'Yellowjackets' Creators Talk Season 1 Finale and What's in Store for Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
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After 10 twist-filled and captivating episodes, Yellowjackets season 1 has come to a close. Creators and executive producers Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson of Showtime’s hit series about members of a high school soccer team stranded in the Canadian Rockies after a plane crash break down some of the finale’s biggest cliffhangers. The duo also teases to ET what’s to come in season 2 now that winter is here, and that the survivors are one step closer to cannibalism.
[Warning: Spoilers for season 1, episode 10, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi,” written by Lyle and Nickerson and directed by Eduardo Sanchez]
In the final hour, Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Natalie (Juliette Lewis) and Misty (Christina Ricci) must help Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) clean up her mess and dispose of Adam’s (Peter Gadiot) body before heading to their 25th high school reunion, where their forced to revisit their plane crash. But that’s not the only dead body in need of disposing of after Misty poisons Jessica (Rekha Sharma).
Later, Taissa learns that she had a miraculous finish at the polls and won her New Jersey senate race before her estranged wife, Simone (Rukiya Bernard), returns home to find a dog’s head and a broken doll among a collection of witchcraft-like objects in furnace. The episode ends with Natalie getting kidnapped by strangers wearing the mysterious rune symbol from the woods and the audience learning that Lottie is alive and drained Travis’ bank account before he died.
Back in 1996, in the woods where the surviving Yellowjackets are still stranded, the group is recovering from their mushroom induced Doomcoming party as individuals start turning on each other. Van (Liv Hewson) challenges Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) over her disbelief that something supernatural may be happening to them while Misty seeks forgiveness for drugging everyone.
Elsewhere, Travis (Kevin Alves) and Natalie profess their love for each other before he goes off in search of his younger brother, Javi (Luciano Leroux). Meanwhile, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) and Jackie (Ella Purnell) finally confront each other over everything that has happened between them, with the group sending Jackie out on her own before she eventually dies alone in the snow.
So, what comes next? See what Lyle and Nickerson have to say below...
ET: We didn’t end with the survivors engaging in cannibalism, which is something it felt like we were building up to all season. So, I was curious about why you didn’t go there in the finale and if there was a reason for holding off.
Ashley Lyle: It’s a case of wanting to make sure that we build the story properly and have – despite the heightened quality of the show – have the right amount of grounding. And in our minds, it just would take longer than the time we allotted for the first season to get to that actual point. I mean, in terms of crossing a Rubicon, that is a very big one. So, we wanted to really hit the emotional moments that we could see as precursors to that.
The intention was always that season 1 was always meant to be spring, summer, fall with a sort of “winter is coming” feel to it. And then season 2, winter hits and it’s sort of the apex of everything that we've seen building toward.
I would love to reassure all our viewers that we're not going to drag out cannibalism for five seasons. It is very much coming, but we want to make sure we get there the right way.
Bart Nickerson: A big part of that is that we a gave away the cannibalism in the pilot. And part of that is we wanted to build to not just that they do in fact engage in cannibalism, but why they do. So, really being able to build that out and sort of earn it in the way that we’d like and have planned to do, we just want to give that the time that it needs to be a kind of satisfying, engaging and believable.
Nickerson: This was an idea that existed from the very beginning. It was part of the pitch. The character of Jackie, in a lot of ways, sort of symbolizes something endowed by a kind of society. And so, to have that fall away over the course of the first season, her death represents a sort of slipping away of home in a very real way. That was something from the beginning that we started with.
Lyle: We felt like her character deserved a really emotional death. That was really important to us. And so, you know, so much of the season is built around Shauna and Jackie's friendship and the solution of that. I think that oftentimes female friendship, you know, it ebbs and flows, particularly at that age. It can be really volatile, their fights and then their makeups. And we fell in love with the idea that this is a situation that back in the real world would have probably resolved itself. It might’ve ended, you know, with them both going off to college and going to different colleges, maybe they never would have repaired that relationship. But the consequences obviously would have been just so much different.
And in terms of something that could weigh on Shauna and really change her moving forward, to have Jackie’s death be something that could arguably be her fault or not be her fault -- it’s really sort of a mutually assured situation because of their stubbornness and their pride and their refusal to just cross that line and make amends -- just felt really heartbreaking to us.
When it comes to Shauna and all the secrets from the past and present that seem to be piling up, are we going to see her crack or start to unravel at all?
Nickerson: I definitely think that there will be a kind of reckoning. Shauna is very much a character who started in this self-imposed kind of stasis, because she's trying to, as best as she can, cope with unresolved emotions and feelings around her trauma. And for Shauna, that is not going to continue to work for much longer. Like, we've already started to see throughout season 1.
Speaking of her trauma, my biggest thing is wanting to know what happened to her baby or the pregnancy while they’re stranded in the woods. And given that this show is eventually going to embrace cannibalism, is it the kind of show that will go there, with them eating the baby?
Lyle: I don't entirely know how to answer that question because I think people should be prepared for things to get quite a bit darker. We do know what goes on with the baby, but we're going to hold that pretty close to the vest right now.
I think though that for as much as we love to revel in the dark and the macabre, that there are certain lines that you can cross that will make it a show potentially not fun to watch anymore. And we always want to be careful with that, giving the viewer a really fun experience, even if it is dark and twisted. But we never want to get into a territory that is so fully grim or bleak that it’s no longer entertaining to watch.
Nickerson: I don’t think we’re trying to ever be provocative for the sake of being a provocative. We’re trying to create a mood and a kind of reality that is both fun, but also has a sort of like a visceral kind of experience with the stakes, especially in kind of the wilderness, but also in kind of the present day.
So, I guess the darker stuff or the gorier stuff are really just tools that we use in the service of that. You know, I think that as much as anything will dictate how far we go. It is something that's being decided like on the way based on what the moment needs.
Now that Lottie is the Antler Queen, what’s next for her in the past?
Nickerson: I think what you’re going to see in season 2 is going to be the continued emergence of her conversancy with something sort of beyond the normal kind of reality. She is not fully formed. Like, the thing she's going to be in the end, she is not yet.
And what about the present? What can we expect from adult Lottie?
Lyle: I would say a lot of, maybe barring Jeff [Shauna’s husband played by Warren Kole] and his blackmail scheme, a lot of what we've seen from the women in season1 is sort of an interior threat, particularly with Shauna. And I think that moving forward in season 2, we’ll see a little bit more exterior threat.
What’s up with the items in Taissa’s furnace mean? Has she gone full on witchcraft?
Lyle: Like Lottie, whether she is always conscious of it or not and as much as she’s trying to deny it to herself and repress it is, is in a way a believer as well. I think we can, for now, leave it at.
Nickerson: The intent of the final moment with Taissa was the realization about how this victory sort of happened. Not necessarily that she had consciously created an altar. So, that’s the place that we’ve left her in is that in season 2, she’ll have to be sort of grappling with that reality that this thing that she has gotten has come through this sort of dark way.
What’s the deal with the people wearing the rune symbol who kidnapped Natalie? Are they other survivors or new recruits?
Lyle: They are not survivors.
Nickerson: Those are new recruits.
Now that winter has arrived, what's in store for season 2? How would you describe the theme or the overall intention of what comes next?
Lyle: I would say that season 1 was really about fissures and the past bubbling to the surface. And I think, you know, Bart used the word reckoning before, and I think that there will be a more direct reckoning with the past moving forward.
Nickerson: There's also something that [director] Karyn Kusama said in our first meeting, which feels like a million years ago, where she pitched as a subtitle for the show, she said, “Yellowjackets: An American War Story.” And that’s always kind of stuck with me. And I think that will be very true with season 2.