Friday, 3 March 2023

Yellowjackets – We have to save us.

Yellowjackets: 1x06 Saints.

I can’t believe how exhausting it must have been always comparing yourself to someone so beautiful and smart. 

Early into Saints, Shauna arrives at a motel, and we are misled to believe that she is perhaps meeting Adam for another “book club”, but it’s actually where Natalie lives these days. She’s meeting her and Taissa to be updated on everything that has happened, including Travis’ death and the blackmail message they have both received. Before walking in, she runs into Randy – one of the gross boys who used to go to the same parties, maybe one of the boys that Jackie thought she might date. He’s living at the motel because his marriage is failing. It’s a small moment, but the greater point here, maybe, is about the gravitational pull of the suburbs, how so many of these people never managed to move away (even Natalie, really only temporarily). Travis did, but he died. 

Later, Shauna and Jeff go to their annual (I hope for them it’s only once a year!) lunch at Jackie’s parents’ house. Jackie used to be Shauna’s best friend and Jeff’s girlfriend, but the point of these lunches feels like they are both expected to atone for something, like they are punishing themselves for their actions, because Mrs Taylor is brutal with her back-handed compliments. She talks about how little their lives are, how you can’t be remarkable and raise a family. She gifts Shauna another little bunny figurine, because Jackie loved rabbits (Shauna kills them for dinner). Shauna escapes for a second to go to Jackie’s old room, which has been preserved in amber, and goes through her old diaries (which notably, continue on after the rescue, but ghosts don’t write diary entries). Jackie once again appears to her, and is ambiguous about whose fault her absence from the house was, if it was that the situation was terrible or that Shauna was. She receives another verbal beating back at the table, where Mrs Taylor talks about how smart and beautiful Jackie was, how hard it must have been to exist in her shadow. Finally, Jeff is at the end of his straw and defends his wife, in one of the first moments where we see why these two got married. It must have been the shared guilt, but he also points out how beautiful and smart Shauna is, how much he loves her, how he doesn’t wish that anything was different even if they’re struggling. All the while, Shauna receives text messages from Adam. 

Back in the woods, there’s little food left. Lottie is having terrifying visions, Natalie and Travis are making out instead of hunting, Shauna has a dream up in the attic where she gives birth to a roast chicken. The situation is dire, and Taissa is beginning to come up with a plan: she will look for help, because nobody is coming to save them, because winter means death. Van isn’t too happy about it. Taissa is also still the only person that knows about Shauna’s pregnancy, and she finds out that Jeff is the dad, realising that Shauna is considering trying a self-administered abortion. Taissa points out that it’s “not worth dying to keep Jackie from finding out”, but Shauna tries regardless after Jackie tells her how much she misses Jeff, and Taissa, in one of the first truly horrifying scenes of the show, begins helping her, until Shauna tells her to stop. I don’t think these two were as close as they are now before the crash – sharing secrets creates responsibility and connection. 

Lottie’s vision of a deer with bloody antlers becomes true, and she goes to see Laura Lee, asking about the significance of visions in saints. Objectively, Lottie was on anti-psychotics which she hasn’t been taking for weeks, she’s been starving like the other girls: there are plenty of other explanations for her vivid visions, but she asks the one person on the team who would ascribe them religious significance. Laura Lee performs a baptism, and Lottie sees fire and light, as if she had stepped into what we saw at the very beginning of Yellowjackets

Random notes: 

Shauna at the lunch table saying that she doesn’t even like her daughter is a great moment (she doesn’t! she probably still loves her!), and perfectly delivered by Melanie Lynskey. 

I’m having a hard time with the Travis/Natalie scenes, the amount of insecurity that Travis puts on Natalie’s perceived promiscuity, how much he buys into the double standard even when Natalie calls him out on it. There’s a lack of genuine trust here that I find deeply uncomfortable (and I feel for Coach Ben for having to give the speech). 

The scene where Kevyn brings Nat to his son’s soccer game and she genuinely gets into it, giving tips, is sweet, but she freaks out about the intimacy almost immediately, like she can’t even conceive that anything resembling a normal life could ever be for her. 

There are so many threads in this episode – Misty’s doesn’t connect to anyone else’s, but she’s quietly preparing her basement for a visitor, and stealing drugs from the nursing home, and watching over Natalie with her little spy cam, until she finally abducts Jessica Roberts to the soundtrack of Phantom of the Opera

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