Monday 17 April 2023

Yellowjackets – Can this just be enough?

Yellowjackets: 2x04 Old Wounds.

Van: I don’t understand why you won’t see what’s right in front of you. 

In Old Wounds, I changed my mind about Lottie. Seen from the present time, it would be easy to consider that the woman who is now running a whole cult deliberately built a following in the woods, but that’s not really what is happening. Lottie is providing something that the girls need and ask for, but she’s not doing it with any intention behind it, and if anything, it is coming at a great cost to her. She doesn’t want whatever it is she has – be it a mystical connection to the woods, or an expression of her mental illness. In Old Wounds, the girls (and Ben, and Travis, to an extent) fight about who is providing more for the group – Natalie, who keeps coming back without any meat, or Lottie, who has maybe made the birds fall from the sky. Mari is the instigator, and she is playing that role more and more (all the while being the only one who hears the dripping noise, which is investigated in this episode to no avail). They send the two girls out to compete against each other, with no help from anyone, to collect as much as they can. Both of them come home with nothing. Natalie finds the frozen moose she saw at the crash site frozen in the lake, but an attempt to free it from the ice fails. Lottie tries to emulate the ritual that brought the birds, but instead almost dies of hypothermia, after having a vision of the plane Laura Lee took (including her teddy bear and her cross pendant), descending an elevator shaft into a shopping mall where the girls (including Laura Lee) are having a succulent Chinese meal, until Laura Lee warns her that she must wake up before dying. Neither girl can provide what they desperately need, and in the end, Natalie recognises that it was a good contest, in a way conceding that Lottie is trying to help (while everyone else was sitting around the cabin, reading and playing games). 

It's a kind of resolution that seems to mirror what is happening at the compound now. Nat and Lottie aren’t as much enemies as they are competitors, and even if something has solidified in Natalie that was maybe a bit more fluid when she was younger, she has a hard time holding on to her resentment of Lottie’s methods when she witnesses Lisa explaining to her mother that all the things Lottie is providing for her have helped her. Lisa is off her meds, she is clearer, she doesn’t feel like killing herself anymore. Her mother doesn’t recognise this as recovery and instead seems to push Lisa in a way that Natalie can’t abide. She frees her goldfish, and forges a new relationship. In the meantime, Lottie is seeing a psychiatrist and asks for her dose of antipsych meds to be upped because she doesn’t want the visions, regardless of where they are coming from. Back at the compound, she goes through the gratitude cards that her followers have written, but mixed in the pack are playing cards, queens with the eyes blacked out. Something is coming, and in a final attempt to stave it off, she repeats the blood ritual she attempted in the woods, pleading for this to be enough to prevent it. It probably won’t be. 

While the greater debate about Natalie vs Lottie plays out, a smaller version of it happens between Van and Taissa. Van has been drawing a map of everywhere the other Taissa has been leading them at night, and has developed a theory that they add up to the symbol that is carved in the woods. Taissa hates it – she very much doesn’t want anything mysterious to be playing out here, and outright denies Van’s pleads to take what is happening to Lottie for analysis and support. To test the theory, she asks Taissa to go to the final location, where they don’t end up finding the symbol – instead, they recover the person responsible for their dwindling bear meat supplies. It’s Javi, alive but not well, apparently with no memory. Javi’s return feels like proof that Lottie is right (she did, after all, insist that he was alive), and it spells out trouble for Natalie, who will now have to explain what she did to give Travis closure. How did Javi survive on his own for so long? 

As much as young Taissa appears to be non-receptive to Van’s pleas to have an open mind to the idea that she has a deep connection to the mystery, adult Taissa is now off the rails, apparently driven by whatever possesses her to go out West – she finds herself on the road, and finally kind of just goes with it. A friendly truck driver offers a ride (he voted for her!) and she ends up in a quaint little town with a queer video store – and an adult Van at the counter. Van’s look of love and fear at seeing her is exactly the kind of perfection I was hoping for when the show announced Lauren Ambrose as adult Van. 

Random notes: 

I absolutely loved Lauren Ambrose as Claire Fisher (who is not that far from Van), and I can’t wait to see what she does with this role. 

Alanis Morissette sings the theme song for Old Wounds – and wouldn’t it be incredibly cool if this were an occasional thing the show does, inviting artists that fit the period to take over? Fingers crossed for Shirley Manson. 

Also a brilliant move to play an eerie version of No Return over the shipping mall scene. 

Mari is on thin ice! 

Akilah finds a mouse in the pantry and befriends it, kind of showing how desperately the stranded need any semblance of normalcy – almost anyone else would have likely suggested killing it for food, but Akilah tries to keep it as a pet. 

Misty seems to be having a grand old time with Crystal, to the annoyance of everyone else. 

Walter and Misty are on the road together to try and track down Lottie’s compound. They are pointed towards the farmer’s market, where (incidentally) Nat and Lisa were meant to be, before Lisa decided to see her mum instead. It feels like a significant coincidence, especially with Natalie trying to argue that Lottie’s group is in fact a cult with strict rules about outsider contact. It also kind of plays out like a very awkward romantic movie in which it is obvious that these two are meant for each other since they have so much in common (a deep love for musicals, weird rituals, citizen detectiving). And maybe they’ve gotten directions that will lead them to where Nat and Lottie are. 

Misty books the BnB under the name Lady Mallowan, a very fitting deep cut (it’s the name Agatha Christie used when she disappeared from the face of the earth for eleven days in 1926). 

Shauna realises that Callie has been lying to her and finds the snipped of Adam’s ID in her drawer. She drives them both out into where there is no cell reception and comes clean, spilling all of the secrets that she’s been holding on to (she only alludes to the shameful things they had to do in the wilderness to survive), and Callie, after all, takes it surprisingly well, even if Jeff is less than pleased when he finds out (after admitting he’s not over the affair). Callie doesn’t tell them that she’s been hanging out with a cop this whole time though. 

Ben appears to have recovered but continues his escapism into an alternate reality with pretty François Arnaud. He is also getting increasingly worried about the prospect of being eaten next. 

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