Now, I don’t want to start this recap off with some light victim blaming. But why the hell do the Yellowjackets need to dump their shit bucket off of a cliff? No one saw the problems that could potentially present in the middle of winter, with high winds and slippery slopes? I know these girls have a lot of things they need to be concerned about, but that seems like a pretty obvious thing to caution: “Hey guys, maybe for the winter, we should find a different spot in the vast forest that we’re stranded in to toss our droppings?
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Especially since the shocking, mangled death that happened in this episode was basically foretold from the start.
After a quick check-in with Adult Van—who is having stale donuts for breakfast and throwing out past-due mortgage notices for the video rental shop she lives above—we’re quickly tossed back to the ’90s. That’s right: Viewers who have been anticipating Lauren Ambrose’s addition to Yellowjackets since this season premiered five weeks ago are not being indulged right off the bat. I actually found this to be an unexpected kindness; Season 2 has been leaning a little too heavily into fan service at the expense of its story. By sprinkling Adult Van and Taissa’s reunion throughout the episode, their shifting dynamic was much more compelling than it would’ve been if they’d just spent10 minutes reconnecting at the top.
Instead, we return to find the teens sitting in on an outdoor meditation with Lottie’s cult, which has quickly strengthened in power after Javi was found alive. I mentioned last week that Javi’s return would likely bolster Lottie’s disciples and divide the group further, and this has immediately become evident. Everyone but Shauna—whose first priority is her pregnancy, which seems to finally be in its third trimester now that the writers remembered how gestative timelines work—is out in the freezing temperatures, listening to the wind at Lottie’s behest.
Seated in a circle, the girls all describe what they hear: voices, singing, peace. Lottie tells them that this is an exercise in connection, to strengthen their group’s bond, which will be critical for them to nurture Shauna’s baby. “New life is coming, and we can’t wait to meet him,” Lottie says, once again cryptically asserting the sex of Shauna’s child, despite no ultrasound machine or cold belly-jelly being present in the hunting cabin.
The episode tries several times to divert us into peripheral storylines that continue to fail to carry any narrative weight. The less said about Adult Shauna’s unfortunate side plot, with Callie accidentally falling for a cop—and Jeff being… Jeff—the better. It’s almost as though Adult Shauna were a total afterthought in this season’s construction, bafflingly becoming an ancillary character after carrying Season 1. Adult Misty also continues to get the shaft as well, but she blessedly gets her first funny line of the season (“I think we’re asking the wrong questions about the moon landing”).
The writers’ confusion with what to do with their adult characters was glaringly evident as soon as they figured out the grand solution: putting them together again! When Misty catches up with Natalie, Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci are allowed to exchange barbs through a fence at Lottie’s compound, bringing more electricity to the screen than either of them have been able to conjure on their own since the start of the season. Why we’ve had to waste half(!) of this season with these women in flux, running opposite all of each other like their magnetic fields were reversed, is far beyond me. But happily, Adult Misty finished out this episode worming her way onto the compound grounds, which will hopefully mean this is the last of my complaints on the subject.
Following some patience, Van and Taissa shippers were rewarded with exactly what they came for. Glimpses of the old flames catching up are exciting, especially since they reveal to us interesting details about the timeline. Taissa gives Van the novelty pen she bought off the trucker that brought her to Van’s shop, mentioning that they replaced the guestbook pen at Shauna’s wedding with a similar one. Given that the women also note that they haven’t seen each other in ages, we can surmise that Shauna and Jeff were married not long after the Yellowjackets were rescued, with their team members in attendance, only for everyone to part soon after.
However, we’re still in the dark about what caused Van and Tai’s eventual rift. When Tai finds a bottle of hardcore prescription meds in Van’s bathroom cabinet, Van claims that they were for her mother, who lived with Van before she died and repaired their relationship when she was faced with death. “Maybe you don’t need to be dying to have regrets,” Tai tells her, causing Van to try to draw a boundary line. “You don’t get to come up here and drop your fucking anvil into my life,” she spits back.
Taissa finds herself at the end of her rope, and explodes in a rage of fatigue and realization, confiding in Van about everything that her violent sleepwalking fits have done to her life. “I’m losing my fucking mind, and I’m terrified,” she tells her. Tawny Cypress is the best she has been all season here, getting a chance to mine Taissa’s psyche rather than just go through her physical motions for a mind-bending plot device. “I can’t ask you for your help,” she says to Van, “because I don’t want to hurt anymore of the people I love.”
Back in the ’90s, Teenage Misty has drawn the literal short end of the stick, leaving her to once again dump out the team’s shit bucket. This provides another chance for her and her new bestie, Crystal, to continue forging their bond. Lately, they’ve become incredibly close, sharing secrets like currency. After dumping the bucket over the side of a cliff, Misty confides in Crystal her biggest secret of all: that she destroyed their wrecked plane’s black box after the crash, knowing that the team would continue to rely on her if help never found them. Misty never imagined what they’d be going through now and—just like when she destroyed the device—didn’t think about what she was doing before telling Crystal.
Crystal, of course, reacts in shock and disgust, ending her friendship with Misty on the spot. Crystal threatens to tell the group, which sends Misty into a rage, likely propelled by her fear of the group’s retaliation if they found out. (She’s seen what they did to Jackie, after all.) Misty threatens to kill Crystal if she tells anyone, but Misty won’t have to. The two girls have slowly been moving toward the edge of the cliff during their argument, and Crystal loses her footing, falling to a mangled, traumatic, and possibly shit-covered death in the snow below. What a way to go. I’d rather be eaten.
This week’s episode might’ve ended with Teenage Misty lying to the group, telling them that she lost Crystal in the burgeoning snowstorm—which seems to have triggered Shauna’s labor, after she was briefly caught in it as well. But the most intriguing part of it again comes courtesy of a dose of the supernatural elements that are really buoying the show this season.
Adult Natalie and Lottie work on trying to uncover what Travis’ note (“Tell Nat she was right”), left before his death, really meant. The two women try EMDR, a form of psychological therapy used to help reprocess trauma. During their exercise, Natalie remembers the last time she saw Travis: when the two went on a bender, as they always would. Natalie eventually overdosed, but after she was revived by paramedics, she told Travis, “I saw it. I felt it. We brought it back…we brought it back with us.” This runs parallel to Travis’ eventual realization that he had to breach death to contact the spirit, which resulted in his death by hanging.
Coming to with Lottie, Nat regains her strength, and offers a succinct, but ultimately arcane, idea to what has been happening to the both of them: “The whole time, there was something, some darkness out there with us. Or, in us. It still is. That’s what I was right about.”
Lottie turns her head and witnesses a vision of an antlered figure, looming behind her. This throws a potential wrench in the previously well-oiled “Lottie Is the Antler Queen” theory. Lottie could simply be envisioning whatever dark figment possessed her and their group to devolve into cannibalistic cultists, or giving us a hint of something much darker, and unexpected. Now that we’re halfway through the season, Yellowjackets has finally managed to fill its episodes with consistent surprises again. Let’s hope this momentum keeps up long after the spring thaw.