SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers from “Storytelling,” the Season 2 finale of “Yellowjackets,” now streaming on Showtime.
The second season of “Yellowjackets” has come to a dark and twisted end. In the 1996 timeline, teen Lottie (Courtney Eaton) handed over the role of leader of the wilderness to Natalie (Sophie Thatcher), as all the young girls bowed to her, confirming she was, in fact, the Antler Queen. However, the celebration was cut short as a fire sparked in the middle of the night. While everyone escaped, the group was left standing outside in the snow, watching flames encapsulate their home.
In the present timeline, the group once again drew cards to see who the wilderness wanted — an idea suggested by Lottie (Simone Kessell). Before they performed this old ritual, Natalie (Juliette Lewis) warned the rest of the residents to leave, including Lisa (Nicole Maines), to whom she had grown close throughout her time at Lottie’s retreat. After Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) drew the Queen and the group began hunting her, Shauna’s daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins) showed up in the nick of time to save her mom.
Then, Lottie started listing all the ways the wilderness is still out to get them, bringing up the many deaths they’d caused. Upset, Natalie pulled out a knife. At that moment, Lisa approached the group with a gun pointed at Natalie. She demanded that Natalie drop the knife, which she did, but Lisa kept the gun drawn. With that, Misty (Christina Ricci) ran in to inject her with phenobarbital — but Natalie stepped in front of Lisa, ultimately, dying at Misty’s hand. The episode ended with Natalie’s body being removed, explained away as an overdose, and Lottie being taken to a mental hospital.
It’s safe to say that while all the characters will be affected by Nat’s death next season, the entire cast also felt the shocking twist, as Lewis has been on the show since the beginning.
Thatcher, who plays the younger version of Natalie, told Variety she was “pretty devastated” by Lewis’ departure.
“It’s so heartbreaking, but then also creates more levels for younger Natalie, because the viewers will have that in mind,” she said. “There’s another layer to watching younger Natalie I think now and going forward. But Juliette was my mentor, and she is so incredible. To lose her on the show felt really like losing a part of yourself. It was sad, but I think it’ll be interesting to see how it plays from here on out.”
In an interview with Ricci, whose Misty accidentally killed her self-proclaimed best friend, she shares her reaction to the final twist, Misty’s devastating mistake and her overall feelings about Season 2.
When did you find out about Natalie’s death and what was your reaction?
I didn’t know until very shortly before we shot the episode. We all love Juliette. I love Juliette. We’ve all gone through so much on the show and gotten so close, and fought and reconciled and love each other — and we’re like sisters. I think we were all all very upset and sad that Natalie was dying. And it was tough to shoot. It was very emotional. We shot a lot more than ended up in the episode of me holding Juliette while she was dying and stuff. Those were really tough scenes, and really upsetting. I ran into Juliette the next day in the airport, and we both started crying again.
Do you feel like any part of Misty wanted to kill Natalie?
No. It was a complete mistake. She made an impulsive choice — another characteristically immature, impulsive, selfish choice where she was going to kill the person who was going to hurt her friend. Not wanting her friends taken away, it’s about keeping what she wants. It was a disastrous decision.
Was there any moment that the group was actually going to kill Shauna?
I think that question is more for each individual actor playing each character. I can speak for what I feel was Misty’s position at that time. I think there’s something incredibly alluring and exciting about acting out something that was such a huge part of their past, something that was so impactful, and at the time, they were so committed to it. I think that probably reenacting that evoked a lot of those same feelings. But I think given what Misty experienced in previous episodes — she’s given something to live for, is given something to protect. Finally having something to lose in real life makes her a little bit more pragmatic, and less apt to just jump on this idea.
When they do finally get to that moment, I think something about that physical memory of it and emotional memory of it comes back. So I think she probably would have taken part in it, but she’s not at the front of the pack. She’s just following Natalie to make sure nothing bad happens to her.
During the finale, we found out that Natalie is the Antler Queen, the person we saw in the pilot. Were you aware of that?
We don’t see Misty emotionally reacting to what happened to her in the past very often. She has sort of this hyper-vigilant refusal to feel bad, or to let it affect her on an emotional level at all. But she can’t help but act on the feelings she had in the past, so her obsession with Natalie from the beginning is because Natalie was the original Antler Queen, as revealed in the end of this episode.
Do you think anyone in Misty’s life knows what really happened to Crystal?
No. I don’t think that Misty believes that it’s her fault. I think certain characters can conveniently apply the “wilderness” and its power and willfulness when needed to not feel responsible for certain things. We do see most of the characters pick and choose when they decide that it was the wilderness doing something, and not them. I think that’s one of those instances where she would deal with it in that way, so as to not really, intellectually, feel bad about it. Of course, subconsciously she does — that’s why she doesn’t want anything to do with Walter once he reveals that he knows who she is. But I don’t think that’s a conscious thought for her.
Speaking of Walter, his energy perfectly matched with Misty’s. How did you and Elijah Wood create that?
I think most of that is really in the writing. Elijah is such an amazing scene partner, and we just really were able to match each other. It just worked. It was really perfect.
What was it like filming that big dance number in Episode 7?
Well, originally I did some dancing, too! I joined them on stage, and they didn’t use any of that, so I must have been really bad — which isn’t surprising. I don’t know very much about musicals, and I don’t consider myself someone who enjoys dancing or singing. So it’s not surprising that I was cut out of that!
People would love to see a Walter and Misty spinoff one day.
It’s a fun idea.
Would you say that the investigation into who killed Adam is closed now?
I don’t really know. I thought the Adam Martin thing was sort of over last time, but it wasn’t. Anything can happen, really.
Do you pay attention to viewer responses on social media? And if so, have you noticed any difference in the reactions this season versus last season?
I do read the reviews of the episodes. People still seem to really love the individual characters. And they seem very intrigued by different aspects. I think that the 1996 storyline is so incredibly compelling, and so well executed. They’re such an amazing group of actors in that storyline. It definitely feels like that is the storyline that people are mostly writing about or talking about.
Have you guys had a conversation about what next season looks like without Juliette, and what Misty is going through?
No. I’ve had no conversations about next season. Every show has its own way it functions, and its own dynamic. And on this show, I think the writers have such a huge burden with not only the complexity of the narrative, but also the amount of main characters that they have and the amount of storylines. So generally, we don’t get a lot of information before we shoot.
This interview has been edited and condensed. William Earl contributed to this report.
Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.