How did Jackie die in Yellowjackets and will we see her again in season 2?

If you're wondering how did Jackie die in Yellowjackets you're probably not alone as the team captain met a truly shocking end in season 1

How does Jackie die in Yellowjackets? Jackie is played by Ella Purnell
(Image credit: Showtime)

“How did Jackie die in Yellowjackets?” is the question that might be on your mind as the second season of this hit thriller takes things to the next level.

Split between 1996 and 2021, Yellowjackets follows a girl’s soccer team as they fight to survive after their plane crashes into the wilderness on the way to Nationals. Whilst Yellowjackets isn’t completely based on a true story, some of the shocking plotlines do have real-life parallels. We know some of the terrifying things they did but *how* they got to that level is something that the show is teasing. Meanwhile, it’s clear from the 2021 timeline that even as adults 25 years later the survivors can’t put what they did behind them fully and it’s continuing to haunt them. 

Yellowjackets season 1 featured Ella Purnell as Team Captain Jackie Taylor whose death in season 1 left many of us shocked. But how did Jackie die in Yellowjackets and will we ever see her again in season 2? We reveal all we know…

*Warning: Spoilers and sensitive subject matters ahead*

Ella Purnell as Jackie in Yellowjackets

(Image credit: Credit: Creative Engine Entertainment / Album via Alamy)

How does Jackie die in Yellowjackets?

It likely came as a shock to many fans when the high school Queen Bee and soccer Team Captain Jackie didn’t make it to the end of season 1 alive and instead died in truly heart-breaking circumstances. Just like what happened to Thomas in Silent Witness, Jackie’s death was tragic and didn’t have to happen. She froze to death under a meager blanket outside as the first snow of winter fell in the Canadian wilderness where she and her fellow Yellowjackets were stranded. 

How she came to be sleeping outside in the first place is where the tragic element comes in as she stubbornly left the cabin after a cruel argument with her best friend Shauna. Even from the beginning fans knew that their friendship was a complicated one.

Jackie expected Shauna to date who she wanted her to, dress how she wanted her to and generally *do* everything she wanted her to. In the pre-crash 1996 timeline in the opening episodes of season 1 we get the distinct impression that Shauna was reaching her limit for this.

Jackie seems convinced that Shauna will follow her to Rutgers College without question although we later learn Shauna has been accepted into Brown. After a disastrous party Jackie demands to be dropped off by her boyfriend Jeff first even though both she and Shauna have curfews. After Jackie disappeared, Jeff and Shauna slept together in his car and the dialogue between them revealed this wasn’t the first time and they’d been cheating for a while.

Ella Purnell as Jackie in Yellowjackets

(Image credit: Paul Sarkis / ©Showtime / Courtesy Everett Collection via Alamy)

This later came out in the season 1 finale when Jackie shouts that she knows exactly who’s responsible for Shauna’s “little bundle of joy” as she’d read her diary and realized that Jeff was the father of Shauna’s unborn baby. The tensions escalated with Jackie claiming Shauna only slept with Jeff to be able to imagine what it would be like to “be her” and not because she genuinely liked him. Shauna hit back and told Jackie that she’d effectively peaked in high school.

Furious, Jackie demanded that she leave the cabin with its fire and safety. Shauna refused and told Jackie that *she* should go, telling her that her dislike of Shauna is a “you problem”. Stubborn and upset, Jackie grabbed a blanket and pillow and left with no-one intervening for her.

The next day Shauna woke up and looked out the window to see that snow had fallen for the first time before running out of the cabin and racing to where Jackie was lying, buried in snow and clearly dead. Shauna howled and held Jackie’s body screaming “No, no, no” as Taissa held her and the others gathered outside the cabin door and watched in shock. 

Ever since the crash Jackie had refused to embrace life in the wilderness and didn’t want to contribute to camp life. Her lack of contribution had been noticed, but Jackie said she was bad at all this stuff so that was that. At first she held out hope that they would be rescued and when that looked increasingly unlikely became pessimistic and kept calling about their imminent deaths. 

Her attitude had led fellow Yellowjacket Lottie to tell her, “You don’t matter anymore!” and she got a rude awakening that in the wilderness her social hierarchy position counted for nothing. The resentment people were feeling towards her by the end could perhaps explain why no-one challenged Shauna or went out to bring her back inside before it was too late. 

Going into Yellowjackets season 2 it’s also clear that the immense guilt Shauna felt over Jackie’s death is something the adult Shauna will never get over.  

Is Jackie eaten in Yellowjackets? 

Grisly as it might sound, if you've been wondering, “How did Jackie die in Yellowjackets?” you’ve probably also been concerned over whether Jackie is eaten. The answer is a gruesome “yes” -  Jackie is eaten by all of her teammates in Yellowjackets season 2 episode 2, entitled Edible Complex. The second season picks up a couple of months after the season 1 finale where Jackie died and winter has fully taken hold. The team, Travis and Coach Ben Scott are getting hungrier and hungrier in the 1996 timeline and Shauna kick started the cannibalism we all heavily suspected was coming after the first ever episode. 

Unable to cope with Jackie’s death, Shauna spent time talking to Jackie’s body which was being stored in a structure next to the cabin where they were living. After one instance of this Jackie’s frozen body fell over and her ear snapped off in episode 1 of Yellowjackets season 1. Shauna put it in her pocket and at the end of the episode the pregnant teenager was seen eating it. Then, in episode 2 a traumatized Shauna is convinced that they need to dispose of Jackie’s body and let her be at peace.

They built a pyre, put Jackie on it and set a fire. Only a large amount of snow fell on the pyre (cruel twist of fate or supernatural event, it’s up to you) and stopped it from fully burning and instead she was effectively cooked.

After waking up in the middle of the night and seeing what had happened, a hungry Shauna said, “She wants us to”, and tentatively started to eat Jackie before the others all followed.

The gruesome scene was intercut with a fantasy version where all the characters were in Ancient Greek or Roman clothing and having a feast which became frenzied. The only one who didn’t eat Jackie was Coach Ben who looked repulsed and afraid. He turned right around and went back into the cabin, shutting the door.

Who’s in Jackie’s dream in Yellowjackets? 

Before it was revealed that Jackie died in Yellowjackets there was a dream sequence which at first seemed real. When it ended Shauna woke up abruptly and went to find Jackie, though it could also have been Jackie’s own dream and a suggestion that she was slipping away. It begins with her outside and Shauna coming over to bring her back into the warmth - something she probably wished had happened. 

She’s welcomed inside by the fire, the others are all delighted to see her and Shauna says, “You’re my best friend, you know that, right?” which mirrors something Jackie said to her early on in season 1. 

Then Jackie sees Laura Lee, another teammate who died in a plane explosion when she tried to fly a stranded old plane out of the wilderness. Laura Lee tells her that it’s not as bad as she thought it would be and then a mysterious man in the shadows says, “So glad you’re joining us. We’ve been waiting for you.”

This suggests that it is Jackie’s dream and not Shauna’s as Laura Lee is dead and many fans suspect that the man who is just the “Hunter” in the credits could be the man who they found dead in the attic of the cabin when they first arrived. 

Their words could be seen as Jackie joining them in death and her face as she spots them makes it clear she thinks something very disturbing is going on. We will of course have to wait and see whether the man is actually the cabin owner as Yellowjackets continues, just like we're waiting to know what happened to Javi.

Is Jackie a ghost in Yellowjackets? 

Jackie might have died in Yellowjackets but her actor Ella Purnell has come back for season 2 as Jackie appears as a kind of ghost after her death. No-one but Shauna sees her but perhaps because she’s so overwhelmed with guilt Shauna begins having entire conversations with Jackie. As the scenes cut it’s revealed that Shauna’s alone in the room with Jackie’s body talking *at* her and it’s implied that Jackie isn’t there as a genuine ghost but is appearing purely in Shauna’s mind as she struggles to process her grief.  

Taissa in particular finds Shauna’s habit deeply disturbing and when she discovered that Shauna had put makeup on Jackie’s face during one of their “conversations” she demanded that they stop storing Jackie’s body. Shauna said that the earth was too frozen to bury her and they decided to burn her body instead. In the 2021 timeline, adult Shauna continues to see visions of “ghost Jackie” so once again, there’s a sign that she’ll never be able to let go of her best friend.

Did Jackie read Shauna’s journal? 

Jackie does read Shauna’s journal and it’s how she discovered that her best friend had been sleeping with her boyfriend Jeff and was the father of Shauna’s unborn baby. Shauna had only confessed the truth of her pregnancy reluctantly and hadn’t admitted Jeff was the father because she hadn’t wanted to tell Jackie that they’d been cheating together. 

Yellowjackets season 2 continues on Showtime on Sundays at 9pm ET.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!