“Yellowjackets” Episode 204 Recap: Survival Games

Here we are! Yellowjackets 204 recap! “Old Wounds” was written by Julia Bicknell and Liz Phang and directed by Scott Winant. As always, your theories, speculations, deep dives on symbolism, etc. are very welcome in the comments, where I’m an active participant! I really do consider the comments sections on these recaps to be supplementary texts to the recap itself, so even if you don’t want to hop in yourself, reading them is rewarding! You can backread past recaps and their comments sections, which to me sounds like the perfect way to pass time before the next episode of Yellowjackets 💫 Okay, let’s jump in!


First and foremost, we must address a very fun aesthetic detail in this episode: the theme song! It’s the usual song “No Return,” but in this main title sequence, it’s covered by 90s icon Alanis Morissette, whose song “Uninvited” is also featured in season one. It’s a slight but perceptible shift, Alanis’ rendition a little more aching and haunting than the original while still preserving that sense of rage and turmoil. I love it as a one-off stunt! Alanis’ penchant for visceral, angry, emotional gut-punchy lyrics and sounds fits very well in this universe.

“Old Wounds” really does feel like a transitional episode for this season of Yellowjackets. With the exception of two big character reveals at the end of the episode, not a ton happens. But characters are in motion, Taissa quite literally spending the entire episode traveling to a specific place, Misty traveling with Walter to a new place, Nat and Lottie in both timelines moving into a new space with each other that isn’t trust or understanding but something of a turning point and a clear line drawn between them, Shauna entering into a new relationship with Callie built on radical honesty. Everyone’s reopening the titular old wounds and creating new ones in the process.

Let’s start with Misty and Walter actually, because I’ve only really touched on them briefly in previous recaps and I have a new fun theory I want to bat around. Misty and Walter road trip out to the Catskills in pursuit of the purple cult, not yet knowing Lottie’s connection to it. On the way, Walter tells Misty she can put on some music and pulls out a bunch of cassette tapes featuring showtunes. Misty, reasonably, concludes he’s a Yellowjackets Fanboy, given the 90s nostalgia of the tapes and the fact that showtunes are Misty’s favorite. But Walter shoots this down, saying he of course knows about the Yellowjackets stuff but also doesn’t care about it.

“That was like 30 years ago,” Walter says. “Twenty five,” Misty interjects abruptly, which I laughed at, because for someone putting up a huge act that she’s annoyed that he’s a Yellowjackets freak, she sure does enjoy the Yellowjacket spotlight. Whereas for other characters that time was formative in a traumatic way, I think for Misty it was formative in an empowering way.

Walter, who I do not trust for reasons I’m about to lay out, says he just happens to love musicals. SURE, WALTER! Misty pretends she doesn’t care much about musicals, too, which we know is a lie. They put on music from Evita, and then in a very good transition, we jump back to the past and see Misty and Crystal singing Evita together in the cabin, to the apparent annoyance of everyone else.

Musical banter aside, something Walter says stands out in this car scene. Misty has been trying to get ahold of Taissa and Shauna still, and both are ignoring her calls. She’s also determined to save Nat from whatever fate has befallen her. Walter takes all this in and says: “It’s good to have a friend that’s relentlessly got your back.” Could this be a hint at Walter’s own motivations? Could Walter be protecting a friend by trying to get closer to Misty? An obvious explanation would be that he knew Adam Martin, hence his deep-dive on Adam theories and questioning of Misty’s downvoting. But wouldn’t that also mean Walter’s showing his hand too much by poking around about Adam explicitly?

What if Walter knew Jessica Roberts? In the comments of last week’s recap, someone pointed out that in the season premiere there was a thread on the Citizen Detective forums that read: “The Parsippany Poisoner — what are the cops missing?” This reasonably sounds like it could be about Misty’s poisoning of Jessica Roberts. We learn in this episode that Walter is independently wealthy — a multi-millionaire in fact — due to a settlement with a construction company whose faulty scaffolding led to an accident resulting in a metal plate in his head. Jessica Roberts’ clientele were primarily wealthy people trying to cover up their own messes or expose the messes of their enemies. Even though Walter seemingly prefers to do his own sleuthing, it does seem like he’d be more likely to know or be friendly with someone like Jessica Roberts over moody artist boy Adam, right?

In any case, we know Walter is after Misty for something. He cast himself as the Moriarty to her Sherlock last episode, suggesting rather baldly that he has diabolical intentions. Then, in “Old Wounds”, there’s another hint at his intended dynamic with her. After a bit of a wild goose chase trying to track down the cult, Walter insists they should check into a bed and breakfast for the night and reconvene in the morning. A split-screen sequence shows Misty and Walter going through their separate rooms, placing the TV remote in plastic bags, inspecting TVs, lightbulbs, and phones for any evidence of tampering. They’re equally paranoid, equally alert. Indeed, the sequence seems like it’s largely intended to show how similar these two are.

an iphone displaying "birds of the tropics" and an iphone displaying "kitty sounds"

And that’s why one key difference between them stands out starkly. It’s quick, but near the end of the montage. We see what they each like to put on their phones before bed: Misty sleeps to bird sounds, and Walter sleeps to cat sounds. She’s the prey; he’s the predator. We’ve never really seen Misty go up against a formidable foe. Jessica Roberts thought she could out-maneuver Misty, but she didn’t take Misty seriously as a threat, playing into a lot of assumptions about how Misty looks and moves through the world. But Yellowjackets consistently makes it clear that plenty of people are capable of violence and destruction — from teenage girls to Jersey housewives. Walter is moving at the same speed as Misty, his whole bumbling nerdy weirdo thing not necessarily an act but also not at odds with his more nefarious underpinnings, much like Misty is genuinely this quirky little freak who can also kill.

Taissa scowls at Taissa in Yellowjackets

any time I see any kind of doppelgänger on screen, my first instinct is to wish they would make out with each other — can anyone tell me if this is a uniquely “me” thing or if you also suffer from this unwell affliction????????

Speaking of Jessica Roberts, who I miss dearly for the sheer reason that she was scary and hot, a possessed Taissa breaks into her apartment to rifle through the files she collected on the Yellowjackets at Taissa’s request last season. She pulls a file we can reasonably assume is for Van, the scene playing out in a fractured, nightmarish way with no dialogue, Taissa split in two, her sleepwalking self clearly in control, scowling, almost taunting the helpless Taissa. Even though Sammy called this version of Taissa “The Bad One” last season and we know just the kinds of disturbing things sleepwalking Taissa gets up to (RIP Biscuit), I’ve been avoiding calling these bifurcated identities Good Taissa and Bad Taissa, because I think this show rarely deals in cut and dried moral dichotomies like that. If it ever gets confusing which version of Taissa I’m writing about, that’s probably intentional! Sometimes, the lines are blurred on the show, too.

An Interlude: DID WE JUST GET CONFIRMATION THAT JESSICA ROBERTS WAS GAY? Because in that fractured Taissa sequence, which uses a staticky television device kind of like the one used when Ben was flashing back to Paul, she looks at a photo on the wall of Jessica Roberts with another woman who has har hand wrapped around her face and appears to be wearing a wedding ring. Another picture that’s less in focus shows the two of them with a guy wearing winter gear and smiling for the camera. Jessica always pinged for me, but also Rekha Sharma played the character as hot and mysterious, and sometimes that just automatically registers as gay for me personally (I call this the Kalinda Sharma Effect: Sexy&Cryptic = GAY).

a framed photo of Jessica Roberts and an unspecified woman

Taissa wakes up in a car without gas, having seemingly driven for a while. She gets out and keeps walking, like she’s being pulled toward something. A truck driver picks her up on the side of the road, says he voted for her, and jumps to clarify when Taissa picks up a pen on the floor of his truck and it turns out to be a tip n strip novelty pen. The moment feels, briefly, ominous, but Taissa dispels it with a joke.

Meanwhile, Teen Taissa is engaging in controlled sleepwalking sessions under the supervision of Van. Tai has been finding trees marked with the symbol in her sleep, and Van has been mapping them out on top of Nat’s thorough hunting maps. She thinks they should talk to Lottie, but Taissa is still a skeptic. It’s undeniable that something strange is happening to her, but does she really need Lottie’s guidance and rituals introduced? I think she’s right to think that could make things worse and more out of control for her.

Over in the land of suburban chaos, Shauna has convinced Jeff that a tow company simply found the minivan on the side of the road and returned it, opting not to inform him that she nearly shot a man for…fun? Shauna has moved on from all that, is talking about going to Kohl’s because they’re having a sale and maybe she could get Jeff some of those odor-resistant socks he likes so much. You know, just cute little wifey things. Jeff drops that the cops know about the affair, and why wouldn’t they, because Shauna was running around with her young lover in public places, it’s a small town, people talk. Shauna fires back at him that he was running all over town in a ski mask blackmailing people. They’re slightly different situations given that Shauna might be a murder suspect, but sure Shauna, let’s make a 1:1 comparison about these little dalliances with danger. Also, while I’m not necessarily defending him, Jeff blackmailed them to get out of a tricky situation. Shauna was just sort of doing what she wanted. Callie announces, with no room for question or pushback, that she will be sleeping at Ilana’s again.

We know, of course, that Callie has not been sleeping at Ilana’s. Shauna should really know, too. But alas, Shauna naively thanks Ilana’s mom Michelle for letting her stay over so much when they run into each other in the Kohl’s parking garage. Michelle tells her Callie hasn’t slept at their house in weeks. This sends Shauna on a search party in Callie’s room, where she discovers a condom in a drawer, which perhaps in another family on another show would spark conflict, but these are not the trivial sorts of suburban drama that the Sadecki family deals in, at least not lately. Also tucked in that drawer is the real cause for concern: the fragment of Adam’s burned driver’s license that Callie plucked out of the charcoal grill after Jeff and Shauna once again did a piss-poor job of cleaning up their mess.

Callie and Shauna talking in Yellowjackets 204

“sometimes, when two people really love each other………..it’s okay to eat their flesh, especially if they died of totally natural causes in the wilderness”

Callie is texting with Jay to meet up, still unaware he’s a cop, when Shauna rolls up on her in the minivan and asks her to hop in so they can have some fun. That “fun” consists of Shauna driving Callie out to the middle of nowhere and then confessing to murder. She tells Callie the full truth, even that Adam was not really the blackmailer even though that’s the cover story she used with Tai, Nat, and Misty. The scene is a comedy masterclass by Melanie Lynskey, whose line readings at every turn here both stokes tension and lands laughs. “He’s not a bad person, okay?” Shauna says to Callie about Jeff. “He’s just a bad criminal.”

Callie is confused as to why her dad thought he could blackmail the Yellowjackets, prompting Shauna to say the following:

“Because they did, they” *pause* “we did things out there that” *pause* “we’re really ashamed of and” *pause* “sorry, I know, maybe one day I can talk to you about it but for now, can that just be enough?”

I’m emphasizing the pauses, because I am struck by the intention and caution in Shauna’s wording here. She says “they” before she adjusts to “we,” which could just be rooted in general guilt or a sense of wanting to distance herself from her past or could signal an even deeper disconnect. Does Shauna become dissociative in the wilderness? Is her identity as bifurcated as Taissa’s but just in less obvious ways? It’s almost like she’s having to remind herself she was a participant.

Callie promises she won’t tell anyone about what Shauna has just unloaded on her, but she also doesn’t come clean about talking about the affair to a stranger. Later, at the Sadecki household, Jeff tells Shauna he’s trying to get over the affair and take the high road but maybe he’s not totally over it, and for that he’s sorry. Oh, Jeff! I do love how Jeff and Shauna are more focused on the affair and its aftermath than, you know, murder. Their domestic chaos is a blended smoothie of regular conflict (affair, lies, sexual dissatisfaction, poor communication) and operatic conflict (murder, covering up murder, blackmail, a sordid past that involves ritualistic killing, a shared dead person in common, and a prior baby’s unknown fate). Shauna says she thinks they’re going to be okay, all of them, the whole family. Jeff is slightly confused by this, so Shauna clarifies: She told Callie everything.

Jeff, understandably, is like uhhhhhh what? He’s horrified that Shauna would make their daughter their accomplice. It’s their one job as parents to protect her. Right on cue, Callie enters and confesses to her father that she has been lying about going to Ilana’s and has been drinking in a park with a friend (again, she neglects to share her secret of an older man to whom she has been spilling her guts). She offers to help with dinner and starts chopping cucumbers. It’d be a quaint image of suburban domesticity if not for all the shit beneath it. Seeing Callie wield a kitchen knife hits different when we know about her mother’s aptitude for knife skills. What exactly has Callie inherited from Shauna?

While Jeff might see Shauna’s decision to tell Callie the truth as poor judgement, I think Shauna knows exactly what she’s doing. Telling Callie is an insurance policy. Even though Jeff has indeed proven his loyalty over and over and was very willing to go to prison for her no questions asked last season, he now can’t turn on Shauna, because doing so would mean putting Callie at risk, too. I think Shauna relishes the idea of them all caught up in this mess — her mess — together, like one big happy crime family. After all, we saw Shauna’s true colors last episode. Shout out to the commenters who pointed out that after Shauna gets back into her minivan in “Digestif,” her stomach literally gurgles. She was hungry for a kill, and she leaves unsatisfied. Telling Callie isn’t a lapse in judgement or an impulsive decision, even if Shauna stumbles her way through that confession. It’s all very calculated. Jeff and Callie are bound to her, and she holds all the power.

Over on the compound, Nat is lurking around corners, clearly trying to out-maneuver Lottie. She asks for the keys to the car so she can join Lisa in taking honey to the farmer’s market. Lottie either doesn’t think Nat is manipulating her or is unthreatened by it; she hands over the keys easily. In the car, Nat questions Lisa about the nature of the cult, but Lisa remains unfazed. She explains that they all wear purple because of Charlotte’s philosophy that everyone should be on equal ground since some people on the compound come from a lot of money and many do not (this explanation, of course, obscures the fact that Lottie meanwhile wears bright orange). Lisa insists there are no rules at the compound, but when they pull up to Lisa’s mom’s house because Lisa wants to visit her pet fish, she asks Nat not to tell anyone. “Oh, so no rules but you can’t see your family?” Nat asks. Lisa specifies that Lottie merely discourages contact. Again, from Nat’s perspective it’s easy to see these explanations as the fodder of Lottie’s manipulations.

Adult Nat lurking in a doorframe in Yellowjackets

I saw an interview with Juliette Lewis where she said she is trying to move like a cat this season, and I can see it! but I also maintain that she often moves her body like there are no bones in it

We learn a bit more about Lisa and her background from her visit with her mother, who is clearly against her participation in Lottie’s compound and wants her to come home. She asks if she has been taking her medication, and Lisa says she has had help weaning off of it. We learn that she is depressed and has attempted suicide in the past, and her mother seems to hold this against her as proof she’s not able to care for a goldfish. Nat snaps at her mother, but Lisa tells her she’s making it worse. In the car, Lisa apologizes, and Nat spits out her goldfish into a cup of water. “Here’s your fucking fish,” she says, cementing a new dynamic between the two that isn’t quite friendship but also is a far cry from stab-you-in-the-face-with-a-forkship.

They go to a bar together with the fish, and Nat says fuck what her mom says. Lisa says she was there when she had a gun to her head. “Do you still wanna kill yourself?” she asks. “Not today,” Nat says, pushing a shot of whiskey away. It’s a genuine moment of connection between the two. They aren’t downplaying their shared history of suicidal thoughts and attempts by speaking so plainly. They’re actually supporting themselves and each other in ways Lisa’s mother fails. They’re holding onto their agency. Nat might not be at the compound to intentionally heal, but she’s clearly getting something out of this relationship with Lisa if she’s able to push the booze away.

Adult Lottie in Yellowjackets

sorry to be homosexual, but the way Lottie puts on this sweater and pulls her braid out from the neckline? sensual

Back at the compound, Adult Lottie is having visions. Last episode, we saw her see the bloody death of her bees. Near the end of “Old Wounds,” we see her flip through affirmation cards written by her acolytes and then come across a Queen card with its eyes scratched out. Last season, a deck without Queens in the cabin was referenced. This season, we know the girls use a deck of cards to determine chores. The eyeless Queen appears in the main title sequence this year, and now it’s haunting Lottie. She closes her eyes and the card turns back into an affirmation. But when she flips it to another, the Queen shows back up. Is this another old wound? Does the fact that the Queen doesn’t have eyes somehow connect Lottie and Taissa, who we know follows a “the one without eyes”?

But a key piece of information about these visions comes earlier in the episode, when Lottie meets with a psychiatrist. Only, it isn’t her regular psychiatrist, who is on sabbatical. “Interim psychiatrist” immediately had my horror senses tingling. I don’t think I trust this woman, and I don’t think Lottie does, either. Lottie wants to up her meds, because she wants to stop these visions, which she hasn’t had in decades, from happening. She says:

“The last time it was, became something different, can’t happen again. You know I’ve worked really hard, and I’ve built something that’s, that’s helping people. It’s helping me. Can’t go back.”

Here, we get a sense that Lottie very much does not want these visions. Not only that, but she doesn’t believe in them. When the psychiatrist — AGAIN, WHO I DO NOT TRUST — suggests that she reframe the way she thinks of these visions and try to unpack their meaning, Lottie is confused by the insinuation. “Nothing,” she says when asked what they could mean. “Because they’re not real.”

I’ve been having some difficulty this season squaring Adult Lottie with her teen self. It’s true that none of the teen and adult versions of each character are in perfect alignment, and in fact, they’re all morphed to the point where overlaying them on top of each other doesn’t create a straightforward doubling but rather a composite image. They aren’t just grown up versions of their younger selves; they’ve been changed, in all the usual ways that people change as they grow up but also in extreme ways due to this traumatic experience during formative years. I’m less interested in the places the teen and adults touch but rather where they diverge, as with teen Shauna being scared of the unknown last episode but adult Shauna making it explicit that she gets off on uncertainty. Still, I’ve been tripping over how to place the two Lotties in conversation. “Old Wounds” though provides the most clues as to her arc by establishing her adult relationship with her prophetic abilities.

I have a growing suspicion that one of Lottie’s visions goes horribly wrong. She tends to have visions that portend death or near-death experiences, and so far we’ve mostly seen her be right about her instincts. Adult Lottie’s attitude about her visions contrasts Teen Lottie’s though, and I also can’t stop thinking about the fact that Lottie doesn’t speak for a while after she gets out of the wilderness. Here, though, is where I’m also hazy on Adult Lottie’s motivations. Hearing Lisa talk to Nat, it does sound like Lottie holds a lot of power over her acolytes and gives them an illusion of freedom. She may also be helping them in some ways, but it comes at a cost, and she also preserves control — it’s not an equal relationship. If it were, she’d be wearing purple, too. Teen Lottie, similarly, has a hold on certain followers — only back then, she wasn’t always asking for it, just going with the flow. Adult Lottie’s determination to help other people seems somewhat grounded in guilt and not merely just a power trip, though I think those things go hand in hand. Whatever happened before, she doesn’t want to happen again. And yet, she might be living in the past even more than Misty does. The compound’s structures mimic the wilderness. Great meaning is given to rituals; everyone has to dress the same; contact with the outside world is limited. Lottie has found a way to construct a version of the wilderness in which she’s in control (and also that she profits from).

a Queen card with the eyes scratched out

Which brings us to the central conflict in “Old Wounds,” which also adds some background to the relationship between Nat and Lottie as their adult selves. Back at the cabin, Teen Nat and Teen Lottie end up in a one-on-one wilderness survival match that, by my reading, is born out of not just the growing divide between Lottie Faithfuls and Lottie Skeptics in the cabin but also just boredom. Like, a one-on-one hunting match? That tbh sounds fun for 90s teens who haven’t had access to electricity or a mall in many months. And isn’t that also what the most disturbing part about “pit girl” from the pilot is? It seems like a game.

After Ben makes a comment about the girls eating him, Mari tries to come for him. When Nat stops her, Mari then turns on Nat and says it’s her fault they’re all hungry. She thinks Nat’s refusal to come to Lottie’s blessings is why Nat hasn’t found any game to hunt. Mari, Akilah, and Van are all in agreement that Lottie is to thank for the dead birds, which we learn they indeed have eaten without getting sick. Mari takes it so far as to say Lottie told the birds to hit the roof.

Nat suggests the contest. Both she and Lottie will go out and hunt, and whoever brings back the most food wins. Misty lays out the rules, saying they’re not allowed to get help and that they have to be back by sundown. Mari insists Lottie doesn’t need a gun, so it goes to Nat. They both head out into the snowy wilderness for what is surely a Bad Idea.

Lottie, with only a knife, approaches a tree with the symbol on it. She touches the symbol. “Fuck me,” she says, and it’s a funny but also unnerving reminder that she’s just a kid who really has no idea what’s going on. She’s making up this shit as she goes, and I don’t think that’s intentional. I don’t think she’s faking anything exactly; I just don’t think she knows what she’s doing any more than any of the rest of them. She might have visions, but she has no control over them, no way to call to her instincts when she needs them, like now. She also cuts her palm and lets her blood fall on the tree trunk altar. We do see Adult Lottie repeat this ritual at the end of the episode, saying: “Can this just be enough? Please?” So maybe Adult Lottie does give more credence to visions and mysticism than her therapy session suggests. She still thinks something requires blood. But she’s also obviously scared of what heading down this path means.

Back to the contest. Nat finds actual animal tracks. They belong to the moose from last episode, which wasn’t a hallucination after all. But the moose is dead, frozen beneath the surface of the rock-solid lake. She breaks the rules of the game to gather others at the cabin in an attempt to hoist and pull the moose out. They try really hard, but they fail. As the moose slips into the depths of the lake, Nat plunges in, too, Travis having to pull her out. It’s a devastating moment. There’s so much weight on Nat’s shoulders as the group’s hunter.

While Nat’s on her wild moose chase, Lottie’s hunt takes a much stranger turn. She comes across Laura Lee’s plane, suddenly in one piece. Leonard the teddybear (RIP) sits on the front seat, and she greets him. Then she opens a hatch at the back of the plane and discovers a tunnel that she lowers herself into, closely resembling the industrial-looking tunnel we’ve seen her navigate before. Until, suddenly, she’s in an elevator.

Its doors open into a 1990s mall.

the Yellowjackets at a mall food court

Nat’s bleached hair in this fantasy sequence makes sense but GOOD GOD CAN SOMEONE TELL ME HOW HER HAIR IS STILL BLEACHED IN THE WOODS

Seeming like part memory and part hypothermia-induced hallucination, the mall scene features Lottie coming across a food court table full of the Yellowjackets, their faces suddenly done up, their winter rags replaced with real clothes. Laura Lee is here, and she got Lottie some Chinese food. They think she looks hungry, cold. Van says she saw a coat for sale at Abercrombie, and Lottie mumbles something about not having a credit card. “When did that ever stop you?” Nat asks. If you recall, Lottie copped to a bit of a shoplifting tendency in season one. Specifically, she would steal clothes from T.J. Maxx and then return them for T.J. Maxx bucks. Here, we see bits of Lottie’s prior life seep in — not just in the sense of the other Yellowjackets’ 90s hair and the mall setting but how this particular shame comes up in the fantasy. She was a rich girl who stole clothes in her pre-crash life; clearly, she is someone with specific control issues.

We don’t have a ton of context for how Lottie functioned in the group of girls prior to the crash; she wasn’t the queen bee like Jackie, but she also seemed popular, hardly an outcast. At the cabin, she’s a divine leader to some, a nuisance to others. Here in the mall sequence, she loses her power. Only Laura Lee seems genuinely interested in helping her; the others seem to be quietly mocking her. This could all just be stemming from regular ass teen girl insecurity, especially since Lottie’s history of mental illness likely makes her especially sensitive to anyone calling her crazy. Indeed, even the characters who support her, like Van, seem to be judging her in this mall sequence. Sometimes when I get lost in the weeds of trying to analyze moments like this, I have to remind myself that it can be as simple as normal high school-level stakes and contexts. Is it possible that Lottie’s desire to be liked for more than just her social status as a rich girl before the crash is at the root of her impulse to want to be seen as a healer, a prophet, someone who can guide others?

What constantly surprised me about the hierarchies of Yellowjackets is that they’re never particularly fixed. The only real sense of order at the cabin is one that’s disorderly. Nat is the hunter, Lottie is the priestess, Shauna is the holder of the knife, but power between them — as well as Tai and Misty — shifts with the wind. Jackie was once a queen bee, but now she has been consumed by all of them; nothing remains of her but disconnected bones. It’s why it’s difficult for me to conceive of a real person behind the costume of the Antler Queen (and, in fact, some have speculated she is not a real presence at all). Lottie is a vision-having, mystical leader who some — like Mari and Akilah — revere. But the mall fantasy also just reduces her to a regular teenage girl who’s insecure and isolated.

Laura Lee snaps Lottie out of the hallucination and back to reality. The other girls eventually go find her in the place where the hunter’s plane used to be, and they bring her back to the cabin, barely conscious. Nat has had her turn warming up in the bathtub with hot water, and she suggests they put Lottie in, too. Then the two have a quiet moment together. Nat blames herself for suggesting the contest. “Good game you fucking loser,” Lottie says, surprising Nat. “You ended up with nil, the same as me,” she says, before adding “good game.” I always love when these flashes of their previous lives as ruthless soccer girlies pop through. Even though it doesn’t explicitly come up frequently, their high school athlete backgrounds are often on my mind. Varsity team sports — and soccer in particular — encourage brutality, competition, mind games. It’s impossible to sever that context from their behaviors in the woods and from the Rubik’s cube of a power struggle they’re constantly locked into out there.

Speaking of fantasy sequences, Ben’s still seeking solace in his mental visitations with Paul. In reality, he tries to read a copy of The Magus, a novel about a schoolteacher on a Greek island who becomes bored and lonely to the point of contemplating suicide and is eventually put through a series of psychological games. ANY OF THAT SOUND FAMILIAR? Ben, maybe you should put that particular book the fuck down.

He does, blessedly, but then he slips into that fantasy space with Paul, and it’s unclear if what we’re watching is a memory or something Ben has constructed in his imagined alternate timeline where he never got on the plane. It doesn’t matter really. Even if it’s a memory, it’s a fantasy. In it, Ben finds a box containing memories of Paul’s past boyfriends and becomes insecure. He doesn’t have a box like that; he just has soccer cleats and trophies. “This is my past, and you Ben are my future,” Paul says. It is, of course, devastating, because right now Ben can’t really seem to imagine a future for himself at all and instead only has his past and a reimagined alternate timeline of a life to cling to. I really like the conversation in the comments last week touching on the fact that in 1996, the fear and stigma of HIV would no doubt be forces in Paul’s life, perhaps making him unable to see a real future for himself as an openly gay man before the wilderness was even a factor. While the episode largely feels like filler and placesetting, Ben’s and Teen Lottie’s respective fantasy sequences are standout moments that break away from the straightforward action of the episode and provide something meatier, if brief. Getting into any character’s head makes for a dizzying and dazzling experience on this show.

Teen Tai hopes to appease Van by helping her search for where she believes the final tree with a symbol should be. Just when they’re about to give up, they see a figure flash by. They chase him down, and it’s Javi, who they bring back to the cabin but who refuses to speak right away. “Lottie knew he was alive, but Taissa knew where he was,” Van says, hoping she can finally prove to Tai and also reveal to the others that Taissa is somehow connected to the wilderness. Again, this draws a connection between Tai and Lottie, bringing me back to that eyeless Queen card Lottie sees and the eyeless figure Tai follows.

Where has Javi been this whole time? His survival seems like an impossibility, and yet there have also been clues that he has been hiding right underneath their noses this entire time. The shit in the piss bucket last episode. Missing meat in this episode. If Javi has been here all along, how and why? Shauna told him to run; if she were secretly helping him hide somewhere, she wouldn’t be so upset about the missing meat. Could Lottie’s “feeling” that he was alive this time have actually been more concrete knowledge? Or was Javi just somehow surviving without direct help, and again, HOW?

Adult Van sips a coffee in Yellowjackets

can’t explain it, but the way Lauren Ambrose sips this coffee is gay — Now That’s What I Call Acting™

Adult Tai finally arrives at her destination at the end of the episode: a video rental store called WHILE YOU WERE STREAMING, run by resident While You Were Sleeping superfan Van. There has been a ton of lead up to their reunion, and for now all we get is this quick tease, a moment of recognition and between the two of them. The adult Yellowjackets have spent much of this season apart, and now some are moving their way back to each other, Misty getting gradually closer to Nat and Lottie, Taissa and Van reunited after what seems like a very long time based on Van’s reaction.

With the exception of Javi and Van both showing up at the end of the episode, it’s a relatively quiet one, the pieces moving around on the board. Several threads are getting closer to touching, and next week marks the halfway point of the season, so that feels right. Between now and then, I’ll be listening to the Alanis cover of the theme song on repeat.


Last Buzz:

  • I could watch a full hour of Walter and Misty arguing about Broadway Opinions.
  • Mari is still hearing a dripping noise, and she tasks Akilah — who is very adorably studying for the SATs — with helping her search for the source. But no one else really hears it, so what’s going on here? Does it have something to do with Javi? Something else?
  • During the search for the drip source, Akilah discovers a mouse and decides to pocket it. This mouse is officially her pal, and I am worried about its fate.
  • I do love this show’s ability to imbue the simplest of objects with horror and suspense, like we see here with the novelty pen (though the tension there quickly dissipates) and the Queen card. Yellowjackets uses its props very well.
  • Nat clearly wants to get into Lottie’s locked cabinet in her office.
  • Read more about the Alanis-ified theme song!
  • All of the Staff Picks at While You Were Streaming sound very fitting: Bound, Mean Girls, Footloose, Trainspotting, Wayne’s World, Into The Wild, Varsity Blues.

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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 652 articles for us.

184 Comments

  1. I was genuinely scared Shauna was about to do something awful to Callie. And I guess ‘telling the truth’ is pretty awful here. But I was also really really touched by what felt like Shauna’s willingness to expose the deepest secret, but asking not to? That Callie let her too. Like. There’s no way Callie should have to deal with anything like this. But also, this felt like really deep and caring trust and honesty? I really am dreading Shauna being revealed as fully manipulating her whole family. I want so hard for them to be okay.

    I realise the whole exchange us arguably just meta framing. They can’t reveal it now, but they want to remind us it’s worse than what we’ve seen. But my word. That scene was tense. And I guess a mirror of the tension and diffusion of Tai’s trucker. Simple honesty counts for a lot sometimes.

    The whole episode was tense though. Not much happening somehow so much worse. And understanding more of Lottie really removes all the simplest versions of the narrative from the table. My god that interim psychiatrist was terrible too. I can see how that advice is valid in some situations (and ironically perhaps mirrors Lottie’s advice we see filtered through Lisa, though I can’t remember it to write it!) But it feels like this professional has not read those notes thoroughly. It’s a very dangerous thing for Lottie to hear, and I see it leading directly to that wound reopening at the end.

    God I’m filled with dread for where this show is going. Incredible all round

    • totally!!!! I think even if the psychiatrist’s intentions aren’t purposefully nefarious, I just don’t trust her from the standpoint of that framing/advice being SO HARMFUL. it’s a simple but upsetting truth that there are a lot of bad mental health professionals out there, and this seems like it could be an instance of that!!!!

      • Yes! really REALLY harmful suggestion – which she blows past Lottie’s obvious distress about her experiences to make. Maybe explore the distress to figure out what could be helpful? And even before that she’s just like, rude about Lottie coming in off-schedule and requesting a change to her meds. It doesn’t make sense, because given how many valid reasons there are that a person might bump up a therapy session/meds consultation, there is no reason to be suspicious. Often mental health professionals as characters are poorly written (whether the writers seem to want to portray them as good or bad… they’re usually bad). This one is super shitty and oppositional and causing harm in a way that seems overt (on the writers part if not the psychiatrist’s).

    • I also thought that moment between Shauna and Callie was really tender – at least that’s where Shauna was coming from, like I think she did it for exactly the reason she told Jeff later – she knew Callie had figured most of it out and she wanted to be honest with her. Callie seemed visibly freaked out, as you would, but she’s clearly grateful later on when she bops into the kitchen to be helpful and chop a cucumber for the first time in her life.

      another thing I loved about that scene was I very much could sense Sophie Nélisse in Melanie’s portrayal of Shauna, where she let herself be vulnerable and ashamed and small and sad, but not yet willing to reveal the extent of the wilderness horrors. It reminded me of teen Shauna when Tai found her Jackie doll and how small and embarrassed she was. :(

    • I was 100 per cent sure Shauna drove Callie to the spot where she buried Adam’s torso. Like, Shauna was going to tell her the WHOLE truth so help her God. 😂

      Poor, poor Callie. That’s such a huge load to bear for such a young person. I cant wait to see what the consequences of this decision will have on the family in the future, yikes!

    • THIS. Also, it makes so much sense for Shauna to be better able to rationalize a murder now than anything else. It’s almost the afterthought of what she’s admitting to where Callie is concerned. I think this is why she weights Jeff’s blackmail the way she does too. Her sense of perspective is skewed (like so many others on this show, but we are often led to believe less so).

      Should I feel bad about feeling more “that’s my girl”? about Callie now. Probably.

  2. Sadie pointed out to me as we were watching last night that of course there is no way to prove Jackie has been eaten because they picked the meat from her bones, so there won’t be a ton of knife marks or anything. Fun! Which also explains why Jackie’s parents are still friendly with Shauna and everything. They probably do believe she just died in the crash.

    I loved everything you had to say about Walter / Misty in this! All the details! Two Aquarians playing off each other is also, super electric. I need more Aqua x Aqua casting in my life. Also…are hotel TV remotes really that dirty?

    • re: bone marks (I already hate this sentence I’m about to type), Shauna did in fact use a knife on Jackie – she made the first cut as a signal of approval to the others, and presumably kept using it to make more cuts…

      I wonder if there even is an investigation though? maybe come spring they properly cremate all the evidence? we don’t know how they get rescued and it’s such a remote area that it could be a situation like the bodies on Mount Everest that have been there for decades because it’s too difficult logistically to move them. IDK! but either way I agree Jackie’s parents do not know that Shauna ate their daughter lol

    • oh you’re right! writing jackie out of the wilderness entirely would be the safest way to divert any questions about both her body and her death. well, except that the other crash victims do have bodies/graves. though laura lee doesn’t. would anyone believe she flew a plane that exploded over the lake?? and then, could jeff have thought jackie died in the crash too until reading the journals? i feel like jeff is seriously under-reacting to what must have been in those journals. which i guess is consistent with how he’s more concerned about shauna sleeping with adam than killing him.

  3. as i told you this morning when i was still in bed, i think it’s possible that lottie’s new psychiatrist is actually a hallucination, especially considering how bad the advice was! but also this whole conversation between us might have been a hallucination because i was still very much half asleep

      • I’m definitely at a point where I’m questioning reality every other frame. This is interesting though because that’s the thought I had about Elijah Wood. When he said the line about having a friend that it’ll have your back and with the show tunes box it briefly flashed back to Misty and Crystal in the wilderness I thought about how both Crystal and Elijah Wood popped up right when Misty was feeling ostracized and alone (and in both timelines she had thought she’d just got in with the yellow jackets only to have them turn in her again). And then in each timeline a friend for Misty that only really interacts with Misty pops up and completely gets her with show tunes in toe. So immediately I went to a place of these are Misty’s hallucinations and copping mechanism. But I do think the Moriarty thing is too big of a tell and there has to be more to it.

        I guess i must have had enough terrible therapists (and seen enough on tv) that that didn’t faze me as much but I like the thought. I was definitely screaming at my tv at her advice.

        • Yeah! I think Crystal is definitely an hallucination but I’m still not sure about Elijah Wood character, I’m like 50/50. Just because in financial and terms I don’t think he could be on another season. So he dies or he doesn’t exist at all.

          • oh that’s interesting. it was bugging me that in the s2 premiere, crystal talked to misty about how she sings to help herself poop, and suggests this for misty, and then misty responds that she can’t sing. but in season 1, misty tells coach that she does this when she’s helping him go to the bathroom and then proceeds to sing to coach as he protests. it seemed so idiosyncratic for the writers to forget / overlook. i’ll be interested to look back at whether others interact with crystal.

    • there was just something off about that whole scene, right? terrible advice aside, what’s the point of the show being like “this isn’t Lottie’s usual psychiatrist”? it’s an inconvenience that would happen IRL, but weird to write it into a TV show unless it’s important!

      • they could be setting up a serious regression for lottie, in part due to the way the interim psychiatrist mismanages her care (like if they’re trying to say that she was stable all this time while being treated by her main doc who may have known how to respond to her current crisis in a way that helped center her, but in his absence she has to see this new one and so…)

  4. Mari and the dripping sound – what is up with that!? I keep thinking back to the shot of Jackie’s cannibalized hand dripping blood at the beginning of the last episode. Is there a connection somehow between the dripping sound and dripping blood? Is Mari hearing blood dripping from somewhere in the cabin?

  5. Okay WHAT IF the tunnel from Lottie’s dream is the access point to some sort of bunker that is in the woods? And Javi has been hiding in it for the last few months? I’m thinking either abandoned government facility or just paranoid dead guy’s cold war bunker.

  6. I kind of loved this episode even though not that much technically happened! from my notes:

    – the way Natalie was lurking behind Lottie’s door like a horror movie villain was SO FUNNY. why is Juliette Lewis so funny when she’s just standing there

    – I’m obsessed with the dynamic between adult Lottie and Natalie. “where you going dressed like that?” asdfghjk why is every single interaction between them so flirtatious

    – in another example, instead of Lottie simply giving Nat the keys, she HOLDS AND STROKES HER HANDS [Chang from Community saying “ha! gayyyyy” gif]

    – I like to try and predict what Natalie is going to do in any given situation but it’s fruitless because even if I’m right in the general sense, the way she does it is always so unhinged, e.g. smuggling a goldfish in her mouth

    – teen Van getting so frustrated with Tai not seeing the symbol on the map and Tai resolutely being like “this is a bunch of random points. you can make any kind of shape from these 🙂” – I am Tai!

    – Mari is not beating the pit girl allegations! “this proves Lottie was right” mere seconds after Javi returns, after being presumed dead

    – (SPOILER FOR SUCCESSION) I do want to say that I really like Alexa Barajas! she’s so pretty and she’s doing a great job at playing the cuntiest character on TV now that Logan Roy is dead

    – I knew we would get Lauren Ambrose baited this episode but the 10 seconds she was on screen were so magical I don’t even care 🥲 that’s my big sister, that’s my wife, and also that’s mother

    – Simone Kessell is actively breaking my heart for Lottie every single episode. everyone’s convinced she’s a messiah or a lying murderer but baby girl just wants to stop seeing stuff that isn’t there! when she was bleeding, terrified and alone at her lil altar saying “can this just be enough…please?” I just want to give her a hug 🥺

    BONUS GAY THOUGHT:

    – I also badly want to kiss Simone on the mouth, which is making it very difficult to see her character objectively

  7. – By my count that’s two Yellowjackets that have come back from the dead to comfort their homoerotic besties.
    – I see everybody talking about the Alanis Morissette version of the song, but what about the version that’s playing when Lottie is at the mall?
    – It would be very disappointing if Lottie isn’t the Antler Queen. They’ve given so many allusions to it. And this show isn’t the type of Mystery Box Swerve type of show. It’s more of a “It’s the journey, not the destination” type.
    – Callie is going to accidentally save the family from the murder investigation. All Shauna has to do is have Callie go back to the detective in the park again, and then have a cop arrest “the pedophile” that is preying on her underage daughter and plying her with alcohol.

    • “By my count that’s two Yellowjackets that have come back from the dead to comfort their homoerotic besties.” SO TRU!!!!

      And yeah on the journey not the destination point, I do agree, but I’m genuinely fascinated by the fact that I have read compelling arguments for several AQ possibilities. At this point, I can see it being Lottie, Shauna, Taissa, Dead Jackie (as a hallucination), EVEN NAT!!! Because I’ve read theories about each, and they all track not just on a narrative level but an emotional one, too. And I don’t think that’s the show trying to be GOTCHYA or an overly complicated mystery box; I think it’s just genuinely complex storytelling!

  8. I wanted to make a separate comment about Jeff because I feel like everyone loves him a lot all of a sudden because he made a joke about book club or whatever, and he stuck up for his wife at brunch, but I just don’t need to be seeing this much of him personally! like, he’s OK in small doses, but he’s not a main meal. I’m here for the girlies!

    and sort of related but also separately, it makes me irate that he keeps bringing up Shauna’s affair and sulking about it, when, A) she also murdered that guy, which is maybe the more pressing issue, and B) Jeff, you blackmailed your wife’s friends because you couldn’t manage your furniture store properly and got involved with loan sharks like an idiot!

    I think the blackmail thing is not discussed enough. to me it’s so unforgivable that he threatened to release information that could ruin these women’s lives, information he had no right to even read to begin with, about the darkest, most traumatic thing that happened to them when they were literal children. that’s worse than Shauna having an affair, I think (which, after all, she only went all in on because she thought he was having one). it’s not worse than murder, though, which I think we all agree on!

      • My new theory is that the AQ is not Lottie, but is the group of non-believers who think that they need to eat people to survive. Lottie/Mari’s group wants to sit around and wait for blessings. Then ultimately all of Lottie’s group except for Lottie herself die as a result (either being hunted or starved, and maybe Van survived bc Tai sneaks her food) and that’s why Lottie has dedicated herself to a cult where she helps people. This could also be why they attribute their survival to Nat, because she’s the one who pushed most strongly to hunt and not believe Lottie.

        Also, there’s no way Shauna could even carry to term, right? And even if she does, I would imagine the calorie intake needed to produce consistent breast milk would be so high that the baby would starve.

        I have questions about the theory that Jeff would know about the baby because he read her journals. Wasn’t Shauna’s journal from that time actually in Jackie’s childhood bedroom? What if Jeff thinks Jackie had been pregnant, not Shauna

        • I don’t think it will play out quite like this, because who are the Lottie stans in the wilderness thus far? Mari (and is Akilah by extension? unclear), Van, and both Travis and Misty to some extent. The JV to date have only told us they think our mains are basically nuts. We’d have to see the lines totally change so that it’s Mari and Akilah and the JV following Lottie (and yeah Van either way). They all already participated in eating Jackie with the others, though I suppose these lines/groups could change and some could draw the line at you know, actually killing one and other for food. I do like the idea that those who are believing that Lottie will conjure gifts from the wilderness are not going to have that ultimately end up in their favor…
          And I do think that Lottie’s shock and silence could be because following her visions results in a tragedy or near starvation or almost interferes with their survival or rescue, and the fact that they attribute their survival/rescue to Nat does also fit with this, but in a different way.

  9. I think it was a kind of a slower episode but definitely not an uneventful one! Though I definitely yelled, “HOW MUCH BEAR MEAT DID YOU STEAL, JAVI!?” when I saw how tall he’s gotten. (my theory is he was probably hiding under the cabin).

    Other thoughts:
    *Elijah Wood did an interview with Vulture last week where he basically said we should not trust Walter, so your instincts are spot-on there. Maybe he’s one of Adam’s family members? If I remember right, the news report at the end of last season said like, concerned friends and family reported him missing.

    *I am increasingly convinced that it’s Lottie’s followers who all get eaten in the woods. Also, if we’re drawing on Greek mythology here, I would say Lottie is a prophetess, not a priestess, and typically nothing good happens to those in Greek myths. Like at best you get locked up in a cave somewhere and forced to give prophecies on demand. At worst, you’re Cassandra.

    *I don’t think Shauna told Callie the truth just to be manipulative! I think she told her the truth because she finally realized they are the same person!

    *I fully screamed at how gay Van’s outfit is.

    *I also LOVED the Walter/Misty side by side.

    • Can we talk about what the teams are? The Contest with Nat and Lottie showed a real clear split between Team Skeptic and Team Supernatural. As they were getting ready to leave, Mari, Van and Akilah helped Lottie get dressed in warmer clothes. Also on that side were Misty and Crystal. Travis seemed kind of neutral, but he did help Nat get ready. On that side were Shauna, Tai, and Ben. Also the two “new” redshirts, Melissa (white girl with blond hair) and Gen (Asian girl who was foaming at the mouth in one of Ben’s hallucinations). They seem pretty evenly split but I guess we’ll see what happens after the fallout from Javi’s return.

  10. DOES JEFF KNOW ABOUT THE WILDERNESS BABY?!

    At first when he started his speech about protecting Callie I thought maybe he did, but then when he emphasized she was their only child and didn’t like qualify it or retract it or anything and Shauna was just looking at him like -.- I thought maybe he didn’t. But he read her journals! Did she not even write about that part??

      • She did write about it (at least the pregnancy) that’s how Jackie found out about it.

        When they were talking about their family, ’the 3 of us’ I fully expected them to correct themselves and say 4 of us. I was also waiting for a reveal that Lisa was adopted, oh well

        I love that in 1 episode, they focused so much attention on cassette and VHS tapes – in the *current* timeline, as a child of the 80s, it really cracked me up. And the choice to place ‘Mean Girls – In the Wild’ together in Van’s store, chef’s kiss to the prop department

        • No, Shauna told Jackie directly about the pregnancy, because Jackie knew Shauna was hiding something. But then Shauna told Jackie that Randy was the father, and gave a detail about the timing which let Jackie know that Shauna was lying. That’s why Jackie then went and read the journal, and found out about Shauna sleeping with Jeff.

          Shauna may well have been more careful about what she wrote down in her journal after the experience of Jackie reading it. Or she might have just run out of space after a while. She’d been expecting to be gone for like a week or two, not 19 months. She wouldn’t have brought enough journals with her to cover that time span, especially since we’ve seen her writing and she doesn’t write in tiny size.

    • A thing I’ve been thinking about is that Jeff says her read Shauna’s journals, and we watched her burn some journals, but we don’t know if he read ALL the journals, or if she didn’t hide some of what she wrote in them. Like how much does Jeff actually know? We don’t really know, do we?

  11. The whole deal with the trucker was weird. The pen interaction certainly, but also: if I saw one of my state senators bedraggled on the side of the highway I would not have any idea who they were. And it’s not even like he just stopped to pick up a hitchhiker and THEN recognized her, he seemed to know who she was from jump. So he clocked her as “State Senator Taissa Turner, who I voted for” from the cab of a semi while speeding down the highway? Her whole journey had a sort of dreamlike quality to it, so was that what it was? Are we just inside Tai’s dreams now? Even Van’s set up seemed dreamlike in that it all seemed frozen where Tai (presumably) last knew her: same favorite movie, (maybe) same career goal (owning your own video store is classic 90s teen dream job/future, and is a career that’s pretty unlikely In These Modern Times). I feel like before there was speculation that Van didn’t make it+ Lauren Ambrose is all in Tai’s head, and I think today’s episode made that sound more likely to me.

  12. I think Walter is a cannibal who is “hunting” Misty because he wants to eat another cannibal. The Hannibal facemask, Sweeney Todd reference, and meat heavy diet made me think of this. He knows about the Yellowjackets and suspects what they did in the wild. Eating another cannibal would be a higher form of cannibalism. The comparison to Moriarty/Holmes implies they are not on the same team as well.

  13. -adult Lottie seems very self aware of how bad things got in the woods! Also her regular psych being Dr. Graham feels like maybe a Hannibal reference- will Graham and the people eating?
    -Team manager Misty explains the rules of course. And could this be the start of our “warring tribes?” The nod as they head off into the woods feels very head of army general shit
    -the moose being real was truly one of the biggest surprises lol
    -Callie’s pink room with the outdated framed prince Harry meme feels very frozen in time!
    -maple syrup and MUSTARD??? UNHINGED
    -Mouse pooped in the pee bucket mystery solved
    -the 14th Gilly I cry! Also Juliette’s face before the fish spit killed me
    -Mari cares about the rules more than food but I think Akila cares more about Mari than either. What is their pre crash dynamic?
    -Lottie knowing Leonard’s name was a great detail and then Laura Lee saving her again!!!
    -the split screen hotel room is such great character work and i also feel like such a slob when i go to a hotel i just check the sheets for visible gross and carry on
    -Shauna seems so much more vibrant this episode! Calling out the missing meat and caring for Nat post-swim
    -Also the Nat Lottie interaction in the tub is? So sweet? maybe ‘good game you fucking loser’ can be our always
    -where is the palm scar from all these blood sacrifices but also adult Lottie being terrified as she does it! she is not in any kind of puppetmaster mastermind role here she’s along for the ride
    -JAVI LIVES but that kid is so fucked up lol they don’t even have a therapist in the woods
    -the ever shifting power dynamics in the cabin are FASCINATING mean girl Mari cutting off tag along Misty when she tries to start a cheer for Lottie?
    -ADULT VAN
    -“we only have one kid” well. Kinda true Jeff
    -trainspotting as a staff pick is actually foreshadowing the fact that the girls find train tracks leading out of the woods and have a 1930s hobo caricature escape with one of those handcart seesaw things
    -so glad that all our girlies are very unwell and hallucinate dead people all the time because it means great actors like Jane Widdop and Ella Purnell can pop back in! However this does not assuage my fear of imagined!Adult Van

    • Re: Jeff and the “one kid” comment – he read Shauna’s journals so he has to at least know she was pregnant in the woods, even if she never wrote about the birth or what happened to the baby. So why is it never mentioned!?!?!? Did the baby somehow make it out of the woods so Jeff knows what happened to it and they just don’t mention it because it was so traumatic? But I also feel like there’s no way the baby survived. This is the “unknown” that drives me the most crazy. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BABY.

      • someone pointed out that if wilderness baby never came back, jeff may not really ‘count’ it as his in terms of parenting which i thought was really interesting! would love a jeff trauma episode where he has to reckon with 1) the girlfriend he cheated on died in the woods 2) the girl he cheated with had his baby in the woods 3) the baby didn’t come back. and also where in the timeline he read these journals! because if it was before marrying shauna, there is more depth to explore with this man than we realized

  14. Young Van’s scars seemed to have healed a whole lot in just a couple of weeks.

    Of course, the protagonists already know who came out of the woods alive, what happened to Shauna’s baby, etc. The plots’ dependence upon withholding from the audience makes me wonder if the story can be sustained.

    Does the present day world know nothing about the cannibalism? Weren’t the remains of the feasts found in the general recovery of the crash victims?

    • I hope the manage to keep things going, I think even if we do know who ultimately lives, I’m just as invested in the varied ways they had to fight to survive, and how that affected the adults they became.
      And I think we need to just accept that story-wise and production-wise, giving Van deep, swollen and probably infected face wounds for months on end isn’t something anyone wants to deal with.

  15. Okay what is it with all the weird animals in this neck of the woods?
    -Elk (deer?) with worm gut (haruspicy is divination reading the guts of animals, common in many cultures but specifically the Greo-Roman)
    -Bear that somehow lets a teenage girl kill it with a hunting knife. In one stroke. (so much to read into that)
    -White moose that’s not an albino (to be continued)
    -Suicidal starlings that shouldn’t be that far north that late in the winter (also continued)
    -Mouse that has white spots (yes?)! And lets a teen girl just pick it up after talking at it like a disney princess. Is the mouse Akilah’s version of a dead friend hallucination? That’s all I’ve got on the mangy looking mouse

    I know starlings were last episode but I just watched both today so forgive me but: the Romans used starlings in their augury and used the shapes and flights of flocks to interpret messages from the gods. Starlings are also excellent mimics. They’re also an invasive species in the north american continent (introduced just because some rich guy in 1800s wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in shakespeare, save that for trivia night).

    White animals have a long mythological history in so many cultures where they are tied to ghosts, spirits, and deities. Which would feel heavy handed except this moose has functioned in a nearly opposite way (unless we assume something up there wants the girls to die). One reading could be it’s attack on the plane/Nat leading to it’s death. But then, I also wonder what Nat’s “failure” to both shoot and scavenge it portends. It certainly seems to have, at least briefly, brought her and Lottie together.

    But on a…practical? note the moose not being albino was bothering me so I looked up white moose and here are some fun white moose facts:

    “The little town of Foleyet and Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park seem to be at the centre of this White Moose Forest. Folks local to this area have seen them, surprisingly, while driving along Highway 101. The Ivanhoe Lake park superintendent has seen them.” (https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/the-white-moose-forest/)

    White non-albino moose are “so rare and spiritually significant that they hold specific protections in Canada where normal moose might otherwise be hunted. Interestingly, there are two types of ‘white moose’. Some are born with a genetic variation that isn’t albinism, but simply the presence of white fur. This occurs more often when a small population lives in geographic isolation for a period of time.” https://a-z-animals.com/blog/impossibly-rare-white-moose-looks-straight-from-lord-of-the-rings/

    I love how ambiguous this show is about good/bad/friend/foe/everything. We really got Lottie from her own point of view this episode and I really enjoyed that but also interested to see her from another point of view again and to learn more. There was more coherency between young Lottie and adult Lottie, which makes sense.

    Also love how we are watching everyone in the wilderness turn into unreliable narrators. And in the “present” timeline, really. Whatever Shauna’s reasons for telling Callie, her reason for telling Jeff she told Callie is so clear in the way she says it. Melanie Lynskey is so good performing someone who is trying to act. I love every scene where she lies. Which is most.

    Anyone else find all Shauna’s interactions with Jeff just a bit painfully reminiscent of being a kid in the 90s and your parents going through “a rough patch” and trying to pretend like they weren’t and everything was fine because divorce was obviously off the table even though all of your friends’ parents were divorced?

    I don’t think the baby lives very long, if at all. But the girls are already using the baby as an excuse/reason for their more frightening behavior and in an attempt to manipulate (maybe not intentionally) each other and change the power balance. A miscarriage or still birth or baby that is dying from the day it’s born could spur them to a lot of things. I know they said there’s no baby eating but if you’ve read any greek/roman myths you know babies rarely have a good time. They’re always being eaten or killed by their parents or flung off mountains or left to die.

    Ben is making me so sad and I’ve been worried about him since he came out to his furry forest friends. Do we think he kills himself?

    • Honestly I assumed the white moose was meant to evoke Moby Dick w/ the ramming into the plane, esp as it happened while Nat was preparing to bury a body. From memory of the true story that Moby Dick is based on, I imagine that it’s meant to foreshadow the fact they’d need to start killing for meat soon, since eventually the crew had to do the same.

    • I think there are a lot of little inconsistencies in this show that aren’t intentional/significant, more a result of ignorance or the reality of filming a show. I’ve noticed it especially with the animals. I also was like, what the hell is up with that mottled friendly mouse? No wild mouse would look or behave that way. But they would have only been able to film that scene with a friendly pet mouse.
      There were a lot of things in season 1 around killing animals that made me raise an eyebrow. They don’t just drop to the ground motionless after death, at least not in my experience, the remaining electricity in the muscles makes them move, sometimes a bit, sometimes a lot! It can be quite dangerous with a large animal. Also, they took a dead deer back to camp and then cut its throat – I’m *pretty* sure you can’t bleed an animal once it’s well and truly dead and the heart has stopped pumping blood around. I’m only experienced in farm slaughter though, not hunting. Any hunters here?

  16. I keep wondering if the figure without eyes is a vision (dad joke) of Javi at some point.

    I also keep remembering back to Travis’s suicide note that said tell Nat she was right – this drives me INSANE to think about the further the series goes. Also they make reference to Nat saving them. I thought maybe the moose was gonna be that payoff, so what is it??

    The two characters I have a hard time with the teen/adult version is Nat. It’s because Juliette Lewis is such a weirdo (in the BEST possible way) and moves like rubber – young Nat isn’t like that and doesn’t have some of the expressions so I keep wondering where it’s coming from. I don’t hate it!!

    • oh see i think teen & adult nat are among the most similar of the pairs – like voice and speech patterns they do really well, though i agree they move their bodies differently in a way that is just intrinsic. (and well of all the pairs, nat and misty work for me, and i suspect van but we haven’t seen enough, taissa with some exceptions, shauna i go back and forth on, and lottie is the hardest for me to reconcile).

    • Nah, J Lewis is doing a fantastic job of acting like someone who has been very high for many many years, which teen Nat hadn’t been. I know people who have spent so much time on coke that they still sound coked up even years after getting sober

  17. Kayla, I also feel strongly that one of Lottie’s premonitions “goes wrong,” and I wonder if it has to do with Shauna’s baby?

    AQ: Increasingly I feel this isn’t Lottie. It seems like the more the other believers talk up her abilities, the more reticent or even fearful she seems. Tai similarly seems fearful and reticent about what is happening to her. With both, it’s like something moving through them, something they are at some deep/subconscious level aware of/tuned into but can’t control.

    The way the kaleidoscope of character and dynamics shifts on this show I’m sure in two weeks I’ll have a different opinion, but right now the AQ seems most likely to be Shauna? I also could get on board with the VF proposal of Jackie as AQ, at least looming within in the group psychology.

    I love all the quieter work this episode does. I’m really interested to see where Nat and Lisa’s dynamic goes (and my heart is already tender for Nat with Travis, as the blowback from Javi’s return surely has to unfold. Also, I can’t imagine Javi would have shit in the pee bucket – why? it feels so bold for someone trying to evade detection – but I feel like that is going to come back. That kind of detail doesn’t get mentioned without reason.)

    I sense that Tai has come to solicit Van’s help, to try to stop / understand what is happening to her in these dissociative states, and I can’t wait to see more of their dynamic/learn from present-day Van and Tai more about the wilderness or after their return.

  18. My weekly Canada comment is that I was bummed they didn’t get the moose but I also knew they wouldn’t, because moose are HUGE. Like prehistorically so.

    How do I know? Because I grew up around them, one charged me as a kid, and my dad had a taxidermied one in our house. Shiras Moose, common in the area the girls crashed, can get up to 1000 lbs and be over 6 feet tall at shoulder height. SHOULDER HEIGHT. They’re massive.

    And as a last note: Moose meat is also incredibly delicious. They eat mainly water borne plants and move slowly, so their meat is tender and sweet. Moose burgers were a staple in my house growing up, and I once made a moose roast that my friend thinks induced her labor.

    This is where I can share information like this now. You’re welcome, America.

    • Thank you for the moose facts! I have one thought on the moose topic as I see a couple of comments here saying that the moose that Nat saw by the plane was actually real since they’ve now found the same moose in the ice. Can it really be the same moose? How did it get in the ice if it was already winter/ice before it die? Did it die on the ice and the heat from its body made it melt a bit through the ice? Hmm

  19. As someone else mentioned, I am very worried that Van didn’t survive and it’s all in T’s mind. She enters the (dead)? Reporters house in her somewhat fugue state and we never get proof that she gets out of it. When she gets in with the trucker her vision goes weird for a second but then is fine. The fact that Van would run a video rental store with a lot of 1996 (though not all) classics is very unrealistic as a modern day business model. Then of course, Van’s adult self is not mentioned in season 1 (though neither is Lottie and she clearly is real). We have yet to have a point of view from adult Van’s side which I think would cement her as not a figment of the imagination. I love the actresses who play both young and adult Van and hope she made but won’t be convinced until we get that first person from her side.

    – also re Walter, I know he’s bad but a part of me just wants Misty to have someone that loves her and is her match romantically.

    – I could care less about the reporter and hope she doesn’t come back.

    – I’m not sure which vibe I like more Nat and Lottie or Nat and goldfish cult girl. Juliette Lewis is great.

    – for a split second I thought Adult Shauna was going to do something bad to Callie (which is nuts but shows how good an actor Melanie is), I hope Callie continues to get along with her parents because between this role and Night Agent I’m tired of her playing “daughter who wants to bring her parents down”

    • oooo yes there was a certain quality to that brief moment in the video store that does recall Ben’s Paul fantasies — a very 90s look with muted but varied colors…interesting theory! much to consider! could Taissa have similarly constructed this fantasy to preserve and reimagine her first queer love just like Ben does with Paul?!?!

      I personally think Walter’s obvious antagonism simmering beneath the surface does not preclude him from also being a love interest lol! the thing about Moriarty/Sherlock is that yes they are mortal enemies but also….a tremendous amount of sexual tension/latent homoerotic vibes.

      yes I think the show wanted us to believe shauna might do something bad to callie tbh! even though that would not have been as fitting as what actually happens, but yeah I think we’re supposed to be scared of shauna following last week’s episode and also find her unpredictable.

    • Not only is it a bad business model in general, the punny name wouldn’t make sense unless she opened it post 2015! What bank would give you a loan for a brick and morter location AND inventory for a video rental store in 2015?!

  20. This episode felt, more so I think than any yet, like being in a dream state throughout. The direction is so good at making you question whether any moment is fully real.
    I keep coming back to the way Jackie died – how she was somewhat just tossed out for being the ‘weakest of the pack’. So much of the conflict surrounding her before she became a popsicle was about how she wasn’t contributing or working as hard as everyone else for the goal of their survival. That fear of vulnerability has been present in all of the characters since the crash, certainly, but it feels more visceral and present since they crossed that line into cannibalism.
    It’s hard to ignore the fact that even before the wilderness, none of Lottie’s teammates knew about her schizophrenia/visions/mental health issues. It seems to me that Lottie, when she is fully present, just knows she’s in too deep. Her visions, or the belief that the others’ have in them, keep her safe and make her valuable to the group in a way the others can’t be. The same way that Nat being the hunter keeps her valuable and protected.
    I think when Coach Ben snapped at Mari ‘what are you going to do, eat me?’ or something like that it vocalised what everyone in that cabin has been thinking since the shift at the end of episode two. All of them are so afraid of being the next weakest, being deemed invaluable like Jackie.
    Jackie’s death was such an interesting deconstruction of the final girl trope. I don’t think its an accident that there was so much discussion of her virginity in Season 1. If this were traditional horror, Jackie would get to live, she’s the pure, beautiful, popular natural blonde. I’m excited to see them try and pull apart the ways in which horror movies, particularly the 80s and 90s horror our characters would have been consuming, lie to us about who survives and what we would be willing to do to make sure it was us.
    Van’s reappearance was A) hot and B) so interesting because it feels already like she has separated herself so purposefully from her history and from the rest of the yellowjackets. Tai, Shauna, Misty and Nat continued to circle eachothers’ lives, stayed in the town where it all began. Even Lottie seems to be trying to recreate the wilderness and take back her power over it in some fucked up way – although I agree, adult Lottie’s arc doesn’t feel yet like it’s connecting with the girl we know from the woods.
    I really hope that as we get to know adult van we don’t run into the same problems. Liv Hewson is giving a masterful (and hot) performance this season, and I’ll be interested to see how Lauren Ambrose connects her version to the character we already have such deep affection for. The younger actors who started the series trying to infuse their performances with impressions of these established, fantastic actors had an easier job in a lot of ways. The cadence and the mannerisms of powerhouses with careers longer than the younger actors lifetimes are easier to study, and are already familiar to the audience before watching even a second of the show. Trying to step into this character that Liv Hewson has crafted so brilliantly is going to be a big ask – although based just on the way she was standing and the way she sipped that coffee, I have no doubt Lauren Ambrose is up to the task.
    I feel like we all knew in some way that Javi had to return, the signs have all been there and it seems like the only way at this point to pull at the threads of Nat in the woods, whose strength feels simultaneously unwavering and completely performative. Losing her tether in travis could unravel her in ways that I don’t think we can quite imagine yet.
    I don’t know quite what to do with Walter yet, although I am loving watching Elijah Wood and Christina Ricci have the time of their lives bouncing off each other. I could definitely see him being connected to Jessica Roberts like you suggested, but I can’t shake the feeling that he maybe has something to do with teen Misty’s sudden new friend, hence the singing in the cabin as we transition back to that timeline from the car. The girl in the woods feels like a mirror image of Misty in much the same way they’re establishing with Walter.
    Incredible recap as always, Kayla. I look forward to digging into your thoughts after watching almost as much as the episodes themselves.
    Buzz Buzz!

  21. – I’m really questioning if Javi is real. This is partially because he hasn’t spoken yet which I get is for watch-the-next-episode dramatic effect. But this whole time I’ve thought that’s what Nat was right about – that Javi didn’t make it. And Adult Lottie emphatically saying the visions were not real increase my suspicion.

    – speaking of didn’t make it. I do not think the baby makes it out of the woods. I don’t think he gets eaten either but I can’t imagine the show continuing with a baby hanging about and that would explain that Jeff knows the baby dies as it will be recorded in Shaunas journals.

    • I think Javi is real. The whole sequence seemed too widespread, everyone seeing him, and mass hallucination feels improbable (particularly since they had given up on searching for him. If it were just Travis seeing him, I’d feel differently). But I have to believe his ability to have survived is perhaps linked to the strange occurrences/the Wilderness (in a way that I suspect may drive Travis towards Lottie, and away from Nat – particularly given her former lie), and/or I think his survival will be linked in with how they survive the winter (or eventually make their way out of the forest).

      • Yea – the probability of a mass hallucination is slim based on the show so far – ok so here’s my other theory.
        – Javi has been “hiding” in some shadow realm that opened during the botched sacrifice of Travis in Season 1 and then Lottie reopened when she spilled blood in this episode.
        So maybe he did poop in the bucket, eat the meat, and untie Taissa. And the others just didn’t see him because the Wilderness trapped him on some other plane.
        I get it that’s very far fetched but I don’t think he could really have stuck around and hidden from them otherwise. It really struck me how he was running away from Van and Tai – like he was prey.

  22. I was thinking more this morning about how great it is that YJ is able to take the time and pace the narrative such that they can have an entire episode like this, that is doing a lot of work and moving important stories and characters along, but also doesn’t have big set piece scene, or fast-paced unfolding action.

    And you know what makes that possible? 12 full-length episodes AND the renewal already in hand (even before season 2 came out) of at least one more season. Can you imagine what the writers on A League of Their Own could do with that kind of time and ability to plan, pace, and take their time???

  23. Ughhh I am so sad. I had so much written in a comment on my phone then it all went away. I shall now try to rewrite from my laptop… this is serious business.

    – Tai’s story arc is by far the most interesting to me at the moment. Having the two versions of her leaves me with so many questions. I LOVE that one version is cynical, did everything the “right” way despite her trauma. The other one is woo woo af. I’m convinced this is why the other tai in the mirror told her to find Van. Van is presumably the only person who has spent any time with the other Tai, asking her questions, learning more about her movements, what she does and when she does it. Even ‘normal’ Tai doesn’t have the information about sleepy-time Tai.

    – For the reason above, I think Van is definitely real. I agree the whole Tai sequence is dream-like but I think that is to sort of to confuse us all on which Tai is doing what. She clearly fell asleep at the wheel when the car was also on empty. She wakes up being super confused.

    – Onto Walter. I am desperate to see Walter and Nat interact. And I’m hoping there becomes a sort of “I know her better than you do,” vibe between them. Misty would love nothing more than to have people fight over her.

    – Nat and the fish. Amazing.

    – Adult Lottie felt much more reminiscent of teen Lottie in this episode to me. Teen Lottie is just fucking winging it. But it is a really strange and familiar feeling I get when you ‘know’ something is out there and you’re just trying to follow it wherever it leads you. (Evangelical Christian background…. need I say more?) I love that in this episode, Lottie felt unsure and scared in both timelines when dealing with the unexplainable.

    – I’m VERY curious about how Callie will process/handle everything. She is, afterall, the spawn of two really fucked up people. Let’s not forget, Jeff was hanging at home while his girlfriend and the girl he was sleeping with are in a plane crash and gone for over a year and then learns that the girlfriend is dead. He has to have some trauma there too. Back to Callie, like why didn’t either of the parents have further questions for her when she came into the kitchen to cut cucumber? I would have SO MANY questions. But then again, this isn’t a family that really wants to dig into any sort of feelings at all.

    – The moose loss was so sad and inevitable.

    – I would have never put together any of the animal imagery other than AQ if I didn’t read this thread. I love it so much to think about each of the animals we’ve seen having some sort of symbolism attached to a specific character.

    – Javi being alive…. they made a reference to a lantern missing in an earlier season 2 episode, then the bear meat, but otherwise, has there been any other “missing” thing from the cabin that would suggest Javi has been around surviving off of the group?

    – And why did Javi stay away so long? Did he just assume that Travis was dead and never came back to the cabin? I have a hard time believing he stayed away. Maybe he saw everyone eating Jackie and that just solidified it for him?

    – I still hold that Shauna was either pregnant or just had the baby bump post birth in the wedding photo of her and Jeff when Adam was over and they were about to have sex. I need to go back and freeze frame it but now that I’m talking about it, I’d need to consider the timeline between when she would have had the baby, and how long they continued to be in the woods.

    – That’s all I’ve got for now… we have been watching each episode twice… so I may have more ideas/questions after the second watching! :)

    • I don’t think Shauna was pregnant at her wedding. I went back to s1 to check, and the wedding picture is in the pilot (at 40:51). Her wedding dress has a fitted bodice+ full skirt, and looks a little ill-fitting, which is where the illusion of the bump comes from without the freeze frame. My guess would be that it was her mom’s/Jeff’s mom’s dress. Honestly GOD FORBID, probably it’s Jackie’s mom’s dress, which is why it’s not altered to fit her – that’s the exact sort of backhanded offer we’d expect from her.

    • I loved seeing so much more of adult Tai this episode and what it’s like to be the two versions from her perspective. Good call on Van being more informed on this than maybe even Taissa herself.
      There was a line this season about how long Shauna and Jeff have been married, practically since the rescue, and while another pregnancy would seem the best explanation for that, it wouldn’t fit with Callie’s age.

  24. My new theory is that the AQ is not Lottie, but is the group of non-believers who think that they need to eat people to survive. Lottie/Mari’s group wants to sit around and wait for blessings. Then ultimately all of Lottie’s group except for Lottie herself die as a result (either being hunted or starved, and maybe Van survived bc Tai sneaks her food) and that’s why Lottie has dedicated herself to a cult where she helps people. This could also be why they attribute their survival to Nat, because she’s the one who pushed most strongly to hunt and not believe Lottie.

    Also, there’s no way Shauna could even carry to term, right? And even if she does, I would imagine the calorie intake needed to produce consistent breast milk would be so high that the baby would starve.

    I have questions about the theory that Jeff would know about the baby because he read her journals. Wasn’t Shauna’s journal from that time actually in Jackie’s childhood bedroom? What if Jeff thinks Jackie had been pregnant, not Shauna

  25. two little-but-maybe-significant things during the scene of teen lottie in the mall:

    – the clothes tags AND the ‘name’ tag of the sales assistant that talks to lottie says ‘expressiv’ on it, does anyone know what that could mean? is it just a clothes brand because it feels like it probably means something extra?

    – i think it’s really interesting how lottie saw laura lee as (one of the) main figure(s) around the table in that vision/near death experience(?), seemingly in more of a positive light, who had the power to push her back into reality, compared to how lottie sees laura lee again in the barn with travis as an adult (all scary lookin’ and maybe partly responsible for his death).

    also just as a sidenote i really felt for teen lottie and tai in this episode even more because it felt like some of the other yj’s were reeeally projecting onto them and they are both kind of being used at this point as much as they are going through real things themselves.

  26. I’m really looking forward to Nat and Misty’s reunion, because while I 100% loved this episode I realized that it’s been a long time since any of our main 4 adults interacted, and they have such great chemistry.

    I’m also SO curious how the Misty/Lottie reunion will go, because I don’t feel like we have many clues yet about how their relationship evolved and/or ended in the woods.

  27. Haven’t read all the comments yet, but there is clearly a hot spring here, right? Odd mossy tree? Patches of melted snow and green grass? It’s like another show (I won’t spoil) that had a hot spring where someone found food, until she ate it all.

      • yes there are! i mean idk where in canada they are, but assuming they crashed in the west near seattle, there are hot springs (okay wait i forgot about them taking an alternate flight path and then went on a whole thing about how would they even manage to reach any of canada if not like, toronto area, or crash north of their destination coming from south. but apparently they reroute to avoid a storm system, and probably fly over canada the whole time, and they allegedly crash in BC, and yes it looks like there are lots of hot springs). anyway, maybe javi figured this out and that’s how he’s all warm and shit. no but seriously, i hope the yj catch on to the hot springs because that must be what the signs they’re noticing are pointing to.

          • oh i had not thought of that. so far the more compelling theories i’ve come across about the symbols are that they pertain to a map out of the wilderness (that one was very complicated and interesting and linked back to trigonometry and rachel goldman). another one is that the symbols are a map of the underground tunnels and that instead of hot springs, the melting signs are from some human-made heating system from the bunker/tunnels, and that this is where javi has been.

  28. hey Kayla what’s the policy here for discussing stuff that’s in the season 2 trailer / promos for upcoming episodes / cast interviews? none of it is major spoiler-y but I know some people want to go in blind, and others (like me) love to freeze frame on every single trailer to try and predict stuff!

    • i think maybe just give a quick heads up about what you’re specifically going to discuss before discussing it and then that’s cool! because yeah I think a lot of those things are fair game, especially because everyone is usually careful about what they say in interviews so they’re not super spoilery. but yeah just give a heads up in the comment!

  29. i am late to the recap and the discourse this week.
    gotta love turning around to have predictions from last week (such as, that the characters will never definitively know javi’s fate) IMMEDIATELY proven wrong (but hey i at least clocked before the premiere that jackie would be the first eaten).
    not to victim blame, but i really wanted them to make that hole bigger before trying to pull up the moose. that was tragic. in this same vein, i wanted lottie not to slash open her palm while trying to survive and hunt outside on this day in the freezing wilderness.
    i loooove walter and i have a lot of ideas spinning but no cohesive theory about what he’s up to (i like the idea that he’s an antagonist of some kind but isn’t actually after them on legal grounds). a fellow traveler? and he does seem to want to sleep with misty regardless?
    back to javi, lottie nearly freezes to death and javi is like fine running around in barely a sweater out there? hmmmm. i like the ideas others put out that he’s been in the upsidedown, and somehow the idea that he’s simply been hiding out under/around the cabin and sneaking food is even creepier. though it makes more sense to me that he’s been traumatized by his time away if he’s truly been away, in the tunnels or the upsidedown or somewhere. it doesn’t entirely line up that he was so transformed by the group’s one night shroom-induced frenzy that he decided from then to avoid detection indefinitely.
    this episode definitely played with what’s real and what’s imagined. i didn’t think present van was imagined but then i don’t understand how a video store exists today.
    finally, mari was super obnoxious all episode. and it had me thinking that i cannot recall anything she’s said or done that hasn’t been obnoxious. but it was nice to see nat & lottie being sweet to each other, finally, and new aquila is seeming more like OG aquila which is cool. they should let her keep the mouse like it’s so smol anyway (if there really is a mouse and everyone is not just having imaginary friends).

        • i know the only thing i could muster was that the weight of the moose broke the ice, the moose fell in, the ice refroze over them. but then since it happened in a spot that was deep, why didn’t the moose sink? because the water would have had to take time to refreeze in order to trap the moose at the surface? i’m not clear on the mechanics, at least as shown in yj. because THEN i actually learned on reddit that this is like a thing in alaska, moose falling in frozen lakes, and getting frozen in lakes.

          • someone also went into a whole thing about moose being buoyancy neutral and that’s why they’re such good swimmers, and how the team should have tied it up more securely and then continued to chop up the surface ice and dragged it to shallow waters because it wouldn’t be heavy when submerged. but like, how would they know all that?

      • i knowwww i loved this theory too when i came across it above.
        i don’t exactly want walter to be a serial killer, because i like him, but i do like it for the show and for misty i suppose (well i don’t like it for misty if his plan is to eat her, but if his plan were to team up with her, that’d be cool).

  30. I think the dripping sound may be thawing or another source of water, which could explain the visible grass around certain trees. Snow often melts faster under trees, especially on moist ground. Underground springs could cause that. The new mouse cast member seems to have appeared from nowhere and I wonder if there’s a bunker or other space under the cabin, possibly with a stream running through it.

    (And, for the record, video stores still exist.)

  31. I’m late to this but I want to note that (as Jakob says above) video stores DO still exist! My city has one. It stocks a lot of queer movies that I can’t find anywhere else (i.e. streaming)! I assume its success hinges on being a local institution and a treasure trove of niche movies. Maybe Van is doing the same thing!

  32. I know all signs point to javi hiding for the last 2 months (or in a shifted dimension? Like the mall scene?) but I’d be really excited if it becomes a “came back wrong” narrative. Like he was brought back in return for Lottie’s near-death experience/blood sacrifice?

    And, in that context, would that wrap into the eventual rescue? What exactly would Lottie need to sacrifice to save them all?

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