This Yellowjackets review contains spoilers.
Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8
The cabin fever escalates yet again in the past, and in the present, the survivors have the most macabre group therapy session ever in “It Chooses,” the penultimate episode of Yellowjackets’ second season. The show continues to benefit from having the present-day characters convened at Charlotte’s wellness center, and while the ‘90s segments suffer from some head-scratching character behavior, it’s still entertaining as ever watching the group descend ever deeper into madness.
Last week’s episode saw Shauna have a huge moment, unleashing her resentment and rage on Lottie in what was one of the show’s most graphic, ultra-violent moments to date, which is saying a lot. Lottie’s idea was to sacrifice her body to let Shauna exercise her demons, and it seems to have worked. We see Shauna helping the others care for Lottie, who’s obviously in horrendous shape, but it’s strange that we don’t get more of a focus on Shauna’s psychological shift here considering her massive pendulum swing from almost murdering Lottie to now trying to keep her as warm and comfortable as possible. Melissa even acknowledges the irony of the situation out loud. It’s a big breakthrough for Shauna, and it would have been nice to have seen that transition delved into a bit more.
The ambient evil that has been tormenting the girls continues to manifest itself in psychologically disturbing ways, like the reveal that Akilah’s been talking to a dead mouse this whole time, and the bloody vision that sends Mari into hysterics. It’s clear the group is going insane, but the depiction of this gradual unhinging is unconvincing at times. For much of the episode, the girls will be moving around and interacting with each other like more or less normal human beings, considering the grisly circumstances of course. They’re stressed out, but when they speak to each other, they’re still seemingly sensible and clear-headed, joking about making protein-rich leather belt soup and consoling each other with compassionate words of encouragement.
But then, they’ll abruptly turn into ravenous savages desperate to murder a fleeing, terrified Nat because she lost their twisted blood-sacrifice card game. The idea here makes sense on paper—these girls are starving, scared, and haunted by a dark entity that’s poisoning their minds. But moment to moment, they often jump from seemingly present and sane to murderous lunacy with the flick of a supernatural switch.
It’s just hard to believe that more people in the group don’t object to the atrocities playing out in front of their very eyes. Why didn’t anyone jump in to stop Shauna’s beatdown of Lottie? Why didn’t any of the girls try harder to save Javi on the lake? Again, conceptually, there’s nothing faulty here. The idea of the wilderness “choosing” Javi to spare Lottie is actually really cool. It just feels like the girls watching this poor boy die in front of their eyes would be more polarizing an incident than is portrayed.
It will be devastating to see Travis react to the death of his brother in the finale. But when you look at how we arrived at this place in the story, particularly regarding Travis’s decisions in this episode, things again just don’t line up. Wasn’t he the most devout Lottie follower of them all at one point? Apparently, seeing Nat give Javi a pair of gloves was enough to compel him to single-handedly save her and bust up the sick sacrificial ceremony meant to save Lottie. He’s come to his senses now, just not in a convincing fashion.
The present-day half of the episode fares better this week, with Christina Ricci, Tawny Cypress, Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Lauren Ambrose, and Simone Kessell joining forces for a riveting series of scenes that prove the show can be electric with violence or without it. Everything gets laid bare here, with Shauna admitting she’s looped her family and the authorities into the group’s affairs, and Misty revealing that she “took care of” reporter Jessica Roberts, who Tai hired to keep tabs on the group in the first place. They acknowledge that they’ve all endangered themselves and others to no end, and Lottie insists that they must give the nebulous evil that lurks inside them “what it wants” by playing yet another game of Russian Roulette, this time with poison. “This is how we’ve always given back,” she says.
The dialogue in these scenes isn’t crackling or rhythmic enough to make this truly great hangout-movie material á la The Breakfast Club or Dazed and Confused, but the actresses still make the words sing. There are some great lines in there, though, like when Van quips dryly, “Misty, you are nothing if not proactive.” It’s fascinating to see all of the characters’ unique maladies portrayed in different ways, like Cypress’ take on Tai’s psychological implosion, and Kessell’s interpretation of Charlotte’s entanglement with her inner darkness. They all have different approaches to their stories, and the strange cocktail of seeing them bounce off one another in the same room just seems like it can’t get old.
The side story with Cop Kevin and Detective Douche confronting Jeff and Callie works pretty well here, though Kevin proves over and over again to be the least interesting character on the entire show. At least John Reynolds has some fun as Detective Matt, doing everything in his power to get us to hate his guts with every smirk and cocky raised eyebrow. Jeff’s deep-seated fear of Shauna’s psychotic tendencies are conveyed well in the saw-hands nightmare scene, and Callie’s fear that she’s destined to follow suit could prove to be an intriguing wrinkle in Shauna’s story moving forward.
The x-factor in the plot is Walter, who is clearly plotting something since learning Adam’s body has been found by the authorities. It’s cool to see him on his own in his zillion-dollar home, mildly amused by his enormous jigsaw puzzle, with “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeny Todd playing symbolically in the background. Misty is referring to him as her “boyfriend” now, which is super cute/unsettling, and it looks as though he’s ready to step up and earn his place in her heart. Things are sure to get messy in the finale, and Walter might just be the only one with the ability and resources to clean it all up.