The actress talks to ET about spoilers in the season 1 finale of the hit Showtime series.
After a season of dark omens, near death experiences and many theories, Jackie’s fate on Yellowjackets was finally revealed. And while it’s one that some viewers may have predicted, how things unfolded was still very much a surprise. Actress Ella Purnell as well as creators and executive producers Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson break down Jackie’s journey, the finale episode and what’s to come in season 2.
[Warning: Spoilers for “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi,” written by Lyle and Nickerson, and directed by Eduardo Sanchez.]
At the end of season 1’s last episode, Jackie died after being forced to survive outside on her own. “This was an idea that existed from the very beginning. It was part of the pitch,” Nickerson tells ET. “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.”
Back in 1996, in the Canadian Rockies where the surviving Yellowjackets are still stranded, members of the group start turning on each other. And it’s during the episode’s final moments that Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) and Jackie finally confront each other over everything that has happened between them since they’ve survived the plane crash. The emotional and game changing fight, with the remaining survivors taking Shauna’s side, leads to Jackie getting kicked out of the cabin and freezing to death in the snow.
“We felt like her character deserved a really emotional death. That was really important to us,” Lyle says, explaining that much of season 1 is built around Shauna and Jackie's friendship. And the fact that they couldn’t find a way to resolve their issues -- with Shauna becoming pregnant after sleeping with Jackie’s boyfriend being one major one -- “was just really heartbreaking to us,” she adds.
“It was sad,” Purnell says of reading the final script, especially given the arc that her character went on over the course of the season. And because of that, one of the things the actress wanted to do was to make sure “that the death was impactful, if not divisive for the audience.”
From the premiere, Jackie was admittedly not the most likable character, described on paper as a stereotypical queen bee who has it all, but she had her positive traits. She was the soccer team’s captain, best friends with Shauna, whom Jackie helps calm her fear of flying by lending her her necklace before the two get on their ill-fated plane.
But at the same time, Jackie often rubbed the rest of her team the wrong way, failed to contribute to the group’s survival in a meaningful way and even hooked up with Travis (Kevin Alves) despite knowing that Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) likes him.
“Jackie is not the most likable character,” Purnell says of having to carefully toe the line with her evolution of the character from episode to episode. “But technically speaking, by the finale, she’s done nothing wrong. Whereas Shauna, who is the likable one, has done things wrong.”
Of course, the actress is referring to Shauna’s betraying Jackie by sleeping with Jeff and threatening to slice up Travis during Doomcoming. She adds, “When you take these women out of civilization, a normal, practical society and you put them in the wilderness, the rights and the wrongs don’t matter.”
Before Jackie does succumb to the outdoors, there’s a dream sequence that leads her back into the cabin. But once she’s inside, things quickly turn into a nightmare when she’s confronted by the group, including Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) and the mystery man from the opening credits. “It’s a really tender moment for a second, and then it got really f**king creepy,” Purnell says.
Ahead of the finale, the creators told ET audiences would see the unidentified man in the episode but didn’t offer any more details. When asked if she knew anything specific about who he is, Purnell was quick to say, “I can’t tell you.”
Given the number of dead bodies that have piled up along with an increasing number of unanswered questions, it’s any wonder if they or Jackie will appear again in the future, whether in flashbacks or another form. While Purnell claims she has no idea what’s in store for her character, she’s hopeful she’ll turn up again. “I keep trying to convince the writers. Like, I’m trying to come up with all these different reasons why they should write me in the next season,” she says, joking fans should start a petition to bring her back as a ghost.
If nothing else, Jackie’s death will weigh heavily on Shauna, who is facing a reckoning in season 2, with the creators acknowledging that it’s something “that could arguably be her fault.”
Until then, another lingering question is what happens to Jackie’s body. While the finale didn’t go there in terms of the cannibalism teased in the season 1 premiere, could she be the first person the remaining survivors eat? “I don’t know. But I mean, it’s going to happen at some point,” Purnell says, before teasing, “Let me put it this way: it’s going to be a long, cold winter.”
Season 1 of Yellowjackets is now streaming on Showtime.