‘Yellowjackets’ ending explained: Season 2 says goodbye to a fan favorite

By | May 26, 2023

Breathe in deeply. Now, what do you hear? Probably the sound of Yellowjackets fans sobbed after the absolute emotional devastation that was the Season 2 finale, “Storytelling.”

Yellowjackets ended its second season with an action-packed episode featuring a ritualistic hunt, Yellowjacket’s second foray into cannibalism, and a truly tragic death. Episode 9, “Storytelling,” covers a lot to get to these points, and even wraps up some of the show’s biggest storylines.

The result is Yellowjackets at its best – poignant, haunting, darkly funny – and the saddest.

Let’s break it down.


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The Yellowjackets deal with the fallout from Javi’s death.

Kevin Alves in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kimberley French/Showtime

We finally know the identity of the corpse the Yellowjackets carried in the Season 2 trailer: It’s Javi (Luciano Leroux), who froze to death in episode 8 after the Yellowjackets’ hunt for Natalie (Sophie Thatcher). Back at camp, the girls prepare to party, though in a fascinating move, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) covers her eyes before they start butchering him, perhaps trying to distance herself from the action as much as possible.

The most heartbreaking part of this opening – fittingly set to the Cranberries’ “Zombie”(opens in a new tab) — is Travis’ (Kevin Alves) pain when he learns that his younger brother is dead. After all, he just got him back, only to lose him not long after.

Nat feels a similar pain, along with the survivor’s guilt that comes with Javi dying in her place. In an attempt to explain what happened to Travis, she tells him, “The wasteland chose.”

The statement marks a big change for Nat, who has been consistently anti-wilderness cult throughout the season. Yet so much has changed since the start of winter, leading Nat to refuse Lottie’s hunting blessings. Nat ate Jackie with the other Yellowjackets. She was starving and felt the weight of the team’s hunger after each failed hunt. She saw Shauna almost die in childbirth, and even almost died herself before she was apparently rescued by the wilderness. She took Travis’ anguish over the missing Javi, and now this. Given all the added trauma, it makes sense that she turns to the wilderness for solace.


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In the present, the Yellowjackets plan another hunt.

A woman carrying a wooden tray with glasses filled with clear liquid.

Simone Kessell in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

According to present-day Lottie (Simone Kessell), the only way to appease the dark forces in the wilderness is to sacrifice one of them. Shockingly, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) goes along with this plan, and suggests they organize a hunt just like they did in the good old days – masks, cards and all! But don’t worry: She reveals to the others that this was just a ploy to stall for time so they can call in a psych team to help Lottie.

It turns out that Shauna underestimated everyone else’s commitment to the piece. Van (Lauren Ambrose) convinces Taissa (Tawny Cypress) to cancel the team so the Yellowjackets can deal with Lottie’s concerns in their own way. Really, but it seems like Van embraces the hunting ritual in a way that mirrors her younger self’s (Liv Hewson) transition into full cult mode.

With the psych team blown off and Lottie insisting on performing the ritual for the good of them all, the women draw cards, and Shauna draws the queen. The hunters don their masks and grab their knives, and no amount of harsh persuasion from Shauna can dissuade them. Yellowjackets’ predatory instincts are resurfacing, which means one thing: The hunt is on.

Lottie crowns a new Yellowjacket leader.

A young woman with a bruised and bloody face lying on the ground in a cabin.

Courtney Eaton in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kimberley French/Showtime

Between both timelines this season, Lottie has emerged as a completely tragic figure. The surviving Yellowjackets deify her younger self (Courtney Eaton), and Misty (Samantha Hanratty) even goes so far as to say she started the hunting ritual. She is less a person than a messianic figure to them, and in “Storytelling” she realizes that she has lost any sense of control she may have had. She has also lost her connection to the wilderness.

Lottie tells her teammates that it no longer needs her now that she has taught them to hear it and feel it. Because of this, Lottie relinquishes leadership – a position that was forced upon her anyway – to someone completely different: Nat. It’s a nice reversal from the start of the season, which saw Lottie in power and Nat denying the wilderness.

Season 2 focused on the push and pull between Nat and Lottie’s approaches to survival, particularly Nat’s denial of the wilderness. After Javi’s death, Nat seems to accept power, and with that title, leader.

She and Lottie have switched places: Lottie is now an outsider, while Nat receives tribute from the others. All she had to do to get there was play by their rules. How much will she embrace the sacrificial rituals going forward?

Walter and Jeff prove a team-up for the ages.

A man in a purple button-up shirt offers someone a green mug.

Elijah Wood in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Jeff (Warren Kole) and Callie (Sarah Desjardins) accompany Shauna to Lottie’s wellness retreat, with police officers Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) and Matt (John Reynolds) in hot pursuit. But guess who else is at Lottie’s? Walter (Elijah Wood)!

The citizen detective is here to rescue Misty (Christina Ricci) and drink hot cocoa – and he’s out of cocoa. More accurately, he’s completely out of cocoa because he gave a mug of phenobarbital lace to Kevyn, killing him just as Jeff was giving a false confession for the murder of Adam Martin. Once again, Jeff finds himself in a sick situation that he wants no part of – someone let this man go to a book club or something! — but he very kindly helps Walter move Kevyn’s body.

But Walter isn’t done! Determined to secure Misty’s heart (and the title of this episode’s MVP), he reveals to Matt that he has set up a trail of incriminating evidence linking Kevyn to a police corruption scandal and Adam’s death. He offers Matt a choice: go along with Walter’s lie and become a community hero, or be implicated in Kevyn’s place. Matt, being the villain that he is, chooses the former.

Good news for the Sadeckis: They’re out of the woods for the murder of Adam! Bad news for Sadeckis: The entire rest of the episode.

Natalie dies in a little bit of history repeating itself.

A woman in a purple shirt sits in front of lit candles.

Juliette Lewis in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

The hunt for Shauna goes awry when Callie and Lisa (Nicole Maines) intervene. In the ensuing altercation, Misty tries to inject Lisa with phenobarbital to prevent her from shooting Natalie (Juliette Lewis). But Nat pushes Lisa out of the way and takes the hit instead. It’s not long before she dies, and there’s nothing the other Yellowjackets can do to save her.

It’s a devastating moment Yellowjackets has been building throughout Season 2. Nat has taken active steps to heal throughout, and Lottie even confirmed her concerns about the Yellowjackets bringing the wilderness back with them. It gives her some closure, as well as a path forward, making her loss all the more upsetting.

This season we’ve also gotten a deeper understanding of Nat’s survivor’s guilt with the revelation that Javi died in her place. It is clear that death has been stalking her for the past 25 years. Now she dies in Lisa’s place, in what feels like an inevitable sacrifice to the wilderness. Adding to this idea of ​​inevitability is Nat’s vision before death, in which she finds herself on a plane with Javi, young Lottie and her younger self. According to the teenager Nat, she has always been here – “here” presumably meaning the precipice of death. But just because we knew Nat’s death was coming doesn’t hurt any less.

On top of the parallel to young Nat’s story, her death also speaks to young Misty’s arc this season. In episode 5, Misty accidentally contributed to the death of her best friend Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), who fatefully fell off a cliff. History repeats itself with Nat, and in the wake of Nat’s death, Misty sobs in Walter’s arms that she killed her best friend. How will this guilt affect her going forward?

Coach Ben burns everything down.

A man with crutches in a snowy forest.

Steven Krueger in “Yellowjackets”.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Just as we process our feelings over Nat’s death, Yellowjackets hits us with another major plot twist: The team’s cabin burns down, leaving the Yellowjackets with no shelter for the rest of the winter. And who is to blame, you might ask? None other than Coach Ben (Steven Krueger).

After discovering Javi’s underground hideout (and that Javi is now on the menu), Ben is all too ready to get away from the teenage cannibal crew. He even asks Nat to come with him, but at this point she is too engaged in the wilderness. “You really don’t belong in this place,” she tells him, hours before becoming the Yellowjackets’ leader.

Ben watches Nat’s ascension in horror as he tries to steal some matches to make a fire in his new home. And while we never see him put the guy down, that fight moment makes it pretty clear who’s to blame.

At this point, he is terrified of the team, and of how much they have given themselves to the wilderness. To ensure his own survival, and to ensure they don’t continue down this path, Ben sees killing them as his only option. It’s a particularly brutal move coming from the team’s former authority figure, but it certainly changes the game going into Season 3. Now that Camp Yellowjackets has been forcibly changed to an open-air experience, how will the team survive the rest of their time in the wild? And how can they repay Ben for his radical renovation?

Yellowjackets Season 2 is now streaming on Showtime.(opens in a new tab)

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