“Yellowjackets” Episode 208 Recap: Hunting Season

Hello and welcome to the Yellowjackets 208 recap, which is somehow the penultimate recap of the season ahhhhhh!!!! Yes, in case you didn’t get the memo, this second season is only nine episodes long, which means next week is the FINALE. I am simultaneously read and NOT READY. How are we doing folks? This was another very intense episode! Revisit past recaps if you need a refresher! Also, my brilliant friend Caroline wrote about how television quality was in a steep decline well before the writers strike began (and for reasons that are precisely why writers are striking!) and how truly original shows like Yellowjackets stand out in an ocean of spinoffs, sequels, prequels, and IP grabs. “It Chooses” was written by Sarah L. Thompson and Liz Phang and directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer (a fav, who also directed “Doomcoming” and “”Friends, Romans, Countrymen”). Let’s bite into it.

Ever since Shauna’s first primal scream as she began going into labor at the end of “Two Truths and a Lie”, Yellowjackets hasn’t turned the volume down at all, ratcheting it up with little by way of reprieve. The season started with a simmer, and even though early on we did cross that cannibalism line, things brewed in relatively incremental fashion. But then the season came to a boil with “Qui” and just…kept going! And not in a way that pushes credibility or becomes exhausting; its wild screams remain immersive, penetrating, thrilling. I can only describe the pacing of this back half of the season as intensely feral. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a comprehensive and full sensory depiction of starvation on screen. Reality isn’t just unraveling for the young Yellowjackets; it’s bleeding out.

We open on the direct aftermath of Shauna brutalizing Lottie. Misty and Mari help her up to the attic to convalesce. Her face is swollen and misshapen, her eyes barely able to open. She can’t walk or stand on her own. When she pees into a dish with Misty and Mari’s help, it comes out bloody. Mari makes a typical Mari comment about the pee making her eyes water, and Misty snaps back that she needs to stop being a brat, that Lottie needs them, that she should make herself useful and go empty the pee dish. Mari shuts up quickly, her submissive reaction to Misty almost unnerving in its unfamiliarity. No mean girl retort, no eyeroll or scoff. She descends the ladder, and then things get even more upsetting. She drops the pee dish, and it spills onto the floor. Mari weeps on the ladder. It’s a small but evocative shift in a character we’re used to seeing as tough, mean, direct. It’s just a small glimpse of what’s to come: a deterioration of the physical and mental states of the young Yellowjackets that is so much more acute than we’ve ever seen it before.

In the attic, Lottie’s vision blurs — a visual device used throughout the episode and from multiple characters’ points of view, including Travis and Tai, implying that everyone is experiencing physical symptoms of starvation — and she repeats the words from last episode about needing Shauna to let out her pain on her. The Lottie/Shauna dynamic is fascinating, because it almost functions on two opposing levels: Lottie cannibalizes Shauna’s trauma by becoming her punching bag, but she also offers herself up to be cannibalized, sacrificing her body as fuel for Shauna. They are tethered in this undeniable way, which is particularly potent because of their relatively casual relationship leading up to this point. Shauna and Lottie were never all that close; now their fates feel entwined. Lottie’s blurred vision gives way to actual visions, little imagery pops like we see often throughout the series as characters recall fraught, painful, violent moments chaotically, their minds operating like a retro View-Master — from hell. I’ll return to Lottie’s memory/vision burst here at the end of the recap.

The more striking departure from reality comes next when Akilah talks to her pocket mouse. Talking to a pocket mouse is already somewhat of a cry for help, but things take a much more morbid turn than I anticipated. No, she doesn’t eat the mouse. It’s worse. Tai approaches Akilah while she’s having an animated conversation with the little guy, and Akilah snaps at her that she can’t touch him. “He’s mine,” she shouts. We see Tai’s face morph. Again, Yellowjackets does something I love in horror, which is show us the character reacting to something terrifying before showing us the actual terrifying thing. It’s that moment of us seeing them see something — and how well the actor sells it — that disturbs far more than the frightening thing itself. To gaze at another person’s fear is such an intimate and destabilizing experience. (For me, it’s not unlike seeing how a lover looks at you, but we cannot devolve into my personal associations between that which is horny and that which is horror in this recap — there isn’t time!)

“That thing is dead, Akilah,” Tai says. And sure enough, Akilah looks and sees she’s holding not a cute little fluffy mouse but a wretched old corpse of one. Nia Sondaya has been having a great season after replacing season one’s Keeya King as Akilah, but this is her true standout moment. In just a quick moment in which she’s completely at loss for words, she completely and incisively conveys Akilah’s shock, disturbance, and confusion about what has just transpired. There’s so much heartbreak sutured to the horror in this episode.

Akilah looks horrified in Yellowjackets 208

Over at Camp Lottie — I know the compound has a real name, but just be happy I’m not calling it Camp Mommi or Camp Lottie Can Cult Lead Me To Hell Any Day — Shauna rejoins the group and tells them what Jeff has just told her on the phone. She couches it slightly, as Van and Lottie don’t know who Adam Martin is or what she, Tai, Nat, and Misty did as a little bonding activity last season (hacking up a dead man and burying him in a park).

I love how Van clocks almost immediately that Tai is lying to her, right after she asks who Adam is and Tai says just some guy Shauna knew. The group goes outside, Shauna determined to return home to fix the problems of her own making, and Van pushes Tai, asks why they’re panicking. “You’re lying to me,” she accuses Tai, “and I wanna know why.” When she doesn’t get the answers she seeks, Van snatches Shauna’s minivan keys and throws them into the darkness. Throughout this episode, we see little glimpses of their teen selves, impulsive and moody. It’s effective! There’s a sense they’re all constantly at odds with the ways their youths were interrupted, paradoxically requiring them to grow up too quickly as kids and then become stunted as adults. Sometimes they’re such teens as adults. Shauna, for example, responds to Lottie saying that they must all meet at the sharing shack post haste to discuss these sensitive matters — including the fact that Shauna told Jeff about Adam — with a whiny “noooooo” and a churlish “do we have to?”

This scene excellently transitions from Adult Van walking in the dark to Teen Van in the cabin. We’re getting more and more of these 1:1 transitions between different versions of the characters, a device used sparingly in season one and now more frequently, which lets the timelines bleed together with an almost dreamlike quality rather than punchy flashback beats. It makes sense: The more time the adult Yellowjackets spend together as a group, the more they’re drawn to the past themselves, the narratives overlapping more amorphously. It’s confusing for them, riveting for us. Teen Van is watching Teen Tai, who is attempting to do dishes, her vision blurring until she looks up and sees Other Tai in the reflection of the windowpane, her two selves bifurcated, one smiling, one scared. She turns and sees Other Tai standing in front of her, still smiling that twisted smile. Van helps her snap out of it.

This implies that Lottie being out of commission has caused Taissa’s dissociative possession to return. I think this, among other things, is why we see Tai eager to participate in the episode’s ending ritual (we’ll get there, but now is too soon!) to save Lottie. She has already been starting to buy into some of the more mystic beliefs certain members of the group — her girlfriend included — share. This might have pushed her over the edge. When she was participating in Lottie’s rituals, Other Tai went away. Now Lottie’s fighting for her life, and Other Tai has returned. Even though I don’t think there’s an actual mystical connection to be made here, I do believe in the power of, well, belief. Taissa’s extreme hunger and her feelings of not wanting to lose Lottie have brought back Other Tai. Has she slept since Shauna went into labor? If Tai strongly believes Lottie is the reason Other Tai has gone away, it tracks that Other Tai would appear the second Tai feels she can’t depend on Lottie.

Other Tai smiles at Tai in a snowy windowpane in Yellowjackets 208

Van finds a belt in Jackie’s luggage and brings it to Stew Chef Mari, suggesting that perhaps because it’s leather it could provide some protein. “Belt soup,” Mari jokes, her old self briefly returning but albeit with considerably less spunk. Shauna grabs a blanket for Lottie, and JV Gen snarks at her. Melissa also wants to know why Shauna suddenly cares about Lottie, but Van nips this in the bud and suggests Shauna and Lottie were both just doing what had to be done. Van has fully bought into the myth of the wilderness and of Lottie, but she does so with an austerity that isn’t as present in some of the other characters, like Mari and the JV players’ devotion, which almost has a stubborn girlishness to it.

Nat and Ben, a pairing I always enjoy, are off to the side for all this, and Nat tells him that perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Lottie died. If she’s in a lot of pain, Ben says, then yeah it would probably be for the best. But this doesn’t really seem like what Nat meant, and I also don’t think she means Lottie could become a meal if she dies. Nat seems largely concerned with Lottie’s hold over the group and its growing implications. She tells Ben she feels as if Lottie has some weird control over everyone, and he says she sounds jealous, which…is a weird thing to say! It seems out-of-character for Ben and also just doesn’t really make sense. (Though I do think a potential Lottie/Nat/Travis love triangle is being spun, so if the line is merely in service of that…it’s a stretch!) Nat dismisses his weird assertion and says even Javi has “gone to the dark side.” Ben scoffs at this and says Javi doesn’t even talk, which in my humble opinion only further proves Nat’s theory but whatever, Ben is clearly checked out at this point. Nat mentions she saw Javi praying in front of one of the symbol trees, and Ben is intrigued. He goes rifling through a suitcase where Javi has been stuffing his art and finds a bunch of animal sketches as well as an intricate tree. Could these hold the answer to where Javi has been? Ben’s on the case.

Akilah, still reeling from the discovery her pet is a clump of bones, contemplates eating him, which unfortunately for me conjures the KFC ad campaign for boneless wings (“YOU ATE THE BONES?!”). She can’t bring herself to do it. Mari, tending to her belt soup, hears the phantom dripping sound she has been hearing all season. This time, Tai hears it, perhaps more in tune with certain things as a result of Other Tai resurfacing. I think it has been incredibly effective that there has not been a drip sound effect any time this comes up. We’re not let into Mari’s (or Tai’s) POV here, and it makes it way more frightening that we can’t hear what they supposedly can, especially when it comes to the payoff of Mari walking toward the far cabin wall and suddenly seeing it oozing blood. It’s such a quick and simple horror image, but it’s instantly arresting.

She stumbles backward screaming, and Van steadies her. “It’s the hunger, Mari,” Van says. “It’s just the hunger.” Even Van, a strong believer in The Wilderness, has a rational explanation for Mari seeing bleeding walls. This episode really drives home just how starving the characters are and just how much it’s affecting them on a cellular level. Blurred vision, hallucinations, delirium, paranoia, the low but constant hum of dread and fear. Often characters speak of an ambiguous “it” on this show. The episode itself is called “It Chooses.” A lot of times, “it” is used by characters to refer to the wilderness, and indeed when Adult Lottie speaks the titular line in this episode, I think that’s what she means. But substitute “the hunger” for “it” pretty much any time, and it works. Hell, substitute “the hunger” for “the wilderness” and it works. Hunger has undeniably become the central force on the series. I think the characters are mythologizing their own hunger into something greater because it helps them have a sense of control — and denial! Their hunger is quite literally eating away at their grasp on reality.

The cops show up with a search warrant at the Sadecki household, Saracusa sadistically eager to start tossing things around. He taunts Callie, who still thinks she has the upperhand with her lie about him seducing her. But Saracusa needles at her number one insecurity, saying a jury will take one look at Shauna and determine “the psychopathic apple doesn’t fall far from the maneating tree.” Saracusa calling Shauna a maneater is just so indicative of exactly the kind of idiotic cop he is. Like, sure, Shauna is a murderr, but maneater?! Lmao. I have to laugh.

Jeff, meanwhile, asks Kevyn if he needs a lawyer, and Kevyn says the Sadeckis always asking for a lawyer makes them seem guilty. Saracusa joins and shows Jeff a bunch of photos of Adam’s dismembered body. The cuts are precise, surgical, would be difficult to achieve with an electric kitchen knife. But we know that’s exactly what Shauna used. Jeff says Shauna’s no doctor, but Saracusa says she has certain survival skills that could potentially explain how she’d be capable of this. Viewers have been speculating that Adam would eventually be identified by his back tattoo, but we finally get some clarification here. Of course Misty had that covered. His back tattoo was removed, Saracusa explains, by what appears to have been a cheese grater. What Misty couldn’t have accounted for was the fact that Adam had been a bone marrow donor for a friend who had cancer. I like this detail, because it only underscores that Adam was just a guy — and a nice one at that! Shauna’s paranoia and the Yellowjacket’s ongoing trust issues with uhhhh everyone they encounter were the real causes of his death, not anything he did.

Speaking of trust issues! Shortly after their Florence-scored, alcohol-fueled, heady with nostalgia reunion, the adult Yellowjackets start to clash. Van is very disturbed that apparently the others have been getting up to things like chasing blackmailers and murdering lovers. We’re hit with a cavalcade of information as the Yellowjackets bring each other up to speed — sometimes intentionally divulging information, other times letting things slip out. Tai and Nat are mad at Shauna for telling Jeff things. Misty exposes that Tai was the one who hired Jessica Roberts and also calmly confesses to “taking care” of her. Tai says she needed to figure out if anyone would talk about their past for the right amount of money and rudely points out Shauna could probably use the money, getting a swift “oh fuck you” from Shauna. “You’re welcome,” Misty says, though no one has said thank you to her for killing Jessica Roberts.

The adult Yellowjackets convene in the sharing shack.

We dip back into the cabin then, but I want to stay here a little longer. When we come back to the adult Yellowjackets again, they’re still arguing and revealing each other’s secrets. Shauna says the FBI is asking about Nat, and Misty confesses that actually that was her and her “boyfriend.” As she’s talking, she pieces some things together. Randy was scared…too scared for an innocent man. And he mentioned Jeff. She ends up pulling a confession out of Shauna, who reveals he was the real blackmailer, which only deepens the distrust among everyone. These scenes are interesting, because even though they’re just kind of recaps of everything that has happened on the series for the adult Yellowjackets so far going back to season one, a lot of the information is new for the characters. And it drastically impacts their relationship dynamics in ways we see accelerating in real-time. It shouldn’t be that interesting to hear characters reveal things we all already know as viewers, and yet it’s made so through great characterization and vivid performances from the cast. It helps the episode’s ending in the adults timeline feel earned. Even when the Yellowjackets thought they were helping each other out, they weren’t. They’re still deferring back to old survival skills, lying to and manipulating each other.

We’ll come back to these dysfunctional babes, but let’s revisit the cabin, where Misty sees Ben using a sharp knife and asks if she needs to be worried. Ben says he’s merely making his crutches more snow friendly, and why would he be putting in the effort to do so if he were just planning on killing himself? This seems to placate Misty. Ben is, again, up to something re:Javi’s drawings, which he’s now using alongside the maps constructed by Nat to track something. He heads off in the night, but we won’t know what he’s going to find until the episode’s final moments. Travis, whose vision is blurring, approaches Nat after she gives Javi a pair of new homemade gloves. He tells her she’s a good person and he’s sorry for ever making her feel otherwise. I think a lot of this character development between the two has taken place off-screen, but I’ll take it, because Travis is right at least.

Upstairs, Lottie is restless. She’s covered in blood and sweat, and Misty is trying to get her to take deep breaths the way she instructs the rest of them to do in their wilderness circles. Lottie tells Misty that if she dies, she doesn’t want them to waste her body. She wants her to promise it.

Walter reappears in this episode, and he’s in his sprawling open concept home with a giant pool working on a nautical puzzle while listening to “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd. Listen, I just really think Walter might be a cannibal who wants to eat another cannibal (Misty)! His cat obsession continues, this time in the form of a kitten laptop background that is almost upsetting in how innocuously goofy it is. But the most disturbing detail of this scene is that I’m pretty sure he’s drink MILK out of a SNIFTER? Serial killer vibes for sure. Walter receives a notification from the Citizen Detective forums and learns the police have discovered Adam Martin’s body. He sends an email to the Wiskayok Police Department claiming to have relevant information. I don’t think he’s about to sellout Misty this quickly — not because I think he’s actually on her side but because I think he’s playing the long game with her.

Back at the Sadecki household, Jeff wakes up in the middle of the night to Shauna returning home — or so we think. It quickly becomes evident that this is actually a nightmare of Jeff’s, and it’s tonally much campier than the show tends to be, but it works since it’s from Jeff’s POV. A kiss takes a violent turn when Nightmare Shauna stabs him in the side and then reveals she has electric kitchen knives for hands. Melanie Lynskey sells the hell out of this, and it allows her to give a completely different type of performance than she usually gives on this show. It has me ready to start a campaign for Melanie Lynskey to be the next Ghostface. “These are a part of me,” Nightmare Shauna says about her knives hands. “I thought you loved all of me the way I love all of you.” Her best line reading comes when she says “skin grated off like a rind of pecorino” in relation to Adam. Here, Jeff’s fears of Shauna’s conflation of desire and danger become on-the-nose manifestations. But the most telling part of the nightmare to me is actually the beginning of it, before the knives hands reveal. “I just needed us to be together, Jeff. You’re the only one who really understands me,” Nightmare Shauna says.

This sentiment in Jeff’s subconscious is a fantasy and a poison. I do think Jeff wants to be the person Shauna needs. He wants these words to be true, to be her one true confidante and co-conspirator. I also think it’s incredibly toxic thinking. He can never fully understand her — no one can. It would be better for their relationship if he accepted that, if he were there for her in ways that weren’t attempts to solve her like a puzzlebox. I often have a lot of sympathy for Jeff, but it’s absolutely a violation that he ever read Shauna’s journals in the first place, even if they came from this place of wanting to understand her. Sometimes the way Jeff talks about Shauna and their relationship obscures the role he played in the betrayal of Jackie. This, I think, is how Jeff’s guilt over the past manifests. He projects a lot of things onto Shauna and onto their relationship, performing the role of dutiful husband because then maybe it absolves them for getting together in the first place.

Shauna with electric kitchen knives for hands

Jeff wakes up from this comically terrifying nightmare and goes out to the living room to find Callie’s not sleeping either. She’s drinking a beer, and he doesn’t reprimand her for it, just plucks it out of her hands and takes a swig for himself. Callie asks him if she’s like mom, Saracusa’s words clearly burrowing into her skin. “Sure, yeah,” Jeff says. “You’re smart and you’re good at stuff and you don’t take any shit.” See, this is why I do often have sympathy for Jeff. He says shit like this, and I really think he means it! He does see the good in Shauna; he likes these things about her.

But that is, of course, not what Callie means. “Mom is like seriously fucked up,” she says. Jeff takes this opportunity to divulge the answer another question that has come up in the comments quite a bit. It turns out Jeff did know about the wilderness baby. I figured as much. If Jackie found out about the pregnancy from the journals, it would follow that Jeff would, too. But Shauna indeed also put down details beyond that. She wrote about the stillbirth. And now Jeff tells Callie about it. Not all the gory details. But enough. Jeff tells her all “that stuff” — which I think is his straight white dude way of saying TRAUMA — is her mom’s burden to bear, and his too. It doesn’t have to be hers. He’s technically right, but this is also easier said than done. Whether Shauna or Jeff want it or not doesn’t matter; Callie has inherited their trauma. It just isn’t always possible to compartmentalize or inoculate against such things in a household. Even when it’s not talked about — sometimes especially when it’s not talked about — it crops up one way or another.

Back in the cabin, Misty sponge bathes Lottie, who is not looking good. When Misty joins the others downstairs, she tells them what Lottie requested. That her body not be wasted. “I can’t imagine being here without her,” Van says. Shauna, despite long being a nonbeliever in Lottie’s mysticism, says “me either.” Tai sits up and says they need to find a way to stay alive, and it can’t be her. Something about the physicality Jasmin Savoy Brown embodies in this moment makes me wonder if this could be Other Tai speaking.

In the present timeline, Tai is still reeling from the discovery Shauna lied to her about Jeff being the real blackmailer. The tension escalates steadily. Melanie Lynskey gives another great monologue, this one more frenzied and vibrating than the even keeled yet wild one from “Digestif.” She talks about how this all started just from a place of wanting to shake things up, how it spiraled out of control, how she has been trying her hardest to fix it, but also not really, not at all actually, she has truly been making it worse. Her line reading of “I almost killed two just random people” is so good.

And then Shauna makes her truest confession: She says she didn’t tell them Jeff was the blackmailer, because she knows that if any of them had admitted their partner were the blackmailer, she probably would have killed them. Nat thanks her for her honesty and isn’t being sarcastic for once. She thinks they should all finally talk about it, what it is they really feel, what it is they remember about back then.

Lottie chimes in now and says they’re not going to solve shit by talking. Suddenly, her Trust The Process and Healing Journey vibes are out the fucking door. She says something guided them all here and that she tried to ignore it, tried to bargain with it. “Now we have to give it what it wants,” she says. Sure, she’s talking about the wilderness, but I think the wilderness is still a stand-in for hunger. They’re not hungry anymore, but does the body ever forget that level of starvation? Does it ever recover completely?

In the cabin, Lottie writhes in pain upstairs. The rest of them are downstairs, constructing an altar from the bear skull and candles. Van has the deck of cards in her hands, and she takes out the eyeless queen, shows it to them all. The antlers above the fireplace are positioned squarely behind her, evoking images of the Antler Queen. She shuffles the cards and holds the deck out. Misty draws first, and she’s safe. Van draws next, and she’s safe. Misty continues with the deck around the circle. Shauna is safe. Travis is safe. Tai is safe. Javi draws the king; he’s safe, too. He immediately goes to Travis and hugs him.

Nat pulls the eyeless queen.

Everyone looks shocked, even though this is the result of a game of their own making. Someone had to pull it. Shauna asks Nat to turn around, and she puts Jackie’s heart necklace on her, flashing back to when she put it on Jackie, the necklace a death knell. Shauna grabs a knife, and Nat turns to her and says she’s going to have to look her in the eye when she does it, when she slaughters her, because by now, we all know what’s happening here. The antlers are positioned behind Shauna’s head now. She has the knife against Nat’s throat, and Nat is shaking, her nose is running, Sophie Thatcher is putting so much into this quiet, disquieting moment.

Van with the antlers behind her head

Shauna has the antlers behind her head in Yellowjackets 208

visually placing the antlers behind Van’s head and then behind Shauna’s head extremely supports the theory they take turns as Antler Queen/all embody her in some way.

On a soapier show, Travis would perhaps volunteer to be slaughtered in her stead. But instead, he lurches toward Shauna and takes her out, tells Nat to run. She does, and the others follow, some staying behind to hold the knife to Travis’ throat so he won’t interfere again.

Adult Shauna tells Adult Lottie that none of that was real, and it’s unclear if she’s talking about something specific they’ve been discussing or just about the wilderness in general. “The only way to get ourselves out of this is to give ourselves fully to it,” Lottie says. She says they must give the wilderness what it always wants: “one of us.” She fills six cups with tea, but one of them contains a quick and painless poison used to euthanize animals. It’s the stuff the Heaven’s Gate cult used, as Misty is quick to point out.

This is a leap. The others indeed think it’s a leap. They’re having problems, sure, but killing one of themselves? Sacrificing one of themselves? Lottie suggests it so casually, and the others react believably. They’re confounded and yet also…not necessarily shocked. This does, in some way, feel familiar to them. A ritual they recognize. Shauna says their lives aren’t that bad. Lottie runs down a list of precisely how fucked up they all are. Tai killed her dog, almost killed her wife. Shauna might lose her family because of what she did. Misty actually killed someone. Nat tried to kill herself already. And Van has something broken inside her, says Lottie, doesn’t brim with the same life as she previously did, and this is the only one that seems a bit of a stretch. I’m not as critical of the cancer storyline as some viewers, but I do think some of the criticisms of the general trope of cancer as a twist are valid. And I do think it’s just sort of an “easy” conflict to inject for a character we’ve only just recently met technically. Also characterizing cancer as something broken inside someone almost stigmatizes having cancer in a bizarre way. But anyway!

Misty says it’s convenient Lottie knows which cup is poisoned, and Lottie insists they can shuffle them. She’s all in on this. “It helped us survive then. It’ll help us survive now. If we give it what it wants.”

Ben finds what he has been looking for in the woods while the others are distracted by trying to chase down Nat and kill her for supper. He finds the tree from Javi’s drawings, and he descends into a spacious cave, likely the place where Javi hid out for months. There are animal bones, and there’s a place for a fire. While the others run after Nat making animal calls and brandishing weapons, Javi finds Nat hiding behind a tree and finally speaks, tells her he knows where she can go, there’s a place the others don’t know about. He’s likely talking about this hidden cave.

“I don’t hear her,” someone in the pack says, and they all stop. They close their eyes, become quiet, and try to listen. Turns out Lottie’s mindfulness exercises come in handy when it comes to a hunt!

Javi leads Nat across the frozen lake, and the others are hot on their heels. Then the ice cracks. Javi falls through. Nat tries to pull him out, but Misty runs to her and tells her to stop. “If you save him, the others will get you,” she says. I do wonder if this is why Misty thinks she and Nat have a closer friendship than they really do as adults. She likely thinks of herself as Nat’s savior. And I wonder if Nat as an adult has walls up with Misty because she blames her for Javi’s death.

Because Javi indeed dies. Shauna tells them all to wait instead of saving him. Tai is the one who says to grab him once his arms finally stop moving as much. Van has a look of determination, of hunger on her face as this all happens. They’re all complicit in his death. “The wilderness chose,” Van declares.

Now, go back to the beginning of the episode — if you haven’t already — and rewatch the opening scene. When Lottie starts muttering and flashes on a few images, one of them seems to be of someone falling through water. It looks an awful lot like Javi’s death scene. Take a look:

someone falling through water

The implication here would be that Lottie has had another vision of death, this one coming to fruition much like her vision of Laura Lee’s death (Van and Tai evaded one of Lottie’s lethal premonitions, but only narrowly in Van’s case). Lottie has long been the show’s Cassandra, and her prescience remains, to me, the strongest argument in favor of something supernatural happening on Yellowjackets, even though I still tend toward being a so-called nonbeliever. I believe in coincidence, in intuition, and in everyday strangeness, everyday magic. Lottie is attuned to something, but I don’t necessarily think of it as literal foresight. I don’t think she literally knows Javi is going to die. But it’s still interesting to consider what these image bursts mean, how they fit into the fabric of Yellowjackets. I do think their hunger, their pain, fractures their realities, collapses the space-time continuum in a way. Lottie is so close to death in this episode. That she sees another’s death in this moment evokes the same otherworldly tension of Shauna’s extended baby nightmare and Jackie’s hallucination on the brink of her death.

As an adult, Lottie has adopted a mentality a lot of cult leaders have: that there is knowledge and salvation in death. Here, we see exactly where that stems from, the beginning of a dangerous belief system that simultaneously harmed and helped. Javi shouldn’t have died; Javi had to die. The Yellowjackets have reached a point of survival mode where sacrifices have to be made. As adults, it seems like a huge leap to come to that same conclusion, and yet it also doesn’t. They haven’t traveled as far from the wilderness as they think they have. They’re reverting to old patterns, their betrayals of one another kicking up old shit in dizzying ways. It was once easy, almost natural for them to descend into a brutal hunting game, because the seams of their realities were unraveling at such a wild pace it was impossible to stay ahead. The hunger made them do it then, and then the hunger never left. But at the same time, “it” chooses isn’t really accurate. They chose; together, they chose to let Javi die. Even Nat stops trying once Misty tells her to. They made impossible choices in impossible situations. They’ve all been close to death, and I think there’s parts of each of them that are almost chasing that feeling. They balk at Lottie for bringing out the cups, but also, none of them leave.

Last Buzz:

  • What was that purple coat Walter pulled out of his closet? I didn’t quite catch what that was supposed to mean.
  • Idk if anyone is interested in mundane personal behind-the-scenes recaps tidbits, but today’s recap was largely written on an airplane, which thankfully did not crash in the Canadian wilderness.
  • “Jeff did not come through on the phone sex thing,” Van muses initially when Shauna returns from her phone call. Part of why I don’t entirely buy into Lottie’s assessment that something “is broken” in Van is because Adult Van seems a lot like Teen Van actually! Sure, prone to some sulking from time to time, but really in a generalized queer angst kind of way and never without working in a goofy, jokey moment from time to time! She’s still cracking jokes as an adult, even if she doesn’t believe in love or whatever!
  • Melissa was definitely reading Sassy magazine, right? Did she bring that with her? I don’t remember seeing it before, and the cabin only had old porn mags in it.
  • After watching this episode, I rewatched the episode where Jeff reveals to Shauna in season one that he read the journals, and there’s definitely an extra layer to the subtext there once you know they’re probably talking about the stillbirth moreso than anything else that happened out there.
  • According to Wikipedia, Karyn Kusama directs next week’s season finale and I CANNOT WAIT.
  • I’m a little perplexed by the narrative decision to mysteriously send Javi away and then bring him back only for him to suddenly die, but perhaps there will be some semblance of context/explanation in the finale?
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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 814 articles for us.


  1. Excellent recap as always Kayla, thanks again for having these ready for us on Fridays!

    I usually finish the episodes right before 8:00am ET and love that these recaps are here.

    I’m still having feels about poor Javi. What a terrible way to go.

    My interpretation of Walter taking the purple coat and a bag was that he was going to head to Camp Lottie Can Cult Lead Me To Hell Any Day And Where Every Day We Wear Purple (Heliotrope), which is now permanently what it will be called in my brain 😂

    • I am wondering if Walter having the coat is a sign he used to be a member earlier searching for Lottie ahead of Misty which would how he would deduce that Misty knew more about Adams murder than she let on in the chat rooms. Cause the line that I thought was interesting in the montage for the finale when he asks Jeff to help with this body is that he’s been there before. Maybe he knows Lottie does still kill people for sacrificing and is hiding the bodies. Maybe that explains the email to the police. He’s setting up Lottie to take the fall to protect Misty.

  2. I didn’t realize this was the penultimate episode and now it makes much more sense how much HAPPENED in this one episode.

    I was ablutely expecting Mari to be chosen so the Nat/Javi twist def got me. Though I agree it was a strange choice to send him away, rescue him, and then kill him off. I think it def adds a layer to Travis and Nat’s toxic post-wilderness relationshio though. Rescuing Nat directly left to Javi’s death, as did Nat’s choice not go save him. That guilt pulls them togett while also making it impossible for them to see each other without the veil of their own grief and complicity.

    I wonder if Ben will move into Javi’s cave to get away from the girls- he’s been increasingly unnerved by them.

  3. this episode broke me in two, lol! the minute Natalie pulled the queen card I felt such visceral fear for her…even though I know she’s alive in the present. when Shauna put the necklace on her I felt physically nauseous.

    I will come back and say more stuff tomorrow but re: your review:

    – lolled at ‘Camp Mommi’

    – ‘“You’re welcome,” Misty says, though no one has said thank you to her for killing Jessica Roberts’ literally! ungrateful!

    – ‘I often have a lot of sympathy for Jeff, but it’s absolutely a violation that he ever read Shauna’s journals in the first place, even if they came from this place of wanting to understand her’ – thank you for saying this. it WAS a violation, one that led to him having so much intimate knowledge about them all that they did not give him, and he used it against them. I wished they had touched on that a bit more.

    – ‘Suddenly, her Trust The Process and Healing Journey vibes are out the fucking door’ lmao it was so funny to watch her drop the act in real time

    – the purple coat Walter pulled out of his closet, I think, means he is heading to the cult compound

    – ‘I’m a little perplexed by the narrative decision to mysteriously send Javi away and then bring him back only for him to suddenly die’ – I think this is probably due to the actor rapidly ageing out of the role, so he had to die, so they had to tie up his storyline in a way that meant he couldn’t be in the show a lot and not talk because his voice was a lot deeper, lol

    • God, Jeff reading those diaries really was diabolical behaviour, just as I’m softening my stance on him and applauding his scenes, thank you for this reminder!

      Javi was not particularly interesting as a character in person, alas, so I think it made sense for the story to use his absence as plot, and he absolutely shone in his final scenes. The fact that this came after he’d been away for so long made it more heart-wrenching — he and Shauna’s baby were the last vestiges of childlike innocence and hope left in this wilderness and in a matter of days they were both gone and everyone left is dead behind the eyes.

      I start shaking every time I think about Nat drawing her card, that scene is going to stick with me for a long, long time.

    • Misty says that Javi is dead, but there are well-documented cases of people going in icy water and appearing dead, but not actually being dead. Just a little mild suspended animation. He’s not dead until I see them eat him.

      As for Jeff, reading Shauna’s journals might be the 23rd most serious ethical violation. Or even the worst one he did. Not great, but I am not het up about it. My heart split open hearing him talk about it.

  4. If anyone read my LONG rant last episode about my dislike of Lottie/the show’s shift into classic religious structure and away wilderness survival vibes, I feel like this episode is the cumulation of my issues with her. Lottie’s insane religion of her own creation and the zeal that she casts over her “followers” led to the direct *almost* death of her main non- believer (and occasional rival). Lottie has achieved ultimate Martyr status and while the cards are indeed random, the writing isn’t, nor the actions behind their little culty murder game. The choice to spare the prophet at the expense of the outcast/non-believer is a classic religious trope.

    Just a note, that I don’t think Nat would let them kill her just to feed feed Lottie. Though they have blamed her for their hunger (when she was hunting) for a long time and perhaps she just gave up.

    In a very real way, Lottie’s control of the flock led to Javi’s death.

    ANOTHER NOTE: why can’t Misty just try to lead them to look for crystal’s body again. I just don’t see her letting them almost kill her/Nat before trying that route again.

    LAST NOTE: Ben doesn’t play the death game either bc he out looking for the cave.

    While in the forest any of them could die at anytime, it’s been a LONG time since anyone died or was wounded directly by wilderness related causes actually. Nat is right, I don’t think Lottie is helping anybody actually survive.

    Lottie in the modern world is clearly nuts. Even if something supernatural happened in the woods, it’s not happening to all of them here. Lottie saying “Van seems sad” or whatever. If the show is going to use cancer, this would have been the time to include it. It’s not even mentioned in the episode.

    My final thoughts are while I’m obviously still loving our girls the writing this season isn’t as tight. The police plotline is so boring and takes up too much time. Everyone is still killing it at acting.

    • “Just a note, that I don’t think Nat would let them kill her just to feed feed Lottie. Though they have blamed her for their hunger (when she was hunting) for a long time and perhaps she just gave up.”

      They’re not doing it just to feed Lottie. Natalie is the one in that discussion who broadens it from saving Lottie to saving them all, after Travis says that Lottie will die if she keeps starving. Nat says that’s true for all of them.

      As for Misty and Crystal’s body, given that Misty has no idea anymore where Crystal’s body is I can see why she’s not bringing it up as a possible alternative. The group has already spent time looking for Crystal and come up empty. It’s just a dead end (pun not intended).

      • I agree Nat could be convinced, I just feel like they jump to the need to kill one of them RIGHT THEN after they realize Lottie might starve. I completely believe Nat might come onboard especially feeling the failure of bringing game from the hunt. I wish could of seen more of what the girls were thinking. I also think it makes sense they would do it without Ben, as he is still technically an adult and involving him in sanctioned murder might still be a piece of reality in their minds they hadn’t yet lost.

        To me, the scene needed more build up. (part of the reason I dislike the police plot as it splits the character plots in 3 instead of 2 (and doesn’t really focus on the girls).

        • I think the entire episode is an escalation of the stakes of their hunger. Even just the blurred vision cue works toward this. They’re starving. And hunger can lead to really erratic choices. I am completely convinced of all of their participation in the ritual tbh

        • I totally agree on wanting more insight into the process of deciding to kill one off. It doesn’t seem like there is any pushback from anyone.

          There had to be I termal conflict and I wish there was some sort of dissenting voice that maybe then comes around as they are all at their breaking point.

    • I share your feelings vis-a-vis Lottie (and am going to go back to last episode’s recap to read your long comment!), and do agree that what she has encouraged in her “flock” is what killed Javi.

    • Agreed! I think those of us recovering from religious trauma have a different take on Lottie than, say, people who grew up atheist. I am NOT a fan.

  5. it’s the battle of the Sophies for that Emmy nomination, imo! Sophie Thatcher was INCREDIBLE in this episode and I want to bang pots and pans together and yell about it to anyone who will listen

    • Yes! The acting all around. That tear on Tawny’s cheek when all their betrayals, manipulations, and secrets come to light. And Sophie Thatcher is SO GOOD in this episode.

      The group hunting scene felt almost over the top/unbelievable to me, but I think Kayla is right that reality and paranoia and delusion are all bleeding together, and we have to just accept the feral pack impulse kicks in.

      I found the final moments when they all in their own ways choose to let Javi die – and you see it play out on all their faces – is so devastating. I think almost more than eating Jackie, this is a dark point that they can’t ever fully return from.

      • The group hunting scene struck me as a direct echo of the chase in Doomcoming—before Travis tackles Shauna, he flashes onto the moment she had the knife to him and I think that memory of being incapacitated is what motivates him. Yes, he loves Natalie, but I think he’s also just having a primal reaction to someone being traumatized in the same way he was.

  6. Ahhhhh Kayla (and other commenters), I don’t know what I’d do without these recaps and the subsequent discussion! I felt like I was white-knuckling it through this entire episode, in both timelines.

    I’m continually impressed at how the writers build suspense, horror, and investment in these sequences even when the stakes, ostensibly, are not that high, given that we know who is alive in the present timeline: we all knew Shauna wasn’t going to die in childbirth; that she wouldn’t sacrifice Nat; that Lottie won’t die of her injuries. Yet the writing, dynamism of the acting, and how viscerally the actors embody it, makes the tension gripping.

    Kayla, I think you’re right that the emphasis on reactions rather than showing the thing itself contributes to these stakes (even if we know they will somehow make it out). It also locates us in the perspectives of these characters and their perceptions/reactions/feelings –– I’ve been thinking a lot about the unreliable narrators element of this show, and in that vein I love the editing choice of showing the hunt and then cutting directly to adult Shauna saying “But Lottie, none of that was real.” Ahhhhh.

    Continuing the comment thread from last week, I was really disappointed with some of the treatment of Van’s cancer reveal. It started last week with Lottie’s “addiction, compulsivity, diseases” assessment of how the darkness manifests, and escalated in this episode in a way I found disturbing (as Kayla said, characterizing cancer as something broken inside someone almost stigmatizes it). That said, it also didn’t feel true to what we’ve seen: adult Van is choosing to live in the past and obviously has walls up, but she remains wry, funny, engaged. On the other hand, the cancer-as-manifestation-of-trauma all came from Lottie, which tbh tracks with a particular cult/religious leader perspective, so maybe it can be taken with a grain of salt for now.

    I wonder if the logic of Javi being the first victim is threefold: I don’t want to be too gender binary here, but narratively there’s always this sense (from “Doomcoming” to eating Jackie) that the men are in some way outside the core dynamic of the team; I would argue that Nat is also often on a liminal edge too (which makes it interesting that she has the closest connection to Ben, Travis, and Javi of any of the girls, now that Shauna’s original caretaking of Javi in season 1 has dissipated in the face of her own trauma). I wonder if this relates to the s1 assertions by adult Tai and Shauna that Nat saved them.

    Second, I think returning him serves the purpose of helping them discover how he hid; this must somehow relate to their survival, right? (we still have a LOT of months in the wilderness to live through…) But in some ways, I think he and Ben can’t remain in the cabin, as the girls escalate the hunting game for survival.

    Third, the way that he died also feels like an important pivot in the escalation of violence. No one killed him actively; they let him die. I’m not saying it’s not still horrific, but it’s not the same escalation as if Shauna had cut Nat’s throat in the cabin. While I’m very sad about Javi, I’m also glad that the way this unfolded was unexpected. It would have been too easy if it had been Mari, for instance, given the pit girl theories since the pilot.

    I can’t believe next week is the finale. The season feels like it started slow and now has been flooring it since the birth!

    • Ooh, I also think you can see the evolution of the ritual—the creation of the oubliette pit—in how Javi dies. I can see them convincing themselves that it’s better/more just that way.

      • totally, yes! in the same way that the adult YJ sometimes catch themselves using the passive (“terrible things happened out there”), I can see how the pit (like falling through the ice) helps sustain an illusion of 1. not actively killing the others and 2. dispersing the responsibility so that they are all complicit in the situation but no single person is the one who carries out the killing

    • “No one killed him actively; they let him die. I’m not saying it’s not still horrific, but it’s not the same escalation as if Shauna had cut Nat’s throat in the cabin. While I’m very sad about Javi, I’m also glad that the way this unfolded was unexpected. It would have been too easy if it had been Mari, for instance, given the pit girl theories since the pilot.”

      YES and I think the way Javi dies is the birth of another element of the killing ritual that we see in its eventual fullness in the pilot cold open. No one killed pit girl actively; they let her die. Sure, they created the circumstances for it to happen by building the pit (and I wonder if we’ll see the precursor to a ritual got her the bleeding injury on her foot at some point). But they didn’t directly kill her, they just created the circumstances that allowed the wilderness to choose.

      Which is really what they’re doing all the time, right? It’s not supernatural, they’re just setting themselves up for situations that they can read as the wilderness choosing, like Kayla said up top.

  7. Can we throw out thoughts for the finale next week? Watching all the acting Lauren Ambrose did with just her face during that final scene with the poison cups, and then seeing the 209 preview, makes me wonder if in their restaged adult hunt scenario, Van’s priority is going to be to protect Tai, even if that means endangering herself? (Do we know if Lauren Ambrose is returning for season 3???)

  8. – I don’t think that they take turns as the Antler Queen. Lottie is always the Antler Queen. The antlers being behind them is a symbol of the Ancient God being upon them. That they’re doing its bidding or it’s influencing them.
    – Now Nat and Travis have to live with knowing that by saving Nat, they doomed Javi.
    – So afraid that everybody was right, and that it was going to be Mari chosen.
    – Strangely, I thought that it would be Coach Scott that would die that way. Him being given the moose horns it seemed like his fate would be that of the moose’s.

    • I am starting to think the moose antlers are showing that anyone could have the moose’s fate. I agree Lottie is the antler queen but so wondering if the other antler images are to evoke this idea that they are all one card pull away from the no eyed queen.

      I realize coach isn’t playing the game so maybe it doesn’t make sense.

  9. I keep playing the scene of the girls hunting Nat in my head – they’re literally howling like animals. It really shows how they’ve become their hunger, how hunger has made them near animal-like

    Also, Sophie is DEFINITELY the scene stealer this episode

  10. Walter’s motivation in the Adam case has been one of the season’s intriguing mysteries for me, and the minute I heard they identified him by testing his bone marrow because a friend who has cancer received some I knew something was up. Finally flashing to Walter’s serious face as the official news broke about Adam’s body confirmed something to me- this seems personal. And it would really explain how he really knew Misty was lying about Adam’s personal life past just being that good of a citizen detective.

    • I agree! I’ve thought for a while now that Walter must have some personal connection to Adam. As soon as the bone marrow donation was mentioned, I was like “oh that’s it — Adam donated his bone marrow to save Walter’s life.”

      And if Walter’s on his way to Cult Central to confront Misty…. I wonder if he’ll survive??

      • Next week they’ll be having another ritual, the previews show them donning masks and everything. If Walter gets there as they are doing this, maybe “It” will choose him as it did Javi.

        • It could be foreshadowing when Shauna tells them that she would have killed any of their partners if they seemed like a threat to her/the group. Misty is calling him her boyfriend and told him he was right about “the thing,” she confessed their crime to him. I think we’re finally gonna fing out what his deal is and he also could end up like Adam, except this time they’ll be doing it “right,” in the name of The Wilderness/Darkness (ritualistic).

          • Ooooo yeah I like these Walter theories that he could be the next sacrifice

          • I agree- loving the Walter theory. Wondering if gets to the cult before they actually do the ritual. OR Van offers up the cancer and it snaps Lottie out of one of them dying.

            Maybe. The Walter gets there and they don’t have to offer themselves up. I like that you highlighted Shauna’s comments about partners.

    • Do we think Javi could have something to do with Crystal’s missing body? Not sure I buy that the bones in the tree hideout are hers, but I think if Javi witnessed them eating Jackie he might have moved her body to stop her from getting eaten.

  11. Once again I find myself watching the last 5-10 minutes from behind slotted fingers, on the edge of my seat, scared and loving it (and I’m NOT a horror fan). A few random thoughts…

    – It’s amazing how we know that Nat lives but can’t help worrying for her safety, I love that juxtaposition to how we logically know there’s no way the baby could’ve survived (or looked that healthy if it did) and yet want to believe that he did.

    – It’s heartbreaking that they (both the characters and writers)’killed’ off Javi in this manner, I’m so worried for Travis and Nat, individually and together. I have to assume that Travis participates in eating Javi (though it’s unimaginable and I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence) and can’t begin to imagine what that does to his psyche and how destructive it will be for him.

    – It feels a little too-convenient/contrived that Ben went off looking for the tree while the hunt was going on. Does he return to the cabin and walk in on more cannibalism? Poor Ben

    – How the hell did Javi hunt all those animals (there were a LOT of bones) and controversial thought – is he responsible for them starving, by hoarding the food for himself.

    – I know there was a good amount of foreshadowing but I’m impressed how accurate Kalya and commenters were about the Queen card and Jackie’s necklace

    – I can’t get enough of the adults being together, love every second of it, their chemistry is so much fun, regardless of the murder talk

    – Where the hell is the Adam investigation going??? Is this going to turn into a media circus?! That makes me really worried for Shauna and all of them, they seem like sitting ducks for so much public venom. I could imagine the cop leaking it, he was getting way too much of a thrill out the search and interrogation. I’m kind of over it but also kind of curious for the unique YJ perspective.

    – Jeff telling Callie about the baby feels all kinds of wrong, how will Shauna react (can’t imagine Callie keeping it a secret) being confronted with that trauma

    – When Walter sent the email, I initially felt so sad for Misty but know/hope he’s not actually turning on her and just manipulating the cops.

    – I fully assumed there were 10 episodes and feel like I’ve been robbed!! can’t believe we only have 1 left and will have to wait so long for next season (even more so due to WGA strike, which I support but sucks). That said, I also really trust Lyle, Nickerson, et al (which feels weird since Lost was the last time I was this invested in a show’s mystery/ideas and that was a HUGE disappointment) but 9 vs 10 tells me they didn’t feel the need to pad the season and just told the story they wanted to tell in the time they needed, which I respect so much.

    Thanks again for another amazing recap Kayla!

  12. Amazing recap as always!

    This was such an intense episode. I kept leaping from the couch because of how intense it is.

    I’m actually so sad at Javi dying. Also, I wonder if Travis will eat Javi.

    Does Ben finding the cave mean he will survive longer?

    I saw the purple coat that Walter took to mean that he was going to camp Lottie. And I believe the trailer for the next episode confirms it

    Adult Lottie is so dangerous. Like you are not in the wilderness anymore, this is the real world things don’t work like that 😭😭😭

    • One more thing, Javi’s death reminded me of the moose scene earlier in the season. Them being unable to get the moose which would have helped them through the winter led to this. The parallel of Natalie and the others struggling to get the moose out and then them all standing around and letting Javi die :(

    • “Adult Lottie is so dangerous. Like you are not in the wilderness anymore, this is the real world things don’t work like that” –> EXACTLY. You can’t just casually suggest one of your friends poison themselves! Adult Lottie definitely gets away with stuff because she’s thin, conventionally attractive, feminine, etc.

  13. Something else that is more apparent to me on rewatch is that we do not see who vocalizes the *explicit* suggestion that they cannibalize one of their own, and we do not actually see them develop the process to determine who is sacrificed. Is this meant to be reflective of the survivors not being able to fully remember these traumatic events?

    Like Kayla points out, Lottie coming out with poison tea is A Jump in the adult timeline, and while we have obviously been building up to “the hunt” quite clearly and have seen the idea of sacrifice play out violently with Shauna beating Lottie within an inch of her life, AND Tai saying that “it can’t be her,” we don’t actually see HOW this hunt ritual comes to be.

    It wasn’t a jump of the same magnitude, but choosing to kill and eat someone as a sacrifice to the group requires a little bit of a leap. I wonder if we will see how that conversation went, if there was any opposition at all, etc.

      • I personally don’t think we will, and don’t really think we need to. I think the show gave us what we needed there – that it was Tai who suggested it, and whether oTai or not, it being Tai at all is really meaningful. Yes, she’s a problem solver, but was still not quite as in as Van and others, but here she is, suggesting what becomes the ritual.

        And they are all so in tune (we see it again the way they organized around Javi and the ice, spreading out, reacting, strategizing so quickly) that I think what we’re supposed to take from that is just that it was the team doing what was necessary, and in these moments, they are again a team. They didn’t even cut out people with skills. Technically Nat, Misty, and maybe Shauna should be “safe.” Nat’s the hunter, Misty is the faux doctor, Shauna the butcher, etc. They need those skills.

        But they didn’t care. They are a team and a team fills holes as needed. So I think we can guess at what happened and showing it would feel like repetition imo.

        • I really appreciate this reading of the way that we see them operate again as a team in the hunt, whether or not it’s wholly rational (eg not exempting Misty etc)

          • Yes! That’s a great observation about the entire team being included in the draw. I also agree that we don’t necessarily need to see how that process specifically came to be– I’d be extremely curious but we did see what we needed to see there.

  14. Still strange that no one seems to have been looking into Jessica Roberts’ death.

    And that no one seems to have wondered about ‘Jacque’ or investigated his disappearance.

  15. I wonder if the decision to send Javi away and then kill him in part has to do with the age of the actor? He looks so much older after the hiatus and would look so much older again after another.

  16. I wonder if it’s not the cancer Lottie perceives as having ‘broken’ Van. I mean, the others spent the entire day at least trying to work through their issues/engage with their therapies, while Van spent the entire day presumably day drinking tequila in plain sight. My guess was Lottie knew Van spent the day getting drunk all by herself, and just used that to confirm her theory that It is out to get them again.

    I think you’re right about her account of Travis’ death being flawed, but I don’t think she murdered him. I wouldn’t be surprised if instead of communicating with It, Travis was trying to bargain with It, maybe even get Javi back? It seems like the three of them (Nat, Travis, and Nat) were the most broken after the rescue, and I can’t help but feel Javi’s death has everything to do with it. So, I wonder if Lottie and Javi got together, tried to offer themselves to the wilderness, and that just resulted in Lottie going off her meds and spiraling so bad she’s convinced the only way to get control back is to placate It.

    • agree that Lottie didn’t mean the cancer when she said that about Van, because nobody knows about that yet other than Tai.

      I think she just meant that even though she’s still funny and sarcastic and adorable and seems kind of OK on a surface level, her light has dimmed a bit and she seems checked out / unwilling to really engage with the therapies etc

  17. Kayla, I also thought it might have been Other Tai who proposed the solution to their hunger, but since Other Tai only emerges when Taissa “lets her” and Lottie’s prayer circles have been keeping Other Tai at bay, I feel like OT wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep Lottie alive…

  18. Hello I’m back with my theories of who’s going to die next week in the modern timeline. I think there are two potential direction they could go – either they’ll kill a yellowjacket or someone from outside the main group will be sacrificed in their place.

    Walter – with the purple I think Walter is definitely coming back to Lottie’s compound, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays the role that Javi did in this episode. He’ll end up coming in at a point of violence and his accidental death will replace the death of one of the main yellowjackets.

    Lisa – another devastating loss for Nat, again mirroring Javi. Someone vulnerable who she connects with who is outside the circle of the main characters. Her character has been built up over the episode and we’ve been given an intro to her mother, which means there might be more follow-up on the death for next season.

    IF THEY GO Yellowjacket:

    Van – I actually think they have a lot more Van backstory to give us, so I’m not convinced they’ll head in this direction, but she is clearly the most outside the group at the moment and already has a death sentence on her head. I think it’s more likely that the sacrifice will coincide with a remission in Van’s cancer, pulling her back into the narrative. Which leaves….

    Nat – I think it might be Nat’s time to go. She has survived being almost sacrificed before and I think it’s unlikely that she’d survive being chosen the second time. She also is beginning to accept healing, and I think within the narrative that’s not something she’d be allowed. I’m worried about Nat going into the next episode, I think she’s either going to experience another major loss or be sacrificed.

    • I hadn’t considered Natalie dying in the finale but I saw it mentioned elsewhere too and at some (horrifying) level I could see the narrative building towards that.

      She did evade her sacrifice in the forest, and with how subdued she has been these last few episodes — really trying to open up and heal and move forward — even if that would be beneficial in the real world, it puts her out of sync with the others/in the world of this show. And she’s the only one who has talked about feeling like they didn’t deserve to survive.

      I really don’t want her to die (!), but it feels like the writers have set up her arc as very distinct from, say, Van’s (with the conversation about wanting to know why she has survived against all odds/what her purpose is), in a way that feels highly intentional and like it’s laying the ground for character development and plot.

  19. Also, I rewatched the pilot for the first time after seeing 207, and was reminded at the party before they leave for nationals Nat, on drugs, gazing through a bonfire, sees Misty standing there even though she wasn’t at the party. This has to be called back at some point, right?

  20. I am sure we won’t get any kind of confirmation about this but it struck me when watching 208 that Javi’s silence (both literal and metaphorical) was how he bartered for his survival. And his speaking *about the caves* was a betrayal of that negotiation, especially as another commenter pointed out, to save Nat when she had been selected. In that regard, it was a double offense.

  21. I didn’t think much of the color of Walter’s coat that he grabs until I read this yesterday. Now I’ve been wondering if he’s going to try to implicate Lottie’s cult in Adam’s death to shield Misty, possibly not realizing that she’s joined the cult in the meantime. Or turning in Misty and the cult at the same time? Either way, shenanigans!

  22. I’m just so glad the adults have come clean with each other – while it’s safer to maintain the protective lies it’s such a relief to have it out so that they can – dare I say it – be liberated in their honesty and work out what to do next.

    I found the Nat chase a bit contrived – is the draw of the card sufficient to make them go all Lord of the Flies? But it’s pretty clear that Mari, in whom they and we are less invested, is the girl being chased into the pit. Selected just because none of them (or us) like her very much? Maybe a better criterion than a card draw, though she does seem like a good cook …

    • Yeah, the whooping and hollering while they were chasing Nat was a little over the top. Like, what a quick 180 from “ew let’s not talk about how we ate Jackie” to “cool let’s have Nat for dinner!” I get that starvation changes you but still. It definitely felt like the chase scene was done For Dramatic/Cinematic Effect (and it worked). Wouldn’t they at least pretend to be a little reluctant about killing and eating one of their friends?!

  23. I think it’s interesting how eager some of the characters and the by extension the audience are to blame teen Lottie for everything horrible or unnatural and I don’t feel like I’ve seen this talked about enough anywhere.

    There have been numerous times that other characters have projected things onto her, like the birds or the bear surrendering itself, that she never even wanted credit for. (You could see how uncomfortable she was with that in the episode where they pitted her and Nat against each other to hunt.) Or Shauna hallucinating Lottie with the baby.

    This episode is the biggest one to me by far — it’s fascinating to see commenters still blaming Lottie for the creation of the hunt despite the fact that she’s entirely incapacitated when it’s designed and executed.

    Up until the phenobarbital, we’d never seen anything indicating Lottie was actually dangerous, just lots of things in the minds of the characters (and audience) that proved to never actually be real or Lottie’s responsibility.

    This is just one (huge) example of how the show has done such an amazing job of implicating the audience in the delusions and the rationalization of everything.

    And a great example of how religion is constructed out of attempts at “sense making.”

    Lottie’s looking for patterns. It’s the other girls who turn it into a religion, not her.

    Total aside: while trying to look up “phenobarbital” to spell it correctly, the first result suggested the related “pentobarbital,” which is apparently nicknamed “yellowjackets” because of the color of the pill

    • I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the ways other characters project onto Lottie. Throughout this season, we’ve seen the adult Yellowjackets talking derisively about Lottie’s schizophrenia diagnosis and her hospitalization, and I think that since none of them knew about her diagnosis in the woods and learned about it when they got back, it made it easy for them to scapegoat Lottie and shift blame for what they had done in the name of the dirt gods onto the crazy girl. I think it helped them distance themselves from their guilt by looking at themselves as being tricked by Lottie’s delusions instead of owning their violence worship. Like all of their coping mechanisms, it’s not great, and it’s hit the point where it stopped working.

  24. So so so many thoughts. Much that has already been said in the comments.

    Kayla- these recaps are the first thing I try to read after I watch the episode on Friday nights and I always fall asleep because I’m so tired so then I get to reread first thing on Saturdays! I’ve recommended everyone I know that loves this show as much as I do to come read the recaps and comments. ❤️❤️❤️

    Agree with all of the Javi comments on him being too old/aging out of the role.

    I too wonder if Travis will eat Javi. I can’t really imagine him not since he was participating in the ritual and he had to know that would be a possibility.

    Someone mentioned that they thought Nat could be the potential for adult offering. I think Van offers up her cancer and that snaps the rest of the group out of whatever Lottie is trying to do.

    Agree that Walter might show up but what if he wants to be eaten by a cannibal?? Just throwing wild ideas out there!

    I wonder with how Javi died if this shifts the teen YJ’s original idea of ritual killing into more of a passive killing. We see this in the pilot when (presumably Mari) dies in the hidden pit trap. It would be more interesting to me if the team separates and creates traps through the wilderness then everyone still hunts but only knows where their killing trap is.

    I think this would really allow them to separate themselves from the horror if everyone is knowingly participating in the ritual, then none of them are actually guilty? Basically everyone is volunteering to be put to death.

    Also, the mouse and Akilah just didn’t get enough love. I absolutely expected the mouse to be dead but fluffy dead like he died in her care and she didn’t realize. I didn’t think left it to be in the state it was in.

    Im sure I have more thoughts but will probably just throw them into the comments!

  25. I love your recaps – they are my very favorite! – but this time I’m gonna have to hard disagree on something. I think Lottie is right about aVan because of that conversation tVan had with tTai about surviving. Van has always been surviving. She was surviving long before the crash and she does survive this and we know for a while, her relationship with Tai survives, too.

    But at some point, it fails. And her store is failing. She’s dying. For aVan, it can seem very like all that surviving wasn’t just meaningless, but cruel. She survived only to suffer, again and again, forever.

    I think that would dampen a spark. And I think Tai sees it, too.

  26. I love these recaps so much, thank you for them. I appreciated this part especially:

    “But at the same time, “it” chooses isn’t really accurate. They chose; together, they chose to let Javi die.”

    Didn’t “the wilderness” (or their ritual) “choose” Nat just before this? I tend towards being on team “something weird and supernatural is happening,” but I think the girls also (in their desperation) are willing to use “it” as an excuse or proxy for their own decisions. Pulling the cards chose Nat; that was the wilderness. Javi fell through the ice; that was the wilderness.

  27. I keep forgetting to mention this, but in relation to Lottie’s Cult Compound, this is actually grounded in a bit of actual history: I grew up in rural western New York (when Misty told Tai “just off of route 19” I screamed because no media ever references where I grew up, and this is the road I grew up on!), and based on “Cherry Grove,” route 19, and the location with the lake, Lottie’s compound is almost certainly near Lake Chautauqua, and historically in the late 1800s/early 1900s there were a number of “wellness retreats” located here, aka borderline cult compounds, and not only loosely Evangelical, as this was also the era of American spiritualism, fascination with seances, etc. Within the “real” world it’s totally feasible that her compound (in the world of the show, I realize they filmed in Vancouver) is on the site of a century-old wellness center.

  28. I think Lottie equating Van’s cancer as something broken inside of her feels like something a new age wellness center cult leader might say, though. I mean, I don’t think it is fair or accurate but I could understand why she went there. Writing wise.

    Coach Ben telling Nat that, “sounds like you’re jealous” was a weird af thing to say. Get it together, Ben.

    The look on all of their faces when they charged Nat was some STELLAR acting! They really just embodied hunger as this malevolent primal force. Liv Hewsons face as they watched Javi die (that scene was ROUGH) was just….chef’s kiss. The artfulness of horror.

  29. There are definitely episodes where I’ve been more scared but this is the one that has haunted me the most. Kind of glad there’s only one ep left cos I don’t know how much more I can handle!

    I’m starting to wonder if the grand finale of the whole thing will involve the adults finding out that it’s Misty’s fault they didn’t get rescued sooner.

    • The thing is though, it’s not Misty’s fault. I forget which podcast I heard it on, but confirmation from a pilot was that in 96, black boxes didn’t have gps and didn’t send a location signal, they just recorded what happened in the cockpit. So I’ve been wondering if Misty ever found out that destroying the box didn’t actually stop them from getting rescued like she thought it did, and if maybe that helps her unusually cheerful attitude about their time in the woods. I feel like she would have researched that at some point.

  30. So, this is definitely solidifying some things that I’ve mentioned before. “The Antler Queen” is “It”, is “The Wilderness.” It’s a way for the group to dissociate from the awful things they NEED to do to survive. Because they do have to kill someone and eat them. There would have been no way for them to have survived for that long without thinning out the numbers and finding a more reliable food source. So when the antlers appeared above Van, she had the cards. She was The Wilderness’ avatar “choosing” the person. None of them “chose”, It did. And when Shauna had the antlers ready to kill Nat, it wasn’t Shauna murdering her friend, it was the Wilderness working through her. As Van said last episode: if she couldn’t believe in what Lottie was preaching, what was the point in living.

    And that’s another thing, I don’t think Lottie is 100% to blame here. Everyone in that cabin, with perhaps the exception of Ben, is almost eager for their numbers to diminish. For a source of meat. It doesn’t matter whether your a true believer like Mari, or a cynical realist like Nat: they need food, and they can’t feed everyone. Lottie WANTS to martyr herself. And even if her visions were prophetic, it’s not like she relayed them to anyone. She’s just “selfless” enough to give herself to the group if she dies. Fuck, Shauna and Nat are the least susceptible to Lotties’ woo woo and neither of them fight or have any misgivings in the “pick a card to be killed and eaten” game. Nat accepts her fate until Travis dives in and creates an opening to flee.

    And Javi’s disappearance and return was a way to create more mystery of the history of the place they’re stranded in. Without Javi there would have been no reason for Ben to have gone looking for the tree and discover the place where he had been surviving, a sign of civilisation much older and deeper than the cabin. This doesn’t start and end with a haunted serial killer shack, this shit runs into the very land they walk on. And Javi doesn’t reveal to Nat where exactly he was staying, so Ben is now the only one of the group to know. And he’s only just discovered the place while everyone else has gone off the deep end, literally and figuratively. I doubt he’d be foolish enough to come back and say “Hey gang, pass me a Javi drumstick and follow me! You’ll never guess what I’ve found!”

    Oh, and I don’t know if any of you have been reading the episode synopsis/blurb thingies, but they’re unhinged!

    “Shhh, it’s only going to get worse from here. Despite the whole “winter never’s gonna end” thing, the 1996 New Jersey state girls soccer champions decide to start their spring training early with an impromptu cardio session. Callie encounters an old flame, Van proves goalies never say die, most of the adults intentionally commune in the sharing shack, and, Lottie, baby, I hear the blues are calling for tossed salad and scrambled eggs. Mercy!”

    • Fabulous comment EAW, agree with everything you say.
      I too think Lottie is more benign than she’s given credit for – she’s just trying to do the right thing as she sees it. And still is with the poison cup, tho she is now totally lost in – or maybe consumed by – the wilderness.

      That blurb is nuts and hilarious! Xx

  31. I don’t necessarily think that Jeff read about the baby in Shauna’s journals! They’ve been married for 20+ years; I think it’s entirely likely she told him it happened, maybe when they were deciding to have Callie or something.

    Lottie doesn’t know about Van’s cancer, right? I read her mention of something being off with Van more as her “sensing” something in a woo-woo way (which, yes, is still the SHOW saying cancer is something dark or broken or whatever).

    • I’m left wondering if there is really anything in those cups or it’s meant to elicit a response she knows she’ll get.

      I also can’t shake earlier in the season when Lottie didn’t get the drink/shake she asked Lisa for and she was uncharacteristically bitchy and threw it away. I feel like there’s a side of Lottie yet to be revealed.

      Also I’m trying VERY HARD not to make a Mommi Lottie joke about that reveal 😆

  32. Teen Tai being the one to shift everyone toward the card system is such a great moment for how the line between Tai and Other Tai is blurring. Tai was disgusted after they ate Jackie, doesn’t remember bc she was The Other. But she believes Lottie is the only reason she’s been able to keep Other at bay. Meanwhile, Other Tai seems to lean toward that chaos and also needs Lottie to keep everyone is this weird reverent and dependent state. So suddenly their interests have converged. Keep Lottie alive by spilling the blood of another. The call is coming from inside the house.

  33. Whoever writes the episode synopses on Showtime is … having a little too much fun with it? I just read back through them all after reading the unhinged one for 208, shared by a commenter above. Here’s for this week’s finale:

    “Heavy is the head that wears the antler crown is a lesson you don’t learn until much later in life… if you ever even learn it at all. Everything’s about to get really wild(erness), and we’re so excited (so excited!) and so, so scared to find out who paid attention to what lessons and when. So, on the count of three, you may pick up your pencil, open your testing booklet, and start this finale exam. One… Two… Season finale.”

  34. I binged all the YJ S2 episodes over the past day or so (I saved them up; didn’t want to watch one episode weekly) and have just now devoured all your recaps!!! thank you, Kayla!!!!! they are truly amazing, and the community of citizen detectives in the comments is amazing as well.

  35. I agree that they let Javi get away too soon (likely a somewhat practical decision because the actor is RAPIDLY growing up, as children do, he’s taller than his onscreen brother already), but I still did yell, “NOOOO JAVI IS THE WHITE MOOSE!!!” at my TV.

    • Oh also not sure how many people saw the preview for next week, but 1. Walter is definitely headed to the compound (at least for a minute) as he’s dressed entirely in purple, and the choice of a Phantom song in the scene where he is leaving, I think, is an indication he might be more Team Misty than we think (at least for now) and 2. Javi is definitely dead.

  36. I know this is old news by now, but I just wanted to point out Lottie doesn’t just see a flash to a drowning: she sees the shot we later see of Javi drowning, as well as Nat pulling the queen card and Shauna with the knife at Nat’s throat.

    Given those direct flashes of the future we will see ourselves later in the episode, I think there are only two logical conclusions:

    1: Lottie is psychic
    2: She isn’t psychic, and the show broke the rules of a fair mislead by having her see flashes of the future exactly as we will see them later.

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