Yellowjackets: Storytelling
May 26, 2023 6:55 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Into the frying pan, out of the fire.
posted by Etrigan (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I know the reviews are rough on this episode for plot and characterisation and I get that, but I was riveted nonetheless by the acting and pacing, and almost shell shocked at the end. A brutal episode.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:15 PM on May 26, 2023 [4 favorites]

Listen, Misty, accidentally kill your best friend once, shame on her. Accidentally kill your best friend twice, though, shame on you.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:28 PM on May 26, 2023 [8 favorites]

I had a feeling last week that Nat was not long for this world, and when Juliette Lewis did the "previously on" voiceover, I knew that was that.

Unfortunately, um...while I know that Nat shoving what's her face out of the way to take the needle probably sounded good in script form, I don't think it played believably on screen. These are fine actors and a gifted director, which leads me to think there was just no way to stage this that wouldn't play kind of corny.

I know the Teen Yellowjackets are only halfway through their journey, but I have to be honest: I don't have any questions left. It seems like the answer to "is anything supernatural happening here?" is a resounding no. So this is a story about fucked up people who had a bad time in the woods when they were kids, but not so bad that they couldn't more or less reintegrate into society. We get it, right? What's left to say?

I enjoyed the episode overall, even though I think the money spent licensing apparently every song recorded between 1990 and 1996 could have been better spent on, like, a tenth episode. The constant barrage of pop songs undercut a lot of scenes that would have been better without.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:38 PM on May 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

I do love Jeff and Callie, one has read all the diaries and STILL loved Shona, the other thinks her parents are insane but goes with It.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

We get it, right? What's left to say?

I read that Yellowjackets is planned for five seasons and I just don't see how they can do that. It feels like in three, maybe five episodes we should wrap this thing up. Maybe there's some amazing master plan and I'll just really be wowed by season three, but there doesn't seem to be enough interesting story left for one more full season, much less three.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:07 AM on May 27, 2023 [7 favorites]

Yeah, all I can think of is A) some kind of heretofore unreferenced second era between 1997 and now when important things happened, which would feel pretty cheap at this point, or 2) a flash-forward where we explore the generational traumas that the Yellowjackets' kids would suffer in the future, except that we only know of two kids, and we're already exploring one's generational trauma, and the other one has pretty much vanished.
posted by Etrigan at 11:35 AM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Maybe a post-apocalyptic future world where the survivors of a nuclear war wander the ravaged, nuclear-wintry earth and carry out cannibalistic rituals based on the only entertainment they have, an old Blu Ray of a movie based on the Yellowjackets book that -- surprise! -- Jessica wrote after all, and sent to her publisher before Misty killed her? But we could keep flashing back to Shauna terrorizing criminals and Walter slowly turning the blackmailed Jaysus into Theon Greyjoy, all of it scored to an I Love the '90s playlist Showtime spent a million dollars on.

I feel like all the show can really do is make the 2020s half MUCH more interesting than it has been thus far, because we kind of know where the '90s side is going. Even if the '90s side is a lot weirder than we're imagining, we still know most of the characters make it; what surprises could there be?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:51 PM on May 27, 2023

thw show has a weird tonal disjunct this season. it's depressing and disturbingly grotesque one minute, then ridiculously goofy, the next. i really don't need a homicidal hobbit running around, even if i do love Misty and want her to survive. the first season managed to balance the shocking gore and outre humor much better. sophomore slump, perhaps but i think the only successful way forward will need to incorporate a lot more supernatural, surreal stuff.
posted by lapolla at 1:32 PM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Coach torched the cabin, right?
posted by Mogur at 3:39 PM on May 27, 2023 [5 favorites]

He definitely did, though there is a weirdly large contingent on Reddit who think the wilderness did it. You see him trying to light a fire in his cave and failing. Then you see him by the cabin, stealing matches. But then he looks through the window and sees the girls making their obeisances to Nat, who he seemed to think was the only one of them that was redeemable. You also see him holding rope, and the doors were tied shut.
posted by skycrashesdown at 5:41 PM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

We're definitely meant to believe that Coach did, without actually showing us. So they're thinking about whether to swerve us.
posted by Etrigan at 5:53 PM on May 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Which means S3 will be the Coach-Wildlings War.
posted by Mogur at 2:45 AM on May 28, 2023 [4 favorites]

I'm intrigued at the idea of a S3 without the cabin. Having that was always a bit of a safety net for them, and now they'll have to really get back to nature.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:30 AM on May 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

Natalie knows that Coach has a secret hideout somewhere.
posted by Mogur at 5:31 AM on May 28, 2023 [3 favorites]

Dip in quality or not - I was still all on board for season 2, despite finding it uneven - I guess I'm out now . The lottery scene was just too hard for me to stomach, this idea of having to choose whom to spare and whom to kill. And it's pretty clear that they _are _ actively choosing; it's not the wilderness and it's not random chance. Misty chooses Javi, because Nat, the huntress, is too useful to die.

And that's how it's always going to go. The lottery is a sham. It's no coincidence that these girls were the ones that survived - the huntress, the healer, the butcher, the high-priestess, the explorer and Van, whose role is a bit less clear, but who was snatched from the maw of certain death twice already. Consciously or not, explicitely or not, they teamed up to manipulate the ritual in their own favor and killed all the others to survive (I don't think we will meet any more survivors). And that, not even so much the cannibalism, is at the heart of their guilt. They chose.

But now the fate they sneaked out of is catching up to them. So far, every season has killed off one of them - Travis in season one, Nat in season two - and that pattern is probably going to continue. Maybe it's because it might seem like this season's sacrifice did in fact work - Shauna gets away with murder, because Misty's admirer cleaned up her mess. Maybe Van's cancer goes into remission. It's going to read like a vindication of Lottie's thesis. But the next crisis is bound to emerge, and provide an incentive to go back to the ritual-murder-well.

So the tension going forward might be whether they eventually manage to snap out of it again, and who's left standing at that point.

So far the pattern also has them more or less die by their own choice. Travis willingly risked his life in an attempt to provoke an out-of-body experience to finally face the truth of the past. Nat willingly takes in the poisoned needle aimed at someone else. Maybe they're now making the sacrifices they avoided in the first round.
posted by sohalt at 11:59 AM on May 28, 2023 [5 favorites]

curious as to whether Coach survived...which we don't know either way, but now that he has (presumably) burned down the cabin and attempted to kill all the girls...he's gonna be persona non grata around the campfire/cannibal festival.
posted by supermedusa at 1:43 PM on May 28, 2023

I've had a lot of problems with Yellowjackets lately, but if Jeffrey Dean Morgan shows up as 2020s Coach Ben, all is forgiven. All I have to say about it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:03 PM on May 28, 2023 [3 favorites]

I just read this analysis from misty-caligula on tumblr which reframes the S1 and S2 arc in a way that I think works beautifully - the hunt as love.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2023

Regarding that analysis ..... .eh. Obviously, most people need to go through some mental acrobatics before they're able to kill humans systematically. Every army knows that soldiers first have to be desensitized. So you turn your victim into prey, and yourself into a beast, and afterwards pretend it was a different person who did it, to escape accountability. I get the pragmatic necessity, and how it helps the girls dissociate and survive, but I wouldn't call it love.
posted by sohalt at 11:06 PM on May 28, 2023

I find it very hard to believe that Matt the Cop saw a weird little freak murder his partner in front of him and chose to do nothing based on a threat of being framed.
posted by ejs at 9:17 PM on May 29, 2023 [5 favorites]

I figured we were going to lose Nat at the end of the season. Her arc has felt like it was coming to a close in a hurry. Kinda telling that the two survivors most "visibly" tormented by their time in the woods are the ones we've lost.

Walter is definitely Misty's match in "proactivity". Saracusa is a slimeball. Nat would also be upset about Kevyn.

Agree with sohalt that the lottery is a sham - it was their way of convincing themselves they deserved to live. My guess would be that we see a change to the ritual that makes it into a "kill or be killed"

Of course, if the writers strike doesn't get resolved soon, we'll be seriously waiting to find out!
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:14 AM on May 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

It'll be real ironic if the cabin fire gets them rescued because it's big enough to be detected/seen.

I can imagine one season's worth of immediate post-rescue coping in the 90s, but I agree that five seasons to tell a story seems like a worrisome reach.
posted by desuetude at 6:57 PM on May 30, 2023

It'll be real ironic if the cabin fire gets them rescued because it's big enough to be detected/seen.

Their time in the wilderness was explicitly stated to be 19 months. They’re only 9 months in.
posted by Etrigan at 3:51 AM on May 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

Ah, you're right, I lost track of the timekeeping and thought a few more months might have passed, but even so we couldn't have made it to 19 already.

Well, drat. I felt like cabin was an important tether to plausibility that gave the storytelling some necessary breathing room for suspension of disbelief. I realize that the whole point of a cliffhanger is to keep viewers excited about how they'll escape this pickle, but in this case it makes me preemptively worry about the writing.
posted by desuetude at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2023

(if you like this show, don't read this, I'm just venting and I'm not planning to watch anymore so it'll be the last time I'm interrupting the conversation)

so the thing is, I have a lot of things I could say and think about this season, reiterations of my established distaste for the show's having-cake-eating-cake approach to the supernatural, but where I'm left is that the show has so apocalyptically mishandled its tone and themes that I just don't want to watch anymore.

this show is too structurally grim for its attempts at camp, but camp is the only level on which it even approaches being functional. it is flippant at best, and grossly irresponsible at worst, about its portrayal of and attitude towards mental health and trauma, the things it is ostensibly about.

it's a well-built show aesthetically and well-performed, which makes it far worse to experience as a viewer. at this point I find it impossible to enjoy on any level. I'm done.
posted by Kybard at 4:59 PM on June 5, 2023 [2 favorites]

There will apparently be a bonus episode at some point (it's not clear to me if it's already been made, and if it hasn't, well...). My hope is for a Twin Peaks S3 serve: I'd love to see an episode set in 1978 starring the hunter in the cabin, all in French. I believe in you, Yellowjackets!!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:17 AM on June 6, 2023 [1 favorite]

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