‘Yellowjackets’ Boss on Jackie’s Fate in the Season 1 Finale

Ella Purnell as Teen Jackie in Yellowjackets
Spoiler Alert
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Yellowjackets Season 1 finale “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.”]

Yellowjackets Season 1, in the 1996 timeline after the plane crash, seemed to be building to Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) death, but was the finale it for her?

Yes, it was, as following a fight with Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) in which pretty much everything came out — Jackie knows her best friend is pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby, and Shauna admits she’s not jealous of her but feels sorry for her — Jackie left the cabin. Though it appeared that Shauna went to fix things, it turned out she didn’t, and Jackie froze to death overnight. Later, Lottie (Courtney Eaton), with Van (Liv Hewson) and Misty (Samantha Hanratty), left a bear heart as a sacrifice.

“We didn’t set out to be shocking or gruesome, to be clear,” co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco tells TV Insider. “We just wanted to be truthful. And so whatever the characters were experiencing, we wanted to show — not gratuitously or salacious or anything — but we felt like in order to really give you the visceral experience of what they’re going through, we have to show you some of the truth. But it was interesting to us that people felt the show was so brutal, because again, we are not in the shock business. We’re really trying to keep the emotional storylines and the specificity of the characters at the forefront, but inevitably, because they’re under such duress and they’re going to deal with such trauma, we have to show some of that when it’s appropriate.”

Lisco breaks down Jackie’s death and teases what’s ahead for the crash survivors in the woods in Season 2. (Plus, check out scoop on the present-day timeline here.)

It felt like all season we were waiting to see Jackie’s death. What did you want to do with that moment? There’s the surreal nature of the cabin. There’s everyone gathered. There’s that “we’ve been waiting for you.”

Jonathan Lisco: Firstly, I’m curious, if I may ask you a question, about whether or not you found our choice controversial… did you expect that Jackie would perish at the end of the season?

Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna, Ella Purnell as Teen Jackie in Yellowjackets

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

I felt like since we knew that she was dead, that was something that shouldn’t have been left for the second season.

I’m so glad. That’s why we put a cap on it. We wanted to make sure that we were satisfying the audience in that respect. I’ve seen some people say, “Oh, I thought they were going to eat her,” or “I thought some other outcome was going to happen.” And let me tell you what we always wanted to do: When we’re looking at the storylines, we obviously are looking at the concrete plot, but we’re equally, if not more so, looking at the emotional plot. And so to take Shauna into 2021, we wanted to make sure that the burden that she was carrying was emanating from the most riveting emotional storyline we could come up with, something that was really endemic to female friendship, this idea of rupture and repair.

Obviously they had a major rupture in Episode 10. It had been brewing all season — this idea that you were living in my shadow, I have a life of my own, all this stuff — and it comes into full pyrotechnics in Episode 10. Then just out of stubbornness, the fact that neither can just cross a line and say I’m sorry, even though Shauna dreams about it — because to me, that’s Shauna’s dream that’s happening that she awakes from. It’s not just a vision for our audience. Now there are multiple interpretations of that. One is Jackie in her sort of netherworld state before she perishes had that vision. But another, of course, is that Shauna was having that dream and awoke from it to find Jackie out in the woods. But anyway, back to this, neither one can apologize, and that leads to the tragic demise of Jackie that now Shauna has to carry with her in a completely guilt-ridden, awful way for the rest of her life. And as we were thinking about how to end Jackie’s storyline and end Jackie literally, we were like, that’s it. That’s the most emotional way to do it, so that Shauna is haunted by these ghosts for the rest of her life.

The Teens in the Cabin in Yellowjackets

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

So you’re ruling out that the Season 2 premiere is going to pick up, plane crash timeline, they’re eating Jackie?

I think that’s fairly safe to say. But I wouldn’t commit to it. I think anything is possible, but I think in a way — I just want to back up and say we’re not really going for the sensational jugular, this idea of cannibalism. I’ve loved hearing that the audience thinks that cannibalism is now one of the least interesting things about the show, because it’s definitely vectoring in that direction, right? But it’s not about whether or not they’re going to resort to cannibalism. It’s about why and how they will resort to cannibalism. And so I’m not saying that won’t be the way we open Season 2. But what I am saying is it feels too fast in a way. Have these women descended to that point yet?

If we cut forward six months, maybe, but toying with the plasticity of our storytelling, it feels like one of the things that the audience is really responding to is the organic, relatively slow evolution of these characters into a kind of savagery, a kind of brutal psychological savagery. Whether or not that crosses the line immediately into physical savagery, personally, I think that may be a little too quick, but again, ruling nothing out. Once we get into the writers’ room and we hash it out, what we’re going to do is look at what is the most emotional storyline to tell, not just the most shocking one.

So if you’re saying that that was Shauna’s dream, are you ruling out that we would see that surreal cabin again in the future when other characters die?

No. I think that that cabin has taken on sort of a life of its own. There’s a French Canadian trapper, let’s just say, who died there under mysterious circumstances whom they found in a chair clutching a rifle. Now, why would he be in a chair, clutching a rifle? Was he scared to leave? If so, what was preventing him from leaving? What dark force had him so terrified where he couldn’t leave his own house? Did he go there alone? Who was with him? Those are really interesting questions to explore that will then cross pollinate with the girls’ storylines.

Courtney Eaton as Teen Lottie in Yellowjackets

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

What is going on with Lottie and that sacrifice? How much should we be keeping the fact that Misty was with her at the end there in mind when it comes to Misty as an adult?

What we wanted to do is really sow the seeds of the encroaching factionalization of these women in the woods, and so Misty is a deeply sort of loyal person. I love the fact that you hit on Misty because she seems kind of so indefinable at times and yet very loyal. So, this idea that she might actually be quote, unquote leaning toward Lottie’s side of things I would say is either emanating from within her because she actually feels that same energy that Lottie is feeling or is strategic because she feels like maybe that’s where the wind is blowing in terms of the social hierarchy. That’s a tension we intend to play with, too, just whose side, if in fact there do become sides, is Misty on.

What can you say about where Javi (Luciano Leroux) is?

Javi is lost, and we’re going to look for him and figure out where he is in Season 2.

Steven Krueger as Ben Scott, Samantha Hanratty as Teen Misty in Yellowjackets

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

We’re already seeing that Ben (Steven Krueger) has pretty much lost all semblance of authority with these girls. What does that mean for him and the girls going forward?

I think it’s terrifying. Speaking as a man, too, whether or not it was a bunch of women, men, it’s just a bunch of young people who now feel like with all the conventions of society coming down, they have no respect for adult authority anymore. That’s a terrifying place to be, especially when you have one leg and you’re trying to survive and you rely on them literally to eat. So I think he’s in a very perilous position. I think he’s going to do everything he can to ally with people to try and protect himself moving forward and self-preserve.

And stay away from Misty?

I think he can do his best to try and stay away from Misty. But as you can see, there’s a little Annie Wilkes in Misty. Misty is no dummy. Misty is going to make sure that he knows where his bread is literally and proverbially buttered and I think is going to continue to terrorize him at some level. But don’t forget, Misty’s also reachable on an emotional level, so if he plays his cards right, he might be able to ameliorate the threat from her, at least in the short term.

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Is there one major question that you can tease will be answered in Season 2?

I think you will see the young women in the 1996 storyline start to engage in a more brutal form of social hierarchy and as things in the woods get more stressful and as they’re put under more duress, we may inevitably see them factionalize more into groups. What we’d like to do is dramatize that without losing sight of our characters’ humanity because we don’t want to use any of them just as props in other people’s storylines. What we want to do is make sure that as we’re having them make the difficult choices in the woods, especially as scarcity sets in and possibly winter sets in, we’re still able to identify with their choices and see ourselves in them so that we can continue to empathize with them. But I think there will be a schism that occurs in the young women. And then following that into the 2021 storyline, the new survivors who show up may be carrying some of those old wounds into the present.

Yellowjackets, Season 2, TBA, Showtime