Image Source: Paramount Pictures
The opening scene of Netflix’s “Yellowjackets” begins with one of the most haunting TV sequences in recent memory. A dark-haired girl in a nightgown runs through a frozen forest, looking scared for her life — and for good reason. As she runs, a pit opens up beneath her feet, and she falls in. The next frames show her limbs nailed to the ground with sticks, and then she’s getting hung up by her feet and flayed while a bunch of people clad in animal skins look on. Eventually, after the girl’s remains are placed in front of an antler-clad figure, the group devours her.
The specter of that scene haunts all of “Yellowjackets,” which tells the story of a girls’ soccer team who crash-land in a forest and are forced to survive there for 19 months. Interspersing that story with scenes set 25 years later — when the surviving girls are struggling adults — the series is mostly about trauma and its lingering effects.
By the beginning of season two, the girls are still nowhere near the brutality of that first scene — though they (spoiler alert) do enjoy their first taste of human flesh by the second episode. But it’s important to note that the girls’ first act of cannibalism happens in a moment of impulsivity, and the victim is someone who is already dead; it’s a far cry from the ritualistic murder scene at the start of the series.
Since the beginning of the show, one of viewers’ most pressing questions has concerned the identity of the antler-clad leader, whom fans have branded the Antler Queen. While the show seems to have all but confirmed the face behind the veil, a series like “Yellowjackets” could easily be planting red herrings everywhere in order to mess with viewers’ heads. Here’s what we know so far about the Antler Queen.
Is Lottie the Antler Queen?
Lottie (played by Courtney Eaton as a teen and Simone Kessell as an adult), who deals with mental illness and begins having visions of the forest as soon as she runs out of her meds, has always been the main contender for the Antler Queen. In one episode in season one, she’s shown in front of some antlers hanging on the wall, which frame her face as if she’s wearing them as a headdress. She also sees a deer in the vision she has when Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) baptizes her, and gifts Van (Liv Hewson as a teen and Lauren Ambrose as an adult) a deer’s bone as a talisman to keep her safe.
Image Source: Paramount Pictures
Then, in the ill-fated, psychedelic-distorted party in season one’s “Doomcoming,” Lottie actually puts on some antlers and a shawl that resembles the Antler Queen’s. Lottie becomes a cult leader as an adult, and by the beginning of season two, young Lottie has already begun leading the stranded Yellowjackets and company in morning rituals and superstitious rites. She also seems to have some kind of ability to communicate with what she sees as the spirit of the forest. For all these reasons, it’s easy to assume she’s the driver of the violent acts that the team commits.
Are There Any Other Contenders For the Antler Queen?
It’s possible that “Yellowjackets” could be messing with viewers by framing Lottie. Shauna (Sophie Nelisse as a teen and Melanie Lynskey as an adult), who has always displayed comfort with blood, seems to be growing increasingly erratic, and it’s feasible that she could become possessed with enough rage to become the Antler Queen. However, she seems strongly averse to Lottie’s ceremonial activities, so it’s probably not her. The same goes for Taissa (Jasmine Savoy Brown as a teen and Tawny Cypress as an adult), who admittedly does undergo hours-long fugue states — though the Antler Queen’s ritual seems to have taken a lot of planning, meaning the staunchly realist Taissa probably couldn’t have done it while sleepwalking.
We also know that Misty (Samantha Hanratty as a teen and Christina Ricci as an adult) is volatile and attention-hungry enough to do something like lead blood rites, but we know she’s definitely not the Antler Queen; she’s the one person in the original scene who takes her mask off, revealing she’s the face behind that creepy bear costume.
Nat (Sophie Thatcher as a teen and Juliette Lewis as an adult) is also strongly against Lottie’s spirituality, though her hunting partner Travis (Kevin Alves as a teen and Andres Soto as an adult) has begun to show signs of infatuation with Lottie, so it’s not impossible that Lottie could have manipulated him or another one of the teammates into leading the sacrifice. Still, given Lottie’s cult leader tendencies in adulthood and her apparent connection to supernatural realms, she seems to be the most likely Antler Queen of the bunch.
Knowing “Yellowjackets,” though, anything could happen, and given the show’s slow-burning first season, we might have to wait a while to know anything for certain. But regardless of who the Antler Queen is, one thing is clear: what happened in that forest won’t stop tormenting those who survived it.
Episode three of “Yellowjackets” season two premieres on Showtime on April 9.