Wendigo Monster in Yellowjackets: Theories and Speculations

Developed by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Showtime’s ‘Yellowjackets’ tells the story of the members of a New Jersey high school girls’ soccer team whose plane crashes in the Ontario Wilderness in 1996. As the weather worsens, the survivors resort to drastic measures to continue living, including cannibalism. In the present day, those who have made it out of the Wilderness alive are still traumatized by the experience. Throughout the series, there are hints pointing toward supernatural forces being responsible for what happens to the girls. One prevalent theory suggests the involvement of the Wendigo. Here is what we think about it. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Is Wendigo the Monster?

To discuss whether Wendigo is the monster in ‘Yellowjackets,’ we must presume that the supernatural exists in that world and that there is indeed a monster. The legends and folklores about the Wendigo originated in the tales of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies, Great Lakes tribes, and some First Nations — essentially the speakers of the Algonquian-family languages. According to these stories, the Wendigo is a malevolent spirit. In many depictions, they have human-like characteristics and even possess people. They ignite in their victims a hunger that can never be satisfied, filling them with the craving for human flesh.

Hollywood has often imagined the creature as a human-beast hybrid with antlers or horns on its head, even though the Wendigo doesn’t possess this trait in the original folklore. The Wendigo has appeared in fantasy shows such as ‘Supernatural,’ ‘Teen Wolf,’ ‘Charmed (1998-2006), ‘Grimm,’ and ‘Blood Ties.’ In ‘Hannibal’ (2013-2015), an FBI profiler has a recurring dream where he sees the eponymous serial killer as the Wendigo.

As of yet, the supernatural aspects in ‘Yellowjackets’ are limited to suggestions; there is no explicit display of them. Everything that might seem supernatural can be explained through rational means. Lottie killing a bear in the season 1 finale can be chalked up as luck, and her speaking French during the séance in season 1 episode 5 can be attributed to schizophrenia. In season 2 episode 5, Nat recalls having a vision of herself as the Antler Queen and believes they brought some entity when they came back from the Wilderness. When Lottie hears this, she suddenly sees antlers on the head of her shadow. However, we must remember that Nat was overdosing on cocaine when she had that vision, and Lottie’s hallucinations can potentially make her see what she saw, manifesting Nat’s words in her mind.

In an interview with SFX Magazine, co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco pretty much stated that there wasn’t any monster in ‘Yellowjackets.’ However, on the topic of the presence of the supernatural, he was somewhat evasive. “It’s not about an external monster in the woods who is going to eat our teens,” he stated. “And it’s not exclusively about some supernatural force in the present which is making them do things.”

Lisco continued, “The question of whether or not it is imposed by some dark force — and I’m not saying that’s not possible — or whether or not it is alchemically generated by the proximity of these specific women together in the world, I think that’s a really interesting question to continue to mine,”

Image Credit: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

According to Lisco, the last thing he and his collaborators want is to get caught in the maze of fascinating narrative ideas. He also promised they had no desire to manipulate their audience, adding, “We want it to be something that lives inside of people because they understand it on a deep, human level. And they understand that the darkness and the light exist in all of us. This is a profound excavation of that question.”

The Wendigo aspect appears in the discussions about the supernatural in ‘Yellowjackets’ because of the aforementioned Hollywood depiction of the said mythological monster and the recurring deer/elk motifs in the show. If the Wendigo is indeed revealed to be a part of the narrative of ‘Yellowjackets’ in the future, it will probably be there to underscore human nature. The girls prove time and again that they are prepared to go to extreme lengths to survive, and cannibalism has been part of the narrative since episode 1.

There is a real-world, reportedly culture-bound syndrome named “Wendigo psychosis,” in which patients belonging to the Algonquin communities apparently display symptoms such as “depression, violence, a compulsive desire for human flesh, and sometimes actual cannibalism.” Trapped in the Ontario Wilderness, the Yellowjackets girls can be the patients of this syndrome.

Read More: Who Is the Antler Queen in Yellowjackets? Is Lottie the Antler Queen?