Yellowjackets season two is nearly upon us, which means it’s time to start wildly speculating about what Shauna, Nat, Taissa, Misty, and the rest of the team did out in those woods. It can’t just be cannibalism, right? Something else is clearly going on. But what, exactly, is that “something else?” Fans of the show have been throwing out theories since the show first started airing. And while some of those have been proven out while others have been debunked (Lottie is the Antler Queen; Adam is not Javi, though the showrunners did consider that at one point; and Jackie is definitely dead), there’s still plenty to speculate about. Here, The A.V. Club’s resident citizen detectives, Hattie Lindert and Jen Lennon, weigh in on the likelihood of the buzziest Yellowjackets fan theories before season two starts March 24.
What does the symbol mean?
Theory one: It’s a map based on trigonometry theory that will lead the team out of the woods.
Jen Lennon: I love the energy of this one. So much research, kinda unhinged, really a perfect vibe for the show. But it doesn’t quite connect for me.
Hattie Lindert: Yeah, it feels like the essence of what a fan theory is supposed to be: stringing together a variety of little details in a super line-by-line reading, building off of other Redditors’ analysis (and crediting them, good form!) and leaning all the way in.
But I agree, I don’t know if I’m necessarily buying it—it seems to spell out a bit too much almost?
JL: Yeah, just thinking about it realistically—this implies some Zodiac killer-level symbology. And if the purpose of the symbol is to communicate, well, it’s not doing that very effectively if it takes this much effort to figure it out. But that leads into a bigger question: What’s the purpose of the symbol? Maybe the goal isn’t communication at all.
Theory two: It’s a hobo symbol warning people to stay away from the area.
HL: As far as communication, I really like the hobo symbol theory: It makes sense, based on the random plane and this idea that the wilderness “calls people in,” that other unlucky travelers would have tried to find ways to communicate with each other and/or future stranded individuals and warn them about the sinister aspects to the cabin that haven’t completely been revealed yet (but definitely feel apparent). Then again, I feel like that theory doesn’t really account for the supernatural aspect of it all. I’m especially thinking about the candles being found in that pattern at Travis’ death site. If that’s the case, there’s clearly a religious/slightly divine aspect to the symbol that hints at something bigger than just leftover markings from another unlucky explorer.
JL: Initially I wasn’t really buying the hobo symbol theory because the crash site is so remote. Who would the person or people who created the symbol be trying to warn? It definitely doesn’t seem like the kind of place that hikers or anyone else would stumble upon. But I love that idea of other unlucky travelers getting stuck. Maybe the Yellowjackets aren’t the first people who have gotten stuck here. Maybe they’re just the only ones who have been found. And if that’s the case, if there are or were others out in the wilderness, then I think the religious aspect makes a lot more sense. Spend enough time cut off from other people, and you’re going to develop some coping mechanisms that look odd to outsiders. We’re already seeing that with the Yellowjackets, and they’ve only been out there a few months.
It definitely seems like the symbol predates the Yellowjackets, but if there was someone before them, would they really be thinking, “This could happen to someone else; I’d better leave some hints to help those mythical future people”?
HL: It does seem like any potential unlucky travelers would be much more focused on trying to figure things out for themselves in the moment than preparing for the POSSIBILITY that someone else might face a similar fate. I feel like ultimately, whatever the symbol does end up meaning, it’s definitely going to have something to do with that idea of coping mechanisms. Whether this is a mechanism that was supernaturally offered to them by some wilderness spirit, or just a product of the team’s own (pun absolutely intended) hive mind as a group, I think it’s clearly one they’re in a vulnerable enough place to rely on.
It’s also interesting how close a connection Lottie seems to have to the symbol, and how she turns into this bonafide Antler Queen. Especially with Lottie set to be introduced as an older survivor in season two, I have a lot of questions headed into it about how she fell into that role. And I’m also interested to see if her main naysayers Taissa and Shauna ultimately end up succumbing to belief in or worship of the symbol. As that altar discovery in the season-one finale demonstrates, Tai clearly has a special connection to the symbol herself (or at least, the sleepwalking, “bad one” version of Tai seems to).
Theory three: It’s a map leading to an abandoned mineshaft.
HL: I loved this one and how they tied it together right down to the cause of the red river being runoff from a potential shaft, although the idea of any survivors still being stuck out there seems beyond unrealistic to me. It’s been how many years?
JL: Right, we have no idea how long someone else might have been stuck there. But I also love this one; the runoff seems extremely plausible. Whether or not the symbol is actually pointing them to a mineshaft, it seems like there could definitely be some major metal deposits in the area. That could be what’s messing with their compass, too.
HL: So true about the compass, and I like the idea that there’s another weird, semi-haunty space they might end up occupying besides the cabin. Cabin Guy at least was clearly prepared (all those bullets!).
Theory four: It’s a diagram explaining how to field dress a deer.
JL: I found this one pretty compelling. It seemed like the simplest and most plausible explanation to me. If there was someone else out there before them, and they weren’t super experienced with hunting, it makes sense to me that they’d create sort of a crude instruction manual on how to field dress ... well, hopefully whoever created it was intending for it to be used on animals.
HL: Field dressing definitely seems the simplest and sweetest, although there is a part of me that’s holding out for something just a little bit spookier. It really feels like there’s something unique about this wilderness, and like the symbol is going to become valuable to them in a way that goes beyond any of the basic survival needs (food, water, shelter).
I also feel like I’m waiting for a larger purpose behind the symbol because of how central it seems to be to the cult that kidnaps Natalie. Clearly, the power of the symbol lived on through Lottie, but also through whoever sent those “Wish You Were Here” postcards. Could it be there are more survivors out there who we haven’t been introduced to? We know Van and Lottie will both be introduced in this next season, but there are still some characters—Mari, Coach Ben, Javi (if he’s still out there)—whose fates haven’t exactly been sealed.
Are there other survivors?
Theory one: There are eight survivors.
JL: That’s a perfect segue. Do you think there are more survivors? I think Mari is Pit Girl. But the others ... it’s kind of a toss-up for me. If Coach Ben did get out, he’d probably go into hiding just to get away from Misty, right?
HL: One hundred percent agree with you on pit girl being Mari, especially now that Jackie is pretty definitively departed. (I love how smart they’ve been with moving Jackie’s necklace from person to person, leaving us to question who actually ends up dying in it.) It would definitely be funny to see what a future Coach Ben would do if Misty ever tried to re-enter his life, but my gut tells me that he’s either going to sacrifice himself for the girls ... or they’re going to take matters into their own hands and sacrifice him themselves. I feel like because we still haven’t re-encountered Javi, I’m drawn to believe that he is still alive, at least in the wilderness. I’m not so certain he actually ends up being rescued, but something tells me that him running away after the Doomcoming isn’t the last we’ll see of him. It feels like the classic horror movie fake-out: Until we really see the body, how can we know he’s gone?
JL: Agreed on all counts. It seems pretty unlikely that Coach Ben made it out of the woods. And I don’t think Javi is dead after the Doomcoming, but I’m also not sure he’ll be alive when they’re rescued. But obviously there’s a lot of time in between those two events. We definitely haven’t seen the last of him. I get why the creators decided not to make him Adam, and that was probably the right call. But, on that subject ...
What’s up with Adam?
Theory one: He’s secretly a Yellowjackets super-fan.
Theory two: His tattoo has something to do with the plane crash.
Theory three: His murder was recorded.
HL: He’s absolutely had me scratching his head. Why is he so interested in these girls? I definitely get the sense that he’s a secret super fan, especially if we’re to believe he stole Shauna’s journals. I feel like given how trained we are with this show to keep an eye out for symbols, his tattoo has to mean something. Does it connect him to other super fans? And ultimately, is anyone going to come looking for him besides the police? I think there’s definitely a possibility the murder was recorded—Misty had so much surveillance going that season; there’s more than a fair chance she had cameras in his home too. But I’m also really interested to see how Elijah Wood’s season-two character—a fellow citizen detective who connects with Misty online—will connect with everything. This could be just throwing an idea at the wall (what fan theory isn’t, really?), but I would buy a connection between Wood’s character and Adam being the catalyst to Wood connecting with Misty in the first place. Callie honestly said it best: If he’s not searchable on Google, that’s definitely a sign something fishy and more interconnected is going on.
JL: I hadn’t even considered that it might have been Misty doing the recording! I thought he might have set up the camera himself. But you’re right, that totally makes sense. Misty’s a sneaky one. And Adam’s tattoo is way too suspicious to not mean something. I think there’s a good possibility he’s with the cult. They straight-up kidnapped Nat, but maybe they were trying a sneakier approach with Shauna.
What happened to Shauna’s baby?
Theory one: Shauna’s baby survived and is part of the cult.
JL: Do you think Shauna’s baby survived into the present day? We already know that they didn’t eat the baby.
HL: Great question, and as far as the baby eating let me first say: PHEW! As much as I want to be hopeful for Shauna’s sake, I just think there’s no way a baby could have survived out there. Plus, it feels like there’s no way it wouldn’t have come up yet with Callie, Jeff, or the other survivors.
JL: I’d love the plot twist if her baby survived and was part of the cult, but it doesn’t feel realistic.
Any final thoughts?
HL: Since we’ve been dancing around the cult for a while: What do you make of all that? It seems pretty clear they had at least something to do with Travis’ murder. But did they seek him out Natalie-style, or was he a part of the cult and perhaps someone who fell victim to a ritual gone wrong? And what was it that Natalie was “right” about?
JL: Oh, there are so many things Nat could be right about. I feel like one of the biggest mistakes people, in general, make about Nat is underestimating her or writing her off as a burn-out. We see Shauna and Taissa do it when it comes to Travis’ murder, trying to convince her it really was a suicide. But I think the thing Nat was right about has to do with what she says in the season two trailer: “Darkness. We brought it back with us.” What if she’d been telling Travis all along that something or someone was following her after they were rescued and he wrote her off? And what if it finally came for him, too? I think whatever she was right about has to do with the cult. And I think Lottie is the current leader of the cult. But whether she founded the cult or those symbols led her to a pre-existing cult and she rose through the ranks, I’m not sure.
HL: I’m definitely leaning towards the idea that Lottie built the cult herself. It’s so clear how all the women have struggled with finding something real to grasp onto in their lives since the intensity of that experience, and it makes sense that Lottie would have shaped her life around what she connected with out there. I’m fully with you on Nat being right about the darkness, though: There’s something else afoot here besides just trauma, and Travis’ murder absolutely has to do with it. If anyone is going to be able to figure out what happened to him, it’s Nat. She cares about him so much and has so little she feels that way about that she’s not going to just give up without a fight. I wonder if, ultimately, whatever she uncovers will end up being the puzzle piece that really brings the wilderness storyline and the post-rescue storyline together. Sometimes having to wait and see is just so hard!
JL: I’d totally buy Nat being the one who figures out the big conspiracy. After all, Shauna did say that she and Taissa “wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.”
HL: Who knows: Maybe that same sentence will be true by the end of season two, if the girls have the grand ultimate run-in with the cult I’m picturing!
JL: One last thing: Do you have any pet theories you want to share?
HL: I do kind of love the theory that Javi is alive and out there somewhere POST-rescue, and is gonna return as an adult character. I could see him having some serious beef with the girls (especially if he never re-encountered them after the Doomcoming) and his character as an adult is someone I’d definitely be interested in meeting. But it’s the Canadian wilderness in winter and he headed for the hill … I might have a pipe dream on my hands here. Any for you?
JL: I really want there to be two survivor factions. I want Shauna, Taissa, Nat, Travis, and Misty to have been rescued, and they left everyone else, including Lottie, for dead—but the ones left behind survived and are now terrorizing the ones who were rescued. So unrealistic, but I’d love to see it.
HL: Now that would be quite the showdown—and if there’s a five(ish)-season arc set out like the showrunners have shared, that would be one hell of a climax. Hey, if I were left for dead, I’d be pretty royally pissed off too.