Natalie and Misty are an unlikely and yet perfect present-day duo as they make their way to New Hampshire to track down Travis. In 2021, Misty has advanced to Olympic levels when it comes to inserting herself into situations, so when they stop for gas and snacks, Natalie is not surprised to find the battery cable for her Porsche in Misty’s glove box. What’s more surprising to her, at that moment, is that Misty selected beef jerky as her snack of choice. You’d think they would all be living a strict vegan lifestyle after spending 19 months in the wildness, chomping on any and every manner of flesh they could tear into. But Misty has specific tastes — like cheap gas-station meat, dates with guys who steal office supplies and ask for her socks, and the Cats soundtrack.
When they get to Travis’s house, Misty remarks that it looks like serial-killer territory, and she’s not wrong — the windows are covered up with newspaper, the interior is scarcely decorated, and the only thing of value left inside is a $200 bottle of whiskey. While Misty goes through his trash, Natalie makes her way into Travis’s room to take a more sentimental look around. She finds a plaid shirt that she breaths into à la Brokeback Mountain and sees that he still keeps a photo of her on his dresser, even after all these years. While she is thinking back on their time together, she imagines she sees him standing in the doorway, and this vision of him looks a lot like the mysterious guy shown in quick flashes in the intro. We’ve learned through bits and pieces here and there that Natalie and Travis spent a lot of time together even after they were eventually rescued from the wilderness. When a local police officer comes in to arrest Misty and Natalie, there is a call of desperation to Taissa in which we also learn that Natalie and Travis were toxic for each other and that Taissa is not going to be the one to bail her out of trouble this time. Thanks to a call from Misty, the one to do that is Kevyn, Natalie’s old best friend who is now a detective. Misty held on to his business card when the two ran into him at the bar while discussing the mysteries surrounding the ominous postcards they received. And he seems eager to get Natalie back in his life. This could manifest in any number of dangerous ways, but, for now, at least they’re out of jail.
Before the police officer arrived to upset their endeavors, Misty found a pay stub from the ranch Travis worked at, so they make their way back there, but once they arrive, Natalie comes face-to-face with the worst possible outcome of their hunt for Travis: He’s found hanging from a long length of chain, which Natalie emotionally insists through tears is something he would not have possibly done to himself because they made a promise to each other, and he always kept his word. Who would benefit from killing Travis? Especially when his pay stub showed he didn’t have any money, and his hermitlike living conditions point toward him just wanting to self-isolate and keep himself out of any drama, not chuck himself down into it.
Flashing back to the younger Yellowjackets, days into their time spent stranded in the woods post-crash, we see how they honor their dead. After burying the bodies of everyone who didn’t make it, they stand in a circle and remember the people they were and the dreams they had just a few short days ago. Van remembers a teammate named Rachel talking about how she was looking forward to seeing Oasis at the Meadowlands next month and is sad to think that she’s never gonna hear “Wonderwall” again. And Javi (Luciano Leroux) keeps the memory of his dead dad, the team’s head coach, alive by refusing to spit out the piece of gum he gave him during takeoff so his ears would pop. All of this death sends Taissa back to a dark memory of being a young girl standing at the bedside of her grandmother as she is hooked up to a beeping oxygen machine and heart monitor. Her grandmother had visions of a man with no eyes staring at her in her room just before passing away, which leads me to believe that we might learn something down the line about mental illness running in her family.
Lottie’s history of mental illness is about to make her time in the wilderness increasingly difficult, as her prescription for loxapine, a medication used to treat schizophrenia, has run out. Supplies as a whole are running out for the survivors, and it’s because of this that Taissa suggests they make the five-mile hike to a lake she spotted so they can at least stock up on water. Jackie puts her team-captain status into play and insists they stick close to the wreckage so they don’t miss any rescue attempts, but Taissa puts it to a vote and the trip to the lake wins out. When Shauna raises her hand to vote for the lake, Jackie shoots her a look, clearly not used to her going against her wishes.
While at the lake, Lottie sees something reflecting in the distance, and when the group heads over to investigate, it finds an abandoned cabin. Any remaining food on the shelves has gone rancid, and there’s a skeleton in the attic surrounded by spooky symbols, but at least they don’t have to sleep in the dirt anymore. Assistant coach Ben, who is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that Misty chopped off his injured leg, promptly falls off the porch of the cabin while trying to shoo a buzzing insect away from his stump, and when Misty rushes over to help him, he backhands her in the face, which seems to bring an eerie calm to her and makes her want to help him even more.
In 2021, we see how trauma and violence are deeply rooted in the core survivors’ present day. When Taissa sees a cannibal-themed smear campaign that her opponent for state senate issued, she threatens through gritted teeth to expose the fact that his daughter is a drug addict if he ever tries something like that again. This type of rage is something she has passed on to her young son, Sammy, who responds to being scolded by punching a kid on the playground.
For Shauna, her rage is kept mostly under the surface and used as a defensive tool when needed. Suspicious that her husband is cheating on her, she follows him to a hotel, and while trying to convince the front desk to give her his room number by making up a story about Homeland Security, she is suddenly face-to-face with Adam again, who seems to be everywhere all the time since their accident. When Shauna asks what he is doing at a hotel in the middle of the day, he says he’s there to have a martini, which seems fishy as hell. This guy could end up being any number of things, and Reddit will certainly lead you down a deep path into what those could be, but he is definitely not just some random guy. In this episode, we learn that Jessica Roberts is not a reporter but someone Taissa has hired to lean on the girls to see if any of them offer up gory details of their time in the woods. My money is on Adam being some sort of plant along those lines as well.
Buzz, Buzz, Buzz
• I wonder how much, if any, of Misty’s lines are improvised. Christina Ricci is having so much fun in this role, and it’s making me want to go back and revisit all her other stuff. Remember how good she was in The Lizzie Borden Chronicles? And Mermaids? And The Addams Family?? God, what a delightfully weird body of work. So perfect.
• Ben’s comment about how wolves can kill anything if the pack is big enough feels like grim foreshadowing.
• What’s the story behind the dead guy in the cabin’s attic? And what’s the meaning behind these symbols we keep seeing?
• I’m terrified of Taissa’s child.