There are more than a few reasons why viewers and critics of Yellowjackets are making comparisons between the show and William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. There’s the whole “plane crash/stranded in the wilderness” aspect. The posed question of “what would a group of young kids do if left alone to supervise themselves for an expanse of time?” And there’s the mirrored presumption of an inevitable downslide into violence and barbarism. But what Yellowjackets has that Lord of the Flies lacks is women. Lots of young women. And their inherent ability to endure physical and mental pain to get through times of tribulation to maintain some semblance of structure in a team unit, or to, as seems to happen down the line, survive apart from one, is what sets this show apart from the book that inspires it.
When Yellowjackets creator Ashley Lyle read the news in 2017 that Warner Bros. had plans for an all-female Lord of the Flies reboot movie, she took note of the amount of Ghostbusters 2016–level backlash from commenters who didn’t believe girls could pull off the level of savagery and bloodlust the source material calls for. This inspired her to put wheels in motion for the creation of Yellowjackets, which, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others so far, takes that conch shell and runs with it. So “sucks to your ass-mar!!!”
Yet another thing that sets the young women of Yellowjackets apart from the face-painting, parachute-fearing boys of Lord of the Flies is periods. It’s one thing to be stuck in the woods sucking on rocks and undercooked meat, but try doing it with cramps so bad it feels like someone is reaching through your lower back to shake the hand of the person standing in front of you. The Yellowjackets survivors have reached the point where their periods have synced up, which seems to happen often amongst groups of friends, co-workers, or women who live together, but isn’t actually a science thing. It’s more like a “women are made of magic” thing. Studies have been performed for years on menstrual synchrony, or “the McClintock Effect,” which proposes that “an alpha uterus has a strong hormonal pull that causes other cycles around it to menstruate in unison,” according to Modern Fertility. But anyway, all the Yellowjackets are members of Club Flow in this episode, apart from Shauna, who fears she may be pregnant from sleeping with her best friend Jackie’s boyfriend.
The Yellowjackets have made an organized camp for themselves at the run-down cabin they discovered in the last episode and are taking on responsibilities boiling dirty pads, hunting and cleaning meat, and doing anything else that needs doing to keep them safe and relatively sane. Everyone is pulling their weight aside from Jackie, who, albeit a leader on the soccer field, finds that her outdoorsy skills are a bit lacking. Now, since we know that the character Jackie is the only one of the bunch we’ve seen so far who doesn’t have an adult actress to play her in the post-crash years and that the beginning of last week’s episode shows a girl wearing her necklace falling into a trap and getting strung up like a deer, it’s looking like Jackie doesn’t learn from Shauna pulling her aside to tell her she needs to help out more. Based on the ghostly visions that adult Shauna has of Jackie and the mention of Jackie’s parents gifting her with their daughter’s Yellowjackets uniform on her 40th birthday, it seems as though Jackie doesn’t make it out of this alive.
“You taught me how to be like this, you know,” Shauna says to her best friend while in the middle of a pep talk regarding doing more chores so the other girls don’t get mad. Flash to Shauna in adulthood: She’s sneaking off to the city with her new love interest, Adam (Peter Gadiot), and amidst the loud noises and flashing lights of the dance party they’re at, she catches a glimpse of who she thinks is Jackie’s ghost walking through the crowd. She makes her way through to catch up with the girl, and it ends up being her daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins). With the new knowledge that her mom is cheating on her dad, Callie tries to leverage this into breezing through the rest of her years living at home sans curfew, but has not yet fully learned the depths of which her mother can not be fucked with.
“Honey, have you ever heard of mutually assured destruction?” Shauna asks her daughter. And, yeah, that curfew isn’t going anywhere.
Amidst the face-value literalness of the horrors the Yellowjackets experience, both during their time stranded in the wilderness and after, there’s a sort of mystical/supernatural element at hand that hasn’t quite come into focus yet in terms of how it will play out through the rest of the series. There are the symbols that we’ve seen on trees and on the floor of the cabin during their wilderness travails, and then there are elements that are showing in their modern-day lives, such as Taissa’s son Sammy blaming misdeeds on a woman lurking in the trees.
Taissa’s plans to run for state senate are coming into question by her wife when Sammy uses red paint to write the word “spill” on the side of their house. We learn what this is in reference to in a scene from Taissa’s time in the wilderness, participating in a séance in the attic of the cabin they’re staying in. The séance was Jackie’s idea, seemingly as a way to reendear herself to the team, but while the girls use a knife on the end of a piece of rope as a pendulum to communicate with the ghost of the pilot who died there, Lottie (Courtney Eaton) seems to become possessed, growling out “you must spill the blood” in French. Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) snaps her out of it by chucking a Bible at her, and we’re left to wonder what’s behind those carved symbols that seem to be harbingers for doom and why were they on the floor of the barn where Travis was found hanging?
Citizen Detective Misty is using a camera hidden inside an owl-shaped diffuser she gifted to Natalie to spy on her conversations as she attempts to figure out what really happened to Travis. She seems always to have been a little, uh, different, so it could be that she’s just inappropriately nosy. Or she could be orchestrating something much more sinister. If she was comfortable giving assistant coach Ben (Steven Krueger) poisoned tea back in the day because he was mad at her for grabbing his boner, then who knows what she’s capable of now. Christina Ricci plays such a good nut. Goddamn, this show is fun.
Buzz Buzz Buzz
• More on the whole mystical/supernatural elements … what’s with that wolf/coyote that Taissa saw outside of her home? The way she flipped around that letter opener to run out and investigate it was amazing.
• “Ylang-ylang, with a hint of gardenia. Subtropical florals.” This. Just everything about this.
• I hope we get to see more of off-her-meds Lottie. There’s a much bigger story there, and I bet it’s gonna be terrifying in a possessed-French sort of way.