“Yellowjackets” Episode 203 Recap: Fear Alchemized Into Desire

This is the Yellowjackets 203 recap, where I will painstakingly psychoanalyze and interpret “Digestif” so yes there will naturally be spoilers aplenty! If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, do so and then return here to chat with us in the comments, where I’m very active! I try to reply to each and every one of your brilliant theories, jokes, etc.! This episode was directed by Jeffrey W. Byrd and written by Sarah L. Thompson and Ameni Rozsa. Catch up on past recaps.


The first image we see in “Digestif” is of Jackie’s hand — or what’s left of it. Brittle bone, fleshless, dripping blood. Coach Ben recalls what he witnessed the night before; everyone aside from him tearing into a corpse’s flesh. He recalls not in clear imagery but with slight static, the same kind of glitchy VCR-ish effect that the show’s main title sequence plays in. Suddenly, it’s as if he’s changing the channel in his mind, images of cannibalism intercut with something else: a memory.

For the first time, we get a flashback to before the crash squarely from Ben’s perspective. The VCR haze crystalizes into clearer view. Ben’s in his boyfriend Paul’s apartment. Paul likes to cook and is high-strung (“he really is me,” I said, out loud). He’s feeding clam chowder to Ben, who compliments the cumin even though there is no cumin in it. This is serious, Ben! It’s the chowderfest! Ben offers something to help Paul relax, and surprise, it’s kissing! These are the kinds of low stakes conflicts Ben was dealing with before the crash, before he was surrounded by cannibalistic teenage girls who he’s somehow both responsible for but also just trying to survive alongside. The channel changes in Ben’s mind again, and he’s back to that reality.

Later, Ben enters the cabin and hallucinates one of the JV girls asking if he’s hungry and then crawling across the floor with a foaming mouth saying “I still am.” He snaps back out of this walking nightmare, but reality doesn’t provide an escape. He wants to mentally return to before the crash, so he does, losing himself in a flashback again. Shortly before he left for nationals and his life changed forever, Paul asked Ben to move in with him, something he opened up about to Nat last season. Flashback Ben uses the soccer team as an excuse, saying he has a lot going on with the season. “You always say those girls are vicious little monsters,” Paul says, not knowing how literal that premonition will become. “Moving in with you means everything in my life changes,” Ben replies. Before the crash, Ben was contending with a different kind of survival. He was navigating life as a closeted gay man, living two lives really. He couldn’t envision an alternative, and Paul broke up with him because of it. Suddenly, these memories feel less like an escape and more like deeply sowed regret. Ben tortures himself for not choosing a different path, which not only would have allowed him to live more freely but also might have never put him in the position he is now, depressed and adrift. At one point when Travis tries to check in with him, he’s silent and motionless, dissociative in this state of remembering.

But then, he does turn the memory into an escape hatch. He rewrites the ending, contorting the next chapter of the flashback so that he chooses the different path, tells Paul he’s moving in with him and skips nationals. As he and Paul embrace, the television behind them delivers a staticky newscast of the plane crash. Only, in this version of the story, Ben isn’t on the plane. He’s here, with Paul, his life changing in a different way entirely.

Ben and Paul make out on Yellowjackets

Reality bends often on this show, but this is one of the first instances we’ve seen of someone willfully distorting their own perception. Ben has essentially created a dissociative mindspace to burrow into in the wake of the Jackie feast, which left him in a state of horror-induced shock. Ben really is an outsider in the wilderness. And it isn’t because he’s queer; Taissa and Van share that with him, and he also was able to open up to Nat about some of his personal life last season. He’s on the outside simply because he’s an adult. The girls, for better or worse, have each other to lean on, which we’ve seen can sometimes lead to their hive mentality and also in-fighting. But Ben exists on the outside of this, not quite old enough to play a real paternal figure but also distinct from them in the sense of the life he lived before. They were still kids living in their parents’ homes. He had his own life, one bifurcated by his closetedness and therefore even more complex than what the girls’ before lives looked like. (It tracks that Nat was the person he connected with last season more so than Travis, because Nat also lived the most independently of all of them as a result of her parents’ general lack of parenting.) The only way he has to connect deeply with another person is to do so in his mind, in this macabre fantasy he has crafted for himself where he can preserve Paul. The “switching channels” effect is so effective, not just because it mimics the show’s opening, but because it so literally represents this conscious decision he’s making to flip a switch between reality and fantasy.

Ben and Paul in Paul's apartment on Yellowjackets

only including this photo because I’m literally obsessed with Ben’s apartment?!

Taissa’s reality, meanwhile, continues to be divided in a way that’s seemingly against her will. When Teen Tai sees Jackie’s body in the morning, she experiences the opposite of a “digestif.” She freaks out, shouting that something ate Jackie. “Taissa,” Van says. “We ate her.” Tai has no memory of this, immediately vomits, and concludes she must be sleepwalking. But this perplexes Van, because Taissa had been looking at her, had been talking to her. Even though Van followed sleepwalking Taissa last episode, she hasn’t yet had this experience of talking to whatever she becomes in this state. As viewers, we know that sleepwalking Adult Taissa is capable of a lot, including conversing — on the phone even! — but it’s news to Van. And then Van delivers very disturbing news to a very confused Taissa: “Tai, you ate her face.”

My first thought, unfortunately, was: Did she eat her eyes? I don’t see any on the corpse, and I wonder if the eyeless man would encourage the consumption of eyeballs — sorry to place that image in your brain!

At the hospital, Simone is alive but in critical condition. “Is this what you wanted?” Simone asks with a bandaged head in a nightmare Taissa has falling asleep against the wall of the hospital. She snaps awake, but every time Taissa “wakes up,” I wonder what version of her we’re getting. The nurse remarks that the symbol she drew on Simone’s hand is interesting, and we see that it’s THE symbol, whose real meaning we don’t really know. Taissa panics and tells the nurse it’s for luck and then wipes it away.

There’s significant tension between Teen Taissa’s claims not to believe in anything regarding the symbol, Lottie’s premonitions, and some of the stranger occurrences in the woods with regard to her behaviors in her sleepwalking state. Teen Taissa rejects the symbol, but sleepwalking Taissa — as both a teen and adult — utilizes it zealously. Van decides to stay awake so she can interact with sleepwalking Taissa. “If I let you loose, can I come with you?” she asks when Taissa shoots awake. “Yes, come,” Taissa says, Jasmin Savoy Brown effecting her voice just enough so that something seems off but doesn’t feel as on-the-nose as Doing A Creepy Voice. Van rushes to get her shoes and jacket on and follows Taissa out, trying to get as much information out of her as possible. Sleepwalking Taissa tells her the one with no eyes chose her, and she follows him but only when she lets her. Van asks who she is, and Taissa responds “Taissa.”

“Then who are you?” asks Van.

But we don’t get an answer. “Taissa” instead stops in front of a tree on which the symbol has been carved, and when Van tries to demand more answers, she wakes up. In her woken state, Taissa can’t help. She’s just as confused as Van. But when Van asks who “the one with no eyes” is, Taissa briefly flashes back to the memory of seeing him in the mirror when visiting her dying grandmother and chooses not to say anything. She either is intentionally withholding something here or isn’t consciously totally aware of this memory and what it means. Taissa is the resident skeptic, and yet some of the strangest and hardest to explain things are happening to her.

In the hospital, Adult Taissa pops a pill in the bathroom, likely in an attempt to continue staying awake. But when she turns away from the mirror, her reflection stays facing her, scowling. This time, Taissa notices. She turns to her reflection and startles when its movements don’t match hers. The reflection mouths something that looks like go to her (Note: These recaps are written using screeners, which frustratingly do not include closed captions, so if the closed captions on the finalized version confirm my interpretation of what’s being mouthed, feel free to let me know in the comments!) multiple times, and the silent horror works so well. Again, no need for a creepy demon voice or anything; silent is actually scarier, much like Teen Taissa’s calm, hushed delivery while sleepwalking is unsettling. The reflection places her hands over her face in a pattern mimicking Van’s scars. (At this point, I have written in my notes: DOES THIS MEAN WE WILL MEET LAUREN AMBROSE/ADULT VAN SOON? I HOPE SO.)

Tai's reflection glares at her in Yellowjackets

So, the symbol. Let’s talk about it, because it shows up a lot in this episode. Not only do we not know the meaning of the show’s ubiquitous symbol, but we don’t even know if it is indeed a symbol for protection or one that portends doom. Teen Lottie insists it’s the former in this episode, deepening the divide between factions in the wilderness. In an attempt to cheer up Shauna post-Jackie feast, Lottie says they should have a baby shower. Well, specifically says they should do something to “welcome him.” The other girls latch onto the idea of a baby shower, because it gives them something to focus on. Anything resembling not only their lives before the crash but a semblance of ritual or order appeals to the group. A baby shower provides exactly that. Akilah reveals to Taissa that she has a little bit of experience with babies, because her older sister has one. They construct a makeshift crib. Mari makes a rather murderous looking mobile. Van makes a “changing teepee.” And Lottie presents Shauna with a baby blanket embroidered with the symbol. Nat is immediately upset about it. Akilah rushes to defend Lottie by saying she undeniably “knows things,” and Taissa retorts that she isn’t a god. “No one is saying she is,” Van replies.

Then Shauna’s nose starts bleeding. When her blood hits the symbol, a repeated thumping sound echoes throughout the cabin. When they go outside, they see the lifeless corpses of a bunch of birds who crash landed into the cabin’s exterior. It’s eerie to say the least. The fact that it immediately follows blood hitting this symbol-endowed blanket suggests that the symbol is indeed a portent. And it’s not the first time a blood sacrifice has been required by the wilderness, like last season when Lottie said “it wants blood” in French.

Someone suggests that iron-rich soil might have thrown off the birds’ navigation abilities, and I did go down a rather circuitous rabbit hole about bird migration and magnetic fields and was unable to conclusively determine if such an explanation is scientifically sound but also cannot really imagine a teenager in the 90s knowing so much about ornithology, but I shall let the discrepancy slide for now. Lottie suggests that they collect the birds as blessings, which Van dutifully does, the chasm between her and Taissa widening.

a dead bird in the snow

Is Lottie dangerous? It’s a question I’m currently stumped about when it comes to both her Teen and Adult iterations. The devotion of her followers in the present timeline is troublesome in its cult appearances. The devotion of certain girls in the wilderness seems more understandable, potentially less nefarious, something for them to cling to in a time of desperation and despair. Adult Lottie’s followers seem to be a lot of bark, little bite. As Adult Nat wanders the grounds with a smoothie in hand, she happens across Lisa, stroking a chicken, who tells her even Charlotte — as her followers call her — is allowed her secrets, for her own protection. Lisa axes the chicken’s head off in a moment she clearly imagined as threatening, but Nat sucks all the power out of it with her warning: “You should never swing an axe that close to your hand.”

Later, Lottie asks Nat to participate in a group therapy session, bestowing Lisa with a blade and saying that if she feels the need to hurt her back she may. Lisa, instead, drops the knife and pulls Nat into a hug, saying she understands. I can’t discern Lottie’s exact intentions here: Does a part of her believe Lisa could harm Nat? Does she know Lisa will not? And even if it’s the latter, is this its own form of manipulation, a way to garner trust with Nat?

Perhaps the biggest clue regarding Lottie’s intentions comes earlier in the episode when she’s explaining the commune’s bee colonies to Nat. “When a new queen hatches, the first thing she does is sting all of the other unborn queens to death,” Lottie says. “I can see why you like them,” Nat replies, insinuating that this is the kind of behavior Lottie exhibited back in the wilderness. Adult Lottie dismisses this though, says that without the Queen, the bees would starve, all of them would. What sacrifices did Lottie deem necessary in the wilderness for survival? So far, we’ve mostly just seen her doing rituals; other than stabbing the bear, usually she isn’t the enactor of violence but rather in proximity to it. It’s an interesting contrast to Shauna, which I’ll get into at the end of the recap.

At episode’s end, Lottie finds all her bees dead, their honey turned to blood. But it isn’t real. It’s a hallucination — or a vision. She hears one of her followers say in French: Il veut du sang, translating to “it wants blood.” But this is imagined as well. Something in that moment of her finding the bees and weeping over their demise does soften the edges of Adult Lottie. I think, for now, it feels overly simple to call her commune wholly bad or good. There is a sense that she’s taking advantage of these followers and deifying herself, but it’s difficult to see her as some delusional religious zealot, too. As with a lot of this show, there’s ambivalence sewn into the way she’s portrayed. But it’s also easy to be skeptical of her, because Nat is, and she acts as our audience surrogate coming into this place where secrets clearly lurk.

an acolyte says "il cuet du sang" while Lottie's hands are covered in blood on Yellowjackets

Teen Nat is just as skeptical of Teen Lottie as their adult counterparts are. Nat volunteers to take what’s left of Jackie — which isn’t much — to the airplane so that she can be buried with the others when the ground thaws. When Lottie offers her the protection blood tea, Nat denies it. She denies any assistance from Travis, too, likely because he has been getting closer with Lottie.

At the plane, Nat gives a final eulogy for Jackie, who was never very nice to her. “You’re lucky, you know? I think shit is gonna get a lot worse out here.” It’s a bleak reality; death, especially Jackie’s tragic but nonviolent one, might be preferable to what’s to come in the wilderness. Suddenly, a giant white moose appears, and Nat tries to shoot it but misses. It rams the plane and then disappears. She doesn’t seem to tell anyone about it afterward, making me wonder if it was real or something she imagined.

Teen Misty becomes closer to Crystal in this episode, the two hesitantly bonding over the fact that…actually, human flesh doesn’t taste all that bad. Crystal reveals it wasn’t the first time she “ate” another person, claiming to have absorbed her identical twin in the womb, the exact kind of gruesome fact that makes Misty’s eyes light up. Nuha Jes Izman, who plays Crystal, has been a killer addition to the cast, injecting the cabin scenes with weirdo comedy. She is representation for annoying, earnest, intentionally strange theater kids everywhere (aka ME at that age). Misty likes being confided in. Crystal also gives her new power via acting lessons. We’ve seen Teen Misty act before, the pity party she devolved into when Ben initially turned down her dance date ask. Crystal helps Misty take things to the next level. Perched together under a glowing sheet at night, they giddily talk about the powers of performance, and it looks almost like they could be at a regular sleepover back in Jersey and not in a cabin in the woods with no electricity and nearly nonexistent food supplies. This really is Misty’s perspective a lot of the time, though. She enjoys the wilderness, because it’s the first place where she’s able to access the sorts of regular teen experiences she sought back home. Even with Mari freezing her out, in Crystal she has once again found the kind of close camaraderie she craves.

Misty and Crystal under a sheet in Yellowjackets

Crystal convinces her to give the gift of a monologue to Shauna for the baby shower, and it’s tough to decide what makes this baby shower more upsetting: the cavalcade of suicidal birds or Misty’s monologue, taken from Steel Magnolias featuring a mother mourning her dead daughter. Everyone is a little disturbed but won over in the end by Misty’s talent, clapping for her while she beams.

Misty puts her acting skills to use later on as an adult when she attempts to throw citizen detective Walter off the Adam Martin trail by saying she was close with Adam’s mother and that he died of an overdose. But before that, Walter and Misty get up to a little joint acting exercise when interviewing a motel guest about Nat under the pretense of being the FBI. That motel guest turns out to be none other than Randy Walsh, always accidentally being pulled into messes he has nothing to do with. Misty knows they’ll be made if Randy sees her, so she hides in the bathroom of the boat — where Walter lives, because he prefers nautical life to the bureaucracy and red tape of land living — and feeds questions into Walter’s earpiece. (Misty, ever the theater devotee, compares this arrangement to Cyrano de Bergerac, which she believes to be an overrated play.)

Randy proves mostly un-useful, likely because Randy once again is rarely involved in any of the shenanigans other people are always making him complicit in. Misty convinces Walter to hit Randy and is then delighted when Walter threatens to escalate things with a weapon. This jostles Randy’s weak memory, and he recalls a group of people wearing purple hanging around the motel and drinking all the Fanta out of the vending machine. This is, somehow, not my favorite soda-related detail in the episode. That comes later, when Walter asks Misty to stay for a drink, offering Mountain Dew or Tahitian Treat. It’s reminiscent of when Misty offered Nat tea, coconut La Croix, or sherry. Indeed, there are quite a lot of similarities between Walter and Misty. And even though they’re working together for now, using credit card information from the vending machine to pinpoint a location for the “purple people” and agreeing to go on a trek to upstate New York together to investigate further, something Walter says suggests they’re destined to become nemeses and not partners. “Maybe I’m just a bored Moriarty looking for his Sherlock,” Walter muses. He is already mentally casting them as foes, but Misty’s also too smart to miss that. Still, I wonder if she believes a little too much in her own acting abilities to think Walter’s really going to let Adam Martin go. After all, Misty falls for Walter’s nursing home act; that wasn’t his mother, it was just a woman he knew who was getting evicted who he wanted to help (Walter seemingly has a lot of disposable income). Has Misty finally met her match?

As tends to be my modus operandi, I have saved the best for last, and the best moments of “Digestif” belong to Melanie motherfucking Lynskey, who I’m pretty sure just secured the Emmy, Golden Globe, idk EVERY AWARD? with this episode. It isn’t a Shauna-heavy episode, per se, the narrative rather evenly divided between characters in a juggling act this season has been especially good at. But when I think of “Digestif,” I’ll think of Shauna first and foremost.

Near the beginning of the episode, Shauna sits with Jeff at a diner. He’s looking despondent, as has become his usual look in his Papa Roach era. “It was the strawberry lube,” he says sadly to the table between them, prompting a waitress to perfectly spin on her heels away from whatever suburban drama this is that she certainly does not have the time for. Jeff recalls what he said about strawberry lube they acquired years before, and he asks if she remembers what he said when she suggested they try it. Shauna repeats his words from memory: “I think this stuff is for bisexuals and goths.” (This is, without a doubt, the funniest thing Jeff has ever said in his life, and I say that as a devout fan of his dad jokes.)

Now, Jeff repeats what Shauna said in response: “You’re no fun.”

Melanie Lynskey saying "I think this stuff is for bisexuals and goths."

this statement could easily be said about the show Yellowjackets itself

This, Jeff fears, is the inciting action of Shauna’s affair, though it happened long before she met Adam. He dismissed the strawberry lube. In that moment, he chose to be this predictable, boring version of himself, the breadwinning suburban dad he feels he’s supposed to be — but also that I think he genuinely wants to be. For Jeff, it doesn’t seem to be an act like it is for Shauna, this simple domestic life with clear rules. And that makes sense. His high school girlfriend may have died tragically, but his childhood wasn’t disrupted in the same way Shauna’s was. He has always been on a path, and he has never veered from it. He feels like he can provide Shauna with comfort, with stability. But the problem is that this isn’t what Shauna really craves. Shauna says this in response to his strawberry lube diner meltdown:

“First of all: That’s not why I slept with him, okay? It wasn’t about you. I mean, sure, it was exciting — exciting, that’s not the right word. Okay. It made me feel like I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I liked that. I liked not feeling like this…boring version of me.”

Remember the words I’ve bolded, for later.

When they leave the diner, Jeff abruptly turns the car around, announcing boldly: “I’m taking us to colonial Williamsburg.” He’s trying to be spontaneous. This, he thinks, is what Shauna wants. I’m not sure what possesses him to think a woman who had to survive in the woods for over a year as a teenager would enjoy a tourist town where most of the attractions hinge on pretending to live in colonial times…but as the rest of the episode makes clear, he’s way off the mark with this one, even if his heart is in the right place.

In the midst of their reroute, a person walks out in front of the minivan, and Jeff thinks he hit him. At first, I thought, oh no, these two are going to have to badly cover up another dead body! Is this going to become their Thing! But alas, the man was just faking it so that he could carjack them at gunpoint. But as he aims the gun at them, focusing mainly on Jeff of course, Shauna uses this to her advantage and charges him, easily incapacitating him and wrestling the gun out of his hands. This alarms Jeff, who tries to get the gun away from Shauna before she can pull the trigger, and the carjacker seizes the opportunity to drive off with the van, leaving Jeff and Shauna to fight over what has just transpired.

“Are you really gonna get us killed over our piece of shit minivan?” Jeff asks, appalled at Shauna’s erratic behavior, apparently not at all impressed by her VERY IMPRESSIVE MANEUVERS. She reminds him, in a bit of very fun comedic relief, that all their quarters were in there! And Mr. Shwoozums, Callie’s beloved teddy bear from when she was six.

Jeff is exasperated, frustrated. He can’t see what’s right in front of him: Shauna doesn’t want a spontaneous trip to colonial Williamsburg. This is what she wants. Impulsiveness. Danger. Violence. She got that gun from that guy like it was nothing. If Jeff had let her threaten — or even hurt — that man and they’d gotten back in their van, I bet Shauna would have wanted to have sex in it. This is what gets her going.

Later, Jeff approaches Kevyn Tan at the gym and threatens him, but it backfires, because everything Jeff is trying on these days is like a costume. He really is at his core the dependable, predictable suburban dad who tells jokes, grills meats, goes to work, comes home and puts on SportsCenter. When he steps outside of that, things go wrong, as we saw when his blackmail ploy went wildly south last season. Shauna can slip in and out of different lives; he can’t. Kevyn is calm and collected in the face of his anger, is only increasingly suspicious of Shauna when Jeff reveals she was upset. Kevyn tells him someone told their investigators Shauna was having an affair. “We’ve been married almost 25 years,” Jeff says, and it sounds more like he’s trying to convince himself that he knows his wife, not Kevyn.

Sure, Jeff may have read Shauna’s journals a long time ago, but he’s fooling himself if he thinks he really knows his wife. He’s fooling himself if he thinks colonial Williamsburg is anything she wants.

After all, he doesn’t know what Shauna’s up to, the lengths she’ll go to to get back her van. She gets dropped off somewhere shady, tracking the car on her phone. She pulls out the gun she still has from earlier as she walks into a body shop. No one stops her; no one sees her. Because to the outside world, Shauna still just is a stay-at-home mom. People don’t see her as a threat. When she pulls up on a guy in the back office with the gun aimed at him, he’s patronizing. It’s one thing to hold a gun, another to use it, he remarks. “I can see your hands shaking.”

And then Melanie Lynskey delivers a monologue that might be my favorite Yellowjackets moment to date. It’s chilling; it’s shocking; it’s impossible to scrub out of your mind.

“Have you ever peeled the skin off a human corpse? It’s not as easy as you might think. It’s really, uh, stuck on us — skin. You have to roll back just the edges of it so you can get a good enough grip to really pull. Which again, isn’t easy. People are always so sweaty when you kill them, just like really oily. There’s a look people get when they realize they’re going to die. It’s that one. My hand wasn’t shaking because I was afraid. It was shaking because of how badly I wanted to do this.”

She gulps for breath, unsteady, and given everything she has just said, it’s clear she isn’t trying to talk herself into hurting this man but out of it. She wants to do it so badly.

Shauna holds a gun in Yellowjackets 203

And now is when I must posit a question that has been weighing on me greatly: Is it possible we’re wrong about Lottie being the Antler Queen? We deduced as much after she was framed by antlers in a shot in season one and then later actually donned a crown made from them. But is this genuine confirmation? Could our real Antler Queen be Shauna? Something about the way the Antler Queen gestures for the others to eat the flesh in the show’s pilot does echo the way Shauna grants permission to feast on Jackie in “Edible Complex.” Could Lottie’s ascension to a cult leader in her adulthood not be an attempt to reclaim the position she had in the woods but rather a position that she was denied and feels she is owed? Or is Lottie indeed the Antler Queen and Shauna is something like her war general? After all, we don’t see the Antler Queen do any of the hunting or slaying herself; it’s easy to assume Shauna’s holding the knife when a girl’s throat is slashed to drain her blood in the pilot. Adult Lottie, on the surface, seems more nefarious than Adult Shauna, but doesn’t that hinge on the exact assumptions I’m talking about when I say these dangerous men in the chop shop don’t see Shauna as just as dangerous as them? Shauna might not have an army of followers, but she’s like a sleeper agent, performing a boring by-the-numbers life while harboring a hunger for violence, for murder! This monologue makes her sound extremely hungry for murder! She would never cry over dead bees like Lottie.

I don’t consume a lot of serial killer or true crime content myself, but my fiancé does watch a tremendous amount of Criminal Minds, and while I’m not an active viewer, I’ve passively ingested enough of the show to know that a common narrative about serial killers is that they can often live very normal lives, with spouses, kids, quaint little homes tucked into quiet neighborhoods. And they can often go through long stretches of not killing, too. How many people has Shauna killed? The way she talks here, I think it’s much more than just Adam. I think stabbing Adam, which she also did so easily and without any remorse despite having a long sexual affair with him, reanimated something dormant in her. I don’t think Shauna has been secretly serial killing for the past 25 years, but I do think she has killed more than we think and isn’t just capable of violence but actively courts it.

And that brings me back to a subtle but ultimately very meaningful parallel I noticed between the two Shaunas in this episode. Remember those bolded words from above that Shauna says to Jeff? She said she liked the affair with Adam, because she felt like she didn’t know what was going to happen. Later, Teen Shauna says the following to Lottie in the cabin, still reckoning with the Jackie feast from the night before and clearly rattled by it:

“I’m scared, Lottie. Everything just feels out of control, like I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. What if I—”

Lottie interrupts her to say she won’t hurt the baby. And there’s a lot packed into this short conversation between them, so it’d be easy to miss this echoing of words, especially since it’s not perfectly verbatim. But this can’t be a coincidence, right? Teen Shauna is terrified by the prospect of not knowing what’s going to happen next. But as an adult, Shauna craves that uncertainty. Her fear has alchemized into desire. The Shaunas express these sentiments in different contexts, and Sophie Nélisse and Melanie Lynskey imbue the words with tonally disparate emotions, but it feels very significant in both moments. What if Shauna’s response to feeling out of control is ultimately to embrace it? To flirt with chaos the way we see her do as an adult? Sometimes the only way to conquer what we’re scared of is to turn it into something pleasurable, as fucked-up as that can sometimes feel. Teen Shauna and Adult Shauna both have talked about feeling fucked-up this season, Adult Shauna in the premiere and Teen Shauna here in “Digestif.”

I do doubt Adult Taissa and Adult Nat would be so trusting of Adult Shauna the way they are in season one if she had been some sadistic ruler in the wilderness, but I also think Shauna is sometimes good at pinning things on others, the way she convinced the group to isolate Jackie from the cabin even though she was the one who had so greatly betrayed Jackie. It’s possible she could have done worse in the woods but been able to scapegoat Lottie or otherwise manipulate those around her. Shauna’s not good at lying, but she does have a tendency to get away with shit. And this moment in the chop shop makes it clear that violence isn’t just a means to an end for her; it’s something that actively excites her.


Last Buzz:

  • Mari is hearing a dripping sound that no one else is hearing. What’s that about?
  • Tawny Cypress confirmed that Tai purposefully crashed the car at the end of last episode, and I already figured as much, but we also get textual confirmation in this episode when her campaign manager says that she ran a red light. Was it a possessed version of Tai trying to get rid of Simone, or was it Tai actually trying to protect Simone by merely injuring her before the possession could do worse? The smirk makes me think it’s the former, but I’m leaving room for the latter interpretation just because it’s definitely ambiguous how much control the real Tai has/doesn’t have in this altered state.
  • The episode’s title “Digestif” refers to drinks typically served after dinner to aid with digestion. I love digestifs, because my favorite drink is a popular one (Fernet), and because it’s basically just an excuse to have amaro for dessert. I suppose Jackie was last week’s main course, and this episode contending with the aftermath of eating her is our little digestif. Idk, a snifter of Fernet is a lot more relaxing than the vibe of this episode! Anyway, do you have a favorite digestif?
  • Without the support of our A+ members, I would not be able to spend many hours on these recaps every week, so if you’re not a member but have been considering becoming one, now’s a great time! At the A+ virtual Yellowjackets watch parties last month, one BRILLIANT member who goes by @tentaclerental in the comments created this gorgeous Jeff collage that I no joke want to hang in my office:
    Jeff from Yellowjackets leaning and collaged with the words I LOVE MY WIFE, a sofa for sale, a bbq with an ID in it, and the word OMG.
Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. 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 869 articles for us.

156 Comments

  1. What I would like to say here is that your recaps make the perfect digestif to each new episode (and I’m sure they do!) but the truth is I refresh AS over and over again every Friday morning so that I can read your recap before I’ve even watched the episode. I guess that makes them more of an hors d’oeuvre. Either way—they’re absolutely delicious. Thank you!

    • ahhhh thank you! i love the lil crew of y’all who read the recaps before watching the eps! i’m fascinated by that experience and happy to be an aperitif/hors d’oeuvre!

    • This may have been said already on this thread, but Tori Amos singing out the last 2 episodes made my queer heart soar. I was 17 when Under the Pink came out in 1994, and it was such an iconic album for me, it speaks to the beauty of the world, but also how cruel and twisted it can be. I love that in S2 we had Cornflake Girl, which is a gentle introduction to the album, and to the horrors that are happening in the season. Then in S3 we get Bells for Her, which is creepy sounding anyway, and a more authentic version of Tori’s music. And it speaks to what’s to come, ‘can’t stop what is on its way’, and was a pitch perfect choice for Lottie’s visions, Tai’s unravelling and Shauna’s bloodlust. I love these recaps a lot – thank the goddesses for this queer community.

  2. The wife guy representation in this show is what we’ve been missing in prestige TV since they threw Johnny Sack in the slammer and killed him off with cancer on The Sopranos.

  3. I have a question: Who is the eighth survivor?

    Here’s a picture of the feast from the pilot.

    There are seven people in it. Not pictured: Misty. So that’s eight people.

    The survivors that we know of:
    – Shauna
    – Natalie
    – Travis
    – Misty
    – Tai
    – Van
    – Lottie
    That’s only seven. Am I forgetting somebody? Or is there another survivor that they haven’t revealed yet?

  4. very good recap! my silly little thoughts:

    – “you ate her face” lmao Van really ripped off that band-aid

    – incredibly funny when Lottie said “it’s what she would have wanted” re: Jackie being cannibalised, and Shauna made the exact same face that I made. like girl have you met Jackie? she would NOT

    – I love the way you articulated Shauna’s cravings for violence and rejecting domesticity for the thrill of the unknown. Shauna is horny for danger and she’s self aware about it! like no, Jeff, she doesn’t want to churn butter

    – the way Natalie was sitting petulantly facing away from Lottie’s group, with the heliotrope jumper draped around her shoulders instead of fully wearing it? perfect

    – she really said I would rather die in my leather pants than wear one of your stupid fucking purple outfits

    – something that’s so funny about the different timelines is that in 1996 they’re like “oh shit, we ate our friend, but to be fair we did only do that to survive the winter” and in the present day Walter the citizen detective is like “why do you keep downvoting me”

  5. Love the Jeff collage. Still perturbed ‘there’s no bookclub’ wasn’t included in the previouslies at the beginning of season 2. Clearly the most important line in season 1.

    As well as Melanie Lynskey, the production team also need to win all the awards. The shot of Jackie’s hand? And then the blood from the chicken and in the beehive?!

    I love how the show is telling all these different stories about trauma and how it manifests. And subverting expectations of what trauma recovery looks like. When we first meet the first 4, Taissa, Shauna and even Misty would seem more ‘recovered’ than Nat – employed, and/or settled family life vs Nat’s cycle of addiction. But both Misty and Shauna have done murders and got satisfaction out of it, and Taissa has committed violence to her own benefit. I think there’s a line in season 1 when they are on the stakeout where Nat says they are all just better at hiding being fucked up more than her? And arguably, Nat is less fucked up than the rest of them. I wonder if there are things she didn’t do in the woods the others did, and so the secrets she is keeping aren’t hers.

    • Oh also – big shout out to François Arnaud as Paul, he is a very beautiful man and I think this is the first thing I have seen him in since Midnight Texas and he appears to not have aged a day.

    • Totally! In a lot of ways, Nat really is the best adjusted of those four but societal stigma against addiction would say otherwise! Nat genuinely only hurt Lisa from a place of survival; I can’t see her killing the way Shauna and Misty have at alllll

      • It’s one of the things I love about how smart and complex this show is. We were introduced to these characters at the start of season 1 in a particular way, and then sense that their desires, alliances, capacities, mistakes, etc., have just gotten more and more complicated, uncertain, and questionable!

        • Totally! There aren’t really heroes or villains here. It’s way way more complicated than that and always kinda shifting? Everyone is fucked up in their own special and unique ways lol

      • I also think that Adult Nat is not far off from who she would have been if she hadn’t been stranded in the wilderness because she was already living in survival mode 24/7 before the crash. She’d also already witnessed her father’s violent death, so some of the “culture shock” of the team’s experience in the woods doesn’t impact her.

    • Also none of Natalie’s violence is uncontrolled. If you compare Natalie confronting people with weapons compared to Shawna there is this wildness with Shawna. Shawna seems like more of a real threat in the way that she will actually go through with it. Natalie confronted both Misty and Lottie with weapons and threats of violence and they both shrugged it off. I don’t think they would have acted the same if it was Shawna. There is a deference the other characters show adult Shawna especially when she is giving orders or raises her voice to them or gets serious.

      • Yes! And I think this all tracks with the fact that Natalie was really the only one among the girls who experienced violence PRIOR to the plane crash (at least, as far as we know, but it does seem safe to say that Natalie was fighting for survival before misty/shauna/taissa who all seemed to have relatively privileged upbringings.)

        • I would like to suggest that Van also experienced some pre-crash violence, as suggested in the clip when she has to slap her mom awake from her drunken stupor to drive her to the airport. Both Van and Nat seem to be able to adapt well to the woods — or at least decompartmentalize enough to keep it together. It’s just that it looks like they’ve chosen different paths for survival: Nat for rationalism and Van for spiritualism.

          I can’t wait to meet Adult Van and see how she’s turned out!! Love me my Lauren Ambrose!!

    • so true, the others are actually unhinged while adult nat is relatively thoughtful and reasoned and like she has grown out of the impulsivity of teen nat (who was still more rational and wise than her teen counterparts). it’s like the trauma and growing up nat had experienced prior to the crash was in a way protective (in combination with simply who she is as a person regardless of all the externals).

      • totally! she had to self-parent in a way most of these girls could never understand, so she goes into the woods more independent than most of them, which is also why I think she connects early on with Ben in a meaningful way (and clocks his queerness lol)

    • Yeah, Nat definitely seems like the most stable adult Yellowjackets internally, at least. She seems pretty clear-eyed about her demons and turned to self-destruction and isolation, whereas the others have refused to face their shit and, as a result, have spread the damage around much more to their families and the people they encounter.

      And then there’s Misty, who is just like, once a sociopath, always a sociopath XD

      • This! The recap says Adult Nat is “trusting” of Adult Shauna but it just isn’t so, when Nat first learns that Taissa brought Shauna in on a plan she’s pissed and I think we can only assume it was for good reason

  6. The part about the birds’ navigation being thrown off was said by Misty, so I wonder if her knowledge of birds (pre-Caligula) and detective skills started early! That being said … I don’t remember when they discovered the ground was full of iron? Also why would this be the first time this happened with the birds? Regardless, hope they have a good nonhuman feast!!!

    • They determined last season that the “red river” Taissa and crew encountered was due to iron in the soil. And yeah if anyone is gonna know about birds, it’s Misty lol

      • Also the compass not working in season 1 also suggests iron deposits. When there is huge deposits of iron or metals in the ground it can cause a compass to not work because it also relies on the earths magnetic field.

          • This could also explain the house in the middle of nowhere. I worked in Northern B.C Canada in forestry. We would sometimes be helicoptered into remote areas but would find abandoned cabins with old stuff in it from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. These cabins were usually left by gold miners because that area use to be a huge gold mining area. Its a good thing this show had not aired yet when I use to work out there because I used to find those discoveries cool; now I would be filled with high anxiety and probably would get spooked about coming across dead bodies or hidden symbols or sacrifices.

  7. “Thats for bisexuals and goths.”

    My primary theory for this show is now that Shauna is repressing her bisexuality and Jeff is repressing his goth. If they ever unleash them fully, that’s when things get real.

  8. Thank you for the excellent chewy (sorry) recap, as usual, and for the Jeff collage appreciation!

    Shauna’s ‘human skin’ monologue is absolutely going to burrow into my brain right next to Stan Beeman’s ‘soft mouth’ monologue from season 1 of The Americans.

    Although, sorry to make it worse, but having watched it with subs she actually says ‘oily’, not really: ‘People are always so sweaty when you kill them, just like oily’ :( :(

  9. That collage!! Jeff is truly the ultimate wife guy (affectionate).

    Coach Ben really broke my heart this episode. I was sure he was dead when Travis was talking to him.

    And I’m so glad we’re fully leaning in to the horror this season! Those birds really freaked me out. Maybe more so than the blood honey even.

  10. When adult Tai ran out of the hospital after her reflection told her to go to Van they briefly showed her phone and she was calling Jessica Roberts! So I guess next week we’ll finally get to see what happened after Misty poisoned her.

      • I was quite sure she was dead last season, but now who knows? Either way, it’ll lead her back to Misty, which is I think how the four are brought together again this season. Misty’s in touch still w Shauna (who may be motivated to reach out to her with Kevyn on her trail), and Misty’s headed to Lottie’s compound to find Nat, so Tai finding out what happened to JR and going to Misty could bring them all together again (+ Lottie and maybe Van)!

      • There is a post on the citizen detective board in s2e1 titled “The Parsippany Poisoner – what are the cops missing?” that is probably about Jessica Roberts! So I assume she is dead.

        • Omg! Another good catch!! I’m usually good about pausing on text/screen things on this show but missed this too. What if Walter isn’t even necessarily on Misty’s tail because of Adam Martin but because of Jessica Roberts and is playing the long game! Moriarty vibes for sure

          • Ooh, maybe! I have also long suspected that Misty is an angel of death/angel of mercy-type killer and probably has a trail of nursing home bodies behind her. Maybe he’s connecting dots??? (Probably not.)

            But I DO think she has met her match and is very confused about whether she is attracted to him or wants to best him or both. I would be worried for her except that we know she can take care of herself.

          • oooh that would be fun and the idea that she has a body count from her nursing career and he’s clocked her.

          • My personal opinion is that Walter IS actually from the FBI 😂 He was sent to track down whoever poisoned Jessica Roberts.

          • That is a good point, I didn’t even think about that. He is a mysterious dude living on a boat trying to charm her.

  11. you’ve hit on what’s been my pet theory since sauna slit the deer’s throat in season 1 – that shauna is actually the antler queen and the allusions/imagery to lottie being AQ has been a long game red herring from the writers.

    • yeah I mean the brutality Adult Shauna demonstrates in this episode is just unlike anything we’ve really seen from Lottie! tho I guess teen Lottie really did escalate the stuff with Travis at doomcoming. I really need to see adult Shauna and adult Lottie interact to get some more clarity I think

      • I re-read your s1 recaps before the start of this season, and in the one for the pilot you theorize that Shauna is AQ due to the deferential way Tai reacts to her when they meet up in the diner. We didn’t really see that deference again in their interactions throughout the season, but I share your curiosity about how adult Lottie will act towards her.

    • I go back and forth between the core four – the other day I was convinced it was Natalie because her younger self is so pure hearted and full of empathy and the only person talking sense, but her adult self is wrecked beyond belief, and also because that would be such a shocking twist to see Nat devolve to that extent.

      other days I’m like…what if AQ is Taissa? again, she’s one of the only rational ones in the wilderness and she’s super type A, has displayed leadership qualities, can also be pretty ruthless in both timelines. it seems to be boiling down to Lottie and her followers vs Nat and Tai.

      but Shauna does make the most sense actually! we don’t know which camp she’s leaning towards, but her present day interactions with Tai make me think they were on the same side. and it would be such a great swerve away from the beginning of the show where Jackie is the queen bee and Shauna the shadow sidekick, to where they end up – Shauna has literally consumed Jackie and taken her throne?

  12. Like Kristen, I considered Misty’s connection with birds (Caligula, owls) in relation to the bird crash. I’m wondering if there may have been a supernatural factor at play there, especially with that scene appearing in the same episode as Nat’s Close Encounter of a White Moose.

    Relatedly: we’ve seen ALMOST all of the S1 Core 4 connected significantly to a specific animal. Misty: prey birds. Shauna: rabbits. Taissa: wolves. What about Nat?? Is the white moose our first glimpse of her animal tie, if she has one?

      • Ooooooooooo. I didn’t know that and I LOVE it. I read the Sakhi Thirawi “Girls Gone Greek” piece and now I can’t stop thinking about the Dionysus of all of this!! My open notebook page right now literally has “IS SHAUNA AGAVE???” scrawled on it, lol.

        That makes for a hell of a double White Moose meaning, because white fur on animals can be albinism, and it can also be a way animals change to survive the winter. Feels appropriate as our ladies are brushing up against something powerful and sacred, and also just trying to survive winter. Young Nat seems very aware of what a dangerous combination that is. Maybe White Moose reflects that perception on her part.

      • I don’t think I agree with this theory BUT I did have some observations that perhaps support it lol. Shauna and Taissa talk about owing their lives to Nat…Taissa obvs feels a recurring obligation to help Nat/pay for her rehab…could this be residual fealty to their queen? Lol just some thoughts but I think I do personally feel stronger about positing Shauna as AQ! Still, I like that this show is set up in a way where it can genuinely kind of be anyone!

        • oh I don’t even know if I agree with this theory! Shauna does make the most sense. or it could legitimately be Lottie like they’ve been telling us and we’re overthinking it lol

    • I have also been thinking a lot about the animal symbolism lately! I think the animals mean something different to each of the women, too. Wolves are of course the dark side of Taissa that she cannot control, which she fears might hurt people she loves – hence connecting to the wolf attack on Van in season 1. Rabbits, to Shauna, are Jackie: she kills and consumes the rabbit in season 1 while rabbit ornaments decorate her house and haunt her life. Misty, I’m not sure. Birds can seem innocuous but are highly intelligent, efficient predators, so maybe they’re just Misty.

      The moose? Well, I had just rewatched the episode where Natalie’s father dies before watching this one, so Nat holding the gun at a charging moose reminded me of nothing so much as the moment where Nat is aiming the gun at her father while he beats her mother. Maybe it ties back into the recurring theme in Nat’s story where she is forced by circumstance into violence she doesn’t want to commit, often to protect her friends and family. (I think this is also why Lottie orchestrates the Lisa moment in this episode: Nat expects violence for hurting Lisa, but receives forgiveness instead.) But, I’m curious to see whether the moose is even real and if it’ll show up again, because I think that will be revealing.

  13. I really thought for a second that Coach Ben getting a flashback meant that he might make it out of the woods, but no, pretty sure he’s gonna stay in his dissociative fugue state until he starves to death. (And becomes feast #2?)

    Also Elijah Wood’s character is definitely a tech guy who sold his startup for a few mil and doesn’t need to work, right?

    Jeff could also use some “Misty Quigley tips for talking to the police”. I was definitely yelling, “STOP! TALKING!” during that whole scene at the gym. Detective Tan is probably now like 100% certain Shauna is somehow involved after that little exchange.

    I also saw Lauren Ambrose in the trailer for next week’s episode so we are finally getting Adult Van!!!

  14. “Van delivers very disturbing news to a very confused Taissa: “Tai, you ate her face.” My first thought, unfortunately, was: Did she eat her eyes? I don’t see any on the corpse, and I wonder if the eyeless man would encourage the consumption of eyeballs — sorry to place that image in your brain!”

    Okay, I am cringing with the grotesquerie of this and I AM SO SORRY… but I think the show wants us to go there, and is strongly suggesting “yes.” In the Jackie feast scene, one of the grossest moments is when we see a long, stringy bit of gore dangling from Tai’s mouth as she eats out of her hands. Because of the way it’s intercut with the Greek feast images, it’s especially haunting: you’re seeing Tai desperate for what she’s eating, relishing it without even having to pause when it gives her a stomach-churning reminder that she’s eating the body of a person. She’s as undistracted from her feasting by that stringy thing as I am by the bones of a buffalo wing.

    And again I am so so sorry but when Tai said “you ate her face” and Tai heaved, I was right there with Tai, because my brain immediately went: “OH SHIT SHIT SHIT WAS THAT STRINGY THING A RETINA”

    I haven’t been able to bring myself to either research what retinas look like or watch the feast scene closely since I thought of that, so I could be off, but that was my immediate reaction.

  15. This is my Shauna/Lottie Antler queen theory. Antler Queen is fan made terminology, I saw somewhere that the original pilot called it a shamanistic figure (to be fair, I think that was the same version of the pilot where the wilderness baby was alive and just like in her 20s and part of Shauna and Jeff’s public family, so a lot has changed). But we never see Lottie interested at all in the actual practicalities of leadership, she doesn’t do anything that physically helps people survive, she has visions and she calms people down. I think Shauna is going to end up being the leader of the group, the one who decides who lives, who dies, who eats, who starves, and Lottie will be her prophet by her side, and some of Shauna’s decisions will be based around Lottie’s prophecies to keep the less powerful happy and believing, even though Shauna herself is a bit of a skeptic. Very Old Testament like vibes in the woods. I don’t know how that’s going to work when they devolve into warring clans, but until then, that’s my theory for the power breakdown!

    • brilliant, i could totally see this. also when digesting the idea of shauna as AQ in kayla’s recap, i wondered if, alternatively, shauna could be positioned as the covert leader, like she’s calling all the shots without being officially at the helm so her power and danger is obscured. but i’m leaning more toward the former, i think her pregnancy in the woods makes it both more likely for this positioning to take place, and makes it more sympathetic/understandable/forgivable in the present, which also serves to obscure the force that is shauna. i can’t think of an example of the present survivors attributing any danger or maleficence to shauna as they have with lottie, misty… even after she kills adam.

      • I also think if the show is sticking to its Greek myth intertextuality then it makes sense for Shauna’s fertility/pregnancy to also be closely associated to not just power but violence

  16. My partner is very insistent that I share her theory that Misty’s “25 years” comment in the episode 4 trailer, combined with Lottie saying her visions are back (maybe for the first time since the wilderness?), suggests that the power of the wilderness is somehow activated every 25 years, and maybe that is the era that dead cabin guy is from as well. 🤔

    Also, we would love to see the past timeline from cabin guy’s era to see what the heck was happening then!!

  17. Rando thoughts I keep having:

    – why is this show funnier to me than shows that try to be funny?
    – are they in some sort of Canadian Devil’s Triangle? Compass doesn’t work. They crashed 600 miles NORTH of their destination and now the birds…
    – what if the symbol is a map?
    – no one on this show should drive. Ever.
    – Callie is Jeff and Shauna’s but she is not the child Shauna is pregnant with in the woods
    – the casting director(s) must have gotten a hold of my horny wish list. Across the board, damn!
    – Lauren, where are you??!!
    – the episode went way to fast. Like in the woods, the waiting is the hardest part

  18. I don’t see this comment yet, so I will raise it but forgive me if this has come up before. I am Canadian (hi) from the part of the country they crashed in (hiiii), and due to the former fact I took French through high school.

    Il faut du sang does mean “It wants blood.” It also means “HE wants blood.” And given that Lottie has gendered Shauna’s baby as a “he” — and the show wants us to notice that, because Teen Shauna is like “what?” when Lottie says it — I think we can also lean into some of the theories here about Shauna becoming a bigger leader and potentially, like a queen (Antler Queen?) with a blessed child that they all must acquire blood to serve.

    Also the stuff about compasses/iron/etc. is real. As a child I went on a lot of mountain trips near where I grew up and there are all kinds of weird mineral things that throw off your compasses and kill plants and etc.

    An earlier commenter mentioned the cabins and stuff up there and that is also true! It’s a weird place! one time a friend of my father’s was hiking way up in the Rockies and came upon a man sitting cross legged looking across a valley and when he approached him, found it was a CORPSE, and when it was identified they did carbon dating and found it was an explorer who had been sitting there since 1859, well preserved because of the minerals in the rock and being protected from the elements by placement.

    Excited to see how the Shauna of it all evolves. Love this show, this community, these recaps!

    • that’s really interesting w/r/t the impacts of the minerals on the natural world, and yeah my ears definitely perked up when lottie said “he” in reference to the baby, which just elicited the idea that lottie is going to claim to be in communication/connection with the fetus, and then the potential for future deification (or demonification) that this brings, etc. we also have demon taissa who was interrupted before answering van’s question (or wasn’t going to anyway) about who are they, but i guess we know they serve the man with no eyes, and we have lottie’s offering with the comment “may the darkness set us free” so it could all come down to the same entity/force which hopefully they do not come to believe possesses the child or facilitate in possessing the child.

    • I actually also wondered when Lottie referred to the baby as “he” (or “him”?) if that was leading up to something about the baby being possessed by the spirit of the wilderness or whatever, but then then I’m pretty sure she later referred to the wilderness as “it.” Although now that I think about it, that might have just been me translating “il” as “it” instead of “he” (also Canadian, also took French via French immersion! But I barely remember it)???

      • I went with the “it” translation because that’s how Jackie translated it when she said it during the seance scene last season, but then again Jackie very well could have mistranslated!

        Teen Lottie does seem to already be expressing some ownership over the baby, and I wonder how that’s going to play out.

      • I’m French Canadian so native speaker and Il faut du sang does not mean He! It’s the impersonal “il”, like “Il pleut” means “It’s raining” not “he’s raining”. So it more accurately translates to “Blood is necessary” or something like that.

    • “when he approached him, found it was a CORPSE, and when it was identified they did carbon dating and found it was an explorer who had been sitting there since 1859, well preserved because of the minerals in the rock” WHAT!!!!!!!!

  19. I am having so many thoughts about rabbits and starlings and Shauna. And Coach Ben and the dangers of being a gay man in the 90s surrounded by cannibal teens.

    Last season Shauna was associated with rabbits. And rabbits being heavily associated with fertility, it goes great with her pregnancy reveal in the wilderness, but modern day Shauna is out there killing rabbits and feeding them to her family and then it turns out that Jackie’s parents are the ones giving her the rabbit figurines. What do the rabbits really mean!? Are we supposed to read the rabbit killing as showing us that Shauna is a mother/provider figure, out there feeding her family/team? Is it supposed to symbolize her being a not very good mother? She’s literally out there killing a symbol of fertility/motherhood.

    And then the starlings die at the cabin. And. I am just so. They’re STARLINGS. In Canada. Pregnant Shauna’s accidental blood sacrifice brings them a murderous invasive species that destroys nests, shatters eggs, and pecks nestlings to death but they’re also great parents to their own young. And a whole flock of them DIES. And just, what do the Starlings mean!? What does it mean for the woods baby?

    (And do the starlings foreshadow their wild hunting parties where they make all the animal calls? Starlings are great mimics)

    Also, I think the woods baby is still alive, but that Shauna either immediately gave it up for adoption once they were rescued because it was a reminder of what she left behind in the wilderness OR the team collectively agreed to lie and say it was someone else’s baby. My original thought on that was that Lottie “adopted” the baby and that the woman that Nat stabbed with the fork is actually the woods baby all grown up, but now I’m not so sure since Nat alludes to Lottie having been institutionalized for quite some time and doesn’t mention Lottie not being present to raise a child which seems like the kind of thing Nat would mention.

    And! Coach Ben is a 90s gay! I really do wonder if they’re ever going to bring up the AIDS epidemic. Because here’s a gay man who probably grew up thinking he was going to end up dying young and tragically anyway and then he’s suddenly stuck in the woods with his vicious little monster team who might kill him. He avoided HIV but ends up in a super unlikely plane crash? I mean, he must have sat there in the cabin at least once contemplating the irony.

    I’m still of the opinion that Coach Ben survives because the yellowjackets cover story for what happened in the woods sounds very rehearsed in a, we got our story straight BEFORE we returned to civilization. I think he’s the most likely candidate to basically say, listen up, we can not tell people about the cannibalism cult, so everyone shut up and listen, here’s what we’ll say. But! I don’t think it’s altruistic. I think it’s self preservation. He’d be very aware what people would say if they found out that the teen girls he, a gay man, was in charge of were eating people. It’s the 90s. Jeffery Dahmer would still be very present in the social consciousness. He’d have to be aware that he’d be at high risk to be painted as the ring leader and used as a scapegoat. Who’s the media going to blame for it all, the teen girl star athletes? Or the gay man?

    (As an aside, the moose was just a regular sized moose. Moose are just fuck off huge. The weird thing about the moose (beyond being white) was that it had antlers. I think they’ve been stranded long enough that the moose should have shed its antlers by now. So like, was it a real moose? Or did the directors not know this? They had the right winter plumage for starlings so it seems weird that they had a moose with antlers this far into winter. I mean, it’s not unheard of but also it’s noticeable)

    • Yes @ all of this!!!!! But especially the HIV context wrt to Ben because I was having the same thought and was wondering if it’ll sort of stay contextual/allegorical subtext or made more explicit at some point. Seeing him motionless in bed is such an intense and isolating image. Curious to see if/how Paul/Ben fantasies progress and how far Ben is willing to lose himself in them.

    • Totally, I’m haunted by Ben’s re-written flasback where he decides to stay with Paul and come out because “there is no safe.” Like yeah, living in the closet will devour you. Also, now his choice to stay in the closet will get him literally devoured. Like his life in the wilderness has been a series of horrifyingly literal analogies to a life spent in the closet: he lost a piece of himself, he had to pretend to be in a romantic relationship with a woman in order to survive, he’s wasting away, his days are filled with dissociation and paranoia, he will eventually be consumed.

    • I keep thinking about the moose! We have them where I live and they are huge but they’re never white? You could have an albino moose, which has spiritual meanings in some cultures, but its antlers had melanin so that’s off. And you *hear* moose when they walk (they’re just so big!), so Nat not hearing the moose walk away def makes me believe she hallucinated/it was supernatural

  20. this is going to sound harsh but I need Shauna’s baby to die just so we can put an end to the theories of “this character is Shauna’s baby grown up”

    like I don’t want them to eat the baby! and they have said they won’t! but realistically I don’t see how it can survive. also the idea of the masked girlies eating whoever fell into the pit being like “who’s watching the baby” is so funny

    • Yes! There’s no way the baby survives, right?

      I rewatched the airport arrival scene from 1998 but if they show Shauna, it’s one of the more obscured shots, which makes sense because showing her with or without a baby would suggest answers one way or the other. I think one of the girls shown might be her (with no baby), but who knows!

      I do wonder though if the baby is the impetus for more proactive cannibalism (hunting). The baby is important to Lottie and she seems to connect it to the Wilderness. She would want it to survive, and I wonder if feeding Shauna (and therefore the baby) is a prime motivator for the Antler Queen rituals?? Although we don’t see a baby in any of those scenes…

    • Personally I think the baby dying is what’s really gonna pop off the antler queen stuff. Like the baby dies of starvation and it breaks them all just enough that they go all in on the cannibalism stuff.

    • I think they’re going to convince themselves that they have to offer the baby up as a sacrifice to the woods, in like a final, complete capitulation to the occult-y beliefs they’re edging towards.

  21. Thank you Kayla for your amazing recaps!! I look forward to them every week. Was Lisa holding a knife in the screener? Because Lottie handed her a fork in the episode that aired!

  22. Obsessed with these recaps. I’m rewatching right now and noticing, after shauna’s confrontation at the chop shop, when she sits down in the van, you can hear her stomach growling… not only does the danger turn her on — it makes her hungry. It’s like she just fell off the recovering cannibal wagon

    • WOW I LOVE THIS DETAIL!!!! also dang i was merely like what if shauna has been on and off killing this whole time but what if she has also still been participating in cannibalism post-the wilderness!!!! 😳

  23. Interesting how out of Lottie’s followers who were the majority of the 96 survivors, only three were confirmed to live to modern days. Travis- Nat’s love interest, Van – Tai’s and Misty, well because she is Misty fuking Quigley. That kinda implies that Lottie couldn’t protect her believers and non-believing three had the power. While I lean into Shawna being AQ theory, I also think sleeping Tai could have been her.

    • yeah there is a stoic vibe to the antler queen in the pilot that does look like the same general vibe as sleepwalk mode Tai…but I’m not quite sold on this one yet!

  24. Also, when Shauna gets into her van and starts it, her stomach growls/ gurgles. She’s definitely using her Suzy homemaker identity as a facade. Adam’s painting of her? Spot on. I too think our Shauna is the villian.

  25. That Tori Amos song at the close is *chef’s kiss.* Discovering that song coincided with an acute realization of my own queerness in the late 90s, and was my first love’s and my “song” when we were like 15, so hearing it here felt extremely fitting for this teen girl story set in the 90s, particularly with the growing distance cleaving Tai and Van.

    I get the sense that the AIDS crisis is not going to be directly invoked, but knowing that possible broader context – and how it would have heightened Ben’s decision to come out publicly – makes Ben’s dissociative flashbacks/recast memories all the more poignant for me.

    I also love all the double entendres – Edible Complex last week, the echoes between the team name / Lottie’s vision of the dead beehive coagulated with blood / the Antler Queen. There’s also such interesting doubling in this show – not 1-to-1, but like off-kilter doubling. Taissa with her “bad one.” I feel like they are going to increasingly lean into this as Shauna approaches birth – she wanted to trump Jackie but also to to be her, to subsume her (and literally obviously consumes her), in convoluted ways that echo the mother/child connection – if the baby lives through the birth, the baby will feed off Shauna’s body to stay alive. There’s also a scientific understanding now that cells/DNA cross between the fetus and the mother in utero, so basically after you’re pregnant you essentially forever contain some of the makeup of the fetus. I have to believe some of the Greek mythological references will resurface too… lots of complicated (to put it mildly) familial dynamics there!

    More straightforwardly, I can’t wait to meet adult Van! and see what she has been up to and how she fits in with the five YJ we already know as adults!

  26. This is perhaps a silly comment but as an ill and friendless pre-teen/teen, I did read bird guides like they were novels. I knew that some birds navigate by the magnetic field of the earth. And the compass went wild near the iron-y river, which Misty was there for, so I don’t think it’s that wild for her to suggest that birds crashed because of the iron. Perhaps I’m just having my turn over-identifying with Misty, though.

  27. Ok I am horrified from this one detail:

    When Misty and Crystal are preparing for the baby shower and Crystal says “too bad they didn’t listen to your broth idea, it’s not a party without snacks”

    are they talking about…. jackie-broth ….. with the leftover body bits….

    Cause then they continue to talk about how it wouldn’t be good but not terrible and how she’s eaten her twin in the womb!!! Def horrified knowing that Misty suggested this and is having absolutely no remorse about the previous nights bacchanal (>~<)

    • That exchange was HARROWING. It also made me have to go back and watch a few scenes more closely to make sure Crystal doesn’t only exist in Misty’s imagination, haha. The way Crystal is appealing to Misty, both by treating Misty like a leader and by matching (even building upon) her darkest survival instincts, is so intense that I couldn’t help thinking: “if Misty were gonna have an imaginary friend, this is how that imaginary friend would sound.”

  28. Random supposition that popped into my head tonight, on the back of all the supernatural-seeming stuff from the past two episodes (snowfall on Jackie, white moose, suicidal birds etc): their plane changed course and flew further north because of inclement weather, but when the plane crashes, the sky outside the window Shauna opens looks pretty benign. They flew around the storm, so what actually caused the plane to crash? And then I remembered the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, where Lara gets shipwrecked on a cursed island and cannot leave because a supernatural force crashes any plane or ship that veers to close to it, and sinks any boat that tries to leave (kinda like Laura Lee last season). So what if the same thing that induced the bird sacrifice this episode also deliberately brought their plane down in the first place? They just had the bad luck to stray into its territory /shrug

    I’m also currently leaning toward possessed Tai being the Antler Queen. Lottie’s visions aside, possessed Tai seems like the most powerful and dangerous Yellowjacket by far and she clearly has *some* purpose in these woods. I’m guessing she’s going to take more and more control of Tai as the season goes on, and the whole team is going to get to know her and start looking to her for answers and guidance.

    • yeah and I remember Lottie saying it was like the woods didn’t want him to leave re:the dead guy and all the vines grown up over his plane. it does seem like there’s some sort of force that prevents departure. but we also do know they eventually get out, so if it is a “curse” then I wonder how it’s lifted. though I’m also definitely on the side of preferring there not to be definitive supernatural elements at play, too!

  29. ok just watched and it’s Thoughts Time!

    -“forgive me, I have IBS” is the best exit line of all time, no need trying to top it
    -so adult lottie is not in control of her visions at all huh
    -dark tai is aware of awake tai but not the other way around? at least as a teen
    -adult van watch has developed into an adult van warning based on the teaser for next week!!!
    -melanie lynskey was truly like ‘let me show you how fucked up suburbia is’
    -seeing the different ways they’re all processing the jackie jerky is so interesting? you get the guilt and the denial and the acceptance!!
    -oh coach ben…you gotta buck up bud or you’re next
    -related i hope we get more glimpses of how the world reacted during the 19 months!
    -adult misty and walter have such a fucked up lil bond already they both despise each other but are also attracted?
    -crystal…girl…you good? she seems to be misty junior but better at hiding the creep factor
    -teen shauna seems to be snapping out of it a bit in re: the mystical woods cult. maybe we’re seeing the development of our tribes with the believers versus non believers?
    -so teen van is very much intrigued by what dark tai knows, and of course is fully onboard with the lottie stuff. division!
    -who is watching sammy rn! simone is hospitalized and taissa is shattered! where is the child!
    -love that shauna seemed to genuinely place callie’s lovey on the same tier as their whole-ass car

      • yeah I clocked that too!! they def got married right away. but I’m curious about the Callie timeline then, because I think it would mean they got married and waited like 8 or 9 years to have her. and I wonder if something having to do with wilderness baby explains that gap?

        • I think I remember from season 1 a picture of Jeff & Shauna’s wedding showed, Shauna still very young (so possibly right after the rescue) but pregnant ? Obviously not wood baby but if it’s been 25 years it can’t be Callie either ?!

          • Yes!! I remember seeing the pregnant photo too. My partner didn’t believe me but I remember it and have been very confused as well.

    • final comment (they said, lying) but there was a very brief shot of blood-soaked moss on a stump of some kind in the woods, i think before Natalie started bundling up jackie bits? what does it all mean dot jpg

  30. Yay, I’m caught up! These recaps are so good, you catch on to so many little things that I miss.

    The baby shower really puts into perspective how little time has actually passed in cannibal timeline. They’ve maybe been there for 7 months of the 19 months they’ll be stranded! That’s another entire year with another full winter and they’re already so detached from reality!

    Watching Ben full on disassociate was rough. He really pulled himself back from the edge from when he was hopeless and frustrated with his leg just cut off, but I really don’t see him making another recovery.

    I think what Lottie handed Lisa was the fork that she was stabbed with; which, tf Lottie, throw that away.

    Van, please, that line. If I’m ever in a plane crash survival scenario that lasts many months and I begin going insane and we all eat the corpse of our friend like a pack of animals and I don’t remember it, please no one tell me I ate the face. Just tell me I ate the calf or something, god why.

    • That’s a good point that not much time has passed in the wild–makes sense since the creators said they had five (I think?) seasons mapped out. They’re pacing themselves! (And this show better not get cancelled before we get all 5!)

  31. I can absolutely see Jeff wearing a driver’s cap he bought at Tarpley, Thompson & Company, dipping candles, and insisting on eating at the Kings Arms Tavern. Who can I petition for a spin-off series of just Jeff going to historical tourist spots?

    Melanie Lynskey’s face acting after The Monologue was absolutely mesmerizing and haunting. I could feel her violent desire, and all the energy needed to not give into it. Give her all the awards.

  32. Oh! Re. the dripping sound Mari is hearing… could that be connected to the moment in S1 when Mari runs out of the cabin shrieking that something fell down her shirt? We haven’t gotten a ton of Mari development yet, but I’m wondering if she has her own special connection to the supernatural happenings in the cabin in particular. Maybe she’s not the burgeoning, already-confident prophetess-witch Lottie is, but she still seems damn intuitive in her own right.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!