‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Premiere: Who Is Lottie Matthews?

As “Yellowjackets” Season 2, Episode 1 makes clear: Lottie Matthews is a fucking big deal.

Lottie, played by Courtney Eaton and newcomer Simone Kessell, is apparently a high school football star and plane crash survivor who ends up wearing a chain and antler headdress in the show’s chill, ordering (or at least allowing) her companions to hunt, kill and eat one of their own. Lottie’s ascension to Queen of Antlers is still largely uncharted, but in Season 2, she engages in blood sacrifices and rituals and becomes an almost religious leader among her teammates.

Grown-up Lottie differs from her fellow survivors in that she accepts that she was her truest self in the wilderness – and builds her entire adult life around it. Lottie’s confidence, past and present, is the key to unlocking the fear, trauma, and healing of the other Yellowjackets.

“Lottie is such a rollercoaster,” Eaton told IndieWire ahead of the season premiere. “This season, we’re seeing him try to find his way in this leadership role that he’s kind of thrown himself into, and he’s being pressured by others.”

The Season 2 premiere also introduces a grown-up Lottie Matthews, whose life is… pretty much the same. After becoming catatonic when the girls were rescued, her parents institutionalized her, and she apparently found her calling in helping to heal other patients — Kessell himself said that Lottie “flourished” during that time. The adult yellowjackets are haunted (whether they admit it or not) by the wilderness giving them purpose, as Juliette Lewis’ Natalie says in the pilot; When the girls return to society and become deeply traumatized adults in the present timeline, they’ve lost what was out there—the urge, the danger, the primal instinct—that they struggle to replace. They were different out there, but the lingering fear is that their true selves are not the ones they left after the crash, or the ones they returned to afterwards – but the ones they found in the woods during those fateful 19 months.

No question for Lottie: she found herself in the Canadian Rockies, either interpreting strange visions, dipping blood into drinks, or using breathing techniques to stop panic attacks. Many emotions have calcified in our young survivors in the two months since Doomcoming, including Lottie’s confidence and ability to trust her instincts. She clearly has some sort of connection to the forest, and even if no one can explain her visions, their resonance can’t exactly be denied.

And so the grown-up Lottie eventually leaves the institution and sets up her own facility, where, according to Kessell, her sole purpose is to “help people.” You have the cabin in the woods, the view of the lake, and a new group that believes in it. It’s perhaps the most disturbing coming-of-age Yellowjacket story, as an obvious facsimile of the wilderness timeline.

“I’ve heard him described as a reluctant Messiah,” Kessell said. “But I’ll take out the ‘reluctants’ and just (say) the Messiah.”

Where teenage Lottie hesitated, her older self did not.

A teenage girl and boy in winter outerwear are pictured in a dark interior;  he puts his hand on his chest in a reassuring gesture.

Courtney Eaton and Kevin Alves in “Yellowjackets.”

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

It actually makes sense that Lottie’s spirit is altruistic. Didn’t he first use his foresight to kill a bear and feed the pack through the winter? Doesn’t she use it in this episode to comfort Travis when he has a panic attack because Nat (Sophie Thatcher) thinks her brother is dead? Season 2 of “Yellowjackets” specifically pits Nat and Lottie against each other ideologically, but Travis makes it even more complicated. He still loves Nat and has no regrets about avoiding morning rituals, but is understandably confused when Lottie is the one to comfort him—and get an erection. Travis is attracted to Lottie, in the denotative sense of the word; call your interest at a vulnerable time. Even if it’s not sexual, it’s easy to confuse these feelings.

“It’s clear they’re butting heads ideologically,” Thatcher told IndieWire. “(Natalie) remains grounded because she’s actually out in the wild every day, facing reality. That’s what he’s focused on while Lottie and everyone else is back home trying to stay optimistic and they just want something to hold on to, they just need something to keep them going. I think that’s where the disconnect is.”

At the end of the episode, when grown-up Nat and Lottie finally meet — in the woods, surrounded by Lottie’s animal-masked followers — Lottie drops her bombshell: “I have a message from Travis.”

Can Lottie Matthews talk to the dead?

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

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