Yellowjackets Recap: Bite Me


Edible Complex
Season 2 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 4 stars


Edible Complex
Season 2 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating 4 stars
Photo: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME/Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

If we are ever stranded in the wilderness and I die of natural causes, you have my complete and total blessing to eat me. (Emphasis on the natural-causes part, though.) I’m not sure that Jackie Taylor would have been so giving, especially considering the divisive way she died. Nevertheless, in a turning point for the series, “Edible Complex” sees Shauna and the rest of the team (sans Ben) give themselves the go-ahead to eat their smoldering teammate because they are literally starving to death. In a biting twist, her body is the only thing that can save them.

Yellowjackets has been dangling the possibility of cannibalism since day one, but there’s an ocean of difference between ritual sacrifice and simple survival. (Again, you can eat me only if I die of natural causes.) Sure, we can argue that Jackie died because the others were attempting to socially murder her, but ultimately her death was a tragic accident. In an emergency, no one would fault the survivors for eating her to stay alive. So it’s odd that this episode paints the consumption of her body as such a transgressive act when it’s actually just a survival tactic.

The beats of the episode do lead up to a dramatic and disturbing feast at the end, but I have many questions. First, why did the episode cut to a dreamy sequence of the girls having a toga’d feast while the wilderness girls chowed down on the Jackie BBQ in real-time? Did standards and practices have an issue with the scene? Are there still things in this day and age that we truly cannot show on television? Or did the creative team think we couldn’t handle an unadulterated version of this first instance of group cannibalism? Either way, the shifts between the imagined and reality took me out of the sequence as a viewer. It feels odd that a series so comfortable with gore would shy away from this pivotal moment.

Second, I feel like there is absolutely some all-powerful entity in the woods because, by all metrics, Jackie’s body should have been toxic and inedible. I am not a hunter, but there are a few hunters in my family, and I know that mammals (and fish!) need to be gutted and skinned pretty much ASAP after dying to avoid spoilage. Obviously, the group had plentiful bear rations at the time of Jackie’s death, so they didn’t think to prepare her body for eventual consumption. However, not planning ahead should have made the Jackie leftovers into a food-safety nightmare. Oh, also, burnt clothing isn’t edible. Why on earth the show would float the idea of stripping Jackie before cremating her so they might conserve her clothing for the rest of the group and then not do that is a capital-C Choice. Between all that and the weird gust of wind that we follow, Evil Dead style, through the woods before a tree deposits a huge chunk of snow on the medium-well-done Jackie roast, it’s starting to feel like something supernatural is definitely looking out for the survivors.

The episode, thankfully, doesn’t come down firmly on whether or not there’s an entity in the woods, but it plays a lot with the concept through the eyes of the survivors in both the past and present. Lottie is the centerpiece for much of this speculation. In the past, she wielded an ever-increasing amount of sway over the group, continuing to insist that Shauna be left alone to grieve Jackie but then silently agreeing with Tai that they need to cremate her when they see that Shauna has gone full caboodle all over her dead friend’s face. She also continues to assert that Javi is alive, even though there’s no way he could have survived this brutal winter alone. (Watch this space when Javi shows up alive. Or not. But he’s probably alive, right?) Lottie also unknowingly (or maybe knowingly?) works her way into a spiritual threesome with Travis and Nat, creating one of the wildest love triangles in recent TV history.

That triangle is still very much intact 25 years later, even in the wake of Travis’s death. When Nat and Lottie talk about Travis in the present, Lottie tells Nat a story. Travis wanted to commune with the entity in the darkness, so he lit a bunch of candles in the mystery symbol and rigged a crane to hoist himself in the air to commune with it while he was close to death. Great plan, dude. (Not!) Lottie agrees to help him, but as he goes unconscious, the batteries in the remote give out. Coincidentally, Lottie is distracted by an apparition of a dead and rotting Laura Lee at that very moment, and when she returns, Travis is dead and hanging five stories in the air.

Something is fishy here, especially in how Lottie reacts when the remote doesn’t work. Lottie is an unreliable narrator, and Nat knows it. By the end of the episode, Nat is vowing to ruin Lottie’s life, and Lottie is okay with that because it means that her frenemy will live to see another day.

Lottie’s spiritual sway also reaches Tai and Van. In the wilderness, Tai is struggling. Evil Tai somehow untethers herself from Van and wanders in the snow in pursuit of the eyeless man. Van saves her from nearly sleepwalking over a cliff and then suggests she see Lottie for help. Tai is furious. She outright refuses and then tells Van that neither of them is going to talk to Lottie. Controlling much?

In the present, adult Tai is also struggling. In order to avoid the reemergence of Evil Tai, she’s trying to stay up … forever? This seems like a terrible plan, but Van isn’t here to tie her up, so it’s all she’s got. (If only she knew about Misty’s escapeproof basement or Lottie’s kidnapper compound, she could get some great rest in either of those places!) Eventually, she passes out and hallucinates that Sammy has come to visit after school. Ever the dutiful wife, she calls Simone to come pick him up. At first, when we think that Sammy is there, it’s terrifying. The show wouldn’t go there with an innocent kid … would it? Thankfully, it doesn’t. Instead, the eyeless man demands Simone as a sacrifice. Once Simone finds out that Sammy has been safe at school the entire time, her eyes go wide with horror. Evil Tai senses a threat and pops up just in time to plow the car she’s driving into oncoming traffic, flattening Simone’s side of the car like a pancake.

If Tai’s family life has gone off the rails, then Shauna’s is uncontrollably flying through a dark tunnel. As soon as the cops come to her house to investigate Adam’s disappearance, she immediately ignores the advice from Misty’s lawyer cookie and says all sorts of incriminating stuff to Kevyn Tan. (She put it on a cookie, Shauna! A cookie!!!) Kevyn is smart to have come to her house under the guise of being a friend, but as we find out later in the episode, he’s just trying to get her to spill.

Callie is more than happy to share what she knows with a friendly dude at a bar — she’s day drinking because her mom’s having an affair — but it turns out that he’s working with Kevyn. Oops. It’s easy to get mad at Callie here, but the moment Shauna asks her to go out the back way so that Kevyn doesn’t see her is actually savage. Callie is a rebellious teen dealing with an emotionally absent mom, and that’s rough. But if Jeff goes down because of her nonsense, I will turn on her faster than the Yellowjackets can chow down on a crispy cheekbone. (Too soon?)

Last but not least, let’s check in with Misty. There’s not a ton going on for her in the wilderness timeline, but in the present, her life is about to get a whole lot more interesting. Good citizen detective PuttingTheSickInForensics shows up at her place of work and slips a blank piece of paper into the employee fridge for her. Later, Misty realizes that a message is written on the page in invisible ink (hopefully bleach and not urine or some other bodily fluid), and she shines her blacklight on it. In the note, he agrees to help her and even throws in a cheeky “self-destruct” joke at the end of the note for good measure.

We’ll have to wait for the official Ice Storm reunion between Elijah Wood and Christina Ricci next week, but in the meantime, I’ll be over here freaking out that my childhood crush is finally part of the Yellowjackets gang. But I’m very, very worried for him.

Quite frankly, I’m worried about all of the men on this show. We end the episode with Coach Ben as he lumbers away from the frantic friend feast in the wilderness. It’s clear that he briefly considers joining in, but then his disgust gets the better of him and he turns away. His refusal to partake in this pivotal shift somehow feels like a clear harbinger of his doom.

Buzz Buzz Buzz

• Necklace Watch: Lottie returns the heart necklace to Shauna before they burn Jackie. Remember, this is the necklace that eventually ends up on the unidentified pit girl, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

• So is Javi alive? If so, where is he?!

• Shout out to Ella Purnell in these first two episodes, as she’s been really great at shifting her performance from manipulative queen bee to sinister apparition in Shauna’s mind. Considering that adult Shauna is still seeing ghost Jackie in the present day, I don’t think this is the last we’ll hear from her.

• As Shauna considers the bear meat, ghost Jackie says, “That’s not what you’re hungry for.” Is the group’s slide into cannibalism a result of Shauna’s wild wilderness pregnancy cravings? Admittedly, Jackie was the only other thing in the fridge.

• Tai is wearing a lavender sweatshirt in the wilderness timeline, which is the same color as Lottie’s followers wear in the present day. Oh, excuse me, heliotrope.

• Everyone is wearing layers to protect against the cold, but Shauna has chosen to wear a pair of shorts over her pants, which instantly recalls the classic Friends episode “The One Where No One’s Ready.” Could the Yellowjackets be wearing any more clothes?

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Yellowjackets Recap: Bite Me