Welcome to our Yellowjackets Sting Meter. We’ll measure the erratic, unexplainable behavior of the show’s main lineup, ranking them according to how dangerous, deadly, and certifiably insane they appear in each episode. Who’s just a whacky worker bee and who gets crowned Mad Queen of episode four’s “Old Wounds”? Let’s find out.
When Yellowjackets crash-landed on our screens one year ago, it naturally drew comparisons to William Golding’s classic work of allegorical fiction, Lord of the Flies. In that book, a group of young boys is stranded on a remote island, tasked with governing themselves long enough to be rescued. It’s an experiment that ends in bloodshed, chaos, and the kind of savage tribalism that exposes the fragility of civilized society. With Yellowjackets, some thought the outcome might be different. Surely, teen girls couldn’t be as ruthless, barbaric, or susceptible to wildness as their male counterparts.
They were wrong, of course. The cannibalism rife in season two proves that. But even when these girls aren’t dining on the flesh of their fallen teammates and performing sacrificial rituals to appease primeval spirits, they’re still proof positive that the gendered stereotypes that plague young women on screen are as outdated as a VHS tape, as flimsy as Jeff’s blackmailing abilities.
Episode four’s “Old Wounds” proves teen girls are petty, competitive, paranoid, and power-hungry. They want for hierarchies, class structures that define who leads and who follows. And they’re willing to drown at the bottom of a lake or freeze to death in the middle of the forest, to achieve that order.
Queen Bee – Shauna Shipman
The most disturbing revelation of the episode came thanks to Teen Shauna’s outburst reprimanding the rest of the girls for pilfering what’s left of the team’s bear meat stash. Naively, I believed the group had run out of provisions, pushing them to feast on Jackie’s crispy yet tender corpse in a moment of starvation-fueled delirium. But no, they still had bear meat y’all. Apparently, the smell of Jackie’s bonfire-grilled skin was just too salivating to pass up, even for her grieving bestie.
In the present, Adult Shauna continues to toe the line between a docile housewife and a thrill-seeking criminal mastermind. She’s longingly recalling peeling the flesh from human bones one minute, asking Jeff which odor-wicking socks he wants from Kohl’s the next. In perhaps the greatest bit of evidence that she reigns as this week’s crazed matriarch, Shauna — suspicious of her daughter’s intentions after discovering she’s lied about her whereabouts for the past week — takes Callie on a girl’s trip to the middle of nowhere. The two end up coming clean about the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other, but before their heart-to-heart, the possibility that Shauna might off her own daughter felt very real. Our compliments to Melanie Lynskey.
Tai’s sleepwalking episodes continue to wreak havoc on her waking hours in the past and in the present. While Teen Tai has been subconsciously making a map of the forest via those strange symbols etched on its trees, Adult Tai has been falling asleep at the wheel, taking cross-country trips on empty tanks of gas, hitchhiking, and carting around a file folder filled with info on her surviving teammates. Sure, her “connection” to the wilderness helps the group find a still-living Javi by the end of the episode, but at what cost?
The question of which Lottie is suffering more in episode four’s “Old Wounds” is a bit of a toss-up. Adult Lottie is having psyche-shaking hallucinations that force her to put on real clothes and seek the help of a medical professional. She’s upping her meds and slicing her hands in sacrifice to tree stumps which just doesn’t feel like “best self” behavior. But in the past?
In the past, Lottie is being volunteered for meaningless survival competitions by her followers who are desperate to prove she was the reason their bellies are full. (Jackie Taylors’s bones haven’t even been buried yet, you ungrateful little …) While hunting for game, Lottie has a hypothermia-induced hallucination that proves to be the highlight of the episode. She’s thrust into a ’90s-era mall as a haunting choral cover of the show’s theme song plays menacingly in the background. When she joins the players — who are dressed in era-appropriate threads — that have congregated at the most sacred of places, the food court, Laura Lee is with them, urging her to forget her Chinese takeout and wake up before she freezes to death. The whole trial ends with a shivering Lottie immersed in Nat’s old bathwater with the two girls establishing a fragile truce but we can’t imagine yet another near-death experience is what our teen witch doctor needed right now.
Teen Nat is not okay. She’s nearly drowned herself in pursuit of her dinner, she fighting for status within her friend group, and she’s shrinking like the little lying violet she is when Javi is found to be alive and well, despite her best efforts to convince Travis otherwise. Adult Nat is also trying to find her place, switching between suspicion of her host and a genuine bond with the girl she mutilated early in the season. Nat goes with Lisa to the Farmer’s Market, questioning her involvement in the cult and wondering what kind of collateral Lottie holds over her. A hint to that answer comes when they make a pit stop at Lisa’s childhood home where her overbearing mother reveals she’s tried to commit suicide in the past. As supportive as Nat is through the awkward family encounter, Yellowjackets still finds a way to remind us that this woman is maladjusted at best. Smuggling the 14th Gilly to safety by swishing him around in your mouth is just not normal behavior.
His love of musicals aside, there’s just something off about Walter Tattersall. From the story of how he became a multi-millionaire to his expectation that he’d get to share a room with Misty at the inn to the bonkers admission that it was a Sweeny Todd reference that sparked his interest in her, it all feels contrived. You’re trying to tell us the least interesting thing about Misty Quigley is the fact that she survived in the wilderness for over a year by eating her soccer teammates? We call bullsh*t.
Other than the look of crazed excitement when issuing the ground rules for the girl’s hunt in the wilderness, Misty had a fairly quiet episode this week. She’s naturally annoyed that two of her friends might be kidnapped, but she’s thinking rationally — treating herself to a full breakfast, getting to know the locals, doing a sweep of her hotel room, and finding some time to self care with music from Evita and a refreshing eye mask. No notes.
Teen Van might have some whacky theories that are proving out but Adult Van is making up for that nonsense by operating a vintage movie store called “When You Were Streaming.” Van is the coolest.
He’s not a bad person. He’s just a bad criminal.
Citizen Detective Thread
- How did Javi survive so long on his own and what’s his connection to the strange symbols in the woods?
- Nat just shot that moose an episode earlier. How did it have time to fall into a lake and for the water to completely freeze over it that fast?
- Why does Lottie keep seeing hallucinations of Laura Lee?
- What’s in Lottie’s closet at the cult compound?
- Why does Tai have a folder on all of the Yellowjackets?
- What happened to Dr. Graham?
Showtime’s ‘Yellowjackets’ streams on Fridays, followed by TV airtime on Sunday nights.