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Our Spooky, Sexy Yellowjackets Theories

Photo: Colin Bentley/Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME

Spoilers follow for the Yellowjackets season-two episode “Burial,” which premiered on May 12. 

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! 

Sometimes the only way you and your friends — survivors, cannibals, and killers all! — can work through your feelings of self-loathing and loneliness is by getting drunk and dancing it out. Reasonable, right? Yellowjackets seems to think so, ending a somewhat transitional episode on a scene of reconciliation between the women in 2021, and before then, shading in the tension between Lottie and Shauna in 1996 with a Fight Club–style beatdown. It doesn’t all quite hang together, but maybe the women’s inconsistent characterization in this episode is supposed to be a further sign of their deterioration, even when they’re reunited (or because they’re reunited). “Burial” is a narrative stretch, but it also introduces John Cameron Mitchell as an anthropomorphized version of Caligula, so at least that’s a win. Take a perch next to us as we ponder over this episode’s revelations.

Questions about 1996

UPDATED: Is Lottie the cause of the group breaking apart? 
Lottie’s influence is all over this episode. The newbie Yellowjackets theorize that “the wilderness” took Crystal and Shauna’s baby as a trade, and though Lottie tells them “it doesn’t work like that,” I think we’re seeing the kind of ritualistic thinking that will eventually lead to the pilot episode’s hunt and the Yellowjackets’ further cannibalism. (“It would be disrespectful to the wilderness to waste it,” one of the girls says about eating Crystal.)

Then there’s the symbol blanket among Shauna’s bedding, which she burns, and Lottie making herself a martyr by offering herself for Shauna’s cathartic beating. If this scene was meant to remind us of Shauna’s capacity for violence — how quickly she took to dressing animals, her involvement in the mushrooms-fueled Doomcoming hunt of Travis — it isn’t as fluid as it could have been; it’s more effective at establishing the other Yellowjackets’ passivity and how they defer to Lottie and Shauna. It also answers the question of whose bloody face Lottie imagined back in “Edible Complex” when she saw Laura Lee on the night of Travis’s death. Whether the tension between Lottie and Shauna holds is worth watching.

UPDATED: How many people besides Jackie got eaten in 1996? 
For now, no one. Shauna buries her baby, and the Yellowjackets know better than to raise the question of eating it — which means everyone’s still starving and getting more desperate.

UPDATED: Is Coach Ben next on the Yellowjackets’ menu? 
Also no, for now. Although he imagines Paul getting a phone call in which he’s informed by some unseen entity that Ben isn’t “welcome here anymore,” and though he walks to the edge of the cliff intending to throw himself off, Ben decides to live … because of Misty, the one Yellowjacket he can’t shake. Misty’s tactics are pretty desperate; she goes from threatening to eat his “high-calorie butt meat” once he’s dead, to threatening to lie and say he had inappropriate relationships with both her and Shauna, to threatening to “tell the whole world that you’re gay.” It’s all very ’90s homophobia, and it doesn’t do much for Ben, who wants to finally live in his truth. But when Misty breaks down and cries over failing to keep Shauna’s baby alive, in a redo of the same hysteria she used to throw Mari and Akilah off their suspicion of her, Ben takes pity on her and steps back from the ledge. This little vignette tells us that Ben wants to die but also wants to protect the teens in his care, so I still think eating Ben is on the menu — but maybe as an act of self-sacrifice further down the line. Also, “high-calorie butt meat” is kind of a compliment, no?

UPDATED: Does Crystal/Kristin exist, or is she a figment of Misty’s imagination?
We decided that Crystal/Kristin was very real because the Yellowjackets keep bringing her up — and they do so again once the snowstorm is over, with Mari and Akilah wondering why Misty hasn’t pushed for a search party to find her. That’s a good question! What I can’t figure out, though, is whether Misty can’t find Crystal’s body at the bottom of the cliff because the snow was too deep and she was too frantic to search properly, or because Crystal is alive and walked off. I’m rooting for the latter, if only because Crystal reappearing and sharing how Misty tried to kill her would help explain all the other women’s coolness toward Caligula’s mom. And if Javi could live, why not Crystal?

Questions about 2021

UPDATED: Is Lottie still in communion with the entity from the woods? 
Oh man, is she! The therapist that Lottie has been seeing has been herself this whole time, which makes retroactive sense, since the therapist’s advice boiled down to “believe in yourself.” Only Lottie would tell Lottie to believe in herself! So when the therapist transforms into the Antler Queen, her suggestion that Lottie was her “truest, most authentic self” when she was in the wilderness, and her observation that nothing in life comes without “risk, loss, consequence,” all add up to Lottie being very much connected to the wilderness again. And now that Natalie is on her side, and Misty, Shauna, Van, and Tai are all present, I’m guessing something bad is going to go down — worse than the tequila hangover the Yellowjackets will certainly have next episode.

UPDATED: Will Juliette Lewis get another note to play? 
In response to last week’s “Qui,” I suggested, “Maybe aligning Natalie with Lottie, as unlikely as the pairing seems, is the way to do that.” And “Burial” does give Juliette Lewis a bit more to do, as she tells the arriving Shauna, Van, and Tai that her walls are coming down “because of this place,” and that Lottie “found” her before she died by suicide. Lewis plays these moments with an eye roll and giggle, and I’m not sure I totally buy that Natalie is convinced by the power of Lottie and her ability to help them deal with the “really dark shit” the Yellowjackets brought back with them. But at least it’s something different for Lewis to do!

UPDATED: Who, or what, is possessing Tai?
We’re no closer to the “who or what” of this question, either in 2021 or 1996. Yet it’s worth noting that in 1996, Lottie told Tai that her “other me” was still with her, “and that’s a good thing, Tai,” and in 2021, Lottie says to Tai, “That other you, she always had a deep connection to the wilderness, and she had wisdom, too. She doesn’t want to be suppressed.” Sure, but that other side of Tai was responsible for the bloody altar, scaring Sammy, and the car accident that injured Simone. Add another to the list of “Lottie’s judgment is bad” examples.

NEW: What went down between Lottie and Van? 
When Shauna, Van, and Tai arrive at Camp Green Pine, Van looks more shocked than the others at Lottie’s presence there, and throughout this episode, she’s particularly resistant to Lottie’s efforts to make her former teammates feel welcome. “This is just not for me,” she says to Lottie’s offered treatments, and is that because her cancer diagnosis makes her think this is all a waste of time or because of a new distrust of Lottie? Note how Van talks about 1996: “fucking oblivion,” “the terrible parts.” Lottie and Van were so aligned back in 1996; is the show hinting at some kind of schism since then?

Questions about the future

UPDATED: Does Elijah Wood’s citizen detective know Misty helped get rid of Adam?
I think we can presume that Walter has a very strong guess regarding Misty’s role in Adam’s death, and Misty basically confirms whatever Walter thought with her post-sensory-deprivation-tank “You were right about the thing” admission. But I also think Misty is being genuine with her “I miss you,” and that her fantasy sequence with Walter and Caligula made her realize she needs someone close in her life. That maniacal laughter is her love language! And I think it could sway Walter to protect her; time will tell.

UPDATED: Does Callie take Adam’s ID to the police? and How self-destructive is Shauna going to get?
Well, the police have found Adam’s body, which really feels like Yellowjackets lobbing an insult at Misty’s criminal abilities. But how quickly they found Adam really emphasizes another question: Where’s Jessica Roberts? Did Misty successfully kill her, and if so, how is that news as well?

UPDATED: Are Tai and Van going to get back together?
They’re at least kissing by the bonfire, as you do with an old flame! But Van is dying from cancer and only has months to live, and Simone remains hospitalized (I guess, we don’t actually know, because Van still has not called to check!), and Van is still hesitant because how much does she know Tai, really? All valid concerns, though I think they’ll probably do some more kissing during their stay at Camp Green Pine.

Our Spooky, Sexy Yellowjackets Theories