Yellowjackets follows up the game-changing events of “Edible Complex” with “Digestif,” an episode that delivers Lost-like flashbacks, bloody hallucinations, a twisted baby shower, and not one but three fantastic monologues. The hour is chock full of moving pieces, serving to properly introduce new characters (hi, Walter Tattersall!), establish Lottie’s tightening hold on the gang in the wilderness, and document the fraying edges of Ben’s sanity.
There’s a lot going on here for all our characters, both in the wilderness and the present, but the cold open immediately addresses the fallout from the Jackie feast the night before. Taissa wanders out of the cabin, horrified to find that something has picked her teammate’s burning body clean. Van quickly corrects her girlfriend, reminding her that she participated in the feast. The way in which Liv Hewson delivers the line, “Tai … you ate her face,” is phenomenal and is sure to become an iconic meme.
In the present day, adult Tai is starting to get up close and personal with the entity that intermittently possesses her body. The show is flirting with the edges of reality regarding realistic mental health issues that Tai could potentially be diagnosed with. Instead, it’s starting to feel more and more like something sinister or otherworldly is happening to her. In the past, Van wakes up to Evil Tai yanking free from her sleepy time tether. Instead of fighting her, Van asks if she can tag along. A flat voice decidedly not Tai’s speaks through her and says, “Yes. Come.” They wander through the woods until Tai makes a beeline for a tree with the mysterious symbol carved on it, almost like she knew it was there.
It’s the same symbol that, decades later, Tai draws on Simone after their accident. Tai has no idea what to do with herself in the wake of the crash, but her shadow self knows. In a satisfyingly creepy mirror moment, Evil Tai mouths the words “go to her” to Tai and then raises her hands to her face in a gesture that recalls the masks from the wilderness. Tai flees the hospital, grabbing the keys to her campaign manager’s car. From context (and casting information), could it be possible that Tai is headed to see Van?
While Tai may be headed for a reunion with her old flame, Misty interacts with a new friend. As Walter and Misty get to know one another, she simply refuses to believe someone would seek out her company without strings. Her teenage fear of rejection is still fully intact. It’s heartbreaking to see her balk every time Walter extends what seems to be a genuine offer of friendship but, to be fair, this is Yellowjackets, so he might just have an ulterior motive.
Misty and Walter engage in a comedic back-and-forth as they interrogate Randy about any goings on at the motel the night that Natalie disappeared. Because Misty knows Randy, she can’t be seen. Instead, she hides away in the bathroom and feeds savage lines to the willing, if occasionally reluctant, Walter. They extract some useful information from the once-fearsome bully — he reports a purple-clad group of people hanging out around that time and that they bought all the Fanta from the vending machine — but the scene also reminds us that Randy is harboring Jeff’s blackmail secret.
Jeff and Shauna have a lot more to worry about than the secret blackmail. (Honestly, though, he did extort them for $50,000. Goddess help him if the rest of the Yellowjackets ever find out that he was the one who stirred up the trauma stew that’s been bubbling on the back burner in their respective minds for the past two and a half decades.) Their lies about Adam Martin are catching up with them. When a pumped-up Jeff confronts Kevyn Tan at the gym, he discovers that the police know about the affair. But the real threat continues to be Shauna. She’s on tilt, and there’s no guessing what she might do from moment to moment. It’s of note that adult Shauna tells Jeff that she enjoyed the affair because she didn’t know what was going to happen next, but in the past, we see teen Shauna express fear over the same exact thing.
Shauna’s total disregard for her own life makes her wildly dangerous … and incredibly badass. When Jeff and Shauna get carjacked on the way to Colonial Williamsburg (really, Jeff?), Shauna smacks the gun out of their attacker’s hand and turns it on him. Then, when Jeff lets the guy get away with their old rusty clunker of a minivan, Shauna tracks it with an app (serious Breaking Bad vibes here) and storms into the shady junkyard where it’s located.
Sorry, Misty, you do a great Sally Field and all, but Shauna’s showdown with the shady dude at the junkyard is the best monologue in the episode, and perhaps even the series’ best to date. Melanie Lynskey vibrates with unbridled anger and barely contained homicidal rage as she points the gun at the sleazy dude she finds in the main office. At first, he sees her as a scared housewife, telling her in a condescending tone that her shaking hand means she doesn’t want to shoot. Shauna quickly disabuses him of that notion. In measured tones, she describes what it’s like to peel the flesh off of a human body in great and sickening detail. As she paints an unnerving and very believable portrait, the guy’s face begins to fall. Who is this woman?
Beautifully written and impeccably delivered, Shauna’s speech underscores how her time in the wilderness has shaped who she is today. We haven’t seen any outright murder in the wilderness timeline, but Shauna’s speech promises that we will. Her final warning, “My hand wasn’t shaking because I was afraid. It was shaking because of how badly I wanted to do this,” is chilling, and it’s a pretty sure bet that the junkyard dude is going to need a clean pair of underwear after Shauna leaves.
Elsewhere, the adult versions of Nat and Lottie also wrestle with their wilderness demons. First, Lottie shows Nat her bees, telling her that the very first thing the queen does is sting all the other queens to death. This seems like an outright threat, right? Then, Lottie puts Nat on blast in front of her congregation, inviting Lisa to retaliate for the violence Nat inflicted upon her when she first arrived at the compound. Lisa decides to forgive, but Nat’s reaction is inscrutable. Later, Lottie struggles with her own psyche when she sees her beehives covered in blood. It turns out that the blood is just a hallucination, but Lottie seems rattled by it. Is this a true vision, portending what’s to come with the adult Yellowjackets? Or is it just a figment of Lottie’s mentally ill mind?
We don’t see teen Lottie have any more visions in the past, but we do see her influence continue to grow in the absence of any other meaningful leadership. Even though Coach Ben has long been relegated to the sidelines in that regard, he now seems utterly incapable of stepping up to help in almost any way. As he didn’t play hungry hungry humans with the rest of the team the night before, his body is still starving to death. And he’s seeing stuff.
Ben’s visions of his boyfriend Paul (François Arnaud) are sad and wistful. It’s easy to forget that the cultural climate in the mid-’90s wasn’t incredibly welcoming to people who weren’t heterosexual. (It’s not great now, either, but that’s a whole separate conversation.) The Clinton administration had recently instated the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and gay marriage was far from being federally legal. Within these societal parameters — along with what we can glean to be a potentially disapproving family structure — Ben is struggling with whole-heartedly committing to Paul because it could mean losing everything else in his life.
As Ben’s Lost-like flashbacks begin, it starts to feel like his number might be up. Instead, his memories lead up to a moment in which Ben imagines not getting on the plane to Nationals and instead heading into Paul’s welcoming arms. Ben ends up surviving this episode, but given how intensely he’s hallucinating and how much backstory we’re getting on him, it certainly feels like he might not be around for much longer.
Ben is isolating and opting out of Shauna’s baby shower altogether. The shower is Lottie’s attempt at infusing some hope into the cabin’s bleak atmosphere, but it doesn’t really end up being a happy affair. Lottie gives Shauna a quilt with the mystery symbol on it, and Shauna’s nose starts bleeding. Tai starts to freak out. They don’t have much time to discuss because a flock of birds slams into the cabin, dropping dead on the snow-covered ground. While Nat is worried that the birds might be diseased, Lottie directs the rest of the group to “gather the blessings.” As they collect the birds in the past and Lottie reels from her bloody bee vision in the present, Tori Amos’s “Bells for Her” starts playing, warning that the Yellowjackets “can’t stop what’s coming.”
Buzz Buzz Buzz
• Mari swears she hears a dripping noise in the cabin. Mysteries are quickly piling up within the small living space. In addition to the lingering questions of “Who took the lantern?” and “Who pooped in the pee bucket?” we can add “What’s that dripping noise?” to the mix. Is it somehow all related to Javi?
• Jessica Watch: It feels like everyone has written Jessica off for dead, but we see Tai try to reach out to her as she flees the hospital. This seems like a pointed choice, especially as we haven’t heard anything definitive about her fate yet. I fully believe she’s still alive.
• I love how Jeff’s idea of an earth-shaking departure from everyday life is an impromptu trip to Colonial Williamsburg, especially when they live so close to New York City, where a million wondrous adventures can be had. Never change, Jeff.
• While Tai freaks out about the cannibalism at the top of the episode, Nat reflects the most on this turn of events. She doesn’t see a ghostly apparition of her old teammate, but she does talk to Jackie’s remains after she stores them in the plane. At that moment, a giant moose approaches the plane, but Nat somehow misses her shot. Could Jackie be haunting them now?
• It might seem weird that Misty would know the entire monologue from Steel Magnolias, but memorizing key scenes in movies was just a thing we all did in the analog age.
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