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Remember when TV networks spent the better part of a decade trying to find the next Lost, with series like ABC’s Flash Forward or CBS’s Threshold gunning for (and failing to find) the same rabid “watercooler show” status amongst audiences? While those costly experiments ended in tears, television may have finally found an heir apparent to Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof’s iconic sci-fi series in Showtime's twisty thriller Yellowjackets.
Seventeen years after Jack, Kate, Hurley and the rest of Oceanic Flight 815 made TV history, Showtime has delivered a creepy, intense (and funny AF) drama whose elevator pitch could be: “This is the show Stephen King would make if he mixed Lost and Lord of the Flies.” Like Lost, Yellowjackets explores the same grand themes of love, destiny and finding yourself after surviving a plane crash. Only this time, our survivors are mostly an all-girls high school soccer team from 1996, called the Yellowjackets. The addictive series flashes back in between the early days of their 19 months stranded in the middle of a mysterious (and definitely haunted) woods and the aftermath of their rescue in 2021.
Think: What if someone built a whole show out of Lost’s “Oceanic Six” plot line where some of the survivors were rescued? But, unlike Lost, Yellowjackets’ main characters don’t pass the time investigating the mystery of a hatch or outrunning the Smoke Monster. Instead, their efforts to survive eventually lead to the girls engaging in ritualistic cannibalism. Yup, they eat each other. Rocking some Fury Road-looking head pieces and cult-like ceremony with their, um, meal prep.
In recent weeks, Yellowjackets has become the show on Twitter. Fans can’t get enough of the weekly exploits of our core group of survivors as we watch their high school selves barely hold on in the face of weird symbols and potential spiritual possessions, all as their modern day versions struggle to keep the truth of their survival a secret as those secrets quickly turn to poison in the here and now. The twisty plot gives way to far too many fan theories, some sound and others *shakes head*. With two episodes left in Yellowjackets freshman season, here are three of the biggest fan theories we hope the show solves soon.
But before we rattle those off, here’s a quick primer on the main characters that our theories focus on:
**SPOILER WARNING! Do not read further if you have yet to watch the show. You’ll just be wasting your time and ruining the fun of watching this series cold.**
Shauna, Sophie Nelisse (teen)/Melanie Lynskey (adult): Shauna is a jaded (but a-mah-zingly snarky and capable) suburban housewife, seemingly on the downslope of her marriage to struggling furniture store owner Jeff, who may or may not either be cheating on Shauna or trying to blackmail her and her fellow survivors for cash. In the woods, Shauna’s big secret was that she was pregnant. Her even bigger secret? The father of that baby is her best friend Jackie’s boyfriend, Jeff. The same Jeff that Shauna is now married to and has a teenage daughter with. (That daughter is not the offspring Shauna was preggers with in the woods. We don’t know what happened to that kid, but given that Shauna and a friend tried to abort that child in the woods, we’re guessing that child’s story may be short-lived.)
Natalie, Sophie Thatcher (teen)/Juliette Lewis (adult): Lewis’ Nat is fresh out of rehab and one broken shoelace away from stumbling back into old habits when we meet her in 2021. Teen Nat finds solace with the most unlikely person: Travis, whose dad, Nat’s coach, died in the crash. (Travis’ little brother, Javi, was also on the plane and survived). Compounding Nat’s struggles in the present day, aside from her fierce lack of f**ks to give, is both her need to find out who is blackmailing her and and her friends and why the only person she ever truly loved, the only person to ever understand her, Travis, recently died in what appears to be a suicide.
Taissa, Jasmin Savoy Brown (teen)/Tawny Cypress (adult): Tai is the type of character who, on the surface, radiates being a hero. We’d want her to be our leader in a post-plane crash scenario. She’s a natural leader, which is ideal to have in a post-plane crash scenario. And, overall, she is just a cool person. Minus her whole sleepwalking disorder where she sometimes eats dirt in her sleep (and, as an adult, nibbles on her own hand). The stress of adult Tai’s political campaign seems to have triggered the return of her sleepwalking issue, as she now does it outside her disturbed son’s bedroom. She also occasionally sees a pale, eyeless figure in a black suit coat — a presence that once stalked her now-deceased grandmother and seems to be haunting her now as well.
Got it? Cool. Okay, fan theory time:
Is Tai possessed?
After the events of Episode 8, “Flight of the Bumblebee,” there’s nothing that disputes the popular notion among fans that some… thing might be pupating Tai into her sleepwalking phases. I mean, she could be just an extreme sleepwalker. But her history with the man with no eyes, and her ties to him as a young girl — she first saw the scary figures as a little girl at her dying grandma’s bedside — indicate that a supernatural entity or presences might be at work. In the woods, Tai’s eyes look more red than brown, too, when she is in her dirt-eating state. Or when she somehow, in her sleep, scrambled up a tall tree with a flair gun and a protective talisman that her lover, fellow survivor Van, had around her neck before Van’s face was mauled by wolves.
Adult Tai grows keenly aware of her dual nature, and is understandably frightened of it. She’s frightened by the actions she has no memory of taking and of the potential violent consequences that could manifest from them or upon her family. The people she loves seem to end up getting hurt, and if there is a supernatural force at work — one that either latched onto her at the time of her grandparent’s passing or post-plane crash — expect Yellowjackets to continue to reveal the effects of that otherworldly complication in a slow burn.
Did Jackie get out of the woods or what?
Look, after Jackie ratted out Shauna and her pregnancy to the group, and proved she’s clearly the type of popular girl in high school who gets her kicks out of kicking others when they are down, we are more comfy with the idea of her becoming an entree on her teammates’ dinner menu. At the same time, there’s evidence to strongly suggest that Jackie survives the woods only to die (or possibly disappear) shortly after being rescued.
Assuming the journal we saw in Episode 6 was indeed Jackie’s, there’s a header in it that reads “Movie Characters I Would Be” and one of them is Kirsten Dunst’s cheerleader from 2000’s Bring It On. (1999’s Oscar-winning American Beauty also appears written in the journal.) Given that the Yellowjackets crashed in 1996 and spent 19 months Lord of the Flies-ing it up, the math and Jackie’s journal entries support the theory that Jackie lived long enough to die some time after 2000. Or, at least, go missing without a trace and is presumed dead. Either way, Shauna seems to have something to do with it, or knows what happened to Jackie, as Shauna’s visions of Jackie in the waking world of 2021 strongly hint to some guilt tied to her former best friend’s absence.
What the hell is up with Adam?
From jump street, something was off about Adam (Peter Gadiot).
Ever since Shauna rear-ended him in her van, and his car conveniently had no damage, the handsome “former art student” and his too-perfect, rom-com-y banter and charm felt like a red flag being held by a red flag. That was confirmed in “Flight of the Bumblebee,” when Shauna confronted him point blank by asking who he really is. (Our hearts broke-ish for her, too, in this scene. After Shauna proclaimed proudly to her condescending daughter that the only thing her fling wanted was her, that was no ulterior motive or hidden agenda providing the scaffolding of their adulterous relationship, that rose-colored bubble burst with a cursory examination of Adam’s lack of social media presence. Ditto the zero evidence that he even attended the art school of which he claimed to be a graduate).
So who is Adam? One of the more popular theories is that he is fellow woods survivor Javi, all grown up. And, honestly, that checks out. Javi, the younger brother of the now-deceased Travis, would have been 12 or 13 when their plane crashed. Gadiot is 35, so that tracks with the in-show timeline. Javi also showed a predication to arts and crafts during his time in the woods, having carved a small totem for Shauna with the knife she caught him rummaging for in her bag. Also also? Adam admits to Shauna that he has an older brother, presumably Travis. And since the funds in Travis’ bank account were accessed after Travis’ death, it is safe to assume that only family members have such access. (Fans seem poised to find out the identity of the recipient of Travis’ money soon, as Nat recently blackmailed her old sponsor, a current high-level bank employee, to find that information.)
If Adam is indeed Javi, operating under a recent fake name, we struggle to shake hands with another fan theory that suggests that Adam/Javi is Travis’ murderer. Adam does not give off fratricide vibes, which means if Adam/Javi didn’t kill Travis (and try to make it look like a suicide), then there is someone else out there with blood on their hands possibly closing in on the present-day Yellowjackets and those in their orbit.
Expect those paths to collide (hopefully) over the next two weeks as Yellowjackets wraps up its addictive first season.
Yellowjackets airs Sundays on Showtime.