Monday 3 April 2023

Yellowjackets - That’s not what you’re hungry for.

Yellowjackets: 2x02 Edible Complex.

Shauna: I’ll never have another friend like you. I don’t even know where you end and I begin. I’m sorry, and I love you.

I’m not sure if a character that has a propensity for returning to haunt their friends and loved ones can ever have a swan song, but maybe Edible Complex offers one for Jackie and Shauna’s friendship. It should have ended two months ago, when Shauna helped banish Jackie out into the cold on the first night of deadly winter, but instead Jackie has done her best to hold on as a ghost. The episode begins with her taunts, and as ever, because Shauna knows her own weaknesses as well as Jackie did, they sting. On the outside, what is happening is isolating Shauna from the rest of the group, who are deeply weirded out by her obsession and upset that she keeps delaying their ever meagre dinners (the other meat available in the meat locker is dwindling). On the inside, Jackie is creating a toxic version of a teenage friendship in which she entices Shauna to braid her hair (to cover up the missing ear – Shauna can’t admit to Jackie or herself what she did with it) and to apply make-up as she used to do for Shauna (who is, considering the outcome, still pretty bad at it, but her mental state may excuse it). As a final, cruel taunt, she cuts into her arm to offer her flesh, knowing where this is all going – hinting that Shauna knows that it is inevitable as well, because after all, she is the one holding the knife. The girl on the inside of the cabin are divided on what to do. Lottie is advocating to allow Shauna to grieve her own way, extending a surprising amount of grace to her, while Taissa is getting increasingly upset with both Shauna and Lottie’s approach. Later, when Nat and Travis go off to once again look for prey (as ever, unsuccessfully) and for Javi, Travis makes the argument that everyone needs more than just food to survive the winter, and what Lottie is offering is a kind of spiritual nourishment that the group needs just as much. The divide is increasingly along the lines of who is open to it and who isn’t. 

The situation escalates when Taissa stumbles across Jackie’s body in the shed, which feels like one of the first times that anyone else has checked in on it, since Shauna is on meat duty: the make-up is grotesque, the idea of Shauna posing Jackie to playact their relationship deeply disturbing to her. The thing to remember here is that Taissa is probably the closest to a friend Shauna has out there. She has been busy dealing with her own issues (here, Van wakes up to find her gone and just stops her from falling down a cliff when she once again chases the man with no eyes), but once, Taissa was the first and only person Shauna told about being pregnant. Once, Shauna was the one who slept up in the attic with her, and we know that they are still close in the present time. She isn’t suggesting burning Jackie’s body to be mean, but because she thinks it’s the only way for Shauna to move on. Lottie acts out of care as well when she insists that they let whatever grieving Shauna has to do play out. They are two different approaches to the question of what to do when someone can’t move on from loss – and it is mirrored beautiful by what happens between Nat and Travis, when Nat pretends she has found Javi’s trousers bloodied in the woods to try and give him closure (they’re pants from his luggage, and the blood on it is hers). Lottie tries to meet people where they are, Nat and Taissa project their own ideas of moving on. Who knows what would have happened if Taissa hadn’t gotten her way, if Jackie hadn’t ended up on a funeral pyre that the woods (by accident, or intention) put out just in time for the meat to be perfectly cooked.  

One way to think about it is that things will begin going truly wrong now that everyone (except Ben, who watches on, horrified, perhaps fearing his clock is running out) has partaken in the meal that is turned into an antique feast in the imagination of the survivors. On the other hand, one of the reasons why there seems to be such an abundance of visions (like Travis, having some kind of spiritual awakening when he sees Lottie as he sleeps with Nat) is lack of food, with no other possible food source in sight. It is survival cannibalism (there is a haunting subtle reference here to The Terror’s first perfect season, when one of the survivors of the two stranded ships is shocked by the fact that his body confused the smell of burning human meat for food – foreshadowing what will happen later, when all other options run out), and the way the girls appear to collectively perceive it helps them deal with it. 

Random notes: 

Oh Callie. Looks like your mother maybe murdering her secret lover and then lying extremely badly to the police has made her grow faster than her boyfriend Kyle can keep up with. She opens her heart to a stranger in a bar (it’s Drew from Search Party!), who tells her just the right story to get her to open up to him. Turns out, the guy is working with Kevyn on the case of Adam’s disappearance, and now knows that Shauna was having an affair. I want to say that maybe the writers were having a bit of fun here at the expensive of the Adam is Javi truthers from last season by having him give the name “Jay”, but maybe that’s too far out there. 

Callie: So you lied to be feminist? 
Shauna: Actually the opposite. I did it to protect your dad. 

Present time Taissa is desperately trying to stay awake after her discovery, and it appears as if her life is coming back together when Sammy appears, enticed by the promise of new dog Steve. Except when Simone comes over to pick him up, he’s disappeared – and it turns out, he’s been waiting at school this whole time, and Steve is now nowhere to be found (RIP little man). Taissa crashes her car when she realises how close to the edge she is (because this time, there’s no Van to save her – at least not yet). 

Nat at Lottie’s compound gets a version of Travis’ last days. Lottie says that he called her, telling her the woods were once again haunting him, and when she came over to visit she fell asleep and then found him at his place of work, getting ready to perform a ritual of his own. Maybe because of what he experienced once at the cabin, his visions of Lottie, he thinks that a near-death experience will bring visions that ward off the haunting. It goes horribly wrong – the button to lower him back to the ground malfunctions – and instead of Travis, Lottie ends up having a horrifying vision of a dead Laura Lee (who seems to be an angry, angry ghost). It’s open for interpretation if this is really what happened, but it does fit in with the idea that Lottie had Natalie watched and only decided to intervene when Nat was about to kill herself. 

That being said, Lottie sniffing the latte that her disciple provides and finding it lacking had serious cult leader vibes, and whatever is happening out there, it does seem very calculated and geared towards profit. 

Misty is off on her own little adventure with her investigation of Natalie’s disappearance, since Taissa and Shauna are otherwise busy, and finally crosses paths with citizen detective Elijah Wood, who offers his services to help her (inconveniently, he’s also the guy who appears to be putting things together about Adam). He woos her with invisible ink! It’s romantic, in a very specific Misty way. But who exactly was he pretending to put in the nursing home? (is there a “rent a senior” website?).

In a way, it feels like Thom Yorke’s voice is made to score a scene in which teenage girls dig into a feast that the woods have prepared for them. JFC, Yellowjackets, a show that delivers on its dark, dark promises. 

No comments: