“Yellowjackets” Episode 102 Recap: Girlhood Is a Horror

Welcome back to Yellowjackets — pour yourself a bowl of rabbit chilli and get cozy by the makeshift bonfire! As a refresher, I started recapping the series this week, so check out my breakdown of the pilot from yesterday. Below, you’ll find my Yellowjackets 102 recap. If you haven’t watched “F Sharp,” go do that! Or, if you’re here because you’re one of my dear friends who told me the show is too gory for you to watch but you’ll be reading along anyway, welcome! Future recaps will run weekly on Mondays. Alright let’s get to it!


The episode opens with the chaos of the crash. The plane is going down — fast. Bodies and objects thrash about, the ground nearing, the pilots scrambling, everyone awash with adrenaline-pumping panic. There’s a brief but ultimately revelatory focus on Misty, who eyes two girls clutching hands as the plane descends. Misty doesn’t have anyone to clutch hands with. In fact, there’s no one really around her at all.

The crash is then interrupted by a quiet little flashback interlude to 1992. A slightly younger Misty answers the lip-shaped corded telephone in her bedroom (I have been loving all the 90s suburbia props and set details btw) and is subsequently tormented by a group of girls asking her about anal sex. Misty doesn’t break down and cry. Oh no. Misty defiantly quotes Plato to her bullies, eliciting more bullying, naturally. And just like that, Yellowjackets sets up a pattern that ends up being a definitive piece of “F Sharp” ‘s puzzle: Misty does not react or act in expected ways. She’s a wild card, an agent of chaos. And it makes her a thrill to watch.

Smash cut back to the crash, where Shauna and Jackie are scrambling to get out of the downed plane. Van, the team goalie who we saw slapping her passed out mother awake last episode, is trapped, an electrical fire crawling closer and closer. Shauna decides to help Van out, and Jackie won’t leave without her best friend, so the two struggle to free Van, with Jackie making a last second call to pull Shauna away so they can save themselves. Van does eventually make it out of the plane, and she holds Jackie’s abandonment against her in the most teen of ways. She’s snippy and snarky toward Jackie, and yes of course the stakes are life-or-death, but it’s honestly humorous how petty she’s being given all the death and destruction around them! I love it! I’d be petty if my friend left me to die in a burning plane to save her other friend, too! During the plane crash scenes throughout the episode, there are little moments that show the Yellowjackets haven’t quite mentally caught up to their current situation. When looking for something to sanitize a wound, someone reaches for Jackie’s Sea Breeze astringent skin cleanser, and her initial reaction is to say “hey, that’s mine!” as if this were merely someone trying to borrow her beauty product in the locker room. The accident just happened. There hasn’t been time for it to shape their worldviews yet. Their old lives jarringly butt up against their new circumstances. A visual example of this comes from the image of the girls spreading a Yellowjackets banner over dead bodies. An object normally used for celebration becomes a funeral shroud. That switch in and of itself is haunting.

The girls are scattered for much of these first few minutes, some in shock, some trying to find each other. But they’re forced to come together when they find coach Ben (who as far as I can tell is the team’s assistant coach and is maybe college-age?) trapped under part of the plane. We’re reminded here that they are a team, a very winning one, capable of collective physical feats. They put those skills to urgent use, combining their strengths to lift the part off of Ben’s leg, which has been smashed to pudding. Then here comes Misty, ready to surprise again. She finds a safety axe and smoothly chops the remaining ribbons of Ben’s leg off with one strike. She removes her belt to tourniquet the wound and, face covered in blood, shouts for the other girls to help her move him.

This episode once again moves between time in effective and interesting ways, playing into humorous as well as foreboding juxtapositions. For example, we go from blood-faced, axe-wielding teen Misty to adult Misty on a date, Christina Ricci providing the most hilariously written and delivered line of the episode: “Bubble baths, walks in the rain, muscular calves, escalators, knuckles, steamed clams obviously. Enough about me, what turns you on Stan?”. I mean!!!! Simply incredible. The date is not going well, but just like young Misty with her bullies, adult Misty soldiers forward boldly, refusing to let her date, who seems desperate to get out of there, cut things short.

Back at the crash, Misty is doing full triage, moving between the wounded expertly thanks to, as she explains, taking the Red Cross babysitter training class…TWICE. Misty’s good in a crisis. So good, she almost seems comfortable. So good, she seems to like it.

Over in the present, adult Shauna’s current problems are of the suburban domestic sort: She forgot to defrost the chuck, and she asks her snotty daughter to do so, but of course she doesn’t. She rear ends a mysterious and handsome stranger named Adam (Peter Gadiot), and there seems to be a flirty vibe between them, but also something dangerous? And she’s in couples therapy with her husband Jeff. Remember? The one who used to date her best friend in high school who is now (presumably) dead and who Shauna was sneaking around with back then? SHOCKING that their marriage isn’t going great! They haven’t been having much sex, so the therapist proposes homework: Share a sexual fantasy with each other. Jeff and Shauna are a long ways away from their days of secret sweaty teenage sex. And it’s impossible to sever their current intimacy issues from the roots of their relationship. Jackie is almost an unspoken, unseen presence here, the thread that keeps them tied to each other. Seeing Shauna and Jackie back at the plane crash adds to this. They’re sutured to each other.

In a later scene, Jeff wants to roleplay. He asks Shauna to pretend to be a customer at his work at a furniture store. This results in a very drawn-out and uncomfortable scene between Jeff and Shauna as they fumble through an attempt at sexy furniture roleplay, Melanie Lynskey absolutely nailing the humor but also sadness in the scene. Yellowjackets doesn’t want you to look away from the discomfort here.

I want to end with Misty Mayhem™️, so I’m going to jump around in the episode a bit. While adult Shauna is busy trying to figure out how to make credenzas sexy (seriously, I feel like Jeff put too much pressure on her to perform in this sexual fantasy!), adult Taissa is busy getting in trouble with her wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) for missing a parent-teacher conference for their son Sammy (Aiden Stoxx). Taissa brought home conciliatory pastelitos, which tbh would work for me, but apparently she’s not gonna charm her way out of this one. Simone is concerned Sammy isn’t making any friends, but Taissa is unbothered. “There’s nothing wrong with a little self-reliance,” she says. Um? Kids should probably make friends, Tai! I think we’re already starting to see some hints that Taissa’s past might be impacting her home life and parenting more than she realizes.

She’s also very clearly struggling with traumatic flashbacks. She attempts to bond with Sammy by making shadow puppets in his room, where he prefers to keep the curtains drawn, yielding a pretty spooky children’s room shrouded in darkness. She makes a rabbit, a snail, it’s all very cute. But then she makes a wolf, and her hands’ shadow sharply morphs into something impossibly realistic. Then Taissa flashes to a memory of a wolf bearing its teeth and growling. But the shadow puppet is much more frightening than the actual shot of a wolf, creepy and unsettling in a subtle, quiet way. What comes next adds to the sense of dread: Taissa opens up Sammy’s curtains and finds taped-up pictures he has drawn. He says he put them up there so “the lady in the tree” can’t see him. Creepy children and their creepy drawings is a common enough horror trope, and I’m not totally sure what’s happening here. A part of me thinks Sammy is just doing normal kid shit (kids are weird!) but that Taissa is projecting her own trauma onto him. Or, perhaps, he has inherited that trauma in some way.

Back at Shauna’s house, Callie indeed did not defrost the chuck. Shauna gets a call from fender bender Adam, and there’s some more flirting, Adam saying he’ll fix up her car if she goes to dinner with him. Shauna turns him down, but the conversation ends with Adam weirdly saying “you seemed like someone that doesn’t play by the rules, Shauna.” This seems to crack something open in her, and when she sees another bunny in her garden, she doesn’t merely stab it the way she did in the pilot. She kills it, skins it, rips its organs out with her bare hands, and makes a chilli. There’s nothing inherently horrific about eating rabbit, but watching her family unknowingly spoon their stews unnerves nonetheless. Sitting around the dinner table not really connecting at all, they seem like a dysfunctional suburban family in a very conventional way. But Shauna is not just some bored housewife frustrated that no one defrosted the chuck. It runs much deeper than that. She’s satisfied by her rabbit slaying and skinning. She likes having this secret from her family. In fact, she’s horny for it. Shauna finally wants to act out her husband’s fantasies after the rabbit dinner. Perhaps she’s a little turned on by her interaction with Adam. Perhaps she tapped into something inside of her when she butchered that animal.

There’s great horror imagery throughout the episode. Even just the way Shauna’s preparation of the rabbit is filmed so clinically hints at horror, calling back to the ritualistic killing of a girl in the pilot. There’s the aforementioned wolf shadow puppet. There’s all the body horror of the plane crash. Church girl Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) searches frantically for her teddy bear, and when she finds him, one of the eyes is missing. But that’s not even the real horror. The real horror comes when a drop of blood drips down on the bear’s face. Laura Lee looks up, and more blood drips down. She screams, and the camera pulls up, a lovely and terrifying shot. It’s here that we finally learn what happened to Coach Martinez. He has been missing most of the episode, his oldest son Travis (Kevin Alves) telling Nat that coach was trying to put an oxygen mask on someone when the door opened and he flew out of the plane. He landed in a tree, impaled by a thick branch. Travis runs up the tree to try to get to his dad, but the branch he’s impaled on falls, the lifeless coach crashing down to the ground near the girls. Nearby but unbeknownst to the Yellowjackets, there’s an etching on a tree. There’s someone — or something — else in these woods.

The etching is definitely meant to be a significant clue, because it pops up in the present timeline as well. Nat, Misty, and Taissa have all received unmarked postcards with the etching on it and the threatening words Wish You Were Here! Nat thinks it’s Misty’s doing. But before we get there, let’s go back to Misty’s hilariously bad date, which ends with the guy driving her home because, according to Misty, her own car wouldn’t start. She says he can meet her pet bird…named CALIGULA. I think it was at this point I realized Misty would be an iconic character. This dude does not want to come inside, but Misty guilts him into it, manipulating him expertly. Once inside, he has his excuse to leave though. Nat’s waiting with her rifle. He bolts, and Misty and Nat reunite. Again, Misty defies expected reactions to things, smiling warmly even as Nat aims a gun right at her. She’s genuinely happy to see her.

Do yourself a favor: Rewatch the episode, and watch Christina Ricci’s face the entire time, even when adult Misty is not necessarily the exact focus of a scene. The expressions she makes are delightful. And they’re mirrored well by Samantha Hanratty in the teen scenes. Adult Misty and adult Nat end up at a bar after Misty insists she wasn’t the one to send the postcards (all Misty has to drink in her home, btw, is coconut La Croix and sherry — a bizarre and delightful detail that adds to Misty’s Bad Vibes tbh!). You may recall we first met Nat in rehab, so it’s probably not great that she immediately orders a shot and a beer (“oh, you got me a drink!” Misty mistakenly observes before Nat downs both) at said bar.

But Misty does not take notice of Nat’s spiral and instead puts on her citizen detective hat. You see, Misty is a seasoned citizen detective, which she describes as “like private investigators except for no one hired us or asked for our help.” Misty tells Nat about Jessica Roberts, the “journalist” played by Rekha Sharma in the pilot, but according to Misty, she’s lying about who she really is. Nat goes through Misty’s files and pauses on a scan of a driver’s license. “You found Travis?” she asks. Misty confirms and says he was someone who didn’t want to be found. Before we can follow that thread, the Dysfunctional Duo (what I shall be calling Nat+Misty from now on) is interrupted by Kevyn, former goth/good friend of Nat’s. He’s a cop now, and he wants to catch up with Nat, who is…moodily disinterested, which is kind of her general vibe.

Seeing Travis on that piece of paper pushes Nat further down her spiral. We watch as she thrashes around a motel room, drinking straight from a bottle, Juliette Lewis contorting her body in strange ways. She tries calling him. As soon as she says his name, he says she has the wrong number and hangs up. Indeed, Travis does not want to be found. We get a few bits of backstory as to why there might be a connection between Nat and Travis. At the plane crash, we see Nat try to get through to him a couple times. They’re both brooding teens. She silently offers him a flask as the other girls carry his father, their coach, on a stretcher. There’s an understanding between them.

And now, the titular scene. I’m hesitant to admit this, because I haven’t talked about it in a longtime and am never really sure what it says about me, but I used to lie to people on airplanes. This was in my teens and early twenties. I flew a lot by myself, and when some stranger would start inevitably talking to me, I’d make up a whole life. A name, a reason for why I was going wherever I was going. I once told a stranger I was an Olympic curler. I don’t know why I did this. But one time I told a group of friends about it, thinking it was a funny little quirk. And one of my best friends looked directly at me and said “aren’t you worried the plane might crash and the last moments of your life would have been a lie?” He was dead serious.

That memory came back to me as I watched “F Sharp,” because a fascinating thing happens where the girls try to make sense of the freak accident and end up talking about guilt. Laura Lee is intensely religious, so she doesn’t necessarily believe things happen without divine reason. She thinks they’re being punished for her sins. Specifically, for the sin of her calling her piano teacher a cunt in her head when her teacher wouldn’t stop harping on her about F sharp. She says it so sincerely. She really believes it. The rest of the girls, of course, laugh. And then we get to see them, for the first time of the entire episode, as they were before. A group of young friends, giggling around a fire as they jokingly confess the sins they’ve committed that brought the plane down. They confess silly things like Laura Lee’s, things that surely would not warrant cosmic punishment. But of course, deeper down, there’s real guilt. Shauna’s sleeping with Jackie’s boyfriend. Her guilt hangs heavy.

That one’s obvious, but there are other threads of guilt in the episode, too. There’s a very small moment in the episode where Shauna looks at Javi, the dead coach’s younger son, who’s in shock. It was Shauna whose oxygen mask Coach Martinez put on as the plane was going down — something we saw in the pilot. If it hadn’t been for that, maybe Javi’s dad would have lived. Van seems to think Jackie should feel more guilt for leaving her for dead, but can anyone really be held to the choices they made in those initial minutes? Jackie wasn’t saving merely herself. She thought she was saving Shauna, too. These girls are still a team, but we’re starting to see the fractures form between them. And we know the deadly place where that’ll eventually lead.

In the final moments of “F Sharp,” Misty goes into the woods to pee and overhears two girls talk about how indisposable she is. They’d be screwed without her. Misty, a hero. She smiles wide. In the present, adult Nat goes out to her car to find it won’t start. Right on cue, adult Misty pulls up. Between the obvious lie to her date and this, Misty’s preferred modus operandi for trapping people seems to be to fuck up their cars. She invites herself along with Nat to go up north to find Travis, asking if Nat would like to listen to podcasts or showtunes on the way. Every single detail about Misty is a gift. Back in the woods, Misty stumbles upon a box. It’s the plane’s emergency transmitter, blinking out a signal.

By the time Misty picks up that emergency transmitter, the episode has given us more than enough information to clue us into what will happen. And still, it’s a shock to watch her destroy it. That one choice has seismic consequences. It makes no sense for someone to choose not to be found. And yet, for Misty, it does make sense. We see Misty as an adult, manipulating people, getting the approval she craves by applying pressure on people until they crack. She’s fine with being loved superficially. She knows how to get people to say and do what she wants. But even before that, we see that small hint of why Misty might choose the wilderness. In her life before the woods, she was trapped in a survival game. Surviving high school. There wasn’t blood or impaled bodies or dislocated shoulders, but there was cruelty. And there was a lack of control. Here, in the woods, she’s in charge. She calls the shots, and the other girls listen to her. They need her. She destroys their shot at getting out, because for once, she feels like she’s in.

Girlhood is a horror, and Yellowjackets makes that explicit.

Last Buzz:

  • Lottie pulls her pill bottle out of a caboodle and finds about seven pills left. If you caught the label in the pilot episode, they’re antipsychotics.
  • I simply NEED a spinoff of Misty just being a citizen detective and “solving” cases.
  • There have already been a lot of very fun little characterization details that add texture to this ensemble. Like, for example, Misty preferring coconut La Croix. And also adult Nat almost exclusively wearing band t-shirts.
  • Also: set dressing details! Has anyone noticed all the bunny figurines in Shauna’s kitchen? And Taissa’s sprawling townhouse is the perfect setting for psychological horror, full of shadows and odd light.
  • I will complain until my merch demands are met.
  • It must be said that the soundtrack endlessly slaps. I found the official playlist, which is updating weekly, but it already seems incomplete? Like where is “Mother Mother” by The Veronicas, which is our excellent lead-in to the title card this week? [Edit: I was so sure this was the The Veronicas’ cover, which I thought was a cheeky choice to play around with time the way the narrative does, but someone in the comments helpfully pointed out it is indeed the original version by Tracy Bonham — either way, it’s still not in the official playlist and I want to know WHY.] It was my second favorite needledrop, after “Glory Box” by Portishead, obvs. I had to take matters into my own hands to make a complete Killing Eve playlist once upon a time, and I will do it again if necessary!


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kaylakumari

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 321 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. medium worried about how they’ll handle Lottie and her meds! i have about 0 trust for how shows about teens write about mental illness, particularly schizophrenia and other things you’d take antipsychotics for, so even though i trust yellowjackets with my life there’s some tension

    van is a GIFT i too would make petty comments in this sitch. (how did she get out without further injury tho?)

    so someone is 100% watching tai’s son through his window yeah? the ‘reporter’ or the postcard sender or misty

    unfortunately i now Stan laura lee because i too would immediately search my teddy/ blame some innocuous mistake i made for the entire plane crash

    one of the creepiest shots to me was the first night with the girls sleeping around the fire…except for Misty, always on alert

    truly both Sammi Hanratty and Christina Ricci are SO GOOD at all the tiny things that make Misty incredibly creepy… sure let’s leave team bonding to cauterize an amputated leg! sure name your bird caligula! sure always buy two snacks so you have some to share! what a normal thing!

    anyway is it sunday yet

  2. This is 100% my athiest/agnostic brain talking, but I wouldn’t have been able to hold back on Laura Lee when she said it was her fault because she called her teacher a cunt in her head. It’s always struck me as incredibly conceited and frankly arrogant to think that something you did or said could be the cause of all that death and suffering for the other girls on the team. Laura Lee and I would not get along.

    Van is amazing (and Liv Hewson has such incredible comedic timing, love them) and I really hope since she appears to be BFF with Taissa they maybe start exploring a bit more than friendship. However, based on how her experience started with being left for dead and we haven’t seen any of her in the present, I don’t feel good about Van’s chances for making it out alive.

    I want a Yellowjackets sweatshirt like the one Van is wearing and I want it NOW

  3. I LOVE this show so much so far!!!!! This review is incredible. I’ve never been more excited to find out how the queerness will emerge because everyone has so much potential. I’m a leeeeeeetle worried the questions being asked will be more interesting than the answers but my fingers are CROSSED. AND I TOO!! NEED!! A MISTY CITIZEN DETECTIVE !! SPIN-OFF!! Genius.

  4. I am loving these recaps – the little details about set dressing, etc. were a delight to read!

    Was I the only one thinking there would be a more explicit connection to Jackie in the Shauna sex scene? Like one of them (Shauna) admitting to wanting a threesome way back when? She’s still queer-coded to me, and I’m betting future episodes will get more into it, fingers crossed.

    I am fascinated by Misty and I SAW her destroying the black box from the moment I read what it was – but I was still like UGHHHHH WHY DID U DO THAT.

    I can see Van/Taissa having a teen romance and I am so excited!

    The outsider horror angle (woman in the trees, symbol in the woods) is kind of throwing me for a loop because I thought all of the psychological horror would come strictly from Yellowjackets dynamics. But who is to say it even is an outsider!

    Horrified and excited to watch the next ep.

  5. Mother Mother is by Tracy Bonham! The music on this show is the music of my teens/twenties and it is giving me life, thanks for sharing the playlist. Loving the show and your recaps too.

    • wow i was so convinced it was The Veronicas’ cover??? which i thought they did on purpose as a playing with time thing since the show bounces around in time but after listening side-by-side you’re correct they did use the original! will update!

  6. Just watched the first two episodes and loved them! Also though they gave me nightmares!! Yet I am somehow compelled to rewatch them already?

    Who do we think is wearing the pink converse in the pilot’s opening shot? Who would wear pink converse?

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