Monday 8 May 2023

Yellowjackets - It was a part of us.

Yellowjackets: 2x06 Qui.

Natalie: We did so much fucked up shit out there. Maybe it was to survive but I don’t think we deserved to.

Lottie: The power of that place. The god of that place. We did terrible things in its name. 

It feels fitting to have watched Qui so adjacent to Dead Ringers, a whole show about the body horror that is pregnancy and birth. It shows how bad it can go even under the best, most controlled circumstances, and things are definitely not in any way under control when Shauna goes into labour. Misty, who has been responsible for everyone’s medical care ever since chopping Ben’s leg off, is still suffering from flashbacks of accidentally having murdered her best friend Crystal. We see in a flashback that she was once the only person paying attention to a video about the mysteries of birth in health class (that was, for some reason, taught by Coach Ben, or maybe he was just filling in?), but she can’t deal with any of this now, especially when it goes sideways and there is way more blood than anyone expected. Taisha and Akilah are doing their best (while Ben tries to go to his happy place, playing charades with an imaginary other couple, interrupted by Shauna’s screams), but it’s obvious that things will go wrong fast. In the end, Misty does step up, while all the others begin chanting with Lottie, bringing sacrifice for the future baby, but before the outcome is revealed, Shauna blacks out. 

Qui has a terrible internal logic to it, in which all the storylines set in the present are leading up to one moment: everyone is drawn to Lottie’s compound, and everyone will unite there eventually. Misty calls Taissa, who asks Van to drive her. Taissa calls Shauna, reaching Jeff on the phone because Shauna is being interrogated by police about Adam’s murder (nobody else knows about this!), and tells him about Lottie. Van wants to stay out of it desperately, but she can’t, because whatever connection she had with Taissa is still very much alive (also signified by how quickly Taissa jumps into problem solving mode when she realises how deep under the video store is – maybe there’s an alternative version of their lives where Taissa never pursued her ambitions and they could have done all of this together, balancing each other out). Misty is of course already there, soon holding court over the other disciples when she realises how highly they value the stories she has about Lottie and Natalie. Natalie – who feels again very far removed from teen Nat, as if whatever happened has somehow affected her more severely than everyone else – is trying to find her footing, and is entrusted by Lisa with the care of the rescued goldfish (“You should be responsible for something other than yourself”, as if Natalie didn’t spend those months in the woods responsible for everyone), who she almost liberates into the freedom of death (because now that she knows that Lottie didn’t really have much to do with Travis’ suicide, she once again blames herself for infecting him with the darkness), but then stops herself like perhaps whatever Lottie and everyone else is doing is actually helping her. In the end, they all stand united, facing Lottie, who is making her way to them. It’s momentous, especially in light of Lottie having a conversation with the psychiatrist about how the returning visions and the feelings she has been getting make her believe that she was never mentally ill, that everything she has experienced was whatever was haunting the woods – which isn’t a relief, at all, because she knows that it has followed them back home. It’s a complicated reunion precisely because now they have to face that spirit together, the thing that Lottie calls a god. 

When Shauna wakes up to a beautiful day (woken up by Jackie’s voice, significantly), surrounded by her happy and smiling teammates, it immediately feels unreal (Elliott Smith is the soundtrack, beautiful but always inherently sad). The baby is big and perfect and screaming. The only thing that is wrong is that he won’t feed, but otherwise, everything seems okay. Shauna’s paleness is gone, the blood of the birth is washed away, there are no traces of the ordeal. She seems to have trouble connecting to the baby, but that is easily explained by how horrible the situation still is – how can she raise a baby in a cabin in the woods, with the spectre of starvation over them – but then, one night, after fending off Lottie’s attempt to feed him (“We need to feed”, Shauna seems to mishear), she does make a connection and speaks about her excitement at seeing him grow. It’s a miraculous, beautiful portrayal of motherhood, if a reluctant one under very difficult circumstances, and it is literally too good to be true, the kind of sanctuary that Ben escapes to when things get too hard. One night she wakes up and finds her baby gone, and emerges into a horrible scene of visceral violence – the others, feeding on her son – but then she truly wakes up for the first time, and that reality couldn’t be any more different. We see older Shauna in the police station, talking truthfully about being a bad mother, about the choices she made, about loving her family regardless, because how could she not – but in the reality of the cabin, she learns that her baby died, and she grieves, and insists on still hearing his cries. She told her son, in her hallucination, that it was just them against the whole world, so what does it mean that he is gone now? 

When they meet at breakfast, Natalie says to Misty that “We’re all like this, aren’t we?”, without being clear about what she means exactly – it could be everybody’s inability to make true connections outside of the people they were with at the cabin. Misty sent Walter away, regardless of how perfectly matched they seem. Natalie feels so solitary, maybe because we only met her when Travis was already dead. Taissa has married someone she has confessed to not feeling strongly about, and now something has made her return to Van, her first true love. Shauna says it in her police interview: that she loves her husband and her daughter, but she’s bad at it. And I don’t think that Jeff ever knew about the baby she lost, and how much of an impact it had on her marriage and having Callie.

Shauna: You have a kid that you don’t want to save a marriage that you got into out of guilt and shame and you just can’t really let yourself love either of them, but of course you do, you love them despite yourself, you’re incredibly bad at it.

 Random notes: 

Couldn’t stop laughing at the contents of Misty’s pockets at check-in. A knuckleduster. Tiny binoculars. A mysterious syringe. Handcuffs. Walter got lucky I think. Misty was prepared!

Blur’s Song 2, what a choice for the opening scene! And I’ve been very supportive of Akilah adopting the mouse for emotional support, but there was for sure not enough handwashing happening during the already complicated birth. Of all the moments to gently pet your mouse, this isn’t it! 

Sophie Nélisse deserves awards for her performance in this episode. 

Shauna telling her daughter that it would have been better if she had “just had sex with him”, and Callie later taking that advice in the interrogation room, is hilarious. The fucked up dynamics of the Shipmans/Sadeckis. 

Jeff listening to Fuk Da Police by N.W.A. while waiting for Shauna at the police station: priceless. 

Van tells Taissa about meeting the other one, and tries to decode what she meant by saying “we” – I think it’s clear from context that the “we” was Taissa and Van, as much as they both try to deny that they are still a unit (fitting that everyone else’s first reaction is to ask if they are back together, like that was always something they thought would likely happen). 

Sandy Good and Sandy Bad. I want to hear more about Van’s videostore categories. 

I’m curious to find out how things went that even the people who believed in Lottie, especially Van, seem to have dropped her completely, so much so that out of all the people uniting at the compound, Van is the most affected to see her again. 

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