“Yellowjackets” Episode 209 Recap: And the Violence Caused Such Silence

I am sorry that this Yellowjackets 209 recap is posting later than usual. “Storytelling” — the season two finale — is written by Ameni Rozsa and directed by Karyn Kusama, who directed the show’s exceptional pilot. Catch up on past recaps, support the writers strike, and jump into these comments with all your thoughts on the episode and the season as a whole.


This episode is sure to be divisive, but full disclosure: I love it. Mostly!

We open with what is easily now my favorite needledrop of the series. The violent chords of “Zombie” by The Cranberries play over Nat walking in slow motion through the snow back to camp. It’s heavy. It immediately sets the tone for a blistering episode.

She sees Travis, and he sees her. Then they both watch as the others enter, carrying a thin log, someone bound to it, their faces resolute for the most part, only Shauna showing a glimmer of…something else. Regret? Guilt? There’s a lot of guilt vibrating through this episode. It’s so quick, but one of the most haunting images of the episode to me isn’t one of the more obvious ones to come but rather the moment where the team takes the log off their backs and lets Javi’s frozen body — mouth agape — hit the ground. It’s the first time we get a look at his full corpse, and there really is something almost inhuman about it, almost like we’re situated in the perspective of these characters who are no doubt in denial about Javi being a young boy they once knew, seeing him now as the product of the hunt, as food to feed “it” — and by it I mean their hunger.

Travis is immediately devastated, and Nat says: “Travis. It happened so fast. The wilderness chose.” This almost makes things worse. Since when does Nat believe these things? Does she even or is she just saying this in a misguided attempt to make him feel better because he does? Regardless, Nat saying these words is another one of those subtle but unforgettable unnerving moments from the episode that’s quieter and quicker than some of the more overt ones. These delusions of the wilderness’s power have spread so much, have them all in a chokehold.

Teen Nat walks through the snow

Over at Camp Lottie, Lottie is still in the midst of convincing the others to play her little Russian roulette tea party game. She picks up a cup and says “it won’t stop til it gets what it wants,” and the others immediately jump to stop her. Shauna, thinking on her feet, suggests that to really do it right they should do it the way they did back then. They should give it a hunt.

The others look at Shauna, confused and alarmed. Is she buying into what Lottie is saying about how they all need to sacrifice one of themselves in order to move forward? But no, it’s okay, Lottie pulls Shauna into a hug and her face tells them all she isn’t doing this for real. They join in, Misty suggesting they need masks and weapons, Nat hesitantly suggesting a deck of cards with a single queen in it. Shauna asks Lottie to ensure her acolytes stay away, and Lottie agrees and leaves. Shauna tells the group she just bought them some time to figure out what to do with Lottie.

Misty floats that it wouldn’t be difficult to have Lottie committed to a mental institution given her history. Nat suggests that her homicidal tea party is perhaps a bit too dangerous for this solution, and Van agrees for a different reason: “because this isn’t just about her mental illness. We all know what she went through out there, because we went through it, too.” Nat says Lottie thinks the wilderness is talking to her again, and don’t they all remember where that leads? I do think it’s correct of Van to stick up for Lottie’s agency. Involuntarily committing her isn’t really fair or safe. I do wish she…would propose some viable alternatives? Because without them, the rest of the group just decides to move on with the bonkers plan of staging a hunt and having a crisis team — who knows nothing about Lottie’s traumas or triggers — show up to take Lottie away. Upsetting!

Even though I don’t agree with the characters’ choice to involuntarily hospitalize Lottie, this concern is mitigated by the episode’s overall empathy and character development for Lottie. She has never been some wicked mastermind. She holds power over the other teens, because they collectively bestow her with that power. They’re not doing so knowingly, but they’re enabling her delusions, ignoring her mental illness because they don’t know it exists, encouraging her to listen to voices in her head. Misty visits Lottie in the attic and Lottie immediately asks, afraid, why Travis was screaming. Misty replies they’re going to eat Javi, that it’s fine because they didn’t kill him exactly, and that she told the group what she said about not wanting to go to waste. Lottie says “that’s not what I meant.” Here, Lottie’s words were misinterpreted and used against her. Misty says: “Lottie, you started this. It’s done. And it’s going to save all of our lives, so you better not start making feel bad about it now.” It’s the first time we really see just how little control Lottie actually has and the true consequences of people putting her on this pedestal. Misty’s now saying she’s the one who started this, and well, the episode is called “Storytelling.” All it takes is for the group to believe they’re doing this in Lottie’s name for her to be blamed for the start of this cannibalistic hunting ritual. When Misty goes back downstairs, she lies and tells the group Lottie approves of the wilderness’s choice and Javi will save them all.

The next sequence unfolds so slowly, and it should. None of the quick, punchy violence of pit girl’s demise or Shauna beating up Lottie. It’s cold, icy, slow-moving horror. Shauna walks outside to find Travis crying over his dead little brother. But he makes no attempt to stop her or anyone, is just as hungry and as defeated as them, knows what has to be done. He leaves, and Shauna and the others lay Javi out on a table, cut off his clothes, remove his shoes. Shauna pulls her headband down over her eyes and, without seeing, moves her hand along Javi’s frozen corpse until she finds his jugular and punctures it. Javi’s blood stains the snow red.

Shauna pulls a headband over her face in Yellowjackets 209

It must be said that my girl Karyn Kusama is directing the hell out of this episode! She has a keen eye for capturing blood. The original score, too, is fraught and alive throughout the episode.

While Misty’s poking around in Lottie’s office, she finds Lottie’s meds in a filing cabined as well as her cell phone in the locked closet where the shotgun is. When she hears someone enter, she ducks behind the cabinet’s door, but it’s just Walter, who says he’s here to help her. I’ve been doubting that’s true all season, but this episode kind of proves me otherwise — at least for now.

Van and Tai are doing arts and crafts, by which I mean they’re making rather elaborate animal masks for their planned human hunting ritual. Van still has an issue with the way they’re all treating Lottie for her mental illness. “If Lottie is sick, they you’re sick, too,” Van tells Taissa, and she has a point! Taissa is still sleepwalking as a murderous other version of herself. Van asks if she thinks locking Lottie up in a psych ward is going to help her. “Would it help you?” Indeed, the isolation and lack of autonomy in a psych ward would no doubt trigger feelings from the wilderness for any of them. Van says they have to handle this themselves, protect each other. “Didn’t we all swear we would?” It’s true that despite all their recent betrayals of one another, of course there exists some base level of loyalty, of protection. They survived the wilderness together; they have to survive the present together, too. Again, I do sort of wish Van could suggest some alternatives, but apparently it’s enough to convince Taissa, who phones the hospital to call off the crisis team.

While Van and Tai are doing arts and crafts, Shauna and Nat are playing with knives and fire. Shauna files knives down to dull their blades, and Nat takes flame to a Queen card, burning its edges. We don’t literally get any flashbacks here, but of course we’re all thinking about Nat and the Queen card she drew last episode.

Karyn Kusama has an eye for violence but also knows how to direct comedic performances with just as much zip (Jennifer’s Body is one of my favorite movies of all time). We get some of this when Jeff and Callie enter the chat for a little father-daughter murder cult bonding. As they drive to Camp Lottie, Jeff is in the midst of explaining to Callie that it’s actually very hard to just disappear and live new lives. There’s a great runner that begins with Jeff saying he saw Shauna almost shoot someone, to which Callie replies: “MOM HAS A GUN?!” The gun is in the glovebox, and it’s one of several Chekhov’s guns in the episode. When they pull up to the gate, Lottie’s acolytes descend upon them, and we see this from Jeff and Callie’s points of view, which very much makes it all look like a classic horror scene, strange purple people quietly moving closer to them. It’s subtle but effective. Jeff says they’ll find another way in and pulls the car away just as Kevyn and Saracusa’s car pulls up.

This is Juliette Lewis’s episode for a lot of reasons. Even when she isn’t saying much in some scenes, Nat captivates in this episode, like when she quietly burns that Queen card. Now, we get a scene between her and Lisa, who Nat begs to leave the premises because something is happening tonight. Lisa is immediately concerned and wants to know what she means, but Nat just keeps begging her to go, to live her life away from here. There’s so much unsaid stuff. The Yellowjackets have an obligation and indelible connection to Lottie, but her acolytes don’t have to. They can get out before things get bad, before all the good Lottie has genuinely done for them is undone by her own trauma, by the resurfacing of old patterns. “I appreciate you trying to teach me forgiveness,” Nat says. “It’s a nice idea.” Woof.

Coach, who missed the hunt while he was hanging out in his newfound man cave, approaches Nat and tells her about it. He says the two of them could survive the winter down there together, that she should come with him because she isn’t like these other girls. “Actually, I’m worse,” Nat says, and it’s one of my favorite line readings by Sophie Thatcher. She says she let Javi die in her place, that it was supposed to be her. “You’re a good person, Coach,” she says. “You really don’t belong in this place.” It’s interesting, because I don’t see things as the young characters being bad and Coach being good. I do think Coach might buy into that mentality. But I think it all goes back to the literal age difference, to the fact that Coach was allowed to live a fuller life before the crash than any of them were. He has been independent for a long time, probably even since he was their age given the fact that he has been closeted. In so many ways, he’s better equipped to deal with what’s happening out here, but in practice, that actually makes him worse at it. He can’t bring himself to make the kinds of choices for survival that the others do. That doesn’t make him good or a better person than they are. It just makes him, well, a weak link.

In the cabin, Travis tells Van she should be ashamed of what she has done, and Van replies confidently that she is not. “I’m glad I’m alive, just like you are, and I don’t think anyone should be ashamed of that ever,” she responds. “Let your brother save you, Travis. After everything he went through out here, don’t you owe him at least that?” Her logic is injurious but also not entirely off base when you really drill down into it. Not all of them can survive; it just isn’t possible. Should the ones that do feel ashamed? It is, of course, easy for them to all absolve themselves of blame here, as Javi technically died by accident. But he didn’t, not really. He died trying to save Nat’s life. It’s all too complicated to be boiled down to good vs. evil.

Walter sings “Send in the Clowns” in what is my favorite musical theater moment of the series so far — and there are so many! what theater gay is in this writer’s room or is it just all of them?! — as he stirs a pot of hot cocoa. Kevyn approaches, and Walter immediately disarms him with his dorky, chatty charm. Outside, Jeff and Callie are slinking around, and Callie — even in this high stakes situation — still seizes the opportunity to be a snarky mean teen and mocks her father’s poor blackmailing skills. “The American family is crumbling Callie, YOU try making a living in SECTIONALS,” Jeff laments. When they get to the door, Callie pulls him away, having spotted Kevyn. Jeff tells her to go find her mom, that she has a plan. There’s an immediate sense of dread. Here is an innocent teen girl now sent into the woods by herself in search of her mother, who is currently getting ready for a fake but also maybe not fake murder-hunt.

Inside, Jeff asks Walter to leave and makes a false confession to Kevyn that he was the one who killed Adam. In the middle of their conversation, Kevyn collapses. Jeff immediately starts freaking out, and Walter re-enters like it’s fine, no worries, hehe. He calls Jeff “Jeffery” and asks if anyone calls him that, and Warren Cole stumbles through a hilarious delivery of “Yeah, my mom, no, no she doesn’t.” Jeff continues to lose it, but Walter needs his help moving the body of Kevyn, who is dead I guess?! Yeah, I’m starting to think Walter is genuinely trying to help Misty.

In his man cave, Coach struggles to light a fire with stones. In the cabin, everyone sits around silently until Shauna enters with a platter of fresh human meat, arranged around the centerpiece of a fresh human heart. Travis approaches and takes the heart, brings it to his lips, and takes a ceremonial bite before throwing it in the pan on the fire. Mmmm crispy heart! The rest of the group eagerly tosses their portions into the pan to sizzle, too. The thing is, this moment of cannibalism doesn’t feel scary. It pulsates with dread and grief, sure, especially when Travis literally consumes his brother’s still heart. But I don’t feel fear when I watch this scene. I feel simultaneous relief and tension. Their hunger is satiated, for now. But it means there’s more feasts like this to come.

Misty brings chunks of Javi upstairs to Lottie, who says she thought “it” wanted what was best for them and now she’s not so sure. Misty is firm with her. “Your team needs you,” she says. “Eat.”

We cut to the present, where Lottie is standing in her office, eyes closed, calm but not really here. Elsewhere, Nat tucks a knife into her sleeve. They lay out the animal masks. Lottie seems adrift. I do wonder what has caused Lottie’s rapidly accelerating psychotic break. Did she stop taking her meds? Does the presence of the other Yellowjackets trigger her? A combination?

Callie walks through the woods alone and comes across Saracusa. We see that she has the gun, naturally, and she takes it out and holds it behind her back. Saracusa ends up baited by a fake phone call from Kevyn that’s actually from Walter, using Kevyn’s phone and a recording of Kevyn talking to Jeff. Saracusa goes to check it out. In a later scene, we see Walter’s plan unfold. Saracusa opens a car trunk to find Kevyn, and Walter runs up on him and uses Saracusa’s gun to shoot Kevyn (I think?? We don’t actually see the body, but Walter shoots directly into the trunk). Walter then explains very quickly that there are bank and phone records connecting Kevyn to the deaths of Adam Martin as well as Jessica Roberts (so Walter DID know Misty was involved in that one, too!), and Saracusa can either roll with that story or Walter can have the phone and bank records point to Saracusa. This particular plotline is being tied up a bit too neatly in a bow, but as it’s one of my least favorite plotlines of the season — outside of the domestic chaos it has wrought in the Sadecki family, which I  love — I’ll take it. I’m just still having trouble assessing Walter’s motives.

In the woods, the adult Yellowjackets stand in a circle around the fire. Lottie shuffles, and Shauna says she wants to shuffle more, is trying to buy time before the crisis team comes, but we know they’re not coming. When it’s Tai’s turn to draw, she hesitates, and Lottie says: “Taissa, are you refusing the draw? Because you know what happens when you do.” It’s such a fun and harrowing line, because WE don’t know what happens when someone refuses a draw, but I’m sure we’re bound to find out next season. They all pull cards, and no one gets the Queen, so Lottie says they must draw again. Flashbacks to the first card draw in the cabin pop in as they draw. Every time we stop on Adult Taissa, there are Other Tai vibes in her expression, which might help explain some of what happens next.

Taissa holding a card in yellowjackets 209

And then Shauna pulls the Queen. The others immediately but slowly peel away from the circle toward the masks and weapons. They put on their masks. The whole time, Shauna is like guyssss, we’re not doing this for real though right? Remember? But everyone is just silent, going through the motions. “You can submit or you can run,” Lottie says.

“You know there’s no IT, right?” Shauna says. “It was just us.”

“Is there a difference?” Lottie asks.

Shauna walks away, and the others start pursuing her, weapons brandished. Again, do any of them actually have a plan?! Or were they just sort of like fuck it, we ball the second the ritual started and decided to commit to it? Is this just an extreme version of falling back into old patterns? Where the pattern is MURDER HUNT? I can understand Tai’s motivations if she’s Other Tai right now. But Van and Nat? What are they doing? It’s confusing, and yet I’m also swept up in the moment, unsure like Shauna if what’s happening is real or not. We know Shauna has a hunger for murder. What if they all do?

the adult Yellowjackets minus Shauna in masks in Yellowjackets 209

Callie shoots Lottie in the arm, stopping the hunt. Lottie is surprised to meet Shauna’s daughter. “She’s so powerful,” she says. Everyone removes their masks, and it’s like as if Callie’s interruption has broken the spell that has taken hold of them. A non-Yellowjacket has entered, and they’re no longer in their activated mode. Van and Tai admit they called off the crisis team, and Van says: “She’s like this because of us.” She’s right, but again, I don’t know how they’re going to actually help Lottie.

In the past, Lottie finally leaves the attic. She comes down to everything, and they hug her, are so happy to see her. Sitting around the fire, everyone wants Van to tell them a story, and instead of recounting the plot to a movie like she usually does for them, she tells a story about the wilderness. Outside, Coach pilfers some matches, an axe, rope. He’s prepping for his life alone in the cave, away from all this. Lottie says the wilderness chose her because she was the only one who knew how to listen, but now she can’t hear it anymore. I’m not sure if Lottie actually believes this or just wants to relinquish her power because she’s scared of and guilty for what it has led to. She says they need a new leader who can help them survive the rest of this time. “The wilderness chose who fed us. It’s already chosen who should lead us,” she says. Misty stands, obviously thinking it’s meant to be her. But Lottie says it’s Nat.

In the present, Lottie claims to hear the wilderness. She looks at Nat and says “you were always its favorite.” Nat flashes back to a couple memories: her with the gun under her chin, her holding the knife at Doomcoming while saving Travis’ life.

In the past, Lottie says “we tried to kill you, and it wouldn’t let us,” to Nat. Coach watches all this from outside, looks afraid. The group all approach Nat, bewildered and silent, and offer their thanks in the form of curtsies, hat tips, hand holds. Misty bows so dramatically it makes them laugh. Travis takes her hand to his heart.

In the present, Lisa barges in with the hunting gun. She wants to know what they’re all talking about, what the truth is. Nat approaches her slowly, but Lisa tells her to drop the knife. Nat does. Then Misty charges at them, and we dip into Nat’s headspace as she sees herself pulling the card as a teen, Javi’s death, her telling Coach she let him die in her place, the moment from the pilot where Nat sees Misty across a field but then she vanishes. Nat steps in front of Lisa to save her life, and Misty instead plunges the lethal injection into Nat’s clavicle.

Now we’re in an empty plane. Nat sits here, in a signature leather jacket look. She looks confused. Get ready for Juliette Lewis to break your heart. We can hear the muffled voices of the other Yellowjackets reacting to what has just happened, Nat clearly in some in-between space between life and death. When we move back into reality, the other Yellowjackets want to know what can be done, but Misty says nothing. It’s too late. She lays her down, crying, full of a kind of remorse we haven’t seen this intensely from her since Crystal died. And this might even actually top that emotionally for Misty.

Nat on an empty plane

We go back to the limbo plane, and Javi tells Nat there’s nothing to be afraid of. She says she isn’t supposed to be here. “We both know that’s not true,” Sophie Thatcher as younger Nat says. “This is exactly where we belong. We’ve been here for years.” Now, Nat really understands what is happening, that she is dying, is dead, and she starts crying. “It’s not evil,” a younger Lottie tells her. She tells her to let it in.

Local police arrive and rule Nat’s death as an overdose. Misty cries to Walter that she just killed her best friend (not for the first time), and he pulls her in for a hug. Callie and Shauna have thousand yard stares. Lottie sits in an ambulance, and Tai tells her they’re going to keep her for a little while but they’re going to come check on her. So after all that, they still are just going to send Lottie away. “We gave it what it wanted,” Lottie says, speaking of Nat’s sacrificial death. “It is pleased with us. You’ll see.” Van’s face here is hard to read, but she looks…hopeful? Like she might be buying into her past beliefs. And maybe that’s what subconsciously made her go through with the hunt, too. I get what Van says about it being their fault and their shared trauma that is making Lottie have a mental breakdown right now, but I don’t see what she expects anyone to do with that information. They’re sort of acting as recklessly as they used to as teens — and with as little understanding for mental illness, too.

As truly devastating and shattering as Nat’s death is, I don’t have a problem with it narratively in the same way I do with the lack of foresight on the whole group’s part when it comes to doing this hunt. It would have been so easy to just kill Lisa, a character we’ve known for a short time, who we’ve developed an emotional connection with, sure, but not to the extent we have with Nat. It would even, in a way, make sense for Nat and Lisa’s arc together if Lisa died. But it wouldn’t narratively work as well as what happens instead. The way the season has been structured, we see Nat die as an adult one episode after we saw her teen self narrowly escape death by letting someone die in her place. Now, she gives her life to save someone else. It’s brutal, and I know a lot of fans will hate it, but in an episode called “Storytelling,” this is some really fucking compelling storytelling. It’s the second time Misty has killed her best friend (or who she perceives as her best friend).

Also, I’m convinced this has been the plan for a very long time. There are subtle but meaningful breadcrumbs that come to mind, some of them hinted at in the episode itself. Right as Nat’s first stabbed by Misty, she flashes on a series of memory pops, and one of them is that moment where she hallucinated Misty at the bonfire in the pilot. Even if we hadn’t been shown that flashback — and I’m glad we were — I would have thought of it, because it’s a scene I’ve never been able to make sense of and have long wondered about its meaning. Nat is also the first character to ever point out the lack of Queen cards in the deck in the cabin. She’s the first one to ever pull it. It’s like that death sentence is just delivered on a delay. I hate to see Juliette Lewis depart, but I also had a feeling a big death was coming at the end of this season, and for this one to happen in the present timeline instead of the past injects new stakes into that timeline. The past is repeating itself in an even more overt and terrifying way.

But this isn’t where the episode ends. It ends in the past, with Shauna journaling in the attic. She writes the words “I used to think it was Jackie who made me feel invisible but” and oh how I wish she finished that sentence, because I’m curious! But her journal sesh is interrupted by the smell of smoke. Downstairs, a fire rages. Shauna wakes everyone up, and it’s mass chaos. They can’t get out of the cabin. The door is stuck. The flames are growing bigger. Finally, Tai takes an axe to the door (hot), and they spills out into the snow and watch through tearful eyes as the cabin, their only home out here, burns down.

I guess this means everyone is moving into Coach’s cave? The problem is: None of them know it exists. Also, is it just me or is the show trying to suggest Coach might have set this fire? I don’t think I fully buy that’s what happened, because nothing we’ve really seen Coach do indicates that he would murder ALL OF THEM, even if he does think they’ve all gone too far in their tactics for survival, even if he is scared of them. Because also, what’s his endgame there? He just survives alone out here? Then again, Coach has been pretty detached from reality lately. Could a hallucination of Paul convinced him to do this? Again, that wouldn’t really track with what we’ve seen previously though. Paul is such a symbol of hope and love. I really don’t think Coach has it in him to snap like this, but it’s also undeniable that we’re led to believe it could be the case. Regardless, the one thing they could previously count on — shelter — has been ripped from the Yellowjackets. It means they’re only going to have to take more drastic measures to survive.


Last Buzz:

  • Again, I apologize for the lateness of this recap!
  • I can’t believe that’s a wrap on season two!!!!!!! And who knows when season three is coming due to the writers strike, which I enthusiastically support. The things the unions are fighting for matter more than me being able to sit down and watch my silly little television programs on a consistent schedule.
  • As always, writing these recaps is a delight, especially because of the comment community that springs up around them. Thank you for making me laugh and think this year. I hope to see you next time.
  • Juliette Lewis does the “previously on Yellowjackets” voiceover at the start of the episode, and if you haven’t rewatched it after your first viewing yet, it might make you burst into tears like I did when you do!!!!!
  • Just want to reiterate that Van should have had…a plan. Or at least some suggestions for alternatives.
  • The prop heart was disturbingly good.
  • Sooooo Callie and Lisa are both witnesses to this murder! They’re now involved in all this chaos in a much bigger way.
  • What was Shauna going to say in her journal!
  • Opening with “Zombie” really is a top tier needledrop, and now I shall be blasting it all day.
  • I really like this show’s various depictions of limbo, the afterlife, whatever you want to call it. They feel unique to each person. Jackie, Shauna, Nat. They all experienced something different in near death.
  • Now that it’s all said and done I think the best episode of the season was “Qui.” What’s yours?
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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 871 articles for us.

142 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recap! Yours is always the first one I go to after I’ve watched the episode.

    I’m still processing what I’ve seen, but my main question is, what is the significance of Misty appearing at the party before the crash, and again in Natalie’s death vision?

    Also, Ben TOTALLY burnt down the cabin. He even tried to block the door so they couldn’t get out. It seemed to me he started the fire on the outside of the cabin because there are flames all around the exterior of the building.

    Ugh. What an episode.

    • Nat’s Misty vision before the crash remains unexplainable to me too, but I interpret it as more of a vibe/intuition or something being off/something to come than necessarily a direct “vision” or premonition.

      I think Misty’s grief at accidentally killing Natalie is 100% genuine. She did what she did out of a misguided desire to protect Nat (and to be the “savior,” as usual). Whereas with Crystal it was always more mixed: panic, betrayal, fear that she would be found out, covering her tracks, etc. This is the first time I think we’ve seen pure, unfiltered emotion from Misty that isn’t self-involved.

      • Yes we finally see Misty genuinely remorseful and heartbroken! With Crystal it was self-preservation so I think she felt “bad” more selfishly. I think if any further disclosure of destroying the transmitter is coming, it will come in the present / hasn’t happened yet, so now Misty can speak to her guilt of killing her best friend and mean both of them, in a sense, and get some release that’s been held in.

        • yes, definitely self-preservation.

          I’m curious about this piece of the plot. Simone Kessell mentioned in an interview that the adult YJ already know about Misty’s destruction of the transmitter (to be honest her comment sounds more like an actor who has assumed as much more than this actually being something that showrunners have decided/told the actors, given how much it sounds like they keep the actors in the dark about upcoming developments).

          But I also read elsewhere that in the 90s, it wouldn’t actually have helped them – once discovered, it could have revealed information about why the plane went down, but that at that time it wouldn’t actually have transmitted an SOS/their whereabouts out to the wider world in hopes of rescue. I’m no Citizen Detective so I don’t know if this is true?

          • I didn’t dig but I did also happen to read that while it wouldn’t have had GPS or communicated a precise location, it could have still been used to triangulate a signal and help the plane be found. So it doesn’t seem like rescue with this device would be definitive, but I don’t know that it can be ruled out either, and what’s important is that they would perceive it as preventing their rescue at worst, reducing their chances at best (and Misty’s intent was surely to prevent their rescue regardless).

            Yeah I suppose they could know already, though have definitely been hoping since Crystal’s death that this would be something Misty’s held in since but would come into play in the future. Agree that the actor’s comment could be incorrect so I won’t decide either way.

    • I too thought Ben burnt the cabin down, as some kind of misguided punishment I guess. It’s so messed up and likely just makes him a bigger target.

      So sad about Nat and agree with others that Misty”s remorse is finally genuine.

      I truly can”t imagine where either timeline goes next season but can’t wait to find out. Going to do full rewatch soon

    • I just saw it as a premonition of her own death, but not necessarily in an extremely supernatural way. like perhaps Nat always knew Misty was dangerous and unpredictable

      • I sensed that he was originally coming to pilfer supplies (I feel like the shot of him trying to start a fire with the flint indicated as much), but then he observed the transfer of leadership to Nat and felt like all hope for them was lost, if even Nat is buying into the group mentality.

      • He did say to Paul that they were vicious little monsters, and I think he decided that now they’re all embracing the evil he needs to get rid of them, not just hide from them.

  2. Kayla! Thank you so much for these recaps, they really made my week and I am going to miss them so much.

    Here is my theory after only having watched this episode once, and needing to do some re-watching to see if my hunch actually holds up– I think coach did set fire to the cabin, and I do think Natalie has enough information to find the cave.

    I remember Natalie and coach briefly talking before he found the cave, and Natalie mentioning that she saw Javi praying to a specific tree out in the woods. This is where coach gets the hunch to check that area out and finds his man cave (also worth pointing out, he did remove the piece of the map containing the location of the tree, and we don’t know if he ever put that map piece back). When Javi goes to save Natalie, he says he has a place and Coach confirms that he has a safe space, so Natalie has the pieces to put together.

    I think she takes them to the cave, and I think that Shauna’s line from season one about Natalie being the reason that they got out of there is referring to Natalie taking them all to the cave and providing them with shelter.

    I really do think that coach intentionally burned the cabin down, and seeing him take those tools and the matches while the girls were inside made me nervous that he would try something like this. I think between Natalie (the only girl he trusts and has connected with) telling him that she let Javi die, watching Natalie accept everyone’s deference, and the fact that he is starving even worse than everybody else is enough motivation for him to do something like killing all of the girls off in a fire.

    • This makes so much sense. It also reminds me of Ben asking Misty to push him off the cliff. This is another way for him to passively commit suicide – either the team survives and seek revenge or the elements kill him imminently, there’s no way he can survive on his own for long

      • Yeah, I think Ben intrinsically knows that no matter what he is not going to survive all that long by himself and is disgusted enough with literally everyone around him that he would be willing to do something drastic.

    • I think Ben setting fire to the cabin is meant to be kind of ambiguous? He definitely has like matches and stuff in his hands when he sees everyone bow to Nat, but is he stealing them for himself (still pretty bad given their limited resources) or did he set the fire? I definitely think the YJs are gonna THINK he did it, and that is probably gonna be the end of Coach Ben.

      • The main reason it does not read as ambiguous to me is that the fire is entirely external to the cabin, and there are presumably not many things that would lead to a spontaneous fire with a basic cabin without electricity.

        The girls are 100% going to think it was him no matter what and he will not live to tell the tale, but I (unfortunately) absolutely believe Ben was responsible.

        • I didn’t view the fire as ambiguous either and thought it was clearly Ben, and yeah because it came from the outside it really couldn’t have been anything else. But then reading other people viewing it as ambiguous and seeing how they pan up from the cabin on fire, the only other consideration I have is the supernatural / wilderness spirit (I don’t think this but suppose a basis for the theory exists and there are people arguing this).

          • That’s a really good point about how the scene was shot. I kind of forgot about the supernatural perspective, because the last several episodes have led us away from that possibility quite a bit. I’m still #TeamRational, but that makes sense even if I don’t personally believe it.

          • no you’re right I think Ben did it, it just feels like a leap for his character but maybe not!

    • Thank YOU for bringing your brilliant thoughts to the comments!

      And yeah the more I think about it, the more I think it’s Coach. Because he’s also the only one who hasn’t participated in the cannibalism either. Which also means he’s the hungriest but also I think he thinks he’s waging some sort of morality war by killing them, drawing a line at cannibalism. It’s interesting to me because in that interpretation, he really is the wrong one! So the show is challenging the dominant narrative that cannibalism is inherently morally bad imo. Coach thinks it should be punished, but it’s so clear how wrong he is!

      • I completely agree that I think coach has taking the moral high ground and it’s frequently not justified. Snackie was dead, and while nobody meant to smoke her like they did, ethically I don’t think eating her is an issue. Now coach does get to take the moral high ground with Javi and his death, but coach was already hyper judgemental prior to this point.

        I get the punishment angle, and I can see him acting from that perspective. I can also see him attempting to kill them all out of self-preservation because he doesn’t want to be killed in an act of ritualistic murder, which fair 😂

        I can’t wait to see, after our writers get fair pay and all of their demands met, what they do with coach in the beginning of season three!

        • I sooo enjoyed reading the recaps and all the comments this season, it truly wouldn’t be the same experience watching without it !

          Something I was sure we were going to see but didn’t happen is that, when Ben started to steal the different items, we see him with a rope. When the fire started and the doors were blocked, I for sure thought it was Ben’s doing and that after doing that, he would kill himself. Especially when the camera starting pulling back from the cabin on fire, I was sure we were going to see Ben hanged in a tree nearby (with the rope he took).
          I guess I was wrong ! And it is quite interesting that a character we all believe would be dead by the end of s1 is still around !

  3. I think Ben absolutely set the fire, and I loved the misdirect within Kusama’s direction with him scavenging the matches. Trying to burn the girlies alive is *such* a heteronormative move!

    And yes, their shelter is gone, but does that mean the rest of Javi’s meat is also gone? I need to rewatch and see how the meat shed looks (if at all) in those final scenes.

    Kayla, your recap crystallized for me why S2 has worked less well for me than S1 (beyond the novelty of “queer girl cannibal show.” So much of S1 was about the unexplained or unsolvable mysteries of the YJs’ time in the wilderness, but this season, both timelines were in a much more grounded, realistic space with far less ambiguity. This episode and the reason-defying reenactment of the hunt ritual recaptured some of that magic for me and made me realized how much I’d been missing it.

    Also, I am the outlier whose *least* favorite episode of S2 was “Qui!” But I think the choice to kill adult Natalie is incredibly strong storytelling (see what I did there?) and I’m so excited to see where the show takes us now that the stupid cops storyline is finally dunzo.

  4. – This episode just seemed to lack the tension of last episode. Even despite the Hunt.
    – It’s appreciated that since it’s winter, and the girls can’t bathe, everybody is just filthy.
    – Akilah was hardly in this episode.
    – They seem to be indicating that Natalie will be the Antler Queen, but one thing still nags at me: Van. In the present timeline Van still seems to be worshipful of Lottie. You would think she wouldn’t be if Nat is the Antler Queen or if they rotate it.
    – Really hoped that smug cop was going to end up being the sacrifice.
    – So that was Other!Tai that was participating in the drawing and the Hunt, right?
    – Callie is becoming like her mother.
    – There were two things that I wanted from the finale: Jackie appearing to Shauna (in either timeline), and Mari still being alive. Unfortunately we got neither of them.
    – “Nat saved us all,” now has a different ring after this episode.
    – The girls are going to torture murder Coach Scott when they catch him now. It won’t be the Wilderness choosing. It will be them.

    I wish to point out something that other people noticed. When Shauna is fleeing the fire she gathers up two things: her journals and Jackie’s Doomcoming dress.

  5. Thrilled to get to this recap early in the day! What an episode! I know there are some people who felt meh about it, and plenty more who felt meh about the season as a whole, but I think everything was done well.

    Random thoughts:

    *I’ve seen some suggestions on Reddit that the reason Adult Nat was killed off is because Juliette Lewis wanted to leave the show, and I wonder if that has any merit? Personally, I didn’t think it seemed to come out of nowhere…in fact, I think it’s a logical conclusion to Natalie’s arc. But many on the Reddit-sphere are convinced this was shoehorned in.

    *I don’t think Van has a plan because Van, on some level, WANTS to regress back into whatever It is. We see her “stuck in the 90s,” so what’s to suggest that she isn’t “stuck” in her Wilderness beliefs as well?

    *On the topic of Van: Lottie’s “You’ll see” at the end was very deliberate, and suggests to me that somehow this “sacrifice” uh…cured Van’s terminal cancer? That was the vibe that I got.

    *I’m excited to hopefully see more Lisa and Walter in the future. I think they were good additions to the cast. Callie has also been fantastic this season…I’m worried for all three of them.

    *Ben DEFINITELY burned down the cabin. I think when he sees all the girls bowing to Natalie, that’s his final straw. He had himself convinced that Natalie was the only “good” one and that she was firmly on the outside of all of the shenanigans, so it must have been jarring to see her actively participate. I think that moment, more than anything else, is what convinces him that the girls aren’t worth saving.

    *I don’t buy that Natalie is THE Antler Queen. I just don’t! I think it rotates.

    *Shauna looked…almost jealous when Lottie said Nat should be their leader. Did anyone else pick up on that?

    *I believe that Natalie has enough information to lead them to Javi’s little hidey cave. Her and Travis were the first people to see the tree, if I remember correctly, so she might be able to put two and two together now.

    • Someone on Reddit wrote out the whole Shauna journals thing:

      “How could it not have been me? After everything? When I was the [can’t see] willing to do what it took to keep us all fed. I used to think it was Jackie who made me feel invisible but [fire happens]”

      So that confirms that Shauna is feeling jealous and undervalued. I wonder if this leads to a rift between Natalie and Shauna? Though, in S1 everyone agrees that Nat kept them all alive. Also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to separate “the hunter” and “the butcher.”

    • I think Sophie’s interview with Variety heavily implies that Juliette was ready to move on and that was a factor in Natalie dying. I do still think it came together, though, in that it made sense. I also can’t see how the Natalie we got to know this season would be able to heal from letting another person die ostensibly to protect her. I can’t see how Natalie would walk out of that clearing if Lisa died and not self-destruct all over again.

      • Yes, and it would almost have felt gratuitous. I feel like we’d be sitting here criticizing the writers for cruelty to Nat if they’d gone that route, and it would have just sent her spiraling into addiction and/or suicidal.

    • I thought the second sentence we saw Shauna writing was something about ‘why wasn’t it me?’ Whether that meant being eaten or being Lottie’s ‘shamanic successor’ is ambiguous.

    • I’m with you in Van thinking the hunt cured her terminal cancer, and I actually think that WAS her plan. Her concern for Lottie is also genuine, but Tai even asked her something like “Did you want this?” about the hunt and she doesn’t say no.

      Also, yes, Shauna was absolutely jealous and Ben absolutely burned down the cabin.

      Overall the episode felt like it set up a lot of intriguing direction for next season.

      • Yes, Van’s face changes when she gets Tai to call off the crisis team. Given her past self’s dark turn, I 100% thought she wanted the hunt and spun it as being more ethical/kind to Lottie. If I read it right, it’s a SUPER interesting character choice especially since Van has been a mostly uncomplicated favorite (as far as this show offers)

      • I agree. I think they knew from the beginning that something like this would unfold. The Misty vision was in the pilot. The timing of it perhaps was linked to Lewis wanting to depart, but I agree her arc felt complete

    • I ALSO got the vibe Adult Lottie thought someone dying would cure Van’s cancer! The religious undertones (overtones?!) are fascinating: teen Yellowjackets eating Javi “in the name of” Lottie is very religion-y (to say nothing of communion/Jesus/wafers/wine), as is thinking if you just appease your god-figure, disease will go away. Props to the writers and I hope they get everything they want and deserve as a result of the strike!

  6. So many thoughts and feelings about this episode!! Bear with me, going to try to be a bit systematic here:

    The fire and Coach Ben: Perhaps it’s an intentional misdirect and I’ll be proven wrong, but I thought it was clear that Ben set the fire. The fact that they showed us him secretly watching as the whole group ‘pledged allegiance’ to Nat suggests that he now views her as inextricably part of them. I think his arc this season is going from wanting to kill himself to feeling like their behavior is so abhorrent it would be better to cut it off. As you say, Kayla, he is the one with the firmest foot in the “real”/adult world. He’s probably thinking: and now, what if they do get rescued/find a way out? After what they’ve resorted to? I think he feels like all hope for them is gone. They’ve crossed some line that they can’t come back from.

    Nat’s death: I speculated about her dying in last week’s comments and watching this episode last night I couldn’t help but cry and cry out, “No!!!” I adore Nat (and Juliette) and I also feel like she was one of the characters you could really root for a bit more straightforwardly, but I agree from a storytelling perspective that her death makes a lot of narrative sense, and has a logic and emotional depth to it that resonates on many levels. It would have felt too cheap for it to be Lisa, but they also needed to build Lisa as a dynamic and three-dimensional character over the course of the season for Nat’s sacrifice to have heft to it, and to feel earned. Oof. The airplane/liminal space scene had me crying for the first time with this show (and was such a markedly and poignantly different call-back to her vision of the flaming plane when she OD’ed).

    Nat’s arc this season: I can see how they were building to her death over the course of the season, but even though it lands for me (and will be super interesting in season 3 to see how only having 1997 Nat left inflects the story/our perceptions), I wish they had given Juliette more to do this season. I felt like her transformation to a more gentle, open person worked best when it was directly linked to her growing intimacy with Lisa, but rang more false/seemed to fast when it was linked to Lottie/the cult or therapeutic mentality more broadly (this stood out most to me in 208).

    Van’s arc this season: I really feel like 208 and 209 show us a 1997 Van who is growing hardened and almost calcifying. Yes, what she says to Travis is logical, and at a deeper emotional level makes sense (‘don’t let his death be in vain’), but it’s a more subtle shift in her interactions with all the team members that makes me uneasy looking forward.

    Van and the hunt/Lottie: Van’s somewhat confusing motivations (protecting Lottie from institutionalization but not really having a plan) struck me as consistent with what we know of her (esp. in relation to Lottie in 1997), but also as indicative of a strange, slightly unhinged impulse. She didn’t want to come to the compound or see any of her teammates (“I want to keep the past in the past”), in stark contrast to the fact that the core 4 from season 1 were at least in periodic contact. But as soon as she saw Shauna – which she knew meant that all of them would be in one place – it’s like a switch flipped and she was in. The emotions playing across her face when she first saw Lottie, and then again after Lottie introduces the poison cups. I suspect she was making a kind of wager. She had this idea that she had eluded death in the 1990s timeline, and to what end? But now she’s facing terminal cancer.

    It’s like she WANTS the hunt to happen, as soon as Shauna mentions it. I don’t think it’s so clear-cut as Van straightforwardly having “bad” motives, I think she genuinely believes they are more than complicit in Lottie’s delusions (as evidenced by the 1997 timeline in this episode), but I also sense that she wanted to see what would happen if they chose cards and reenacted the hunt. Would she meet her demise at last? Or, if they gave ‘It what it wants,’ might she get what she wants?

    Lottie’s final words to her from the ambulance just confirmed this thread for me. I don’t think Lottie knows about or ‘senses’ the cancer specifically. But coming from a place of intuition, whether due to her psychosis or otherwise, she says very directly to Van “It’s pleased with us. You’ll see” – I think there’s an insinuation that Van will somehow evade her prognosis. I’m not saying that supernatural forces are actually at play, but I think that might be what Lottie and/or Van at some level (conscious, subconscious, or otherwise) want to believe.

    I have far more conflicted feelings about Van after this episode (which is great!), and I love how the show keeps doing this to us, with Shauna, with Lottie (this was a strong part of this end to s2 for me, making Lottie and her motivations far more complex), and even with Nat – an unbeliever who now takes the mantle of the Antler Queen.

    Which relates to Shauna journaling: This to me was a fascinating glimpse at how self-absorbed Shauna really is, and she feels betrayed in a way by the group. When Lottie announced someone new would lead them, the emotions playing across Shauna’s face – and she straightened up a bit – suggested to me that she thought Lottie was going to say her. I love the evolution of this character, played so skillfully and subtly by Sophie/Melanie, that she starts out appearing one way, but we’ve peeled back these layers to a much darker, more complex, and surprising person over the last two seasons (in both timelines).

    • These are great points!

      The writers did do a really good job with complicating Van in this episode and I am really looking forward to see what they do with her next season.

      It will also be *very* interesting to see Natalie in the teen timeline only.

    • wow I agree with every single one of your points! this was so eloquent and smart and well-reasoned – you should definitely join the writers’ room for season three

    • I also yelled out NOoooooo.
      I’m pretty pissed at Lisa. But also, how they were just like “it’s cool everyone is sleeping so we can play our murder games” was kinda delusional. Good analysis of Van’s motivations and I love Shauna’s complexity and evolution (in both timelines) as well.

  7. Because my response is usually so glowing, I did find two aspects of the season wrap-up to be weak:

    The Adam/Jessica/cop storyline was tied up FAR too neatly and conveniently, which I too will allow because I am very ready for it to go away.

    But this relates to a bigger issue that I have: Walter. I’m fine that we still don’t know his motivations (I hope they are sinister, or at least complicated!), but I feel like he functions in this episode too much as a deus ex machina. Whereas we see Misty make missteps with the Citizen Detective stuff, Walter seems to always know and have and be able to do exactly what needs to happen within the plot to move the story along in the direction the writers want. The nature of his intentions, and who he really is (he’s clearly lying to Misty too – says he lives on the boat but has the huge mansion, etc.), remain interesting to me, but I wish that he wasn’t a device to tie up so many plot points from both seasons.

    This is not at the same level of plot, I wish Tai and mentioned Simone or Sammy at some point – not to mention her highly demanding job?! Like how can she just disappear like this for a week? I know Simone had barred her from contact/Sammy was with his grandparents, and I know that Taissa has shown herself to be fairly self-absorbed too, but it felt unrealistic that she didn’t even mention them at all (as opposed to Shauna still feeling connected to Jeff and Callie, even when she’s with the cult). Perhaps it goes back to her sleepover with Shauna in season 1, saying that all these milestones never felt totally real to her. And now that she’s back with the adult YJ/away from the life she built, it’s like the wilderness life just overtakes everything else?

    • Technically, Tai has yet to be sworn into office and all of this action has taken place in less than a week. Elections are typically in November with winners being sworn in during January. Her excuse for being absent could be needing rest, Simone’s accident, etc.

      • I keep having to remind myself of this because the timeline is truly insane and I wish that the show was clearer about how fast this is all happening!

        actually, if I’m wishing for stuff I’d prefer they stretched all of this out over a few weeks at least, because it was all so rushed and the characters devolved so rapidly that I really didn’t feel it was earned.

        like in the space of a single day they arrive at Lottie’s, do their fun therapy exercises, Tai and Van fall back into each other, Van reveals the cancer, they all sweetly dance and drink together, then they go to the sharing shack to reveal their secrets – and all of a sudden bam, it’s murder-suicide time! like…okay

        • yes! particularly compared to the 90s timeline, where there’s much more of a sense of days or weeks passing in between what we see. I think it allows the evolutions and character shifts to feel more cumulative and earned, when there are abrupt changes or surprises

  8. Ok first time comment here, but awesome job one the recaps and thanks it’s really fun to see what your thoughts are and also the rest of the autostraddle readers.

    Nat, I love her and I am devastated to see her go (and Juliette), but I do find it naratively satisfying. It connects so well and she just had such a great character arc as well. Her relationship to Lottie and everything. And Misty.. I was like ok but why can’t you do a non lethal thing you can just knock someone out to defuse a situation, but, Misty is very ride or die, and also I am pretty sure that the seringe had Lottie’s meds, which ties up the Nat overdose thing but also would have worked on Lottie as well, because I think that might have been her plan initially. She also didn’t have her stash of meds there so she had to work with what she had.
    About Van, I love her, but I am seeing a bit more of the darkness inside her this episode as well. Like at first I was like oh it’s kind of inconsistent that she is both the believer and the skeptic, but I think that she just becomes a believer when the situation is really dire, or she feels like it’s really dire. Like I think that the reason why she didn’t stop the hunt is because she is willing to believe that it might save her. Which also ties neatly with what she said to Travis about not wanting to feel ashamed for wanting to live.
    Now about Ben, I dunno if he actually set the fire and I am really curious to see where they go with this because I already have 3 different options and darn it, I thought that the finale would free my brain from the yellowjackets obssession but I think it’s gonna take at least 2 more weeks of thinking and listening to the soundtrack and reading everyone’s takes to subdue it.

    • I think the “meds” that Misty had was the phenobarbital that Walter used to kill Kevyn and that were one one of the “poisoned oolongs.” Misty took Lottie’s meds, but to get her doctor’s info. That, I feel, was a false flag in a scene that was really about Misty getting her phone and encountering Walter.

      • I will say I found Nat’s death both devastating and narratively satisfying but I also said out loud, “Now, Misty, I hope we’ve learned our lesson about going for the kill.” It’s alarming though because you have to assume she had a death syringe on her for the hunt perhaps to kill Lottie of things got out of hand (or the huntee??) which makes it even more awful that she didn’t bring a knock-out drug instead

  9. I think every single character’s facial expressions in the final current-timeline scene were incredible and each told a story.

    Watching Van’s face shift to hopeful, reverent, almost joyous when Lottie says “you’ll see” felt like a nod to her cancer diagnosis. Was Lottie implying—and was Van picking up?—that by feeding It, It will stop “punishing” Van?

    Also watching Callie’s face twist up to a smile while taking it all in was terrifying and heartbreaking, especially while watching Shauna notice and look so somber. I imagine this will end up bonding them in the same kind of sick way all the YJs are bonded, but you could see a kind of heartbreak in Shauna’s face that this cycle is being perpetuated.

    Also, I am so gutted at what happened to Nat in the past. I was so sure that she was going to stay strong, stay away from the cult, and to watch her take in everyone’s praise and adoration was sickening. I’m so curious to see how this will play out, especially given how Misty, Tai, and Shauna all reacted to Nat being put in charge. You could see them all getting ready to accept Lottie’s bestowal, and Shauna in particular took it hard. I’m also wondering why Van and others still have this worship of Lottie if she handed over the reins, so to speak.

    GOD I need S3.

    • Eh, maybe I’m just a teen (and adult) Nat stan, but I found her reaction to being made the leader to be believable and not that disappointing. Teen girls are DESPERATE for validation (speaking as a former teen girl). She was an outcast before the crash and had a difficult home life and abusive dad. I would imagine getting that much acceptance (and practically worship) from your peers/teammates who once ridiculed you as a druggie/weirdo would be absolutely intoxicating and irresistible!

    • I agree that teen Nat’s reaction was believable as a teen girl receiving validation! I also think that she’s going through a lot of emotions and being ‘chosen’ as the next leader is wrapped up in her trying to feel less guilty for Javi’s death — that moment help her in being slightly convinced that she didn’t let Javi die, and that instead the wilderness ‘chose’ to save her because she’s meant to be its leader.

  10. Well I sure didn’t see a lot of that coming, though the second Kev showed up at the compound I was like, “well he is not long for this world.”

    And every time Walter appeared I was like, “What a little murder elf!!” Not really sure what his deal is, but I think we can definitively say he has killed before and is very into Misty!! Probably too much so. He was MUCH too prepared for this.

    As for what Shauna wrote in her diary, well, I’m pretty sure she is jealous she is not Antler Queen.

  11. I’ve loved reading your recaps this season, Kayla. I also mostly loved this episode – even though I’m a little confused about how the hunt in the adult timeline went down, and I have similar reservations about Van’s (lack of a) plan.

    Regarding Shauna’s journals, she also wrote “How could it not have been me?” I took what she wrote to mean she thought she should have been chosen to be the leader, and that she’s feeling invisible to the group.

    And honestly, I get it! She did something so hard for them this episode in preparing Javi’s body. The image of her pulling her hat down over her eyes to slit his throat is one of the most heartbreaking and stunning in the whole series for me. She then sent the others away so they wouldn’t have to face the reality of butchering him for food and continued on by herself.

    I think Shauna and Nat have both felt very isolated from the group throughout the season – and it’s really interesting how things have wound up for both of them.

    • I know I totally get where Shauna is coming from! Logically, it should have been her. But they’re not operating on logic. It’s also horrible that it was Nat that Lottie named because they NEED Nat as the skeptic (though maybe Nat needed this to bring her in and would have been doomed on the outskirts). It was devastating all around. I mean it was lovely to watch Nat take in some social acceptance and reverence because she’s the best… but it’s not actually a good sign from this group given where their heads are at. Watching I thought coach was always up to no good, but maybe he was just pilfering until he saw this and then lost all hope watching Nat’s crowning and switched gears.

      • Yes! I also totally see the logic of crowning Nat – or at least I see how it makes sense to them considering the logic they are operating with. And I don’t think they ever would have picked Shauna. Her resentment about it just makes a lot of sense for her character.

        And I agree – I’m sure it won’t be good for Nat…Lottie wanted to take off the mantle of leadership pretty quick and did so at her first opportunity! It’s going to be a heavy burden.

        • Yes completely, Nat was the obvious choice under the principles they/Lottie are operating and choosing from. Shauna’s resentment makes sense for her character AND I think there are legitimate arguments for her in such a role, but not within the structures and ideology that they’re operating from.

  12. eek I am going to miss the show and your recaps so much, thank you Kayla!
    I don’t even know what to say about this ep yet. I was heartbroken by the Javi scenes and then over again with Nat. I agree that it narratively makes sense for Nat’s arc. It was also soooo frustrating because it was such an avoidable casualty in the present timeline. Nat and Kevyn were killed on the same night, which is weird to think about, especially with the context of Nat’s bonfire hallucination. I like that setup, with Kevyn saying to her “don’t you go to the olympics or whatever tomorrow” when Nat grabs the LSD. She’s essentially about to enter into an entirely new life that will lead to her death at Misty’s (sort of) hands, and Kevyn’s too (I hate what the show did with Kevyn, like why make him a cop at all, and of course I would have preferred they kill mustache cop but oh well. Like everyone I’m hoping we’re done with that storyline even though wrapping it was too neat and convoluted at the same time. I love seeing Walter there cleaning things up for Misty and the yj, but what he wants with them once their external adversaries are out of the way is unclear).
    Nat is for sure my favorite yellowjacket so I’m very sad but at least we still have teen Nat. Again Sophie is soooo good this episode, just like last episode, and well I am in awe of both the Sophies.

    I wonder how long they’ll accept Nat as leader or if we have all our mains/survivors (maybe save Van) immediately vying for power (we know Shauna feels it should have been her from the journals, Misty stands expecting to be named, and Taissa sits up straight).
    I feel like Van (both Vans) have been becoming less likable to me but I guess that just speaks to the complexity and moral ambiguity of all the characters and their circumstances. It frustrated me completely that there was no actual alternative suggestion for what to do about present Lottie. I agree that committing her is less than ideal, but she’s trying to reinitiate a murder pact which is far less excusable in their present context, soooooo you gotta actually put out some alternatives not just say we can’t commit her. I hate that Lottie’s plan “worked” because it’s more fuel for her illness and misattributions / perceptual disturbances (and Van’s too, seemingly). Also I wonder if they’re trying to say or could be some interpretation by the characters from the fire that Nat WAS supposed to die not be crowned and that’s why their cabin burned and now things are finally being righted because boo.

    I perceived Coach as up to something nefarious (not just pilfering goods) from jump, and while I’d like for it to be a misdirect, the fact that the cabin burned from the outside makes that seem unlikely. I guess the pan upwards as with the Jackie bonfire could be communicating that the wilderness did it, buuuttt I think it was Ben. And this is some moral outrage logic that I don’t get, like “I’m going to kill them justly for being unethical killers.” ummmmm. Maybe I can still have empathy for Ben’s unraveling but he’s been losing me for a while. He’s been at best ineffectual since flight of the bumblebee and he broke me at the birth. I agree they have enough now to quickly find the tree cave and I’m thinking they’ll be able to tell it was arson and come for him. The shots of them watching the cabin burn are amazing I paused it in different places to look at their expressions (it bugs me thought that you can’t see all of them like Akilah is behind and Gen is not in the shot nor the still missing extras).

    I love that Javi visited Nat in her death plane experience but it does feel like a missed opportunity for a loving Travis reunification given the torment underlying their relationship in their lives (I would have liked to see both Travis-es! and Jackie who was laid to rest by Nat. Also woulda been cool to see Crystal because she also died at Misty’s hands and coulda spilled the beans to Nat here but that’s reaching I suppose, maybe just an ambiguous appearance and so it was disappointing to get Lottie here given all the options).

    The music again!! I loved that we got the killing moon cover AND THEN the original. The cabin burning to those lyrics did make it seem more ambiguous / fated. Lots still to chew on but it’s gonna be a long wait for the next chapter so I hopefully this will reach some latent / subdued place in my consciousness soon.

  13. Loved the Zombie needledrop. One of the best songs of all time and has the effect of just instantly putting me in a very specific mood that fit the tone perfectly.

    “Finally, Tai takes an axe to the door (hot)” You get me.

    I definitely think Coach burned down the cabin and frankly I love that for him. Man is having a hard time! Let him do some arson to cope!

    Also, I still don’t understand the moment where Nat hallucinated Misty at the bonfire. I feel like seeing it again in this context didn’t add any more meaning to it for me. Can anyone fill me in on what you think about it?

    • To me, Nat’s tripping vision of Misty the night before she gets on the plane, now that we know how Nat’s story concludes BECAUSE she gets on the plane, is just sort of a psychic flash of the person who will end her life, happening right before she crosses the threshold that will change her life (the flight) and set these events in motion.
      (Before this finale I had considered whether it was definitely a vision, like maybe Misty really showed up to the party in that dorky outfit but in that case, replaying it in Nat’s death sequence would not make sense).

  14. I don’t really know how to feel about this episode!

    – the wilderness timeline was TERRIFIC imo and that shot of Shauna covering her face before she bled out Javi? what an incredible seed to plant for why they wear those masks – in part to hide from their shame. it reminds me of how in the black market ortolan trade, diners cover their heads and face with a large napkin or towel while consuming the entire bird, head and all, to retain the aromas but to also shield themselves from the same of such a forbidden and disgraceful act.

    – loved that Ben told Natalie “you’re not like other girls” and she straight up said “you’re right, I’m worse”. lmao. they will never make me hate her I’m sorry!

    – Ben absolutely burned down the cabin. this was telegraphed by him watching outside in horror and disgust while the camera lingered over him holding the matches. I guess he thinks they’re beyond saving after what they did to Javi, and Natalie being worshipped as their new leader is the last straw. nonetheless I am SO done with him! he’s neglected them and done nothing to help in any situation, not even supporting Shauna in childbirth, and instead he has just retreated into his own fantasy world. I cannot believe we had to sit through that many Paul hallucinations/memories only for Ben to decide not to jump because the girls need him, to then decide to BURN THEM ALIVE while they’re sleeping. they’re just trying to survive and they’re kids! he’s the grown ass adult! I need this dude dead and I hope they hunt him down next season, then take his cave.

    – Shauna wrote “I thought it would be me”, as in, she’s jealous of them making Natalie the new leader and not her after she’s just done all of *that* to feed them, and she feels overlooked.

    – the adult stuff this season has often been fun and a source of lighthearted relief, but it’s also been messy as hell and the pacing was so off. I’ve said this in a previous comment: the timeline is truly insane and I wish that the show was clearer about how fast this is all happening! I’d prefer they had stretched all of this out over a few weeks at least, because it was all so rushed and escalated so rapidly that I really didn’t feel it was earned.

    – like in the space of a single day they arrive at Lottie’s, do their fun therapy exercises, Tai and Van fall back into each other, Van reveals the cancer, they all sweetly dance and drink together, then they go to the sharing shack to reveal their secrets – and all of a sudden bam, it’s murder-suicide time! like…okay?

    – I think, I *think* that the point is that they all devolve in each other’s presence and while the initial plan was to go along with the hunt to placate Lottie, something was activated in their muscle memory once they started the ritual. for Van at least. she’s so unknowable, though, and I wish they had made her motivations a bit clearer. I first thought she had hoped to draw the queen card to sacrifice herself because she’s already dying (and I’m extremely glad that didn’t happen). but it’s difficult to know exactly what was going on with her when she clearly deviated from the plan by telling Shauna to stop shuffling the cards.

    – like she obviously has hope at the end when Lottie alludes to the wilderness being pleased, and I guess she will go into remission and some of them will think it’s because of the sacrifice, but there will also be a medical explanation. but the way people on Reddit are talking about her like she’s the new Big Bad (eye roll) is really frustrating me. I wish the show hadn’t made her a last minute ‘villain’ like they sort of did with Lottie at the end of the first season. because I personally understand this show is not about heroes and villains, but it seems many others do not! in s3 they need to flesh Van out WAY more and give her more screen time, some back story, something.

    – Taissa has also been massively sidelined in the back half of this season which has been incredibly frustrating to me – why did the storyline with the cops and Shauna’s family get so much more screen time than her? also she didn’t get a single line of dialogue in the wilderness scenes!

    – my other main thought is that Natalie’s death made narrative sense, but the execution was kind of…goofy? like all of a sudden everyone is showing up with guns and then Misty accidentally kills her (that part was devastating and Christina broke my heart with her grief). but then the others just sort of…stand there? none of them even seem to care that Natalie is dead except for Shauna, later. it was just so rushed and bizarre and felt like they cut out a LOT of stuff. the plane scene was moving, notably young Natalie telling her older self that she’s “always been here”. but the way they cut to it was frustrating and it took away from the actual grief of the moment, imo. I wish they had taken a beat and let us sit with it, the other adults, and let us feel the gravity of losing such an important character.

    – the cop storyline and its convenient wrap up was ludicrous but I’ll let it slide because Walter really brought some levity and razzle dazzle to this otherwise very bleak episode! and hopefully now we never have to see Pornstache again!

    • i’m with you on these, charlotte! I think they could still demonstrate that pull/devolution of these women when they are together while also following a more believable timeframe. I get it that staying at the cult compound for a week instead of a day would require other exposition (does Misty have to call in sick with covid to the nursing home? etc.) but it would feel a lot more natural, particularly given the character arcs we were expected to swallow.

      your impulse about the hunt/Natalie dying sequence feeling cut off (which I also felt) seems accurate – in an interview Christina Ricci did with Variety, she said they filmed a ton more from that scene and it got heavily cut down.

    • yeahhhh the show definitely has these pacing issues in places throughout and i knew it was not much time passing in present day compared to how it feels as viewers, but it hadn’t clicked that there’s no overnight and all those events with the group at Lottie’s compound take place in a single day, that’s… too much.
      agree on the goofy execution of nat’s death and aftermath. all the side characters converging at the compound with weapons of their own while the yjs were doing their fake-turned-maybe-real murder game, for a final conflict/confrontation, was OTT silly to me. took away from the gravity.

    • I’ve enjoyed your recaps and the comments.

      I was struck by how much of a supportive and driving role Misty continues to have in the past and presence. She saved Coach by chopping of part of his leg. She destroyed the transmitter, leaving them lost longer. She pushed Lottie and served as her caretaker and a liaison. She’s that self-appointed senior administrator who has a greater role in what is going on than anyone else knows. Some is a means to riding on the coattails of others’ power and likability. At other times it’s an attempt at friendship and care. But off. And dangerous.

      I also think Lottie’s finally comment “It is pleased” is a setup about Callie’s storyline. While the camera focused on Van, the way Callie and Shawna came into view was well executed and a foreshadow.

      This show has made me revisit the awesome music of the mid90s and jump back to my teen self. I love how the show is both literally and metaphorically show how decisions for teens are, or feel like, life or death.

      And Shawna is such an interesting character. She is the both realistic and funny. These scenes of her controlled emotions contrast so much for the scene with the car theft dude. Even when she was going to kill Nat, it was because she was taking on a job. She didn’t show emotion. She paid a certain amount of deference to Havi’s body as she touched him gingerly — like a parent might — but then bled his body.

    • It feels like they are setting Walter to be some sort of serial killer, looking for his murder bride on the detective site. He was so squeamish on the phone about hurting the guy he and Misty interrogated but did it like a pro, and killed the cop as if he was putting away washing up.
      I can’t wait for them to eat Coach. So far he’s done exactly 0 helping anyone to survive. His flashbacks are very sad, but he’s completely washed his hands of any responsibility for any of them, his offer to Nat to only show her the hide so they can survive feels like he knew the others would not, and was already planning to burn it down.
      I felt a little like the reveal of Nat as the leader was undercut by her immediately dying, it makes more sense of her guilt and substance abuse/ suicidal tendancies but feels rubbish we won’t get anything else from her. Which I suppose is appropriately bleak. 😂 Loved it.

  15. Thank you so much for writing these recaps every week. After I watched this morning I ended up clicking on the Forbes recap where the white and most likely cishet man reviewer absolutely shredded this episode, and then was backed up by more dudes on Twitter about how much the episode and whole season sucked. Like I was almost confused for a few minutes because I thought this season finale was fantastic and left so much possiblity open for the next seasons: is Shauna going to become their leader in the present because the wilderness chose her and kept her alive and killed Nat in her place? Does Callie knowing too much and shooting Lottie lead her to potentially becoming pit girl? What truly is Walter’s deal? Is Misty going to have to kill him? Or will they become some twisted murder couple like Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo? Will Van get sicker? Or is she miraculously healed? Will Taissa return to her NJ town to find that she’s a missing person or something? Will her wife be awake and tell everyone her dog sacrifice business? Did anyone ever pick Sammy up from school?
    Lots of places for this plot to go!
    Anyway, I read your recap immediately after that shitty one and was relieved to see you enjoyed the episode. After pondering about it for a few hours I realized that this guy is not the target audience for this show, and him giving it a bad review is like a white woman with straight hair giving a bad review to a POC haircare line that wasn’t meant for her in the first place. Not everything is for everyone, and Yellowjackets is for me and I love it to bits.

    Thank you for writing great, thoughtful, and funny recaps for my favorite show. They have been a welcome treat after every episode this season, and I can’t wait to read them again next season(hopefully after the writer’s guild comes to a fair deal after the strike!). You are the antler queen of recaps!

    • I also tried to listen to a recap podcast discussing this finale and had to turn it off because they kept framing the stakes like it’s a Marvel movie (the sentence “Van is evil” was literally said multiple times) and discussing the core tension of the show as being between whether things are caused by “the supernatural” and “just coincidence” (really? um, instead I’ll take “trauma” for 500 please).

      also, the dude at Forbes is so whiny and annoying about his dislike of the episode too, like it was an affront that he had to (get paid) to watch and write 1000 words. 0/10? For real?

      • the subreddit is the exact same thing at the moment – there are almost no nuanced takes, and everyone is hating on Van and calling her the new ‘big bad’ like oh my god this isn’t a superhero movie and also how does Van get less grace than the guy who tried to burn a bunch of teenagers alive

    • oh that Forbes dude is a misogynist troll and writes about how much he hates the show every single week, so don’t waste any more of your clicks or energy on him!

  16. My take on Walter after this episode is that, in the same way Misty misreads others’ actions as signs of deep friendships, he’s projecting a whole dating/best friends on Misty. It just so happens that Misty has reciprocally projected the ‘we’re dating’ story. So like, good for them I guess?

    But he’s totally a serial killer who uses the citizen detective boards as place to meet people, learn fun new skills, and mislead people from his murders. I think that’s why he was critiquing Misty’s Adam cover story.

  17. Oh no, no, no. Juliette Lewis, why? I think it was Lewis’ decision to leave the show, didn’t she storm off at the end of one panel last season?. Also, I think in some interviews, we could perceive that she didn’t like the way her character was been developed. Like she didn’t had much to do. And I think she was proved right in this season, we could see glimpses of what she could do, of the way Natalie could deal with trauma, pain and anger but it never was well developed. It seems to me like a it was a good idea on a table discussion but it wasn’t translated in the script. Just ideas, maybe she could forgive, maybe she could live with herself, maybe. Her storyline wasn’t cohesive, it apparently happened on the sideline but we couldn’t see it. It’s just a shame. Also, all of them lost dimension as characters. They’re turns were rushed and flat. Finally, I wanna say f**k Van. Not really. Sorry, y’all.

  18. FUUUUCK! SO MANY EMOTIONS!!

    I personally did not love this episode or the fact that JLewis got killed off, because I am a person with big feelings and I love her. I can’t help but suspect that it is because she wasn’t that keen on the show? She was so dissatisfied after season one, I wouldn’t be surprised if she asked to leave the show and/or the writers got irritated with her and wrote her off.

    I was actually really disappointed in adult Nat’s arc this season, generally – her being at the compound and her healing journey didn’t really ring true for me, I think she would have more walls up, and the speed with which she softened felt insincere. I was convinced she had some plan up her sleeve the whole time and was a bit disappointed that wasn’t the case. I feel like her character arc has just been addiction, distress about a boy, brief (and unrealistically quick) recuperation, and then sacrificing herself for someone else! idk, I think it does tie in with Javi’s death and other things in a neat way, but also I think I just wanted to watch Juliette Lewis forever. She’s amazing and could have brought so many layers to Natalie.

    I also find Van to be a confusing character – and increasingly it feels like she (especially adult Van) is confusing because she’s poorly written, rather than because she’s complex and ambiguous. I agree that it’s good to have doubts about institutionalising Lottie, but in the absence of offering alternatives it essentially seemed like she was implying they should go ahead with the hunt, which is a huge leap for her adult character to make!!

    And also wild that Tai didn’t make that connection either – that, by calling off the psych team and not coming up with any alternatives, they were actually going to do the hunt.

    And also also, wild that they all went along with the hunt…. I get the power of putting on masks and of being around each other again, but I also felt unconvinced. It felt unearned to me.

    Agh!!! I love this show, and I’ve loved this entire season, but this episode really felt like it made some big leaps and that the characters didn’t feel as believable and real as they have up until now.

    Still hoping for a secret tenth episode to come out though

    • I totally agree with this. Adult Nat could have had a stronger arc and I read that JLewis is kinda over being typecast like this (I love them both so much, Nat & Juliette, that is). I think you’re probably right about adult Van too. And about the hunt being unearned. The vibes were like silly to me and it seemed to be maybe what they were going for but it was unclear why (I mean I do like the humor that Shauna/Melanie brings). The contrast with the much stronger wilderness scenes when they were flipping back and forth was very apparent.

      • Yes, it’s disappointment that JLewis was typecast in this way! I think she would have been able to bring a lot of the strength and softness that we’re able to see in Young Nat(post-trauma and addiction, of course, but still) and I was disappointed that she wasn’t given more of a chance to do that.

        And yes, it’s funny, because the hunt in the 1990s timeline felt so earned – I know some people have complained that not enough happens in this season but I don’t feel that way at all. It’s been a slow build up to things getting to the point where the girls are willing to hunt and kill and eat each other. And that stands so much in contrast to the hunt happening in the present-day storyline, which does not feel earned at all! Obviously the buildup doesn’t have to be as slow because they are returning to a state of mind, rather than reaching it for the first time, but it still felt a little too sudden and neat. Gah!

  19. things I still want to know about:

    Why exactly didn’t Lottie turn up in any searches? It needs to be a better explanation than just her being institutionalised.

    What happened to the lantern and the bear meat – and the poo in the bucket?? Probably Javi / Other Tai, but give us an explanation!!

    What happened to Crystal’s body???

    WHO SENT THE POSTCARDS??????????

      • I think the show wants us to think it was Jeff at this point because the characters do, but it’s never confirmed. Misty received a postcard and wasn’t blackmailed. Plus I just don’t think Jeff is smart enough to have those printed and mailed anonymously like that. I think the blackmail texts are more at his skill level. I’m hoping this is a thread that comes up in season 3 and introduces whoever our last survivor is.

  20. Ben is absolutely, clearly the one who set the fire. He has shelter. He despises all the girls except Nat and now she’s decided to be their leader, so he decides to end it. He’s a cowardly guy who would rather silently fume and judge them and feel miserable than take charge as the one adult around and pitch in and contribute and earn their respect.

    Van did have a plan. The entire time. Which was to do a final hunt before she dies anyway. It’s the only thing that’s made her feel alive since finding out she’s going to die.

    And young Shauna is deciding she’s just not worthy of being noticed and the world is against her, even with Jackie out of the way. She does the dirty work, she’s the butcher, she loses a child and keeps going and being useful. She wanted to be recognized as the leader, and they didn’t pick her.

    • It’s funny to me that so many fans interpreted Coach Ben’s actions as him passing some kind of judgement on the girls, or acting out of spite/disgust, or trying to save his own skin so they don’t come after him next–because I totally interpreted it as an act of mercy. He has no reason to believe they’ll be rescued at this point, and no reason to believe they’ll even survive the winter unless they continue down this path of killing and eating each other. From Ben’s more rational, adult POV, there’s nothing left for the girls but suffering. Better to kill them all in their sleep, save what’s left of their souls, and carry the burden of guilt himself.

      • I would love to think that, but he’s been very outwardly and overtly conveying his judgment and disgust throughout the season. He hasn’t really been particularly adult about anything for a long time. The last conversation we see him have he tells Nat that she’s not like the other girls.

  21. So I assume it’s just a trauma response, but the one girl laughing outside while they watch the house burn. I assumed that was Mari (right?), which supports my original belief she is the pit girl in the pilot. She’s also become useless to them in her own way (if she ever really *was* useful), and her interaction with Misty seemed to mark a turn in her bully position that won’t go well for her ultimately (even if the cards/wilderness chose her)

    Also, random thought/question: pit girl (I thought) was running outside barefoot in only a nightgown or something like that, right? It’s been forever since I last watched that scene, but I thought I recalled her being extremely underdressed like she hopped out of bed and took off…yet Van (at least that’s who I think it was) stands over the pit fully clothed for outside. So they do find another location (presumably the cave), but the clothing difference is really weird and something I won’t find any peace about anytime soon.

    Thanks for indulging my 7am, sleep-deprived, post-watch thoughts.

  22. there’s truly so much else to unpack here but I’m stuck on the question of whether this is solely a show about trauma vs. the potential for supernatural influences. I can accept a descent into madness after everything these girls have been through, and I think it is obviously largely a show about trauma, but I feel/hope there’s room for supernatural as well for a few reasons I won’t get into bc my point here is to ask:

    aside from Tai’s sleepwalking and the man with no eyes, plus Lottie’s visions (which I could see the writers leaving unexplained), how tf do you explain Leonard bursting into flames when Laura lee was flying the plane? It was very “the wilderness doesn’t want us to leave”?? What earthly force could‘ve caused a teddy bear to spontaneously combust? Please advise

    • supposedly, from things i read on reddit last season, the logical explanation is that the engine under the seat caught fire, igniting the bear (however, also from reddit, that particular cessna model was not prone to fires under the passenger seat and didn’t have an engine there – but that could be writing inaccuracy).

      • or wait it was fuel lines i think (that ran under the seat in some models, which were reportedly known for catching fire). but supposedly not this model, though again easy to imagine that as a writing error (i think the consensus was that there was no way the plane could have realistically ran or flown either).

  23. Love the recaps, Kayla! And although this season definitely moved away from the total magic of the first season into… something more convoluted — still love love love the show.

    A few final thoughts:

    1. Lewis may have been ready to leave but this was great for the narrative. Love that someone who mattered died in the present timeline, and that the show runners were willing to kill a main character.

    2. Her delivery to Lisa about forgiveness: “it’s a nice I-d-ea” is so on point to Sophie Thatchers cadence it was marvelous.

    3.For a second I thought that Tai was finally calling the hospital to check on Simone.

    4. Van is intentionally complex and there was another great parallel visual in this ep where Ambrose’s hair was in her face like “hi, teen Van”

    5. Another shout out to the present timeline twist- all along the current day characters have been so funny even when shit gets wild. I appreciate the weight of consequence at the end here.

    Looking forward to in between season rewatching!

    • One more thing – I thought they had all been at Lotties complex for two days.
      Day one they turned in their belongings, did their strange therapy, got drunk that night.
      Maybe stayed up all night?

      Lottie mentioned the woods being theirs again “tonight”. I figured by then it was morning and they prepped that second day and then they met again the second night.
      I agree it’s unclear and strange to not show any sleeping, but that was my take.

  24. This show is so bonkers. I will miss it and these recaps. Each and every actor is doing brilliant face and body work. I gave a shout out to them before but I am most impressed with Liv Hewson’s transition from a Van who was described by Jackie in episode 1 as, “Every time I see your face it brings a smile to mine” to what Van is now. The voice has changed, their eyes, and I like how Van had been the one to recap 90s rom com movie plots as entertainment and that last episode, chose to instead talk about the wilderness. Its fascinating to watch. How the hunger takes over them is fascinating to watch. I initially thought something supernatural was going on but after the last two episodes, I don’t think that is the case. Their mental states/bodies are changing.

    These characters are about to get FERAL and I can’t wait for next season. Sophie Nelisse also does some amazing face work. That scene with Javi’s body on the chop block. Emmy’s for all of them. And Emmy for whoever is selecting the music per scene, my goodness.

    I would have liked if Nat had seen Travis in the limbo plane. Really great scene and I think Misty will be deeply grieving next season. A grief-stricken Misty should be interesting.

    I think Coach will get murdered. Also, idk who he is fooling. Maybe he isn’t a cannibal (yet) but the Woods have messed him up just as much as the rest of them.

    What do you all think happened with Crystal (kristens) body? Did a bear get it? Do wolves hunt in winter? Will coach find it and eat it thus becoming a cannibal?

  25. I’m loving everyone’s take on the finale. And all the Nat love. So many amazing things to chew on. Yup. I did.

    I watched again because… a Yellowjackets finale watch party is a terrible idea 🙄

    – Anyone notice when the Sadeckis did a family “hug” at the end, Jeff literally kept Callie at arm’s length?

    – I don’t EVER want to read a dude’s viewpoint on Yellowjackets. YJ is our safe and murderous space.

    – I’m of the camp that Lottie has always had schizophrenia and her visions of the wilderness are the only thing giving them a little bit of hope, sense of order, and comfort. Especially since Laura Lee basically took the idea of God with her on the plane.

    – I wish I didn’t love Walter so much but OMG I do.

    – When coveted season 3 arrives, I hope we spend a lot more time in the woods than we did this season.

    – What should I watch next?? Any recommendations (please)?

  26. So, I’m rewatching s1 and I have to say, to counter the Van hate…her character has *always* had a hard edge. The resigned/annoyed way she slaps her mom awake in the pilot, and she always has a harsh +sarcastic comeback every time Travis says something sulky or misogynistic (which was often in the beginning!). And she’s *very* hard w Jackie after she leaves her on the plane, for several episodes.

    I think her hardness in all of these examples was pretty justified, and from the beginning she always had a lot of sweetness/ openness to her character as well. Just…she’s a complex character. It’s not that she’s all of a sudden being hardened by her experiences, it’s that she brought harshness as a coping mechanism to this experience, so that’s inevitably going to be something she uses to survive it, at least some of the time.

    • Also, maybe I’m alone in this, but I thought Van’s speech to Travis about Javi was sort of beautiful? And incredibly important. They are grateful to be alive. They have to be, because staying alive takes so much work. And we see that, with Ben: he is sickened by what they need to do to stay alive, and it has made him useless, suicidal, and now homicidally destructive. Shame and despair are *lethal* in a survival situation, especially within a group as both feelings are highly contagious.

    • I totally agree that Van has always had a hard edge! All the moments you mentioned, and it also comes through in the tendency that she and Tai have to be mean dykes together (we see this even in the first episode of season one).

      Speaking for myself personally, I don’t *hate* Van (but apparently a lot of the internet now does? yikes) as much as I think she was poorly/inconsistently written in the last episode. Not because of that hard edge that re-emerges, but more because of her becoming more superstitious/believing in the wilderness out of nowhere.

      With Adult Van, we see her being extremely skeptical and ‘rational’ with Taissa right up until the hunt, and then suddenly she switches without much indication as to why.

      And with Young Van, we see her having doubts about Lottie when she and Taissa are chatting one-on-one, and then she bounces back to being all about the wilderness by the end of the season. With Young Nat and Shauna and Taissa, we see them have more of a slow descent from skepticism into acceptance (or at least, less active resistance) of the supernatural that makes sense and is very rich/rewarding to watch that slow progression of their mental states… But Young Van seems to be becoming more skeptical, and then suddenly bounces back into acceptance of the wilderness etc, and it just feels a little too neat and abrupt?

      • I see Van’s skepticism in both timelines as her harsh defense mechanism coming out. It’s tempting to think that skepticism = rationality = health, but where Van’s at (both at this point in the woods and as an adult) belief = hope and purpose and grateful to be alive, and nonbelief = hopelessness and shame and fear. Looking at her skepticism as a defensive posture rather than groundedness in The Truth makes her arc make way more sense.

        Van *wants* to believe. She wants to think that all this happened for a reason, that her suffering has meaning, that she’s special or chosen. But when her faith is tested (the baby dying, the cancer diagnosis) despair creeps in and she becomes cynical, protecting herself with nihilism.

        I think the hunts pull her back into her faith when nothing else will, because as she implied to Travis you *can’t* go into them ambivalently, you *have* to be all in or the shame and horror eat at you. I don’t think her speech to Travis was pre-existing dogma, I think she was realizing her beliefs as she said them. She was doubting before, but the hunt restored her faith.

        So adult Van is despairing, protecting herself by believing that it was all bullshit. Maybe she lost her faith when she was diagnosed, likely it at least started years ago, living in a world where her beliefs +experiences have no context, separated from her team. And then Tai shows up, and OtherTai still exists, and they go to Lottie’s compound+ everyone’s there, and there are mindfulness Lottie-rituals to do. And the whole time she’s resisting because it hurts too much, it was all bullshit, right? She’s dying and none of it mattered. And she puts up a wall of cynicism and jokes and refusing to participate, getting drunk instead. But then Lottie says it wasn’t all bullshit. And Shauna suggests a hunt. The others are treating it like they’re humoring Lottie, so maybe it’s not safe to believe yet but she will at least defend Lottie – Lottie isn’t crazy. And I think she’s sincere in advocating for Lottie’s autonomy, but I think part of her fervor is that through this logical and sound argument that Lottie is no crazier than they are she’s talking herself back into faith. She’s not crazy, we all went through the same thing (so we all know it’s real).

        Anyway, everyone’s just humoring Lottie, so maybe the hunt won’t actually happen. But then it is happening, and you can’t go into a hunt ambivalent, and she’s all in and feels *right* and *real* for the first time in nearly 25 years. And then someone dies, and like Javi it’s not who they thought would die, and it’s under such bizarre +convoluted circumstances that it’s proof that the Wilderness decided. And all of a sudden we have a full beliver on our hands again.

        • I really love how you describe Van’s tendencies in both timelines, particularly the tensions between belief and skepticism. I love her character and am so glad that the writers (and actors) embrace creating female figures who are complex and dark and not always “likeable.” I also thought her speech to Travis was blunt but also beautiful in a way.

  27. I 100% think Ben started the fire out of disgust for the girls and seeing them as devolving into something irredeemable. Now 1) Nat is gonna lead them all to the cave, where they will 2) find, kill, and eat Coach Ben as punishment for trying to kill them all. I don’t make the rules! That’s just what’s gonna happen!

  28. I really enjoyed this recap as always!!

    I’m having a hard time with Van, in that we *know* she knows she has cancer and could have conceivably sacrificed herself in place of the hunt or in exchange for Shauna pulling the queen, etc. But I think Van feels like the wilderness has chosen to protect her, and that’s why she keeps surviving; the initial crash, the wolves, seemingly every hunt, and now with Nat’s sacrifice, I wonder if she thinks her cancer will disappear??? She was so ruthless with Travis re Javi as a teen and I think it really shifted my perception of her character into a more interesting but also darker place.

    I was really surprised to see that Travis wasn’t on the plane with Natalie at the end. It almost makes me wonder if he isn’t actually dead, especially because our version of that going down comes from Lottie, who might not be a reliable narrator?? Idk!

    Misty killing Nat felt like such a really tragic story arc for both of them; Misty killed her longest friend, and Nat’s closest…. companion (?) not only kills her but it’s reported as an overdose, even though she was finally getting sober. so sad!!!

    I’m relieved the adam martin storyline is cleared up, but I still find it curious that he had all of those drawings of the team in his studio and it was never revisted??

    The creepy man child Tai/her grandma sees feels like it’s dropped off; I wasn’t sure if we were seeing Other Tai during the adult hunt at the end, but I was surprised it wasn’t bigger if that was the case. I’ve been wondering if Other Tai will bring the girls down to were Coach is eventually, or if she alone will run into Ben down there, suggesting she’s the one who told Javi not to come back?? Idk, mostly trying to make sense of some bits I feel didn’t get resolved….

  29. ALSO!!!!! I rewatched season 1 of ep 1 yesterday (ugh, so good) and:

    we all remember when Taissa wanted to freeze out Allie because she wasn’t very good, yes? and Taissa ends up tackling and seriously injuring her, and she (Taissa) is shocked and horrified and says that she didn’t mean to do that.

    Now that we know Other Tai comes out when Tai is awake (not just when she’s asleep), I wonder if we can interpret Taissa’s tackle of Allie as an early, pre-wilderness instance of Other Tai emerging?

  30. oh! and! something that to me felt very fun and smart was how often we see guns in the finale episode’s adult timeline (the gun in Lottie’s cupboard, the gun that Callie gets from Jeff’s car), so we’re all thinking about Chekhov’s gun, but in the end it’s actually a lethal injection, not a gun, that ends up causing a death.

  31. Okay I know everyone thinks Ben is going to get murdered, and maybe that’s true, but I actually think they did something SUPER INTERESTING with that assumption this season:

    We were all assuming he was in more danger because he was an outsider. But when it came down to it, it’s the insiders who are in danger. Yes, he was absent for the draw, but he was also absent from their minds. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to go find Coach and eat him even though he is an easy mark and a lot of meat. Maybe that’ll change out of revenge for the cabin but I think they would have a tough time with “the wilderness chose” if hunting / killing Ben for meat so if he does get killed it’ll be outside the framework of their current belief system.

  32. I agree with others that I think that the coach will be killed. He started the fire because he saw what they were doing & was worried he was next. Unless there is another person in the woods we aren’t seeing, or it could be the mythical power they all keep talking about.

  33. Anyone else notice we had another near miss with Van at the end? When she is the last to leave the cabin, and it almost collapses on her. It seems like she was almost doing that as a test after asking Tai to go ahead.

    • Oh, I really like that interpretation! I was wondering if there was something she was going to pick up or some final action she wanted to be alone for, but staying in as a ‘test’ makes hella sense as well.

  34. Jumping in as the resident Lottie hater, I did liked how her younger self was finally, FINALLY faced with the consequences of her selfish cult actions. I don’t think she’s a bad person, I just think she 10 bags of mental illness and chosen one mania. Current Lottie…I’m SO OVER HERE. She literally makes everyone worse no matter what she does.

    MODERN HUNT BREAKDOWN
    -Misty was definitely going to kill Lottie if she had to. She had that needle ready and the only people she seems to really like are Nat and Shauna.

    -Lottie is nuts. I appreciate that committing her was not an ideal choice, but I mean… they could of all…just left. Didn’t Shauna and Van drive there…like they could just leave….

    -Shauna felt very logical here, and similar the past timeline she comes up with the plan and everyone looks to her, buttt then kind ignores it. Melanie, was chef’s kiss here.

    -Tai- I want to say other Tai was here..but honestly I think she also might just have PTSD

    -Van- She absolutely thinks that the Hunt will cure her cancer, or at least she is desperate enough to try it. She’s lived through so much in the wild – I feel like her response made sense. Also she as the first person to be super into killing Nat/Javi for food. She believes in this on some very deep level.

    speaking of

    I felt like Juliette Lewis had nothing to do this season. I literally forgot to put her in the hunt roundup. She’s been very passive since she arrived in Lottie crazy cult land…I think it’s possible that she actually joined the cult but didn’t realize it fully. Julliete is awesome and I missed her leather jacket, kicking ass and taking names (and I don’t have a pen) vibes. She just seemed depressed..actually minus Shauna (repression) this season’s adults were all about the mental illness (or in Van’s case that one time, actual illness). I miss other Tai, I miss creepy mystery.

    Ben probably realized they were going to eat him eventually. and was like time to go ladies.

    FINAL FINAL THOUGHT:
    I can’t believe Ben lives through to another season.

  35. I just saw they updated the recording at Lottie’s compound. 607-478-1033…this time it’s Lisa.

    I LOVE when shows go full immersive like this. I’ll miss you YJ 🐝

  36. Was anyone else in Provincetown this weekend? I was there camping and on Sunday a plane trailing a massive banner flew up the coastline: “THE BUZZIEST SHOW ON TV—YELLOWJACKETS.” Guess showtime understands their target audience!

  37. just started rewatching season 1 and maybe I’m not the first to think this thought but when Jessica Roberts visits Shauna and Shauna says (a quote which is also in the trailer) “the truth is a bunch of my friends died and the rest of us starved and scavenged and prayed” — could she have actually said starved and scavenged and PREYED?? English is not my first language so maybe the two words can be distincted through pronounciation..

  38. Yeah, Coach definitely lit that fire. It’s the through line of trying to convince Nat to abandon the rest of the group (“We can survive this.”), to Nat saying she’s worse than the others, to her being literally worshipped by the other Yellowjackets. If Coach had any compassion towards the rest of the group he wouldn’t have tried to pry Nat away. And now she’s definitely picked a side he is literally alone with a neighbouring group of cannibal teens.

    So, I squealed when Lisa and Callie turned up at the end. If “It” is indeed sentient, and It is definitely hungry, then it would need to restock the dwindling numbers of Yellowjackets available to it. I mean, most of our motley crew are, like Nat, already dead people walking, of course it would need fresh blood so to speak. And now It got another two for one. And I am so pleased with this development. While the veteran actors are all SO very good, it’s the younger crop that truly amaze me every episode, especially Sarah Desjardins and Nicole Maines. They have just brought something extra to what could have been pretty one note roles and really fleshed out their characters whilst not being in the central limelight.

    And Kayla’s insistence that someone should have had a plan ignores the fact that none of these women are really functioning adults. Every single one of them are hanging on by threads to their lives. Sure Misty seems capable, but it is so utterly twisted. Stage Lottie’s suicide? Misty’s your gal. Find a healthy and safe solution to finding help for your mentally ill friend? Sure you don’t want that syringe? And Taissa, sure she has projected enough of that confidence and tenacity to become senator of New Jersey, but it’s the campaign that is the very domino that causes all the other ones of her life to fall, and quickly too.

    Next season is going to be a wild ride though. As I said, all of the adult Yellowjackets are either barely holding on or right over that edge. Misty is no longer the capable one in a dubious situation and, sure Walter (an absolute season favourite) does genuinely seem to be on their side, but how far can he be truly trusted? He seems to be completely going along for the ride because as an intensely wealthy individual he is also intensely bored and the Yellowjackets are non-stop chaos that needs managing. Whether he turns on them once the fun diminishes, or it just becomes the more interesting course of action, he cannot be relied upon for consistent assistance.

    He’s completely amoral. Just like “It”. “It’s not evil, just hungry.” Lottie tells Nat. And the only thing worse than an evil entity is an amoral one. Because you can never predict what they’ll do next.

    And for the love of the gods, don’t throw an entire heart on the frying pan! That’ll be SO tough to eat whole! Haven’t any of these teens eaten offal before?!? 🙄🙄🙄

  39. I really think that Van wanted the hunt to happen because if she believed that if one of them was sacrificed the wilderness would save her from her cancer diagnosis. And at the end, Lottie telling Van “the wilderness was pleased. You’ll see” was Lottie saying the wilderness will save her and she will see because she will live.

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