(Editor’s note: Included in the following review spoilers for “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 2, “Edible Complex”.)
Female friendships are complicated.
On “Yellowjackets,” Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) loves, envies and resents best friend Jackie (Ella Purnell) until her untimely death when she’s stranded in the Canadian Rockies. He marries Jackie’s boyfriend, hangs on to his old soccer uniform, and in the season 2 premiere, for a moment, hunger, fascination, and overwhelming guilt—why not all three? Jackie said.
Unfortunately, things only get murkier.
In episode 2, “Edible Complex,” written by showrunners Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, and Jonathan Lisco and directed by Ben Semanoff, the hallucinatory Dead Jackie piece begins to fade (no pun intended). This is not an indictment of the story, but a testament to its effectiveness; in the show’s timeline, it’s been TWO MONTHS – two months of Shauna rearranging her dead boyfriend’s limbs, writing her fake journal, and arguing with him because she’ll never untangle the knots of this relationship that ended before that. ripe. The grown-up Shauna carries not only the psychological toll of Jackie’s death, but also this perverse code in her life.
But Shauna isn’t the only one struggling, as Taissa’s (Jasmin Savoy Brown) sleepwalking has progressed to the point where she’s completely untying her bonds, climbing down the attic ladder and wandering into the woods at night – but is this just wandering? A look at Tai’s POV shows him seemingly following the “eyeless man” in the season 1 flashback (which is well featured in the season 2 title).
This may have crossed the mind of the grown-up Tai, but not, who is simply trying to never sleep again. This is clearly unsustainable and, frankly, a juvenile response to her problem – especially the kind of solution that even teenage Taissa hasn’t attempted. He starts hallucinating, spends an entire day with his son until it turns out he was never there, and his wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) reiterates Tai’s immediate need for help. Tai’s expression at this point can only be described as menacing and possibly hinting at ‘bad’ before being hit by another car.
That was the low point!
The growing distance between Tai and Simone again contrasts with the increased intimacy between Tai and Van (Liv Hewson) in the past, where it also contrasts with the rift between Nat (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) – two couples where one person is starting to see The allure of Lottie’s (Courtney Eaton) connection to the wild, and one person vehemently against it. In this episode, Nat fakes evidence of Javi’s (Luciano Leroux) death, which might not be the most disturbing thing between her and Travis — but keep that in mind.
Lottie quietly intervenes in their relationship, against the wishes of both parties. He offers Travis hope and comfort, and reminds him, in his own words, that he and the others don’t know everything about the forest, survival, and life in general (they’re just kids!). It’s not Lottie’s fault that she or anyone else finds this attractive, but Travis’ belief in her gives Nat direction to focus on her own concerns; that Travis pulls away from her and Javi’s supposed death shatters her beyond repair.
That conflict never goes away, or at least resurfaces for the grown-up Nat (Juliette Lewis), who is now reunited with Lottie (Simone Kessell) at her residence as they re-examine the circumstances of Travis’ death (Andres Soto). It’s a dense summary, but Nat’s main concern is that in her time of need, Travis didn’t call her, but Lottie—and that Lottie had kept to herself until now. When an adult Lottie places her hand on Travis’ chest in a flashback, it mirrors the panic attack scene in Episode 1, but with a strategically ambiguous physicality. As adults, it’s hard to tell if the two had a physical or emotional connection, or if Travis still saw her as the Messiah of the forest. When Travis and Nat have sex in the past, he has visions of Lottie, which has a huge impact on their adult relationship and the rest of their time in the woods.
Aside from Shauna’s relationship with Jackie, “Yellowjackets” didn’t delve into how the other survivors processed specific deaths from the wilderness — until now, and it shows how Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) affected Lottie . Laura Lee is the one who baptized Lottie in the lake, who told her she had a gift and believed in her back when even Lottie thought she was going crazy (she was on anti-psychotic medication before the accident). When Travis dies, that guilt comes to the surface and takes him back to when he was a teenager who let his teammate fly a rusty old plane that set him on fire and killed him. Lottie distrusted and did not know how to interpret her vision of Laura Lee and the halo of flame until it was too late; With Travis dead before her, those feelings returned (along with a Laura Lee hallucination that’s sure to inspire nightmares).
There’s an emerging theme that Lottie Matthews draws people to when they’re most vulnerable or isolated — whether it’s Travis over the years, or Misty (Samantha Hanratty) and her perpetual need to belong, or teenage Shauna, when Tai and the others how he spends his time with Jackie. It may not be calculated, or even conscious – it may actually be part of his overarching desire to “help people,” which leads him to surround himself with “broken toys,” as Nat puts it, in the present.
Simone Kessell in ‘Yellowjackets’
Against her will, but for her general well-being, Shauna agrees to cremate Jackie. He says a brief but appropriate goodbye (“I don’t know where you end and I begin. I’m sorry and I love you”) and lights the pyre, to which Travis adds Javi’s bloodstained clothes. The other survivors go inside until Shauna is left with Lottie and Taissa, who are almost like a devil and an angel on her shoulders after their earlier disagreement – but which one?
The flames of Jackie’s cremation go out, framed by a gust of wind—or something more—POV. What wakes the yellowjackets in the middle of the night is not some ethereal force in their environment, but smell – masterful and truly disturbing detail. Coach Scott (Steven Kreuger) and Van both seem to be sniffing the air, with Van giving a wistful “What” there is how?” As Shauna approaches the half-burnt body, she places her hand on his stomach—not his belly, his uterus, but the throbbing organ that responds to the sight and smell of cooked meat.
Yellowjackets tear into teammate in hyper-edited sequence; most shots are not of cannibalism, but of a fancy feast in which the characters are dressed up and eat a variety of foods, including some main meat dishes that are not there is to be human because no one saw where he came from. But the interspersed footage of the wild night’s meal was undoubtedly of a group of teenagers eating what was left of their friend. The imagery of the feast is meant to ease the discomfort of cannibalism, but the rapid cuts and aggressive editing inspire a different kind of uneasiness that reflects the nocturnal fugue state many of the characters are in. A little too stylized and unpredictable, even with noble intentions.
Significantly, the final moments of the episode focus on Coach Scott. Not only does he renounce the taste of Jackie, but he recoils from the scene in abject horror and retreats to the cabin to process or forget what he saw. Kreuger expresses a whole range of emotions—disgust, fear, recognition—that swirl together. There’s teenage drama, and there’s what she’s been dealing with since the accident, and whatever fresh hell that midnight snack unleashed.
In episode 1, Shauna accuses the Yellowjackets of stealing bear meat, and in episode 2, someone pees in the pee bucket (yikes!). Between that and the captain being eaten, I’d say the rules of this bogus society are about to collapse – and that doesn’t bode well.
We’re not sure we knew the timeline of Shauna’s pregnancy until now, but here it is: seven months. The baby is coming!
I have to assume Travis and Natalie’s feet are wet while they’re trudging through the snow, and that saddens me more than most aspects of the winter wilderness timeline.
A moment of appreciation for teenage Travis, who has changed a lot since we first met him. He’s grieving and traumatized like the others, but he’s also been forced to control a lot of toxic teenage masculinity in his current company, and his openness to Lottie’s ideas further illustrates this.
Not purple, but heliotrope.
Now and never has it been too early to start Nélisse’s Emmy campaign. The look on his face when Tai tells everyone what’s going on in the meat pantry is absolutely heartbreaking and an amazing performance.
The coach’s “holy christ” when he finds out what’s going on in the meat pantry is SO funny, even though nothing about the situation is true. It really embraces the absurdity and offers a much-needed nervous laugh in that moment.
Misty zeroing in on Walter’s (Elijah Wood) “muscular calves”… no comment!
Mari (Alexa Barajas) says, “Are you his protector now? Too little too late” to Shauna about Jackie is so out of line! I bet Mari pooped in the pee bucket.
Happy John Reynolds Day to everyone celebrating! It didn’t have my season 2 bingo, but it was always a pleasant surprise.
Yeah, I thought it was Javi’s “J” too, and I’m grateful to the writers for dispelling that right away.
Tai’s hair at the party is stunning!!
New episodes of “Yellowjackets” air Fridays on streaming and Sundays on air.