news Consider This Event: How ‘Yellowjackets’ Created [SPOILER]’s Death in That Season 2 Finale

How do you follow something as massively successful as “Yellowjackets” Season 1? It’s a problem that every show dreams of having — and few ever get the chance to worry about. When “Yellowjackets” premiered in late 2021, it instantly captivated America with its rich mythology and thrilling story about the lifelong effects of a girl’s soccer team getting stranded in the woods.

The wait for more episodes was agonizing for fans, and “Yellowjackets” Season 2 quickly became one of the most anticipated events of the spring 2023 TV season. But the cast and crew of the hit Showtime series quickly learned that staying at the top of the TV landscape is just as hard as reaching it.

At IndieWire’s Consider This Event in Los Angeles on Saturday, “Yellowjackets” star Christina Ricci, executive producer and director Karyn Kusama, and music supervisor Nora Felder sat down for a panel moderated by IndieWire’s Editor in Chief Dana Harris-Bridson. The conversation quickly centered on the shocking death of Natalie (Juliette Lewis) in the present, when Misty (Ricci) accidentally stabbed her with a hypodermic needle full of a fast-acting, deadly poison. How did this moment come about?

“Misty accidentally killing Natalie is the emotional climax of the whole episode,” Kusama said. “We had two nights to shoot everything in the woods, including the original card-passing ritual. We were pressed for time and I think, to keep in mind, was just how physically and emotionally demanding it was for them.”

“It was the last day of shooting, so everyone was in a real celebratory mood except for the two actors who had to be sobbing and die,” Ricci said. “One of the most defining things for me playing Misty is her immaturity and her inability to deal with any real emotions. The most emotional we saw her in the first season was when she was going to lose Caligula, and she just throws a tantrum. Someone who avoids emotion also avoids a lot of awareness of how they’re feeling.”

As for the song accompanying Natalie’s death, “Street Spirit” by Radiohead, Felder had actually planned on using it earlier in the season, when a different Radiohead song ultimately accompanied the Yellowjackets’ first experience with cannibalism.

“For Natalie’s death, we had a whole stockpile of song ideas to try,” Felder said. “I recommended that one because we used ‘Climbing Up the Walls’ by Radiohead in the second episode during the feast, and initially I had been thinking of ‘Street Spirit’ for that then. It felt like the emotionality and gut-wrenching quality of that song just worked, lyrically too. Some of it’s kismet, you can’t quantify why it works. I’m not an actor, but I think it’s like an actor finding something from within that takes you on a journey, though it may be hard to know exactly why that is.”

The panel included many other insights — Ricci’s initial read on Misty from the pilot episode not being a funny character was particularly interesting — and ultimately landed on Kusama’s read about Natalie’s headspace in the time leading up to her death. Her death in the present was, after all, presented in tandem with the horrifying reveal that she’s the “antler queen”: the leader of the Yellowjackets during their grimmest phase.

“Because she so rejected the past it seemed like Natalie maybe had kept herself more morally above the fray compared to the other girls,” Kusama said. “But finding out that she actually was the leader who probably led them down even darker paths — to be explored in Season 3 — it made so much sense that that would be fueling her guilt and her addiction issues in the present.”