Yellowjackets: Why Lottie is a Reluctant Messiah
Teen Lottie's connection to the wilderness makes her a messiah in the eyes of her teammates, but how does this power affect her future?
This article contains spoilers through season 2 episode 3 of Yellowjackets
After Lottie Matthews (teen version played by Courtney Eaton, adult version played by Simone Kessell) seems to becomes possessed by a sinister spirit during a seance in the first season of Yellowjackets, she has an unexplainable connection to the wilderness that the Yellowjackets soccer team finds themselves trapped in. She predicts the wolf attack that scars Van (Liv Hewson), she single-handedly tames and kills a wild bear that wanders into their camp, and she insists that Travis’ (Kevin Alves) brother Javi (Luciano Leroux) is still alive after he disappears during “Doomcoming.”
Lottie first begins to take on a leadership role in season 1, especially after Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) death. Lottie’s visions and ability to connect with the wilderness, whether truly supernatural or just a result of her lack of medication, help the survivors feel more in control of their increasingly traumatic situation. When we reunite with the young Yellowjackets at the beginning of season 2, Lottie has become more than just the group’s leader like Jackie was as team captain – she’s become a messiah-like figure to them.
In a roundtable interview with the showrunners of Yellowjackets, Jonathan Lisco told Den of Geek that their goal with introducing adult Lottie this season was for us to “see Lottie in different guises.”
He goes on to say “Because I think we see Lottie in the wilderness in a certain way as a sort of like a reluctant Messiah, who’s channeling a certain kind of quasi spiritualism. And then we see her get off the plane after rescue. And obviously, she’s changed and something is terrible, because she screams and we go to main titles, then we cut forward and we see her as a grown up. And I think that creates a great deal of mystery which we intend to mine, of course, in the course of the season, in terms of how those three Lotties can coexist, and what happened to explain it.”
While many in the group have come to rely on teen Lottie’s prophetic visions to get them through the harsh winter we find them in at the start of season 2, others are still hesitant to fully put their faith in Lottie. During their search for Javi, Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) accepts Lottie’s blessings before leaving the cabin to appease Travis, but doesn’t really believe in it herself. Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) occasionally goes along to appease Van, but is also willing to make fun of how bizarre some of Lottie’s rituals are. Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) spends most of the winter traumatized by Jackie’s death, but also speaks up when Lottie gives her a baby blanket in episode 3 with the mysterious symbol of the forest stitched on it.
Whereas the others see this symbol as a protective sigil blessed by Lottie and the wilderness, Natalie and Taissa are quick to remind them that they found this symbol around the dead guy in the attic. But even as the girls begin to argue with each other, it doesn’t last long as Shauna’s nose starts to bleed onto the blanket and birds begin to fall dead from the sky. Natalie argues that the birds could be diseased, but Lottie insists that they are a blessing and urges the girls to gather them.
Lottie may have reluctantly stepped up as the spiritual leader of the group while they were trapped in the forest, but when we meet Lottie in the present day, it seems like she’s accepted her messianic talents, to an extent. The season 1 finale reveals that Lottie has become a cult leader that uses the symbol of the forest to bring people together, but when we meet adult Lottie this season, her motives appear a lot less sinister than her kidnapping of Natalie (Juliette Lewis) might suggest. Even though she uses the symbol from the forest at her “wellness retreat,” there’s no evidence of cannibalism, blood sacrifices, or foreboding visions. Instead of trying to totally ignore what happened in the wilderness, she’s using what she learned there and during her time in a Switzerland mental institution to help others.
Things change, however, when adult Lottie’s visions return at the end of episode 3 “Digestif.” She sees the beehives of her collective covered with blood and surrounded by dead bees before being snapped back to reality by one of her followers. The song “Bells for Her” by Tori Amos plays over this scene, with the lyrics “can’t stop what’s coming, can’t stop what’s on its way” conveying how ominous this vision feels for Lottie. She’s visibly shaken, as though she’s been sent back to the wilderness and rescue was nothing but a dream. Lottie feels something sinister in that moment, and is worried about what this means for her and the other plane crash survivors.
Lottie’s connection to Travis’ death and her kidnapping of Natalie may have framed her as a potential villain this season, but the showrunners have made sure that we realize Lottie’s story is just as complex as the other survivors.
“We don’t see Lottie as a villain, we don’t see any of our characters as villains, or maybe we see all of them as villains,” showrunner Ashley Lyle said during the press roundtable. “But, you know, we certainly don’t see Lottie, in her struggles with her mental illness is making her sort of, in any way, shape or form, you know, better or worse than anybody else on our show, it’s just that her circumstances are different.”
Adult Lottie’s journey thus far shows that she’s just as traumatized by the wilderness as the other survivors, and like them is just doing the best she can to move past what happened there. While creating her wellness group was obviously a choice she made of her own free will, she didn’t have the same choice as a teen in the wilderness. She becomes the Yellowjackets’ spiritual leader more out of necessity and survival than a desire to have people follow her, and it’s clear when she screams on the plane steps in the brief moment we see her post-rescue that being the group’s “messiah” took a toll on her.
Whether Lottie’s ability to connect with the wilderness comes from a supernatural force or it’s just a manifestation of trauma has yet to be explicitly defined, and the showrunners have done that on purpose. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Lyle says that “We’re sort of very interested in the unexplained. And whether you are a believer or not in any number of different things, from ghosts to God, there are no concrete answers to anything. And we’re really interested in the unexplained. And I think that whether or not everything happens for a reason or is completely random is one of the greatest questions that humanity has asked of the universe around us.”
We may not yet know how much we can trust Lottie or her abilities, but we can empathize with her and the heavy role she was thrust into in her youth. She didn’t ask to be a conduit for the whims of the unforgiving wilderness, but does her best to interpret the things she feels and sees for the benefit of others.
New episodes of Yellowjackets season 2 premiere via Showtime.com on Fridays and Showtime onSundays.