Spoilers follow for the Yellowjackets season-two episode, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen,” which premiered March 24.
Every week, Yellowjackets immerses us in dual eldritchian torments: the horror of being a teenage girl alone in the wilderness, battling hunger, clique drama, and a possibly evil supernatural entity, and the awfulness of being an adult forced to reconnect with the past you thought you left behind. Both are equally frightening, and both inspire endless theorizing — citizen detectives, get your inquisitive minds ready!
Yellowjackets’s first season raised questions about basically everything in the 1996 and 2021 timelines, from whether Shauna’s lover, Adam, was actually a grown-up Javi (disproved, to my eternal consternation!) to what’s going on with Tai’s sleepwalking (how possessed is she?). Given co-creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson’s plan to keep Yellowjackets going for five seasons, it’s unsurprising that most of these mysteries weren’t fully explained at the end of the first ten episodes. But with season two, we have ten more weekly opportunities to figure out what’s going on in the Canadian woods and the New Jersey suburbs. Let’s get to it by diving into season-two premiere, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.”
Questions About 1996
Is Lottie the cause of the group breaking apart?
In season one, when Lottie was revealed as the antler queen and made that altar of offerings with Van and Misty as her witnesses, it was clear her faith in this place would give her outsize influence among the group. When season two starts with a two-month time jump, nearly all the survivors (save for Tai, Shauna, and Natalie) turn to her for guidance and approval, whether in the form of blood offerings before hunts, saying vague prayers, or decorating the cabin with the mysterious triangle symbol. Do Lottie’s doubters eventually break off and form their own group? We know from season one that there are ritualized hunts going on, and now we know from this premiere that some form of cannibalism is actually happening. (Shauna gulping down Jackie’s ear is a genuinely hilarious moment.) Does the breakdown come between who decides to eat their friends and who doesn’t? Or is it about who believes in Lottie and who doesn’t? We see that fissure affect at least one relationship, which leads us to …
Do Lottie and Travis hook up?
We know from season one that Natalie and Travis had a complicated relationship, a seemingly one-off connection that lasted into their adulthood and respective struggles with addiction. The assumption was that the trauma of maybe eating their friends (and in Travis’s case, seeing his father die and his brother disappear) is what messed Natalie and Travis up so badly, but Lottie adds another complication. Travis seems to believe in her communion with the woods, while Natalie clearly doesn’t, and that difference of opinion has actual physical effects late in the episode. While Travis has a panic attack about Javi still being missing, Lottie comforts him, coaches him in a breathing exercise, and seemingly sends him a mental image of her altar from season one — and in return, Travis is sexually aroused. Remember how Travis struggled to have sex with Natalie in season one? Whatever is growing between Travis and Lottie probably won’t please Natalie, especially as they bicker about whether Javi could be alive. “There’s no such thing as false hope. There’s just hope,” Lottie says, but at what point in this wintry landscape does hope become dangerous?
Will Shauna eat the rest of Jackie?
She ate an ear. She ate an ear! Is that enough to give Shauna a taste for flesh? And if Shauna really does eat Jackie, then I wonder how much of this she outlined in those journals that Jeff read. Does Jeff know that Shauna (maybe) ate his ex-girlfriend — and then came home and married him? That is very blackmail-able content!
Questions About 2021
Is Lottie still in communion with the entity from the woods?
We get our first glimpse at the girls’ return in this episode, as a brief flash-forward to 1998 shows Lottie, Taissa, Misty, Nat, and various other survivors walking off a plane and being accosted by reporters who ask how they survived in the woods. We then see teen Lottie receiving electroshock therapy at her parents’ request (remember from season one that her father especially was concerned about “fixing” Lottie’s maybe-mental illness, maybe-psychicness), and then in an institution, telling a roommate “they can make you better, in the same way that they helped me.” Finally, we get confirmation that adult Lottie is leading the purple-wearing cult that kidnapped Natalie.
That’s all helpful background about what Lottie went through after being rescued, but it leaves her actual motivations murky. Who is the “they” that helped her? How did no one notice she was building this compound and leading this cult, not even Misty, who was keeping tabs on all the other Yellowjackets? What Lottie is telling her followers about individual choice and collective spirituality is pretty ambiguous (“There is nothing more painful than hiding that self … The truth is, we are the ones making ourselves sick”), but how does that jibe with her continued reverence for or connection to the woods? Does she think the wilderness helped her find herself, and that’s why her acolytes wear the symbol and animal masks that bring to mind the Yellowjackets’ mushroom trip? Very little about Camp Green Pine makes sense right now, but all the clues seem to point at “Lottie probably isn’t as cured as she claims to be.” (Which also makes whatever message she has from Travis to Natalie perhaps not entirely credible.)
Who, or what, is possessing Tai?
Season one introduced the man with no eyes, a figure that child Taissa saw at her grandmother’s deathbed (and that her grandmother saw too) and who has been in the series’s opening credits. We guessed back in season one that the man with no eyes was possessing Tai and making her sleepwalk, terrorize her son, Sammy, and kill her dog for that sacrificial altar in her family’s basement. Now that Tai is beginning to realize the extent of what her body has been doing without her knowledge, I’m wondering what the man with no eyes actually wants. If he came to her grandmother at her deathbed, does he want to kill Tai? If he wants to kill Tai, why possess her and have her do weird stuff? I’m beginning to think maybe the man with no eyes isn’t the only entity fighting over Tai’s body, and that makes her as difficult to read as Lottie. How much of adult Tai is teen Tai, and how much of her is someone or something — or someones or somethings — else?
Questions About the Future
Does Elijah Wood’s citizen detective know Misty helped get rid of Adam?
Elijah Wood’s casting in season two was big news, and although we haven’t yet seen him, we do hear his very recognizable voice as Misty reads his post about Adam Martin’s disappearance on their Bureau of Citizen Detectives message board. I’m going to assume that Wood’s character is no slouch, and that Misty’s rapid down-voting of his poking into Adam’s finances will come back to bite her. That moment of spontaneity is more in line with the teen Misty who destroyed the plane’s flight recorder than the adult Misty who calmly took Jessica hostage and then poisoned her cigarettes, and maybe it means that Misty, now reconnected with her former teammates, is sliding back into her more impulsive habits — which could be very bad for a group of women trying to cover up a murder! Wood already seems like he could grow into a low-level foe for Misty, and whether he’ll get a scene with Melanie Lynskey in an I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore reunion is up in the air, too.
Does Callie take Adam’s ID to the police?
I can somewhat understand Callie’s frustrations with Shauna, who is using Adam’s death to spice up her marriage to Jeff. Callie doesn’t know that her parents had rough sex in Shauna’s dead lover’s art studio while surrounded by unnerving portraits of Shauna in various states of undress, but she certainly didn’t like Shauna calling her bluff on her blackmail attempt and shruggingly telling her that Jeff “already knows” about what happened with Adam. I worry that Callie’s adolescent impetuousness means that she throws her parents, or at least Shauna, under the bus — especially because Shauna and Jeff aren’t very good criminals. Did they really burn down Adam’s art studio and it somehow didn’t make the news? They didn’t check that Adam’s ID had entirely burned in their backyard grill, a place that would definitely be searched if the cops showed up with a warrant? Shauna and Jeff’s shortsightedness and Callie’s disgust make me wonder if the person Shauna should be most worried about is living under her roof.
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