‘Yellowjackets’ Episode 5 Confronts (and Hides) Ugly Truths

From Callie’s after-school activities to Travis’ final message to Misty’s deadly confession, honesty takes center stage in “Two Truths and a Lie.”

(Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Yellow jackets” Season 2 Episode 5, “Two Truths and a Lie.”)

Faith can be an interesting thing. In religion, it provides comfort and purpose to many people; an explanation of how the world works and a framework by which we can live a meaningful life.

Then there is the other kind of faith: trust. Where religious faith is mostly internal, trust in a person, idea or institution depends as much on the recipient as on the believer. When you lose faith in someone, it’s because of something OK did.

Both types of faith are featured prominently in “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 5, “Two Truths and a Lie,” written by Sarah L. Thompson and Katherine Kearns and directed by Ben Semanoff. While the storylines explore society and community based on trust, the title hints at a secret third thing: trust betrayed, and the dire consequences of that in this series. In the wilderness, Lottie (Courtney) Eaton leads the teenagers in something that falls between morning prayer and group therapy, but most importantly feeds their growing hunger for a new leader. Back in the present, Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) students begin to welcome Natalie (Juliette Lewis) into their ritual, which she seems to be suspiciously adapting to. When Misty (Christina Ricci) rescues her, we get an interesting twist on their wilderness ideologies — where young Misty (Samantha Hanratty) stood by Lottie from the beginning and young Nat (Sophie Thatcher) wanted nothing but distance.

The reversal of past and present remains in “Two Truths and a Lie” and then in the relationship between grown-ups Tai (Tawny Cypress) and Van (Lauren Ambrose). All of the grown women of “Yellowjackets” deserve special credit for incorporating a mostly unknown past into their performances, which is prominently displayed in this episode. Viewers don’t know how or why Tai and Van’s relationship ended (there’s a quick joke about Shauna’s wedding that suggests they were together); Cypress, Ambrose and co-stars Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson discussed key moments with the showrunners, but even a few signposts don’t give the whole picture. What is immediately apparent is that Taissa is at ease with Van; he no longer feels the suffocating need to be perfect (there is pressure on him), he is calm and controlled. He breaks down, says he’s “fucking scared”, like he hasn’t been in years, not since – something. He can’t even say what. It may simply refer to their months without a save, or to a specific event caused by the disruption of sleepwalking.

Van, for his part, tries to warn Tai for bursting back into his life (even if it’s not the bravest of resistances). There is a willfully lonely existence – isolated, as Jessica (Rekha Sharma) alluded to in Season 1. He’s mostly off the grid and, like Lottie, lives in a time capsule. In 2023, he runs a literal video store where he rents VCRs and VHSs and interacts with his regular customers, who see him as a movie encyclopedia. His life is old-fashioned small-town charm on the outside, but stale donuts and breakfast beer on the inside. When Tai walks through the door, he suspends time even more within the walls of While You Were Streaming.

Oh, and he lives in an attic. Healthy!!

Two smiling women talking in a colorful, bustling attic cave;  still from it "Yellow jackets."

Tawny Cypress and Lauren Ambrose in “Yellowjackets.”

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

In the present, an undercover cop, Jay (John Reynolds), uses some textbook manipulation to thwart Callie’s (Sarah Desjardins) advances — but he doesn’t know whose daughter he’s dealing with. Callie quickly reveals her identity and lies to Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) about their affair, because as much as she hates her mother, she doesn’t want her to go to jail for murdering her art school crush. Jeff (Warren Kole) is horrified, while Shauna feels a mixture of relief and pride, the latter emotion reflected in her daughter’s beaming face. If Shauna there is he’s proud—and dare I say it—driven not by that, but by the obvious thrill he gets from sharing this twisted secret with his family, making solving the murder a bonding activity. He’s practically trying to throw the cops out, but as I mentioned earlier, so is Shauna, basically.

Another truth is revealed when Walter (Elijah Wood) accuses Misty of killing Adam (Peter Gadio). There’s the flattery he heaps on her—she calls him charming and impulsive, characteristics of most serial killers—but she also says she wouldn’t have gotten away with it. Misty is seething because he complimented her and caught her and because she no kill Adam but he did he killed Jessica and apparently got away with it. Ricci does a fantastic job capturing all those swirling emotions and finding what the grown-up Misty has decided will be her calling card: loyalty. If there’s one thing we know about Misty Quigley in the present, it’s that she’s fiercely devoted to her friends (albeit in her own twisted way); The thought that this man could give up on Nat or put the others in danger is just too pale, so she sends him away.

Earlier, Misty and Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) take the infamous poop bucket out to dump (oops) its contents and play a game where they tell each other their deepest, darkest secrets. Izman definitely did a great job portraying Crystal’s childhood mania for the theater and brings honesty and a hint of sinister to this scene. Before Misty blurts out The Secret, Crystal stares down at her with those blazing eyes and declares how lucky they both are to have a friend like that. This is sinister enough to make me wonder if there was manipulation involved; People have tried to manipulate Misty all her life, and Crystal was no exception.

Intentional or not, the result is that Misty reveals her biggest secret, that she destroyed the plane’s black box the night of the disaster. As he turns to Crystal, begging her not to tell him, he finally exclaims, “I’m fucking killing you!” It’s meant to be a threat, but it immediately becomes reality as Crystal falls off the edge of the cliff. As she goes down to the body, something crosses Misty’s face; after a grueling day (and episode) of uncovering the truth, he knows he has to lie.

Luckily for Misty, her lie about losing Crystal during the storm is quickly overshadowed by the return of Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) and Tai (Brown) to the cabin while Shauna is in active labor. A new life is on the way, as Lottie said earlier that morning, “and we can’t wait to meet it.”

Spiritual food

  • John Reynolds is such a dork on this show and he kills it.
  • Javi (Luciano Leroux) tells Ben (Steven Kreuger) that “He told me not to come back.” Who is he? “My friend.” Extremely ugly!!
  • Travis (Kevin Alves), realizing exactly how Nat lied to him, feels too quick and comfortable. Most of the “yellowcoats” often point to the simplest explanation and feel a little too crazy to conclude that he faked his brother’s death to break his faith. It’s more likely—certainly more palatable to Travis—that he found some other bloody clothing, or believed it himself. It just reads like this was sped up to make time for other stories, so I hope it was worth it (and not more episode 4 filler).
  • The grown-up Natalie calls Lottie clinically insane, saying, “Her delusions hurt people!” What does this indicate?
  • I know Gen Z didn’t invent the term “bestie,” but I was instantly distracted when I heard it on the 90s timeline.
  • This was the first cream-filled condom I’ve seen in a 2023 release, but it won’t be the last.
  • “We brought it back with us” is the new “We must go back!”
  • I feel like we’re drawing out all this ~darkness. Nat’s memories aren’t the huge twist they’ve been made out to be, and I have to assume what they’ve brought back is…trauma?
  • Why is Lottie so afraid of the antler silhouette? Given the cool detail he went into recreating the wilderness as an adult, wouldn’t he have bargained for its power? He kind of no the antler queen? It just clearly represents something different to him than it does to the current audience.

grade: B-

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