What Shauna Killing The Rabbit Really Means

What Shauna Killing The Rabbit Really Means

WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for Yellowjackets season 1, episode 1, “Pilot.”

In the season premiere of Yellowjackets, the adult Shauna shockingly kills the rabbit that is destroying her garden; here’s what Shauna killing the rabbit really means. The female-led series Yellowjackets features a number of complex and interesting characters, chronicling the events of a soccer team that gets stranded in the Canadian wilderness in 1996. Yellowjackets also follows a second timeline set in the present day that reveals how the traumatic experience affects their adult lives.

The series Yellowjackets has an incredible cast of characters, with the likes of Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, and Christina Ricci joining the show. The first episode follows Shauna (Lynskey), Natalie (Lewis), Taissa (Cypress), and eventually Misty (Ricci) in their adult lives, long after the crash. However, someone is trying to unearth the survivors’ secrets about what really happened all those years ago. Meanwhile, the second timeline in Yellowjackets explores is the soccer team in 1996 and will presumably show why the team resorts to cannibalism in the wilderness.

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One of the most shocking moments in the first episode is Shauna killing a rabbit. The rabbit is a part of her introduction to the show, as one of her first scenes is Shauna lamenting to the reporter about the animal. When the journalist suggests that rabbits have to eat too, Shauna stares at her with stony cold silence. Rabbits seem to be a big part of Shauna’s life, as she fills her house with ceramic figurines. So why did Shauna kill the rabbit, and what does it mean about her character going forward?

Why Shauna Has Ceramic Rabbits In Her Home

Melanie Lynskey as Shauna with ceramic rabbits in Yellowjackets

After the Yellowjacket team experiences a plane crash and gets rescued 19 months later, Shauna seems to acclimate to adult life by being a neglected housewife. It’s an odd choice for a girl who is accepted to Brown University and also has a promising athletic career in her background. The reporter has no problem pointing this out, and Shauna’s daughter also makes an interesting observation of her own about her mother’s rabbit figurines. The ceramic figures sit on every spare inch of the soccer player’s kitchen window sill, guarding the house like a tiny rabbit army. The totems also appear on shelves, tables, and counters. Given Shauna’s poor opinion of rabbits, as shown by her bunny decapitation via shovel, why does she have so many of them around her house?

There’s a couple of theories behind this, one being that the rabbits are akin to war tokens like Sgt. Horvath collects in Saving Private Ryan. Just as Horvath collects sand and oil to remind him of his time in the war, in Yellowjackets Shauna might collect rabbits to remind her of her own traumatic experience. Chances are the team has to hunt for food while stuck in the frozen tundra, and given Shauna’s cold abilities that viewers witness in her kill scene, she might be really good at it. It’s clear that she has to give up on her dreams after the fact to raise her daughter and recover from her experiences. Perhaps the ceramic figures act as a callback to her harrowing experience and a reminder of her talents as a hunter.

Why Shauna Killed The Rabbit

If viewers are to take episode 1 of Yellowjackets at face value, then Shauna kills the rabbit because it destroys her garden. However, stories like this generally operate more subtly, instead, focusing on what’s going on underneath it all. In order to make sense of the killing, viewers should look to the sequences of the scenes in both timelines and what is going on in Shauna’s adult life. The rabbit is the first thing to irk Shauna, and her annoyance only keeps growing. Its first mention comes along with the reporter’s appearance, which signifies that the two might be related.

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Shauna faces more obstacles when she sees Taissa’s campaign on television. The surviving group makes a pact to never discuss the events after the crash and to stay out of the public eye. After the rabbit killing, she makes a concise demand to Taissa to keep her campaign quieter and states that if someone is looking into their taboo cannibalism story then they’re dead in the water. The final events that precede the incident are Shauna’s daughter Callie telling her mother she’s not sticking around for dinner and Shauna sadly admitting that her husband is working late. She is also facing an inappropriate crush on Callie’s boyfriend. Finally, the scene that happens just before reveals that she is sleeping with her friend Jackie’s boyfriend back in 1996. She foreshadows her own pregnancy when she tells her later husband that if she were to get pregnant she’d train her child to hunt him down.

The scene cuts to Shauna decapitating the rabbit. Everything she experiences in Yellowjackets leads up to this chilling act of violence. As her past comes closer and closer to disrupting her life, she becomes colder and colder. Castle Rock star Melanie Lynskey plays Shauna’s inner torture close to the chest, as the character stuffs down her stress and inevitably acts out. Just as the rabbit is destroying Shauna’s garden, the constant reminders of her past are killing her inner peace, and she’ll clearly do whatever it takes to stop anything from getting in her way.

What Shauna Killing The Rabbit Really Means

The real meaning behind Shauna killing the rabbit in Yellowjackets is a mixture of her building stressors and animal symbology. It’s clear that the character is a stone-cold killer since she brutally kills the bunny without flinching. Shauna shows in her past and in her adult life that she is unencumbered by the idea of taking out whatever and whoever stands in her way. She addresses others in a way that’s reminiscent of Carey Mulligan’s character in Promising Young Woman, directly, honestly, and with a wave of frightening anger that’s simmering beneath the surface. It shows that Shauna probably deals with her emotions in the same way. The rabbit represents her growing anxieties, she’d rather deal with her the constant reminders of her past by simply cutting it off at the head.

Symbolically, the rabbit may relate to Shauna’s feelings towards her womanhood in Yellowjackets. The symbolism associated with rabbits is vast and can represent everything from new beginnings, fertility, gentleness, the moon, haste, and good luck. Based on what viewers already recognize about Shauna, fertility, gentleness, and the moon can probably be ruled out. While it may be a callback to her past — perhaps her hatred of her own fertility, having mothered a daughter with Jeff, the boyfriend of her best friend — the rabbits could also be a sign of new beginnings for Shauna. Since her life is vastly different than her original teenage trajectory that makes this idea wholly possible. The figurines form a protective perimeter around her home. She could be utilizing the bric-a-brac as a combination of good luck totems and new beginnings reminders in order to ward off any digging into her past and carry her forward into her new life.

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Yellowjackets episode 1 sets up a compelling character arc for the likes of Shauna Sheridan. There’s no doubt as time goes on that audiences will get a peek into her involvement in the events that transpire after the plane crash. Perhaps Shauna will be able to move on happily into her new life, but based on her rabbit homicide there seem to be only obstacles ahead for the character. The Yellowjackets soundtrack really assists in setting up a foreboding tone with which the characters are guided. Hopefully, the show will provide a compelling trajectory for Shauna to grow and change, whether it’s in a good way or a bad one.

Next: Yellowjackets: Misty’s Role With The Team Explained

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