Tuesday 11 April 2023

Yellowjackets – We all did it, together.

Yellowjackets: 2x03 Digestif.

Can’t stop what’s coming

Can’t stop what’s on its way

Tori Amos | Bells for Her

This whole episode is about the fallout of Edible Complex and what happens to a group of people that have committed an unthinkable act together, even if it was for survival. The next morning almost feels like a hangover, and it is significant that the person who did not partake, who was on the outside of it, spends the entire episode segregated from everyone else. Coach Ben is, likely, dying. It is unclear if he is starving to death or if he is suffering from the long effect of losing his leg, but Misty is no longer – to his relief – his nursemaid, so nobody is even noticing his quick decline. We do, of course, still not know for certain if he ever made it out of the wilderness, but it now seems very unlikely. In Digestif, he regards the group for a distance and with horror, and begins to drift into delirium, at one stage imagining that one of the girls turns into a monster, ready to eat him. He then lies down and dreams of a reality where he, instead of sticking with the Yellowjackets and getting on the doomed plane, made the brave choice of changing his entire life. His boyfriend has offered a whole new life to him, but knowing that he would no longer be allowed to be a coach, he declined. In his head, he is now rewriting history, with an emotional reunion and a horrifying news report playing on the television. It is like a mirror image of the girl who never made it on the plane because Taissa broke her leg, one of those moments in life where two paths diverge and either could have easily happened. Instead of at home in New York with Paul, Ben is in his bed in the cabin, slipping away. 

There are several moments in the episode where the girls speak about what happened and try to find ways to deal with it. Most direct is Van, who seems to be changed: Taissa attempts to pretend that she was in her fugue state when it happened and has no memories of it, but Van replies that she wasn’t, that she was right there, partaking, responding to her. She tells her that she ate Jackie’s face, which is such a visceral, almost cruel way to snap her back to reality (and maybe a riff on how obsessed Taissa is with the idea of missing eyes as well, something that Van doesn’t know yet). It’s like Van’s approach to Taissa has changed entirely – later, she asks whatever possesses her at night time to allow her to follow her (“If I let you loose, can I come with you.”), and they both end up in a clearing in the woods that is filled with the symbol that is haunting them. That person tells Van that the man with no eyes is guiding her, and that she can only follow when Taissa allows her. Only recently, Van insisted that what was happening to her girlfriend was an illness, not a character defect, but something feels like it has shifted, maybe explaining how they are no longer in touch now. 

It also goes with the adult version of Taissa, waking up from a nightmare in the hospital where Simone is fighting for her life after the car crash. Her campaign manager is attempting damage control, but it is likely that at this point, Taissa knows she has to do more than that  - especially after finding that someone has drawn the symbol on Simone’s hand, which she desperately cleans off once she comes back to herself. It’s clear that there is a path emerging here that leads right back to Van, the only person who has an understanding of what is happening to her. 

The girls decide to have a baby shower for Shauna’s baby – perhaps they should have remembered that last time they tried to have a party, they almost ate Travis. It’s a subdued event, maybe because the prospect of raising a child in these conditions is so far outside anyone’s imagination that most of them have a hard time truly embracing the theme (Misty, on the other hand, egged on by Crystal, gives a captivating performance of the Steel Magnolias monologue, maybe on the cusp of becoming the Misty we now know and love). The party ends when Natalie once again confronts Lottie, which is cut short when Shauna’s nose begins to bleed and a flock of birds dies around the cabin (is the iron in the soil, or something else?). 

The rift between believing in Lottie’s abilities and sticking to the idea that everything has a rational explanation is now no longer between two groups – Taissa is too busy focusing on her own issues, and Shauna, deeply vulnerable after what has just happened to Jackie (she says that maybe she wanted to eat her, and we know that’s true), seems to be connecting to Lottie, who approaches everyone with deep empathy and no judgement. Now the only person who still insists that Lottie is selling snake oil is Natalie. Natalie is also the only one who does the practical thing after what they did – she knows someone has to get rid of Jackie’s remains, and so she sets off with a horrifyingly light load to return her to the crash site, while everyone else seems incapable of directly facing the consequences. The adult versions of Taissa and Shauna have talked about how Natalie’s actions out in the woods have saved everyone, and she is increasingly becoming the person who does what nobody else can, including being the only person who is still going out to hunt. At the crash site, after giving Jackie a eulogy of sorts (of course, Jackie does not appear as a ghost to her), thanking her for her sacrifice, considering if maybe eating her was the only way to survive the winter, Natalie comes to the conclusion that very likely, worse things will happen before it ends one way or another, that maybe Jackie bowing out before was her last act of rebellion against the group. It fits that the most rational character ultimately predicts the same outcome that Lottie will see once the birds begin falling from the sky – Natalie doesn’t need an omen of things to come to comprehend that they will get worse. She does, however, see a white moose that may or may not have been real, and ends up chasing her in a terrifying way. 

It's also interesting to think about Natalie, who has brought so many sacrifices for the group, as the one person among them who ended up failing at life – Shauna may be living what she considers the most boring version of her own, but she isn’t alone in the same way that Natalie is. It is still hard to tell if Lottie’s empathy is real, because it is so difficult to not see her little cult as a neat little money-making machine that serves her a little too well, but she is attempting to make a connection with Natalie, to entice her into therapy, as if it were essential for them to be connected somehow – and why would the two people on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum regarding what happened in the wilderness need to be united? She entices Natalie to partake in some group therapy in which Lisa, the disciples she stabbed with a fork, forgives her (a moment that seems to mean something to Natalie, however she feels about the cult itself). Back in the wilderness, both Natalie and Lottie knew that worse things were coming, but out in the pristine compound, we get final proof that Lottie may have a greater agenda as well – she finds her beehives dead, filled with blood (a neat call-back to the “Blood Hive” of season one). Something is coming, and it wants blood. 

Random notes: 

Misty is on her own quest to figure out what happened to Natalie, and Walter (he finally has a name!) has procured a witness from the motel that they can interview, pretending to be FBI agents. The only issue is that the witness is Randy, who we know was living at the motel at the time – Randy, a man with secrets of his own that Shauna made very clear he wasn’t allowed to spill. Misty hides in the boat bathroom (Walter lives on a boat!) to coach him through the interrogation, which goes hilariously – there’s some violence, but only one useful clue, which is that a bunch of people in purple were hanging around before her disappearance. Also, there’s a blossoming romance between Misty and Walter, finally a man who understands her (but can’t find out the truth about what happened to Adam). 

Shauna is also on a sidequest of sorts, or going through a bit of a marital crisis with Jeff pondering how their lives ended up this way – hilariously, he traces it back to a moment where Shauna countered his suggestion to use “strawberry lube” by saying she thought it was “for bisexuals and goths”. There’s a deeper, more profound crisis about how they both ended up living mediocre lives in the suburbs but this specific framing is Jeff to a Tee (did he really ever have it in him to become anything else?). And then his suggestion for spicing up life is to go and churn some butter, or maybe try blacksmithing, before they get carjacked, during which his wife expertly overwhelms the guy and takes his gun. Later, she’ll go off on her own to retrieve the car (the tracker they used for the blackmailer is still in it), as a handy reminder that whatever image Jeff has of a non-boring life in his head, it’s leagues behind what Shauna has the potential to do, and she is definitely evolving. 


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