Tuesday 14 March 2023

Yellowjackets – You took something that doesn’t belong to you.

Yellowjackets: 1x09 Doomcoming.

Jackie: Coming up on the end of the world, Shipman. Time to put out all the stops.

It is miraculous to consider that in spite of the hardships, the impending winter, the shortage of food, the predators out in the woods, so many of the stranded made it back alive. They survived an impossible situation. They had to do unimaginable things to survive, and none of their loved ones know about them, because each and every one of them – but especially Shauna and Taissa – fear what it would mean for Jeff and Sabine to know what they did out there. Taissa knows it would end her career. Shauna thinks that her secrets keep her marriage alive. That moment with Taissa in the last episode, when she told her about the affair, she seemed so enlivened by it – like she got something out of it that has been missing from her life. Her entire relationship with Jeff was built on a secret (a secret that is eating away at her friendship with Jackie in the woods, that will lead to something horrible), but with Adam, she is free, she can relieve a youth she never had. That’s why it feels like such a betrayal when she confronts him, and begins truly believing that he was the one who blackmailed her: because she thought she was free from her past for a second but now she feels it caught up with her. And because the only way to survive in the woods was resorting to violence, and those memories haunt her, she ends up killing Adam before he can explain that she is wrong. It’s all the more tragic that she realises almost immediately when she returns home to Jeff that she made an error – that it is a much more logical explanation for the glitte
r if Jeff was the one who brought it home. Jeff owns up straight away, and in the process they both reveal their secrets – Jeff the blackmail to save the store, Shauna the affair and the murder. It also turns out that Jeff has been reading her diaries, that he knows everything she never felt safe to tell him from the start, and he still loved and loves her. There isn’t a moment of hesitation for Jeff where he considers saving himself. He wants to take the responsibility for Adam’s death. He wants to protect Shauna, in spite of everything. They both decide that Shauna will pretend to Taissa and Nat that Adam was the blackmailer, and get their help. 

This is an episode in which everything that has previously happened adds up to one chaotic catastrophe, in both timelines. In the past, in the cabin, food has run out and the survivors subsist on grubs they dig up. The plane has crashed. Taissa’s rescue party has failed. Winter is coming. Jackie, stewing in her secret knowledge, has come to an increasingly apocalyptic worldview in which survival is no longer likely, and all of their lives mean nothing. The girls do one last thing that mirrors their age: they want a party, because homecoming in the real world is coming up, because the berries they stored in jars have turned to alcohol, because they brought dresses with them. Everything looks horrible but the least they can do is this one symbolic gathering. They make decorations out of what they find lying around (great imagery all around). They make a stew out of the last of their food. But there are so many things that have happened that combine into a night of horrors: Misty feels she is losing her grasp on Ben, so she decides she will poison him again with her stash of hallucinatory mushrooms, but they accidentally end up in the stew. Jackie is furious at Shauna but instead of confronting her she decides to seduce Travis, in spite of how much that would hurt Nat. 

The question from the start of the show has been how the girls turn into a scary pack of hunters who are chasing one of their own through the woods, how that transformation could happen out of their shared struggle. This is the first step: they all get high, and some of them, led by Lottie, decide that Jackie has transgressed something by claiming Travis. They fall short on hurting her beyond trapping her in the pantry, but they do end up trying to rape Travis, and then hunt him, perceiving him to be a stag (remember: they’ve been eating deer. He’s prey, and possibly food). They hear the wolves in the distance and take inspiration. It’s a horrifying scene, from which Travis barely escapes when Nat saves him. There is a direct confrontation between Nat and Lottie (who says, ominously that “it’s in all of us”), a first sign of a clear split within the group between two different modes of survival.

Random notes: 

THERE’S NO BOOK CLUB?! The fact that this happens in the midst of a very serious scene encapsulates Yellowjackets. A comedy with a body count. 

Good for Taissa and Van for being the only two to have a good time this episode: Taissa helps Van with her self-consciousness over her scarred face, they stay with each other while the others hunt down Travis, Ben is inspired by their coming out (and the shrooms, and Nat) to concede that love, not doom, is everything, and finally stands up to Misty. Everything else here is deep dark. 

Kidnapped Jessica Roberts and Misty bond over shared stories, which is clearly a tactic by Jessica to earn Misty’s trust – she uses the fact that Misty is cut out from the friend group and promises her a book deal, what it would mean to be the first to talk. It seems to work, until Nat turns up at her door and profusely apologises (“You’ve been a good friend. You’re just really good at things.”), because she needs her help to dispose of Adam’s body. Misty’s face lights up like a sunrise. 

I worry about Ben. No Ben in the current timeline so far, but if anyone would have moved away from suburban New Jersey, it’s him. 

Poor Adam. The only person who seems genuinely distressed that a murder has occurred is her, and only because it means she won't be able to ask him about Travis. 

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