lingering questions

Where Does Yellowjackets Go Next?

Photo: Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME

Girls will literally check themselves into a cult run by their delulu ex-bestie and humor her in a round of the Most Dangerous Game that turns for-real lethal instead of going to therapy. That’s what goes down in the finale of Yellowjackets season two, and it is in turns tense, funny, and rip-your-hair-out maddening. All season long, the show has toyed with just how “real” its supernatural elements are: Were the Yellowjackets actually being haunted by some elemental forest darkness that has returned in the present day, or were they just really, really hungry and really, really stressed out? The show has kept things ambiguous, but the finale pulls away from adult Lottie’s perspective to show how unwell she seems to the others. So why were they going along with her? What were they hoping to fix by escaping their lives and playing a round of Stabby in the forest? Those questions and more are posed here while we wait for season three.

Questions About 1996

Isn’t it 1997 now? 
It’s been winter for months! It’s definitely 1997.

What’s going on with the tunnel?
Javi was reeeeal quiet after returning from the subterranean tunnel system he used as shelter for months. He didn’t make it back there, but Coach Ben found it after mapping the creepy symbol onto the woods. There’s a bunch of bones down there; what was Javi eating to survive? Where does this thing lead? What was it built for?

Why aren’t these dummies tapping trees for mineral-rich sap and brewing pine-needle tea?
These complete knuckleheads. Maybe the fault lies with the New Jersey educational system; up in the Toronto District School Board, we would go on field trips to outdoor education centers where we learned how to brew pine-needle tea, which tastes really horrible but is something you can do in winter for nutrients. We would also go to sugar shacks where we saw how they tapped trees and made syrup in late winter. You’re telling me Wiskayok High School students never crossed state lines to do this at a New York maple-syrup manufacturing facility? Maybe if they spent less time playing dumb sports and more time learning about Canada, they’d have some non-sapien means of feeding themselves.

Where is Crystal’s body?
It wasn’t at the bottom of the shit cliff when Misty went to check, and it wasn’t eaten by animals because the YJs haven’t found any of those (except for Nugget, RIP).

Wait, yeah, why aren’t there any animals?
Great question. Even in winter, aren’t Canadian forests teeming with wildlife adapted to the season? Where are all the lynxes with big snowshoe paws, caribou, fattened-up groundhogs hibernating like sitting ducks, reptiles frozen in place or burrowed into light layers of earth and mud? Are there no droppings to track, sticking out like big ellipses dotting the snow? All we’ve seen is a fucked-up bear last season and fucked-up moose this season. If there’s no sign of not-fucked-up critters when the snow thaws, something’s up.

All signs point to this forest being deeply cursed and possibly some sort of nuclear-disaster or chemical-leakage site. Canadian colonization was built on the fur trade, with European trappeurs selling beaver pelts to make then-trendy beaver hats. You know what else was used to make old-timey hats? Mercury. It’s what made Mad Hatters mad. Maybe there’s something going on with mercury here, and the “It” they speak of is the original, inescapable continental evil of European colonization and genocide in North America. Or have I just been thinking about Twin Peaks again?

Why did Shauna let so much blood spill when she was carving up the bod? 
Unless she’s planning on making type-O-neg sno-cones, there sure are a lot of artful shots of blood dripping on the snow, which, considering how positively starv these girls are, seems wasteful. Sorry, is this gross to say?

Why did Ben do that? 
Coach Ben set the cabin on fire with the girlie-pops inside it like this was Midsommar and they had all cheated on Florence Pugh. He saw his last real friend, Natalie, going into Antler Queen mode through the window and thought, These kids deserve to die. I get how, as an adult with a fully developed prefrontal cortex, he couldn’t go along with the cannibalism himself, but letting all of those deaths be in vain by just offing the whole group? Questionable.

At first, the final shot of the cabin turning into a giant smoke signal made me think, Ohhh, he actually did that to save them. But why would he have done it with all of them inside? Because that’s the only way they would have let him do it, and he knew most of them would get out and it would be worth it. But then why would he burn down their shelter when it’s still winter? They just ate Javi, so they were primed for a few more weeks of survival. The most likely answer is he did this as a smoke signal to save himself now that he has the tunnel for shelter, and he didn’t mind if the girls were burned alive in it because eating people is bad but burning people alive is … less bad?

Is it possible it wasn’t Ben?
It has come to my attention that a contingent of viewers think that because we don’t actually see Ben set the fire, this could be another case of the woods being supernaturally sinister. I personally think this just being another evil-spirit thing is way more boring dramaturgically than Ben doing it, but we will have to see.

Who are the Antler Queen, hunters, and victims from the series’ opening scene?
We know it takes place in winter and the YJs were stranded in the wilderness for 19 months, so it will probably be the following winter because they seem way further along in their ritualizing in that opening scene. We know that Misty is there and that Tai, Nat, Shauna, Lottie, Van, and Travis all survive to adulthood. We also know that, though Nat has been crowned their new leader, the Antler Queen can also appear as a vision or projection (as in Lottie’s therapy scene). So either that’s the case and we can assume the six masked hunters are the aforementioned survivors, or Nat really is dressed as the Antler Queen and there’s another survivor we have yet to meet present-day. The victim was a brunette, and my guess is Mari.

Questions About 2021

Okay, but really, why did they all go along with the forest-hunt thing?
After Shauna draws the Queen of Hearts, they all go to the knife table, grab knives, and start approaching her. They could have just let Lottie pick up a knife and then outnumber her to stop the game. But they were all at least a little into it. It calls to mind when Shauna was like, “It wasn’t ‘It,’ it was us,” and Lottie said, “Is there a difference?”

What’s the deal with Van?
Van was the most willing to go along with Lottie’s little human-sacrifice game, convincing Tai to call off the medics who could have gotten Lottie the care she needed before people ended up hurt and dead. Van has also turned down medical intervention to fight her cancer. Not to be insensitive, but like, shouldn’t she have just rigged the deck to sacrifice herself if that’s what she wants? Maybe. Or maybe she’s still a true believer like Lottie and thinks engaging with “It” again can offer a cure. If I were Van, I’d believe in magic over scientific medicine too. How else did her face basically heal into pink Sharpie lines?

Who is running the state of New Jersey right now? 
Isn’t Tai a state senator? There’s no way she could actually go off the grid like this, right? Does Cory Booker exist in this universe? There must be consequences for this in season three … though they’ll be small potatoes if any of these shenanigans come to light.

HOW is Simone, WHERE is Sammy, and IS Steve alive?
Speaking of Tai playing Senior Ditch Day with her entire life, what’s the deal with her estranged wife, who is unconscious in the hospital because of a driving accident for which she is at fault? Any updates? They got into the accident picking Sammy up from school (late, for what it’s worth); wasn’t Sammy still staying with Simone’s parents? Does the school have their contact info? And crucially: Is there any way Steve the dog is still alive? Tai really just packed up and left without figuring something out for Steve. Her track record with dogs is like the Horses Guy with cats. I worry.

Okay, but who is Walter, really? 
Something else has to be up with Walter. Getting your riches from a settlement with a scaffolding company because bricks fell on your head is just so silly! Then again, that type of cranial trauma could have knocked some screws loose and put him on Misty’s level sociopathically (and romantically). There’s also reason to suspect he’s a liar: During his “two truths and a lie” game with Misty, he said he owns Taco Bell shares despite having never had Taco Bell and also says he owned an artisanal-goat-cheese company. Would someone in the organic-foods scene invest in a chain like Taco Bell? To say nothing of the fact that Taco Bell isn’t its own company; it’s part of Yum! Brands, and everyone knows that? I still ship their two crazy asses, though.

Is Caligula okay? 
Misty’s been gone for quite a while.

What is Misty’s body count? 
Last season, she got Jessica Roberts. This season, we saw her kill Crystal in the past and Natalie in the finale. Is Caligula dead from neglect? Did she kill any elderly people in the nursing home for kicks? And then: Do we attribute every death in the wilderness to her because she smashed the black box? I say yes.

How did they get away with blaming Natalie’s death on a drug overdose? 
Wasn’t she literally stabbed? Or if those medics were referring to Kevyn’s body (which I don’t think is what was going on), wasn’t he shot multiple times? Sloppy!

What the hell was the Walter–Kevyn Tan–Saracusa thing? 
Maybe I’m dumb, but I literally did not understand what went down here. (Or maybe I just tune out when it’s only boys onscreen.) Walter killed Kevyn with poisoned cocoa, put his corpse into the cop-car trunk, shot it through with bullets, put the gun in Saracusa’s hands and … told him he will frame them as being involved in some drug thing or the murder of Adam Martin and it was all a cover-up? I didn’t really follow. The poison and the gunshots seems messy? This all feels very rushed, though I understand the need to wrap up this story line. Saracusa seems unprincipled enough to be scared straight by this whole ordeal rather than digging his feet in deeper. But maybe this will all come back to bite the YJs in season five or something.

Are Walter and Jeff buddies now? 
Jeff needs a real friend, not a flop friend like Randy. Walter just saved his family’s heinie. But then again, Jeff has enough killers in his life. He doesn’t need to befriend another one.

What have we seen that the Yellowjackets don’t remember? 
In the past two episodes, the surviving YJs make it clear that they’ve suppressed a lot of what went down in the woods, not discussing it and using various tactics and coping mechanisms to forget. There are probably things we’ve seen from 1996 that the present-day characters have no memory of.

What is the significance of the symbol? 
We’ve seen the symbol in the present day in a zoom-out shot of Lottie’s cult when the other YJs arrive. A leading theory is that it represents a girl being bled from a hook, hanging upside down, with stakes sticking out … rotated 90 degrees. Another is that it’s a map of a Bermuda Triangle–type space where people disappear and exist in a sort of purgatorial realm. One Redditor suggested the line slashing through the middle of the symbol is a horizon line for a sort of spiritual energy field containing “It.” The upper reaches are in the sky, which was why the plane went down, and the lower part could be the tunnels. There’s also something about people’s spirits being stuck in the cabin after they pass over. So maybe Ben’s burning the cabin to the ground released them somehow? Sorry to those who are against Yellowjackets going in a supernatural direction, but we may have a Blue Rose case on our hands.

Is Shauna still trigger-happy and itching to kill? 
Her eye-rolling, You guys are crazy response to Lottie’s thwarted hunt is sort of at odds with her series-long arc of some violent instincts being reawakened. Did this whole ordeal scare her back into suburban complacency, or will she keep on being reckless? And can’t she find a healthier outlet for excitement, like hiking the Wild trail or something?

What does all of this mean for Callie? 
Will Callie start acting reckless as a way to attract her mom’s attention and love? Will she become her little sidekick-accomplice? Will she milk her mom’s survivor story for college-admissions essays?

Are any other YJs alive?
Praying for Akilah.

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Where Does Yellowjackets Go Next?