“Yellowjackets” Episode 4 Review: Showdown Between Reason and Faith – SPOILER

A filler episode takes up the conflict between reason and faith, but doesn’t have much to say…yet.

(Editor’s note: This review includes spoilers for “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 4, “Old Wounds”.)

The Yellowjackets may not have made it to nationals, but in Season 2, Episode 4, the competition is already underway.

As the to the winter of their discontent wears out, the stuck-up high schoolers and their actively disengaged coach (Steven Kreuger) run out of food. The situation is so bad that people are apparently stealing raw bear meat from grocery stores to eat more than they are allotted (or not? More on that later). It doesn’t help that the group’s only two hunters can’t find fresh game, or that they haven’t even caught the group’s main meals: the bear that bowed down to Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and gave her life in Season 1, respectively. the birds that mysteriously landed on top of them just one episode earlier.

It all comes to a head in Season 2 Episode 4, “Old Wounds,” written by Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson and Liz Phang and directed by Scott Winant. Mari (Alexa Barajas) continues to stir up strife by smugly declaring that Lottie is the only reason the group has anything to eat because Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) were wasting their time hunting. This immediately touches Nat, who is becoming increasingly uneasy about Lottie’s influence on the wider group, and Travis in particular. And as Thatcher pointed out to IndieWire in March, none of the other survivors know the reality of hunting and fighting in the wilderness during this brutal season.

Lottie remains silent throughout the escalation, visibly uncomfortable as Mari and the others sing her praises. This is a direct contrast to the smooth, confident adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) in the other timeline, but Episode 4 also shows Lottie struggling with fear and insecurity that she thought was left in her past. Despite his calm exterior, he has a troubled relationship with his mental health, stigmatized by his parents during his childhood and possibly beyond. The grown-up Lottie wants medication to suppress her visions and tells her therapist that she “became something else” in the past. At least this person seems more open to Lottie understanding herself. “What are they trying to tell you?” he says about the visions – but Lottie doesn’t want to know.

“They’re not real,” he says, not nearly as confidently as he’d like. The parallel Lottie stories actually depict the two poles of her relationship with herself; in the past he was just a blank slate, nervous about misrepresenting his connection to the forest, but, as the others point out, he has life-saving foresight. Grown-up Lottie—perhaps only post-wild Lottie—misses this power and opportunity. He’s literally recreated the exact physical circumstances of his teenage awakening, only to feel anything like what the forest brought out of him, but still can’t find it. It’s a hallucination of two more dead bees, renting an airplane hoping to crash in the exact same spot — but hopefully it won’t go that far.

A teenage girl and her mother, both dark-haired, lean lightly against the front bumper of a maroon minivan;  still from it "Yellow jackets"

Sarah Desjardins and Melanie Lynskey in “Yellowjackets.”

Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME

Despite the necessary foundations, most “old wounds” are filled with fillers. There are introductory dialogues, spoon-fed context and scenes where the characters are literally wandering aimlessly in the forest – all techniques that are usually avoided by the “yellow jackets”, but at the same time catch their eye. But at least one scene has Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) telling Callie (Sarah Desjardins) the whole truth, a stark contrast to Episode 3’s chilling monologue about hunting people. Lynskey is as adept at awkward comedy as she is unsettling drama, and both scenes portray Shauna as extremely vulnerable. For the first time, she is completely honest with her husband and daughter, leading to a rare but sweet moment of family peace for the Sadeckis.

The hunt continues, with Eaton giving a great performance with little to do as Lottie communes with trees and spills blood at the altar — the alter that Van (Liv Hewson) later notices for the second time this season isn’t frozen. He visits the dead guy’s plane in a combination of hallucination/vision (hallucivision?), which of course isn’t actually there because it blew up when Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) tried to fly it. “Yellowjackets” again emphasizes that Laura Lee’s flight and death was a pivotal trauma for Lottie, perhaps even more pivotal than the accident. The worst thing these girls had ever experienced was made worse when they thought it couldn’t be, and whoever believed in Lottie first and most instantly disappeared.

Or is he? Widdop guest stars in the hallucivision (significantly more entertaining than his ghost in Part 2) where the Yellowjackets hang out carefree in a mall. Entertaining or not, this scene is also filler, or its meaning has not yet been revealed. There are some references to Lottie’s shoplifting that viewers won’t remember at all unless they’ve re-watched Season 1’s “F Sharp” (the accident episode), which seems trivial compared to everything else that’s been incorporated into the character since.

What matters at the moment is that Lottie is dying in the woods and needs help. Despite the fact that neither he nor Nat managed to find food, they share a rare camaraderie in the cabin. One of the things that “Old Wounds” does well is introduce not just competition but sportsmanship—a callback to a kind of social politeness that the girls haven’t yet followed, but that’s a given. These girls were not hunters, caretakers, or cooks, or people who lived on the land; they were athletes. Nat and Lottie’s joint nod to begin the hunt and their stoic “Good Game” handshake at the end are things they did long before the accident and are somehow still connected. Even the moose scene perversely echoes the schoolyard game of tug-of-war, until everyone loses their footing and is dragged across the ice.

Despite the clash of reason and faith between Nat and Lottie, “Old Wounds” doesn’t really say much about that duality. The episode reminds the audience that (paraphrasing Shauna’s hallucination of Jackie in Season 1) these are kids, and that’s awful. After a spirited debate and life-threatening physical activity, Nat and Lottie are in no mood to unpack their divergent philosophies, their mysterious symbols, or the fact that they could starve or freeze to death any day. Their differences remain and will no doubt clash again, but for now they’re just thankful to be alive and gay.

Spiritual food:

  • The theme song is different, I have no idea why and I’m going to puke.
  • In this episode, Mari also holds her own secret competition to see who can be the baddest. (He wins.) Javi kind of comes back because of Lottie’s superiority, and I’m sure he’d swallow Akilah’s (Nia Sondaya) pet mouse whole if he found it.
  • Misty’s little smile when it comes to competition – she loves a mess!
  • Now I’m also worried about this goldfish that was spit into the drinking water. Fish die very easily from water poisoning!
  • The Walter/Misty juxtaposition is cute, but it underscores my point about episode 3 that it’s basically the same character, which means it’s either nothing new OR she’s hiding something important. Watch this space!
  • (For a second, I almost thought they were going to get up, meet in the hallway, and start hiding before disappearing into one of their rooms, which would probably happen in any other show.)
  • Ben is reading The Magician by John Fowles (although his copy says John Fowler), a book about a young man who becomes “depressed, disillusioned and overwhelmed” and then has suicidal thoughts. Considering everything it deals with, it’s a pretty direct reference and a deeply dark foreshadowing. (I even stopped at the cover and gasped because it sure looks like a skull with antlers!)
  • A little detail I loved: Shauna is the first to react to Javi’s return, which is a nice reminder that they were together in the early months before Doomcoming.
  • Does this mean Javi is the one who stole the bear meat? And did he poop in the pee bucket? And was he responsible for the mysterious dripping that only Mari can hear? Given where he was found, was he sleeping at Lottie’s altar? He’d rather explain it all than something more sinister…
  • YOU’RE GROWN UP (Lauren Ambrose) DEVELOPMENT. Welcome to the madness, we missed you.

Grade: C+

New episodes of “Yellowjackets” air Fridays on streaming and Sundays on air.

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