It’s a beautiful thing when you feel a show fall into its rhythm, when it feels truly self-assured and confident enough to drop huge twists in one storyline and do slower paced, but equally engrossing character development in another. The news that Yellowjackets has been picked up for season two seems particularly perfect given that it is accompanied by an episode that is a microcosm of what makes the show so good.
Back in the wilderness, we’re focusing on Lottie and Taissa, and things aren’t going well for either. It turns out the pills Lottie was taking were given to her by her parents to suppress her ability to predict the future, which must be some residual biases from the satanic panic or something because I fail to see how having a precognitive child would be anything aside from extremely useful.
The pills have fully worn off in the wilderness and while scavenging for berries she foresees the rotting deer that Nat and Travis will bring the now starving girls. The bloody-antlered and maggot-ridden carcass is one of the show’s most disgusting images to date, but the most impressive thing in the flashbacks is still Courtney Eaton’s performance as Lottie. On most shows, the troubled girl with visions would be a glassy-eyed, one-note quivering presence but Eaton breathes full life into her, keeping her a fully realized teenage girl who can still land a snarky putdown. Her desperate search for hope that results in a baptism scene with Laura Lee is very moving.
Taissa also seems to have heard the screaming I’ve done at my television and decides the girls should try and do something to increase their chances of rescue. Though I’m disappointed that a fictional character in 1996 didn’t take my advice to build a raft and explore the lake, I still admire the proactive plan she’s putting together.
Having an even worse time in the wilderness is poor Shauna, whose unwanted pregnancy is a secret to everyone by Taissa. Confronted with the reality that they are unlikely to be rescued before her nine months of gestation are up, and too cowardly to tell Jackie that she slept with her boyfriend, she crumbles. In a brutal scene, made utterly terrifying by superb direction, she attempts to end the pregnancy with a hot metal wire. Taissa finds her and resolves to help but the pain is too unbearable. Both girls seem utterly devastated by the moment, and heartbreakingly, Shauna can’t express herself beyond a quiet “I don’t want to die.”
Shauna in the present has the unenviable task of brunch with Jackie’s parents on what would have been Jackie’s birthday. It’s the confirmation of what we’ve all suspected, that Jackie didn’t come back from the wilderness and, unless there is a major plot twist, is dead. Her mother is hilariously passive aggressive and lobs some deliciously cruel observations Shauna’s way, my favorite of which were “you can’t be remarkable and raise a family” and “Jeff works hard but he’s the only one who contributes.” Almost as surprising a twist as any is that Jeff is great now?! Warren Cole nails his defense of Shauna and drops the proverbial mic with, “Jackie was amazing but so is my damn wife.” In the car, he sweetly tells Shauna how much he values her while her phone fills with messages from Adam, the world’s most suspicious man.
Almost as suspicious as Adam is Misty, who delivers on her promise to the journalist/private investigator of being “someone you should be afraid of.” She jabs a needle fully of sedatives into the poor woman’s thigh and chains her up in her basement. Misty is so terrifying, I half-expected her to have a Buffalo Bill-style pit down there, and she probably would have if she’d had more time to plan.
Nat, tragically, has to sell her incredibly cool car (Forgive me, I don’t know car types beyond cool and uncool) to pay off the blackmailer. Luckily, Detective Kevin is there to give her a ride, albeit via his kid’s soccer game. Juliette Lewis continues to shine in the role, utterly badass as Nat but layering in her giant heart and paralyzing trauma. But in the present day, the MVP still goes to Tawny Cypress as Taissa. Everything from stress smoking, to rolling her eyes at child therapists, to arguing with the bank is compelling when she does it, particularly with the gorgeous costuming the show is throwing her way. And even though her wife Simone seems utterly sick of Taissa, every moment of her presence on our screens is welcome. So when the big twist comes, that Taissa in the past is possessed (?) and eating dirt, and that Taissa in the present is the woman in the tree who has been harassing her son, it is a gloriously well-earned and well-acted thrill. The sight of Taissa with her hand bleeding, out of her mind and animalistic was terrifying. No wonder poor Sammy needs therapy.
As much as I raised an eyebrow when I heard that Yellowjackets was planned to continue over multiple seasons and not wrap the whole thing up this season, I am now completely convinced they have enough to sustain this.
- There has been much said about how well the casting of the older younger counterparts have been but particular praise has to be given to Sophie Thatcher who seems to have actually been possessed by Juliette Lewis.
- Taissa keeping her relationship with Van a secret is so sad. I suppose it was the ’90s and homophobia was rife, but Van deserved better than this.
- Honestly, good for the coach for encouraging Travis to practice safe sex. And good for him that he was planning to get laid so much in San Francisco.
- Misty saying ““I have a secret boyfriend too!” was bone-chilling.
- In Nat, Taissa, and Shauna’s conversation, they mentioned other Yellowjackets that are out there. I’m assuming we’ll meet some of them at one point. My dream casting for next season would be adding Drew Barrymore as adult Van.