Season 2 of Yellowjackets has come to an end, and the season finale shocked us with some staggering twists and revelations. One plot twist reopened a question that many fans thought was settled: who is the Antler Queen?

This article contains major spoilers for season 2 of Yellowjackets!

Rewind to season 1: the Antler Queen’s identity is revealed

In the very first episode of season 1, we see a ritualistic sacrifice play out in the snow. A barefoot girl is hunted, falling into a pit full of spikes. She’s strung up, slaughtered, and served to a circle of figures in masks. At the center is someone wearing antlers and a soccer net around her face. She silently gives everyone permission to eat. We don’t know who the Antler Queen is, but we know she’s in charge.

Later, in episode 9, we see Lottie don a pair of antlers as the Yellowjackets begin their first ritual hunt. Lottie being the Antler Queen makes perfect sense: she has a special connection with the wilderness, which shows when a bear offers itself to her as a sacrifice, and by season 2, she becomes a spiritual leader for the rest of the team. But Lottie has a sinister side, too, sewing the mysterious symbol into Shauna’s baby blanket and encouraging blood sacrifices. When we catch up with her in the present day storyline, she’s a full-blown cult leader.

However, the season 2 finale revealed that Lottie isn’t the only Antler Queen in the wilderness.

Natalie dons the antlers … maybe

At the end of season 2, after getting beaten up by Shauna and learning that the Yellowjackets have hunted and slaughtered Javi, Lottie announces that she doesn’t think she should be their leader anymore. Amidst everyone’s protests, she names Natalie her successor, and everyone pledges fealty to their new leader.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sophie Thatcher, who plays teenage Natalie, says she initially didn’t even realize the full implications of that scene.

At first I didn’t really register that it was officially going into Antler Queen … I wasn’t fully processing, but then I read [the script] for a second time. It was really exciting to see. Like we’ve talked about, this is probably why she is the Natalie we see. She’s gone through so much and now she’s taking on more guilt. She’s going to be carrying more guilt [as the group’s leader] and she’s going to continue this journey of self-destruction.

Thatcher is right: Natalie becoming the Antler Queen, especially after her ruthless choice to save herself by sacrificing Javi to the wilderness, makes adult Natalie’s character make perfect sense. Of course she would be wracked with guilt that the other survivors might not feel as strongly. Of course she would spend the rest of her life trying to numb the pain of what she’d done.

However, does that mean that Natalie is the Antler Queen we see in the series premiere? Not necessarily. In the THR interview, Thatcher hints at a potential power struggle in upcoming seasons:

I think it will mess up the group dynamic no matter what. And no matter what, it’s going to be exciting. But it doesn’t mean that she is going to fully take over that role.

I’ll add that having teen Natalie ascend to leader just as her adult counterpart dies is an intriguing narrative choice. In seasons 3-5, we’ll no doubt see a whole new side of Natalie—while knowing that she’ll never have a chance to really heal from the trauma of what she’s done to survive.

Yellowjackets season 3 can’t come soon enough

Yellowjackets was renewed for a third season last December. However, because of the failure of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to make a fair deal with the Writers Guild of America, writing on season 3 stopped after one day.

Here’s hoping the AMPTP can come to its senses so that we can get more of Natalie, Lottie, and all the other Antler Queens out in those woods.

(featured image: Showtime)

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Julia Glassman

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