We Keep Expecting Yellowjackets To Be Sinister, But It Always Turns Out Sad

This article contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" season 2.

Since the premiere of "Yellowjackets" season 1, the show's fandom has been extremely passionate about sharing their theories and predictions online. Not since "Lost" has there arguably been such a popular and high-profile community dedicated to analyzing a serialized puzzle box show, which has been both beneficial and detrimental to the series' reception. Of course, it's always a good thing if a show can get people talking and connect viewers from across the world through a mutually shared interest, but wild speculation can also lead to disappointment if head-cannoned expectations aren't met by the show's final product.

Amidst the carnage and cannibalism exists a deeply empathetic show that explores grief, sorrow, rage, and all of the other so-called "negative" emotions we all experience but that are typically deemed socially unacceptable for women of any age to express. And by dissecting how those emotions manifest in different ways between different people, there's a groundedness to both timelines that folks often forget is the beating, bleeding heart of the whole story.

"Yellowjackets" is often pitched as "that teen cannibalism show," which while not entirely inaccurate, is only describing a small fraction of what the show has to offer. With so many people fixated on the barbarity of something like eating your high school best friend for survival, it's inspired almost a bloodlust from the viewers at home, setting up the expectation that "Yellowjackets" is a show about ruthless, dangerous people. Yet anyone who has watched the show — and I mean really watched it — can tell you that this is far from the truth.

Above all else, "Yellowjackets" has the capacity to be a deeply sad show, and its subversion of sinister expectations is what makes it such a powerful watch.

Adam Martin didn't have to die

The theories surrounding Adam Martin were perhaps some of the most far-fetched and ridiculous in the show's history thus far. There were plenty of people who assumed that he was Shauna's baby all grown up, some who thought he was Javi all grown up, and there was even a theory that Adam was a Yellowjackets-obsessed stalker, which is something the show even toyed with. However, Adam was just a guy who got in a car accident with Shauna and willingly had a relationship with her.

He was an artist and he seemed to deeply enjoy his time with her. There's nothing sinister about him — that we know of — and yet he ended season 1 hacked into pieces and buried in the middle of the park. As much as I love Shauna and completely understand her instinct to kill Adam as a means of protecting herself, the reality is that she murdered an innocent man whose only crime was loving her. That is a sad reality to accept, and one that Shauna has been avoiding all of season 2.

Travis' death was accidental

One of the biggest mysteries of season 2 was what led to the death of Travis as an adult, as it sent Natalie on a self-destructive spiral that pushed her to the brink of suicide. Given the strange circumstances of the wilderness symbol appearing on the ground where his body was found, the ominous note he left behind, and Lottie's confession to Natalie that she and Travis had been in touch shortly before his death ... all signs point to something terrifying, right?

Well, while things are still unclear regarding whether or not there was something sinister in the wilderness that followed the survivors well into adulthood, all signs point to Travis' death as an accident. Had he been murdered or so emotionally destroyed that he felt suicidal it would still have been an awful outcome, but there's something so much more bleak about it being what looks like a malfunction of a button that was meant to bring him back down. Travis didn't intend to die, but he did, and that makes it all the harder to accept.

Cannibalism was born out of grief

It's doubtful that there are people standing on the front lines to defend the act of cannibalism, but "Yellowjackets" has been very good about presenting the act within moral gray areas. There's a hesitancy to the girls admitting that it "isn't the worst thing in the world," while recognizing that without the sustenance provided by eating people, they would all die. However, when cannibalism is finally introduced into the show, the circumstances are emotionally complicated and extremely sad.

Unlike the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 survivors, who "Yellowjackets" takes very loose inspiration from, the first person to be eaten was Jackie, someone who initially did survive the plane crash. There's an added layer of tragedy to the situation, especially when we look at the case of how Shauna handled the passing of her best friend. She spent months sitting with her corpse and hallucinating her ghost as a companion, only to be the first to eat someone by making a snack of her severed ear.

Yes, cannibalism is resorted to as a means of survival on "Yellowjackets," but for Shauna, it's also a sign of her grief. She loved Jackie so much that she felt compelled to consume her, making their initial act of cannibalism even sadder than expected.

Crystal/Kristen was a victim of circumstance

Then there's the death of Crystal/Kristen, whose body has shockingly gone missing following her untimely demise. Shortly before her death, she shares secrets with Misty, a girl she considers to be her first real friend and greatest confidante as they all try to survive the wilderness. However, when Misty shares that she's the reason the girls were never rescued, Misty threatens her life if she tells anyone. She straight up tells her, "I will f***ing kill you," which sounds like the scene is setting up Misty committing murder. But that's not what happens.

No, instead, Crystal/Kristen backs away from Misty and slips off the side of a cliff, falling to her death. There's obviously no telling what would have actually happened between the two of them had she not fallen, but there's an inherent sadness to her death outside of just, you know, her dying.

She never got the chance to fight for her life. She never got the chance to express how she was actually feeling. Had they not been on the edge of a cliff, she could have taken off running or found her way back to the cabin without having to cross Misty's path. Sure, Misty was acting like a dangerous menace, but Crystal/Kristen didn't die because of anything sinister ... she just fell. Luckily, actress Nuha Jes Izman had a lot of fun doing the stunt, which at least gives us all something to smile about when thinking about her character's death.

Shauna's baby was inevitable

I've already written an entire piece dedicated to breaking down the inevitable tragedy of Shauna's baby, but this is just another example of the sinister expectations being subverted by sadness. Fans had speculated for over a year that the team was going to eat the newborn for survival, inspiring members of the cast to speak in interviews about how that was never going to happen, because there are some lines the show refuses to cross.

Folks were so busy anticipating something fantastical and awful — like cannibalism or ritual sacrifice — that the thought of a normal, realistic, deeply tragic outcome never crossed their minds. Shauna has been at the center of some of the show's most ruinous scenarios, and thus far, they've all been grounded in reality. The tragedies that Shauna has endured are tragedies that could happen to any one of us, and that's a sign of sadness, not a sign of anything sinister.

Sorry, Javi

In the most recent episode, the show teases that the audience will see something absolutely horrific and barbaric, but instead, the result is something absolutely cataclysmic. After the girls make the decision to draw cards to determine who will be the next person that they eat for survival, Natalie draws the queen of hearts. However, since we know that Natalie makes it to adulthood, it sets up the audience to expect something even more gruesome. We know that Natalie will survive this outcome, but we don't know how. What actually happens is devastating.

Javi, who had gone missing for months before finally returning to the group, tries to help Nat and instead falls into the ice and drowns. But he doesn't just drown — he is left for dead. The girls, fueled by hunger, have every intention of chopping Natalie into little pieces and eating her, but once it's shown that Javi is at risk of dying, they let it happen. Natalie tries to pull him out of the lake, but after Misty rightfully points out that it's kill or be killed, she lets it happen too. It's a bleak moment that even shakes up some of the girls who seconds before were swinging weapons and howling like animals because it's a sad, painful reminder of what is at stake here.

And this is just scratching the surface of the sorrow shown in "Yellowjackets." Laura Lee's death, Lottie's electro-shock therapy as a teenager, Taissa's genuine fear of The Bad One version of herself, Van's constant fight for her own survival, ALL of their mental health struggles, and Natalie's childhood are just as tragic plot points.

Fortunately, "Yellowjackets" comes armed with some of the best writers in the industry, because they still manage to deliver a funny, entertaining show despite all of its sadness.