Yellowjackets Season 1 Ending Explained: Iced Out

(This article includes major spoilers from the "Yellowjackets" season 1 finale, "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.")

Well, "Yellowjackets" hive, the show's first season has come to an end, with an emotional finale that showcased its ensemble cast's talents and left us with a whole host of tantalizing cliffhangers. Its final episode confirmed a couple of fans' most popular theories while upending several more. Yes, it appears there are other survivors of the plane crash out there. No, Jackie (Ella Purnell) isn't one of them. Yes, there was some fallout from Doomcoming, but that wasn't what pushed the group over the edge into full-blown cultishness. Leave that to Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and her bear. Let's get into it!

The Morning After

When we last left the Yellowjackets in 1996, they were in a frenzy induced by psychedelic mushroom-spiked stew and schizophrenic Lottie's persuasive guidance. The group tried to have sex with Travis (Kevin Alves), and Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) almost slit his throat. Javi (Luciano Leroux) ran away during the chaos, and we heard the sound of wolves soon after. Jackie is one of the only people who wasn't drugged, and was aghast at the violence.

When the Yellowjackets awaken the next morning, they've got a gnarly Doomcoming hangover. They're passed out on the ground in the woods, their usually well-kept clothes covered in dirt. The group sits in a daze outside, but soon Jackie confronts them about their behavior the night before. Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) says everyone should go easy on one another, because they were all on shrooms. As the day wears on, people begin to ostracize Misty (Sammi Hanratty) for having the shrooms in the first place. Nat (Sophie Thatcher) tries to check on Travis, but he shakes her off, insisting he's fine. Meanwhile, no one can seem to find Javi.

Body Disposal 101 With Misty

In 2021, Misty (Christina Ricci) is obviously thrilled to be involved in an activity with the rest of the group, even if it's disposing of Adam's (Peter Gadoit) body. She gets cleaning supplies from the nursing home she works at, because "12% of all killers are caught buying cleaning supplies," duh! When she gets to Adam's apartment, she divides the group up, with Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Nat (Juliette Lewis) on dismemberment duty while Misty and Taissa (Tawny Cypress) clean up. The women ask Shauna if she remembers how to do this, adding further credence to the theory that the girls did engage in at least a smidge of cannibalism while trapped in the wild.

Citizen Detective Misty's foolproof plan for the body involves burying the torso, which she says can't be traced back to them, at Hacklebarney Park. She chirpily explains that she'll pack a bag to make it look like Adam went on a trip, then says she'll take care of the head and hands. Right after, we see her at the funeral of one of her patients, making small talk with the deceased's daughter while a biohazard bag containing Adam's spare parts burns inside the coffin during cremation.

Misty's enthusiastically deranged decision-making streak continues when she lets reporter Jessica (Rekha Sharma) — who has now admitted she's actually a fixer — go after holding her captive for most of the season. Jessica asks Misty for her cigarettes back, so she digs them out of the trash, but Jessica only gets a little way down the street before things start to go foggy and she blacks out, slurring "f***ing b****" in the process. It seems Misty laced her pack of smokes, though it's unclear if she's been poisoned or merely drugged. Classic Misty!

Reunion Time

Surprisingly, the Yellowjackets' 25th school reunion goes off mostly without a hitch, and it's not where most of the episode's action happens. We do get to see the core four make a killer entrance, though, as they slo-mo stride in, dressed to the nines, while The Offspring's "Keep 'Em Separated" plays.

The reunion mostly centers Allie (Tonya Cornelisse), the team member who wasn't on the plane the day of the crash because of her broken leg. 25 years later, Allie seems to over-identify with the Yellowjackets, and pays tribute to them with a slideshow set to Enya's "Only Time." She also makes Shauna and prom king Jeff (Warren Kole) dance, since that's what she thinks Jackie would have wanted. When no one's looking, Shauna threatens Randy (Jeff Holman), but he doesn't seem to take her promise that she'll kill him if he tells anyone about the blackmail scheme seriously.

During the reunion, Nat talks to Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) in the hall while looking idly at a shrine to the Yellowjackets that surely includes some theory-driving clues I haven't yet been able to glimpse on freeze frame. She admits for the first time that Travis probably killed himself, and now that we've seen what we went through during Doomcoming, we're starting to better understand the trauma he carried home.

The Cult of Lottie

Of all the jaw-dropping "Yellowjackets" finale moments, I think Lottie killing a massive grizzly bear with a small knife like some kind of god is the one that no one had on their theory bingo card. The teenager, who has a diagnosed mental illness but has also been known to have visions, hears the bear coming. Instead of running from it, she asks her teammates for a knife, and delivers a calm killing blow to the bear without any resistance. Some of Lottie's prior miracles have been a little bit suspect, but it's hard not to be a little bit in awe of this one.

The team clearly thinks so too. Van (Liv Hewson), still wearing her bone talisman necklace, tells Taissa (Jasmin Savoy-Brown) that maybe she does believe in whatever magic the woods have going on. It's clearly really personal to her, so Taissa chooses to embrace her instead of arguing. And although Taissa seems to be a skeptic at this point in the 1996 storyline, we soon learn that is not the case in 2021.

When Taissa's wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) stops by the family home to pick up a few things, she stumbles upon a small basement doorway with what looks like blood at its entrance. There's a shrine inside, featuring some candles, a doll, and the poor family dog, Biscuit, whose severed head and bloody heart make up the center of the tableau. The symbol from the woods is etched in blood on the wall behind it. This is a sickening reveal, one that's made all the more stunning when coupled with the news that Taissa somehow won her bid for senate after all. One of our Yellowjackets is about to be more in the public eye than ever, but she also appears to be sacrificing the family pet in her sleep.

The episode's title is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world," and it's traditionally spoken when coronating a new Pope. If Lottie get the glory in 1996, Taissa seems to be inheriting it in 1996.

Everything Comes To A Head

Back in 1996, the group butchers the bear and prepares a feast. Visibly pregnant Shauna is tempted to lick the blood — could she be developing pica? When the group comes together to eat, with clear reverence for Lottie and whatever brought the bear their way, Jackie finally loses her patience. She confronts Shauna about her attack on Travis, which Shauna claims not to remember. The confrontation that's been building all season finally happens, with Jackie telling everyone about Shauna and Jeff. It's heartbreaking and heated. Shauna calls Jackie self-obsessed, pointing out all the ways she controls their friendship — "I don't even like soccer!" Jackie spits insults back at her, asking, "Did I force you to live in my shadow, Shauna?" But Shauna gets the last word, telling Jackie she doesn't envy her, but pities her. It's a rough breakup, and after a little goading, Jackie leaves the cabin to make her own fire outside.

The last few minutes of the "Yellowjackets" finale bring one cliffhanger moment after another. In 1996, Nat and Travis reunite in the woods, and Travis admits his love for her and cries. In 2021, after their family watches Taissa's victory on the news, Shauna's daughter looks on as Shauna doesn't react at all to a news report declaring Adam missing. In a motel room, Nat tries to commit suicide, only to be captured at the last second by a group bearing a symbol that resembles the one from the crash site. "I think someone's been following me — who the hell is Lottie Matthews?" her old coworker Suzie (Colleen Wheeler) says on a voicemail at that exact moment.

The First Snowfall

Meanwhile, in 1996, the first snow falls, and with it comes tragedy. We see Jackie huddled by a small fire in the night. Shauna comes to apologize and invite her back in. When she gets there, everyone stands in a line to welcome her back, and Lottie passes her a warm cup of ... is that hot chocolate? Shauna tells her she loves her. In fact, everyone does. It all starts to feel a little unreal, and we see this finally register on Jackie's face as she hones in on a blurry image of Laura Lee (Jane Widdop). "It's not as bad as you thought," she says, smiling, and suddenly, this feels like a death scene. The scene is still somewhat ethereal at this point, but it's corrupted at the last moment by a shadowy male figure in a doorway, who says, "So glad you're joining us. We've been waiting for you."

Shauna jolts awake. The cabin is freezing cold. She looks out the window, then whispers "no" and rushes downstairs. There, covered in a thick layer of snow, is Jackie's frozen body. Literally iced out by her peers, she died in the night, alone. It's brutal, and the silent morning is pierced by Shauna's screaming cry. Taissa holds her as she shrieks and sobs over Jackie's body. 

Later that morning, Lottie, Misty, and Van bow at a hollowed out tree trunk, placing the bear's heart in front of it as if in offering. Lottie says something in French that sounds like, "Versez le sang, mes beaux amis" — "Shed blood, my beautiful friends." Then she speaks again in English. "Now let the darkness set us free," Lottie intones, as ominous music kicks in and the camera moves away from the trio and into the snowy sky. Winter is here for the "Yellowjackets," and it looks to be a whole lot more bleak than anything they've faced before.

Lingering Questions

Despite the word "explained" in the title of this article, "Yellowjackets" proves itself the heir apparent to "Lost" once and for all with a hard-hitting finale that leaves us with more questions than answers. Here are some we'll be pondering while we wait for season 2:

  • Is Lottie alive in 2021, or is there just a cult out there doing work in her name?
  • Can Lottie really influence the team this much, or is something else going on?
  • If Suzie hasn't heard of Lottie, is she not recognized as an official surviving Yellowjacket?
  • Did Misty kill Jessica, or just pull a Ramsey Bolton on her for the hell of it?
  • Does Shauna's daughter suspect she killed Adam?
  • Does Taissa know she's killing dogs in her sleep? Was she asleep?
  • Who is the man in the shadows in Jackie's last moments?
  • Did Javi die during Doomcoming?
  • What happens to Van, Shauna's baby, and the other characters who aren't mentioned in 2021?
  • Are these poor girls going to have to eat Jackie?
  • When will Sophie Nélisse get the Emmy she deserves?