We need to talk about the ending of Season 1 of Yellowjackets
It’s funny how an expected death can still touch us emotionally and even surprise us, isn’t it? Since the middle of Season 1 of Yellowjackets, we already knew what was coming, but even so, when it happened, I still couldn’t believe it. Not just because of the death itself, but because of how it happened, and I think many people can relate to that.
Although the events are already terrible on the surface, they can represent something much sadder and more serious. In this article, we will dissect these events. That being said, consider yourself warned that this article will contain spoilers from the first season. So, if you haven’t watched it yet, please finish the season and come back to read this later, so I will not spoil your experience, okay?
Sic transit gloria mundi: All glory in the world is transitory
The name of the last episode could not have described better what would happen next. For those who don’t remember the end of the first season well, we see Jackie trying to use her Captain power to kick Shauna out of the cabin after an argument, only to find out that the influence she always had in school is worthless in the post-crash world.
Glory, like the expression that gives the episode its name, is always transient and no longer belongs to her. Jackie, even as captain, was not able to maintain her influence in the forest because, unlike the others, she couldn’t adapt to the new life.
Foremost, she didn’t have the necessary skills, which, initially, is not a big problem because not all the others did either. However, the way she acts over the next few months causes her to lose more and more of that influence.
Jackie is no fool and realizes what is happening over time, and although she is not very useful to her teammates in survival terms, it can’t be said that she didn’t try to be useful in the only way she knew how. Whether it’s the party or the séance, Jackie wanted to feel loved and useful to the team again, but in a world without clear rules, she doesn’t know how to act.
The end of an era, one might say, the fall of a leader
In this new place, words of motivation, smiles, and popularity games don’t matter, and Jackie, who always depended on that attention, finds herself lost, not knowing her role or even who she really is. By taking high school away from the other girls, they adapt, but without the school rules, Jackie loses her purpose.
The Queen B we knew was never real, which we can see when we pay attention to her scenes alone before the crash. Whether she is clearly uncomfortable after giving in to what Jeff wanted or having to take a deep breath to endure another day. It is hard to know what was going through her mind, but that positive and perfect person clearly is not real.
The point is, a large part of her influence came from this aura of false perfection, from the girl’s desire to be as enjoyable as her, but this kind of view only holds up from a certain distance because nobody is perfect. Especially Jackie, and her imperfections became quite clear in the forest.
Sooner or later, everyone sees beyond the pretense and how annoying, insecure, and tragic she can be. The words spoken by Shauna could have been directed to any of the girls, but they had a greater impact on Jackie. The saddest thing of all was that her final act as the captain made perfect sense, even though she said things she shouldn’t have, like exposing Shauna‘s infidelity in front of everyone, Jackie wanted the group to reflect on the act of violence they were about to commit against Travis at Doomcoming. Too late, she tried to guide them back, as Coach Martinez asked her to do it, but it was already too late.
But, was her death really an accident?
Warning: The following content may be triggering. If you identify with any of it, seek help. The Hope Line provides free emotional support to students and young adults in crisis by offering a safe place to connect.
Ever since I saw the episode of her death, one question has been on my mind: why didn’t she return to the cabin? Even though the group wasn’t her biggest fan at the time, if she wanted to, Jackie could have gone back, but she didn’t. Some say it was out of pride because she didn’t want to admit defeat in the argument, but I can’t believe that. Honestly, I think it was a choice, a decision by Jackie to take control after everything had literally blown up.
As previously mentioned, Jackie was the only one of the girls who couldn’t adapt, not just out of laziness or being spoiled. Although that wasn’t completely false, the truth was that she didn’t want to accept them, because if she did, it would be the same as admitting that a rescue would never come for them. So instead of focusing her energy on learning how to survive, she clung to the hope of a rescue that never came for her, taking with it all her hope and essence.
Jackie told Shauna that she didn’t know how much longer she could handle this life, when they had been in the forest for at most a month, time passed and the situation didn’t improve. On the contrary, the loss of Laura Lee, in an explosion in the air, the team member with the most heavenly faith, is ironic and the final straw for her to completely lose that hope and unravel like a domino.
She shows signs but doesn’t receive help
From that moment on, instead of trying to find ways to survive, she seems to give up and begins to show many signs of suicidal behavior. The loss of trust in the friend she could always count on after discovering the truth about the pregnancy served to break the tenuous bond she had with the group in that scenario once and for all.
Jackie begins to see life as something purposeless and speaks several times that they will die anyway, which shows that she has been thinking a lot about death. She stopped eating, as a direct consequence of this, because she no longer sees any meaning in continuing to fight.
Her speech to Travis before having sex with him was the most honest speech by the character throughout the series. She shows there, and at other moments in this same episode, very intense feelings of anger, revenge, and a desire to tie up loose ends. Having sex with someone to fulfill one of her last plans before the accident, without worrying about possible consequences or who will be hurt by it. (Via TCRClínica).
Jackie was clearly not well, and the only thing she received from the team was judgment and humiliation for “taking something that wasn’t hers“, when let’s face it, Travis belongs to no one but himself, and if he decided to be with her, it was because he wanted to. Although she hit on him, which is not a very nice thing to do, it’s nothing that justifies locking someone in a dark pantry listening to a phrase that must be in her head for a long time: “You don’t matter anymore”.
But, are you saying that they are to blame for her death?
Far from me to blame them for what happened, they were all teenagers going through a traumatic situation, and none of them directly killed her, but the girls could have been more empathetic. Because Jackie‘s difficulty in adapting to the new scenario, despite being self-centered and selfish, is natural.
You see, if there’s one thing we know about fear, it’s that there are two natural ways to deal with it: either you take action or you freeze. Jackie froze, and initially, there would be nothing wrong with that if they were living in the normal world. But there’s no time to process feelings or even space to discuss them there.
They’re all going through an extremely traumatic moment, yet none of them talk about it. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense, considering that mental health is still a taboo topic for many people today. Imagine back then, when showing emotions was seen as a sign of weakness. There was no safe space for exchange, where the girls could vent. However, each of them finds a new role in this group and keeps busy, which helps. Now, if you don’t find a place, what do you do?
The correct answer would be to have a dialogue and try to solve the problem, but almost everyone just isolates themselves. Jackie was in a different place from the other girls, the former captain felt disconnected and isolated. Not that it wasn’t her responsibility. Jackie could have made more effort, but loneliness, trauma, and isolation can lead you to very dark and often selfish places, causing you to lose your way. Shauna herself said that cheering people up had always been her thing, but how can you continue to do that when you can’t even cheer yourself up?
So, was everyone supposed to accept that she wouldn’t help?
No, not at all. I understand how annoying it must have been to have one team member not cooperating and being deadweight for so long. If we get frustrated even with a college assignment, imagine a situation like that. But at the end of the day, everything they had experienced before should have meant something.
Especially because Jackie‘s criticisms are not at all unfounded. She protested against inhumane violence that would have taken Travis‘ life if she and Nat hadn’t arrived in time, violence that she didn’t understand or admit as a captain and teammate. However, her criticism was not well accepted, both due to the intensity of her criticisms and the lack of support. Without Nat or Travis around, her criticisms were dismissed.
The last straw
The fight that happens next with Shauna is hard to watch because, honestly, I don’t think she had everything she wanted even before, as Shauna says: It’s very easy to judge someone else’s life through the lens of your own life. And, as much as Jackie maybe shouldn’t have accused her friend of being envious, I’m not sure if it was a lie. Because how else can you explain her pre-crash behavior?
The outburst from both of them is real; if it had come at another time, they might have been able to reconcile. But given the way it happened, there wasn’t much another way out, and after hearing harsh but true words from the only person she used to trust, she tried to use her old influence to send her former best friend away because she can no longer stand living with someone who can lie, deceive, and say such cruel things to her.
However, the plan failed, and she ended up on the outside. She could have fought and refused to leave, but at that point, Jackie could not take it anymore. She did not leave thinking about killing herself, but she no longer cared about the consequences. Not only that, but she didn’t hesitate for a second; she was tired of this reality, these people she no longer recognizes, and she was no longer willing to pretend.
Why didn’t she just return to the cabin?
Even afterward, when she realized what might happen, she didn’t back down. Although she’s not a survival expert, she knew the risks of sleeping outside. She even started a timid fire, which didn’t do much, and she knew that. In another context, she probably would had simply gone back.
But not at that moment. Jackie saw the world of survival and violence that the group was entering, and I believe she actively chose not to participate in it. She preferred to shorten all that suffering at once while she still had some control over it. Maybe she didn’t expect it to snow, but she no longer cared about what would happen to her, if the cold or the wolves took her, as long as it all ended. Jackie slept and surrendered, accepting whatever came, because if she didn’t die there, she would die soon, since she hardly ate anymore.
The saddest part of it all is that, in the end, everything she said to Travis proved to be true. Love and friendship don’t matter; nothing matters in this new reality. Not only did no one come to save her, but no one protected her from being used by Shauna and everyone else later as an object, even after she had already died. Her departure marks the end of the human era for the Yellowjackets. As the opening song says, they can’t return to what they were, and perhaps that’s the greatest punishment they could have for what they did.