Warning: This post contains spoilers for the sixth episode of Yellowjackets season 2.
From the moment teen Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) realized she was pregnant in Season 1 of Yellowjackets, viewers have wondered—and theorized wildly—about what was going to happen to her baby. Did the baby grow up to become Shauna’s now-six-feet-under lover Adam (Peter Gadiot) in season 1? Did the team members eat the baby after it was born? Is the baby hiding out somewhere, waiting to surprise the remaining survivors 25 years later? But in the sixth episode of season 2, audiences learned the baby’s fate is more commonplace than any of the most outlandish theories—although it is no less traumatic and tragic for Shauna.
After a long and difficult labor that sees Shauna risk bleeding out and dying (even though viewers know she survived), her son is ultimately stillborn. But before this information is revealed in the episode, Yellowjackets delivers a fake-out sequence that ends in Shauna’s—and many fans’—worst nightmare. While giving birth, Shauna passes out and hallucinates her son being born alive and well. In her hallucination, she begins trying to care for him as best as she can given the dire circumstances. Then, after a few odd interactions with her teammates, Shauna finds them feasting on her baby, just like they did to Jackie (Ella Purnell) earlier in the season.
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Only then does Shauna actually wake up, and realize she dreamed the whole thing. Her baby did not survive the birth.
While the Yellowjackets writers considered having the team actually eat the baby, they walked away from the option pretty early on, according to co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco.
“If the baby were to be born and then they were to use it for survival, it would be very, very hard to swallow,” he tells TIME. “Not just because it’s difficult to accept, but because it didn’t feel like the right Shauna story to tell.”
Instead, Shauna losing the baby helps to better explain her character development. In its present timeline, Yellowjackets closely follows adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and the difficult relationship she has with her daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins).
“Shauna can’t allow herself to fully love the child that she has in the present,” Lisco says. “It made a lot more sense that what has prevented her from getting close to and embracing the maternal relationship with Callie is the trauma she went through.”
As for what went into the decision to trick the audience into believing that the team really did eat Shauna’s baby while she was desperately trying to keep him alive, Lisco says it fit with the show’s tendency to use an unreliable narrator to illuminate a deeper truth. “We felt it would be more poignant if she were to have that reverie of the baby actually surviving and then lose it,” he says.
The guilt Shauna carries over the role she played in encouraging the team to eat Jackie’s corpse also influences her nightmare, according to Lisco.
“She feels this great self-recrimination from eating her best friend,” he says. “And that’s so intense, that it made sense to us that when she passes out, she would have this terrifying, haunting vision that harkens back to what she went through with Jackie.”
The events of episode 6 will mark a definitive turning point for the team as things spiral further out of control in Yellowjackets Season 2.
“The death of the baby is also the death of something that everyone had pinned their hopes on, and that was distracting them from losing their minds and the idea that they’re not being rescued,” Lisco says. “That is grim. And it’s bound to be a catalyst for even darker choices that are going to be made in the wilderness.”
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