maybe she believes that it will affect her terminal illness in a positive way. A big part of season three may focus on Van’s story, Taissa’s sleepwalking, and Lottie’s stay at the psychiatric facility.
With a season finale as packed as “Storytelling,” it’s easy to find many hints as to what’s to come. One thing is certain: this episode, as well as the entire season two, demonstrates that Yellowjackets is, first and foremost, an insightful, intricate character study. It shows how deeply embedded trauma can be and how far one can go just to survive.
Yellowjackets is available to stream on Showtime and Paramount+.