- “Yellowjackets” showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson spoke with Insider about the finale.
- The duo broke down all the biggest moments, including Jackie’s fate and that Lottie twist.
- “I think it’s fair to question everything,” Nickerson said.
At its core, “Yellowjackets” is a story of survival.
The stellar new drama from Showtime, which aired its highly-anticipated season finale on Sunday, follows a group of teenage girls — the talented Yellowjackets soccer team — from New Jersey after their plane crash-lands in the Canadian wilderness in 1996. With only one surviving adult, and a whole lot of hormones, the team is forced to figure out how to survive in the Ontario forest before winter comes.
Viewers learn in one of the show’s very first scenes that some surviving members of the team turned to cannibalism in order to stay alive in the wilderness — but who got eaten, who made the decision to feast on human flesh, and why haven’t been revealed yet. The show also jumps forward in time to the present day, where several surviving Yellowjackets are now adults, but still grappling with the effects of the ordeal they endured 25 years prior.
But to categorize “Yellowjackets” as a mere survival epic, writing it off as simply a teen-girl version of “Lost” or “Lord of the Flies,” would be doing it a massive disservice.
In addition to the horror elements, the show is also, at times, a psychological thriller (some of the adult Yellowjackets are being blackmailed by an unknown person who knows what they did to survive in the woods), a coming-of-age drama (even teen girls stranded in the wilderness can’t escape hormonal urges), and, oddly enough, a love story (adult survivor Shauna’s strained relationship with her husband, Jeff, is both fascinating and excruciating to observe).
Insider spoke with showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson ahead of the season finale to break down all the episode’s biggest twists and turns, from Jackie’s unexpected fate to Simone’s disturbing discovery — and of course, that huge Lottie twist in the final moments.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Sunday’s “Yellowjackets” season finale, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.”
Libby Torres, Insider: I just finished watching the finale, and I have so many questions. But to start with the easy stuff — the show’s use of music is so fantastic. That needle drop at the reunion! Have there been any songs that you wanted to use but you just couldn’t get the rights?
Ashley Lyle, showrunner: I think for the most part we actually got really fortunate. There were a couple that we almost didn’t get and we wrote letters on occasion to really plead our case and why we felt it was just so perfect and so right to have a certain song in a certain place.
And we certainly had to get permission — a lot of different artists really wanted to see script pages. They wanted to see scenes. So there were a couple places where we got kind of nervous, cause we’re like, “Okay, here you go. Our cannibalism show.” And it was always a really delightful surprise when people said yes!
Bart Nickerson, showrunner: It was crazy. ‘Cause like there were some scenes, you know, when it would come back that the band wanted to see the scene, we were just like, “Well, that might be it,” but then we’d get a resounding yes.
Probably the biggest reveal for me in the finale was that Lottie is seemingly the blackmailer of the surviving Yellowjackets in present-day. Does that mean that she’s still alive? What’s going on with her?
Lyle: I think everyone should buckle up to meet Lottie Matthews. I’ll say that much.
Nickerson: I guess it’s pretty clear, or mostly clear, that she survives, and I guess maybe, in a sort of twisted and warped way, has thrived since the rescue.
Do you have another fabulous ’90s actress lined up to play her in season two?
Nickerson: We don’t actually have someone cast yet. We’re at the beginning of that process. But yeah, we definitely need to find somebody who is talented and dynamic. We just have such an incredible cast of skilled, sensitive, actors. We definitely need somebody that can hang at that level.
Lyle: That’s gonna be a really interesting challenge. We have not cast anybody yet, but Courtney [Eaton, who plays a teenage Lottie] is very unique. She’s unique in her spirit and her presence. She’s unique in her heritage. And so we want to be very deliberate when it comes to casting an adult Lottie.
I was absolutely shocked by Jackie dying from being out in the cold. I have so many questions about her last moments — like, the man that was talking to her in her vision. Was that the dead guy from the cabin?
Lyle: Yes, he is the infamous dead cabin guy. I think that sequence — the “Jackie death dream sequence,” as we referred to it — was one of our favorite scenes that we did all season. We wanted it to be moving, but deeply unsettling and really spooky.
And I think that Ella [Purnell, who plays Jackie on “Yellowjackets”] absolutely nailed her performance — the vulnerability, the relief that slowly gives way to fear. Everyone just did an absolute bang-up job on that scene and we were really, really happy with how it turned out.
So was that just your run-of-the-mill death hallucination, or was it kind of trying to tie into the fact that there’s clearly something supernatural going on in these woods?
Nickerson: Well, that question of what was happening in that sort of space between life and death for Jackie — or was it Shauna’s projection, like her subconscious becoming aware of what was happening? — what exactly is happening in that space really is like a fundamental question of the show that we are both exploring and learning about ourselves.
So, I don’t know that it’s possible to give a definitive answer. I don’t mean that in a cagey way, I just mean that there are so many experiences that people have that are so difficult to interpret. Really at the end of the day, what it means for anything that is “supernatural” to be real is one that is both a litmus test for the individual character, and really for the individual members of the audience.
Switching gears a little bit, Taissa’s wife found some crazy shit in their basement. Was that Taissa’s altar? Did she kill Biscuit? And also there’s this suggestion that Taissa kind of goes into this fugue state sometimes — anything you can say about that?
Nickerson: I think it’s fair to say that the altar was created by Taissa’s body, we’ll say. And then I think this question of the fugue state and to what extent she has any sort of agency within that, I think will continue to be a question that is played with.
I would submit that she wasn’t fully conscious of what she was doing in the creation of the altar, but we do have the moment at the end of the finale where we see the revelation, that there’s the connection between what we’ll just call the darkness, and her win in the election. The realization of that connection is gonna be a problem that she’s gonna have to sort out for herself in the next season.
Did Misty kill Jessica Roberts, or is Jessica just incapacitated?
Lyle: No, she’s dead. Misty very much killed her, yeah.
That was what I thought, but sometimes things can be ambiguous! So I just wanted to double check she was dead.
Nickerson: Yeah, no. I will just say, I think it is fair to question everything. Because we are definitely a show that wants to play with subjectivity and ambiguity, for sure.
Lyle: I think too, though, it’s important to point out that our goal is to never leave the audience hanging fully. I mean, obviously, there’s some cliffhangers at the end of this season, but if we ask big questions that have answers, we intend to give them. But some questions don’t have answers.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.