With Yellowjackets Season 2 on the horizon, it’s as good a time as any to look back at Season 1. I’ve set out to provide a recap, but it’s largely structured around lingering questions and the broader mysteries that shape the show. I’ll take them one at a time, in an order I think makes sense, and refresh our collective memory along the way. In other words, you’re not getting a beat-by-beat plot summary here, but I hope what I am giving you is something you’ll enjoy more than that.
So without further ado, here’s your Yellowjackets Season 1 recap! Buzz!
Was Adam just who he said he was full stop?
As I watched Yellowjackets Season 1 when it was airing, I have to admit that I was suspicious of Adam (Peter Gadiot) the whole time, and I’d guess you were too. The show reinforces that by leaving his character largely opaque and by the fact that there are so many mysteries surrounding every other aspect of its plot.
But as I watched the show again to prepare for Season 2, I just felt really bad for the guy. Is it possible he was who he said he was and that the lie about Pratt was the only one? Was Adam just a guy who had the misfortune of falling in love with Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) at the worst possible time?
It remains the case that his lack of an online presence is weird, as Callie (Sarah Desjardins) notes. If Adam was a starving artist in 2021, you’d think he’d at least be trying to hustle on Instagram a little. But maybe he isn’t much of an artist and just thinks of himself that way. Maybe it’s a bit of exaggeration on his part or related more to his self-conception than to any activities he engages in. Maybe that’s a second lie on top of the Pratt one or a wrinkle of the same deception, but it strikes me that we never really see him making art. What we do see is him working at an auto body shop.
Regardless, while many during the course of Season 1 were spinning theories about Adam being a grown-up Javi (Luciano Leroux), that possibility has been pretty thoroughly dispelled. Plus, he’s dead now.
As Season 1 comes to a close, Shauna, Jeff (Warren Kole), and Callie see a news report on TV about how Adam has been reported missing, and we should recall that Callie knows about the affair. So it seems the bigger question heading into Season 2 is not so much that of Adam’s backstory but about what might happen moving forward.
Shauna cut up his body and Misty (Christina Ricci) incinerated his head, so are they free and clear?
Speaking of Javi, recall that he’s missing in the 1996 portion of the Season 1 finale. Teen Travis (Kevin Alves) is looking for him, and Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) helps even though he tries to tell her not to. The last we saw him was during Doomcoming. As the girls ran after Travis, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) told Javi to run.
My personal theory is that he ran right into a bear, which proceeded to eat him, and that’s why the bear was so docile when it wandered into camp. But I do recognize that this probably would have played out already if the others were going to find evidence (like that ring Travis took from their dad’s corpse).
Regardless, for all we know, Javi is still running through the woods. Maybe he ran into the Man with No Eyes (Brahm Taylor) and they’re carving figurines together.
Did Misty kill Jessica Roberts?
Another person who may or may not be dead is Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma). I think she is, but given that last season I wrote a whole recap that amounted to a eulogy for Van (Liv Hewson), I’m not sure you should trust my read on things in this case.
All we know for sure is that Misty poisoned her cigarettes, which is really conniving given that she threw them in the trash only to fish them out when Jessica begged her to. Misty knew she would do this! She’s so smart. I love Misty.
Anyway, the point here is that we don’t actually know for sure that Jessica Roberts died behind the wheel of her car. It seemed like it, and I think she did, but it’s possible we haven’t seen the last of her.
Did the others ever learn Misty smashed the flight box?
One of my favorite scenes in Yellowjackets Season 1 was when Misty (Samantha Hanratty) smashed the flight recorder as Wilson Phillips played on the soundtrack. It occurred to me during my rewatch that we don’t know if the others ever learn that she did this. Shauna, Tai (Tawny Cypress), and Nat (Juliette Lewis) certainly have some negative feelings towards her by 2021, but then they already did to some degree in 1996.
Of course, Misty is one of the only people we definitely know did some cannibalism, and we can presume the others know that as well. But did they eat the long pig, too? I always presumed the answer was yes, but let’s make this the next question.
Who all engaged in the cannibalism?
If we go back to the pilot, we see a number of scenes intercut into the action that indicate that the masked group sets a trap to kill a girl and then eats her. Who is in this circle?
We know that Misty is because we see her taking her mask off in those scenes in Episode 1. We can further infer on pretty solid grounds that Lottie (Courtney Eaton) is the Antler Queen, and that Van is present (wearing her Co-Ed Naked Soccer T-shirt). Plus, we see Misty and Van with Lottie at the end of the Season 1 finale.
The big question on people’s minds is probably whether Shauna, Natalie, and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) are in the group we see. I know this from reading things on Reddit and such, and I find it interesting the extent to which some seem to be committed to the idea that they aren’t. I always presumed they all were, but I have to acknowledge that we do not know this.
Clearly this group does not represent all of the survivors. We know, for example, that Travis survives the woods, and he’s pretty clearly not there. So it’s possible that factions will emerge and some will resist the cannibalistic ritual. This feeds into some further questions.
Does Taissa become “The Bad One” for a protracted period of time in the wilderness?
A major plotline in Yellowjackets Season 1 centered around Taissa’s difficulties in her home life, with her son Sammy (Aiden Stoxx) being creepy and her wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) concerned about the toll Tai’s campaign for State Senate was taking on their family.
Well, it turns out Sammy isn’t crazy. Tai has been doing things like sitting in the tree outside of his window eating dirt. He calls this version of her “the bad one,” and the Season 1 finale would seem to indicate that she killed the family dog and made a hidden altar that includes the symbol from the woods.
There are at least two things to wonder about here. One is how Simone will react to her discovery of this altar (besides her obvious horror in the moment), particularly given that Tai won her State Senate race after all. The other is about what happened in the past.
In 2021, when she expresses concern to Shauna before staying at her house for the night, Tai says that Shauna knows how bad her somnambulism can get. Given that this is juxtaposed with the attack on Van in 1996, we might have been led to think this was what Tai was referring to, but I think there’s a good chance it’s more than that.
Will the young Tai snap and enter into a prolonged fugue as a part of the cannibal cult?
Who is the girl who dies at the beginning of the pilot?
For a long time, many thought it was Jackie (Ella Purnell) because there is a shot of her heart pendant, but we know definitively now that it isn’t Jackie because she’s already dead. We also know with reasonable certainty that it isn’t Lottie since she’s the Antler Queen and we’ve gotten an indication that she’s still alive in 2021.
So who is it? I think we have to admit that it’s possible that it’s not a character we know yet. There have been other members of the team in the background throughout the scenes in the woods, so it would be a mistake to think this person must be a named character. Maybe the writers didn’t even know who it was and it will always remain an unnamed character. Anything’s possible. Maybe it’s Mari (Alexa Barajas).
What we can infer from the presence of the necklace is that there is some sort of ritual or game going on. Why was she wearing that necklace, and why was she running through the snow dressed that way? She must have been so adorned, I think, and this undermines any suggestion that she was taken fully by surprise.
I don’t know, though. A lot about this remains a mystery and I’m not sure we’re going to get the answer in Season 2.
Did they eat Jackie?
Speaking of Jackie, as Season 1 came to a close, I found myself thinking that the cannibalism was about to get going. But the heart Lottie places in the tree stump is the bear’s heart, so we’ve only gotten early stages that have barely progressed past thanking the ancient gods of the sky and the dirt.
Do they eat Jackie? The necklace in the opening of Episode 1 makes me think that some kind of tribute is being paid to her or that there is some kind of repetition at play in harkening back to her death. She tells Shauna the thing is a good luck charm, after all, but then she ends up dead.
However, I don’t think the timing lines up. The group is sated from eating the bear when Jackie dies, so I don’t think they eat her. I suppose we’ll find out!
Why weren’t others mentioned as being alive in 2021?
The biggest thing that has bothered me/stuck in my mind since the Season 1 finale of Yellowjackets is the reveal that others besides the group we’ve come to know are still alive in 2021. If Lottie is still alive, for example, why was she never mentioned in conversation?
Season 1 features a protracted blackmail arc, which begins with Nat, Misty, and Tai receiving ominous postcards. Nat immediately suspects Misty of sending the card to her, which makes sense, but if she knew Lottie was alive, wouldn’t it make even more sense for her to suspect Lottie? Isn’t Lottie the most obvious suspect? And why doesn’t Nat wonder if she was involved in killing Travis?
I’m sure there must be some answer here, and I’m on the edge of my seat to find out what it is. It seems to me that somehow Nat, Tai, and Shauna must have been ignorant of the survival of others, or otherwise unworried about them for some reason. There is a brief mention of others in the conversation between Shauna and Tai at the diner in Episode 1, but this could be read as a reference to Nat and Misty.
Maybe a group stayed in the woods and avoided rescue because they were so deep into the darkness they didn’t want to return from the wilderness, and this led our core group to presume them dead as the years passed because they couldn’t possibly survive out there that long. This is my best guess, but I suppose it could be something else.
Regardless, they weren’t at the high school reunion and their absence wasn’t noted. Everyone has been acting like Lottie and Van are gone from the world.
The question is not how they are alive so much as how it is that Nat and the others would be surprised to learn that they are.
Who are the guys with the symbol necklaces? Why are they kidnapping Nat?
We don’t see Lottie in 2021 at the end of Season 1, though we do see men wearing the symbol from the woods around their necks as they kidnap Nat. We’re led to infer that they are affiliated with Lottie because we hear her name on Suzie’s (Colleen Wheeler) voicemail at the same time. And they probably are; I’m just noting that we don’t actually know that for sure.
Regardless, what do these guys want? I’m presuming they are also the ones who killed Travis, though we don’t know that definitively either. We also don’t know why Travis was killed.
I’m imagining that the cult that started in the woods in 1996 has somehow expanded out into the world, however secretly, and gained followers. Though we should recall that it didn’t exactly start in 1996. The symbols were already there in the woods when the plane crashed, and we don’t know to what extent the supernatural is actually at play in this story.
Who is the Man With No Eyes?
We’ve only seen him a couple of times in Yellowjackets, but that doesn’t stop the Man With No Eyes from being the most frightening figure in the show. What we don’t know, however, is whether he is perhaps just a figment of Taissa’s imagination. Her nana claimed to see him, but we could take it as Taissa who sees him in the mirror in that scene. And it is Taissa again when he appears during a campaign speech.
The Man With No Eyes is in the opening credits of Yellowjackets Season 1, in the woods, so this may be a third instance, but that footage isn’t in the show proper (or hasn’t been as of yet). My hypothesis is that Taissa saw him in the woods, but we only get her reaction as opposed to a shot of him from her perspective.
Regardless, we might well wonder whether he is real, whatever that means. It’s noteworthy that Taissa works so hard to push the supernatural away while she is at the same time haunted by it. She would insist the Man With No Eyes is just her hallucination. That much we know. But is she right? And even if it is just a phantasm, where did this specific image come from?
Who is the man in the doorway?
The other man who appears in the credits does finally show up in the Season 1 finale. During her dream/transition to death, he welcomes Jackie and says “we’ve been waiting for you.” I’ll forgive everyone who kept insisting to me that this was Coach Scott (Steven Krueger) when I asked this question the first time because I understand how you got there by process of elimination. But, no, I think it’s confirmed that this is someone new.
Who is this guy? The obvious answer would be the dead man the girls found in the attic, whom they call Jacques. I’m happy to go with that if you are. But the more pressing question is why he is in Jackie’s “dream sequence” and whether he really haunts the place as some kind of specter.
There are indications that he does, but I expect Yellowjackets will continue to hew close to a space of ambiguity on its supernatural dimension. I could be wrong, though. That could be exciting if I am.
What was Nat right about?
I’ve saved the best for last, at least insofar as it kicks off from one of my most favorite scenes in all of Season 1.
After they discover Travis dead, Misty shows Nat where he’d written “Tell Nat she was right” on a notepad (this being an instance of the famous pencil trick to bring out indentations on the page). When she asks Nat if she knows what she was right about, Juliette Lewis gives such a magnificent line reading of “I don’t” that I chuckle every single time I watch the scene. It’s just brilliant stuff.
But what was Nat right about? And also, what’s the deal with this note? Despite Misty’s quip in the following episode that murder victims don’t tend to leave notes, it doesn’t really seem that Travis (Andres Soto) left this to be found. Note the pencil trick!
So we don’t know who he meant to address in writing these words. It’s even possible it was a note to self. But also, what happened to the piece of paper he actually wrote it on? I suppose it could have been in his pocket when he died, but if so it’s kind of odd that we never learned this definitively.
Either way, it’s a lingering mystery that Yellowjackets gave us early on in Season 1, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some had forgotten about it just because we’ve been bombarded with so many other questions. Nat was right about something she said to Travis, and this could have been between when they returned from the woods and now, or it could have been all the way back in 1996.
My best guess is that she hypothesized something about the others who didn’t come back with them, and she doesn’t even remember doing that by the time it’s 2021. But there is a whole lot of speculation that goes into suggesting that conclusion, so I can only be really tentative in even presenting the thought.
One way or another, though, this seems to cut to the heart of the mysteries in Yellowjackets. It resonates between the events in the past of 1996 and those in the present of 2021—just how does all of this hang together?
What questions are on your mind as we prepare for Yellowjackets Season 2? Is there anything I’ve missed? Anything you’re sure I’m wrong about? Let me know in the comments.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my recap. I’ll be back with weekly breakdowns of each Season 2 episode as it airs. Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!