In times of trauma, humans often look for explanations. To make sense of experiences that seem abnormal, we seek out reasons and search for explanations behind human impulses. We might call it fate or even chalk it up to God’s will. On Yellowjackets, that phenomenon is called “the wilderness,” and satisfying this high-powered entity seems to dictate much of the girls’ choices and actions—at least, that’s how they’ve explained their subversive behavior to themselves. Blaming the supernatural is a way to justify their cruel actions.
Throughout the Showtime series’s second season, contending with the past and their dalliances with appeasing “the wilderness” is at the forefront. The season introduced an adult Lottie, whose younger self had been institutionalized, as a vessel for this idea of the wilderness as its own conscious being that is calling the shots in the women’s lives. She was the bearer of this idea while they were stranded as teens, and she grows increasingly unstable as an adult who offers sacrifices to a hallucinated antler queen in the name of “it choosing” certain fates. So when she suggests that the wilderness brought their adult selves together again and wants another sacrifice from the group, Shauna—who has always been opposed to the supernatural explanation—thinks on her feet to buy them more time and suggests that they do it the old fashioned way: with a hunt.
The luck-based game introduced in the penultimate episode (aptly named “It Chooses”), in which participants pull from a deck of cards and the one who draws a Queen of Hearts is literally hunted to death, is reintroduced. But as the adult women play, they must cycle through three rounds before the fateful card is drawn. It begs the question: are these rituals just the green light they need to enact violence?
In the end, Shauna holds the bloody Queen of Hearts card. Though there are protests from the group at first, it’s jarring how quickly the others buy in and revert to the things they allowed themselves to believe while stranded. Natalie, Misty, Lottie, and Van don masks and brandish weapons, no longer joking about giving the wilderness what it wants, and Shauna sets off running. She’s saved by Callie, who drove up to the cult with Jeff to save her, and who now holds a gun at anyone threatening her mom. Natalie’s only cult friend Lisa appears too, and suddenly there’s a standoff that involves external parties.
Back in the wilderness, Travis accepts Javi’s death rather quickly, grieving briefly before giving Shauna the okay to chop up his body for sustenance. Even more striking is his green light for the meal: before the organs are skewered for consumption, he takes a big bite out of his little brother’s raw heart—literally. It’s a poignant though disturbing depiction of their closeness that he chooses the heart, a symbol of Javi’s good nature and the altruistic circumstances of his death.
But when Lottie, who is still bedridden upstairs, finds out about the hunt, she is beside herself and upset. This wasn’t her vision of adhering to the wilderness’s needs, but Misty convinces her that she “started this” and others were just following her orders. Shaken with the news and sudden responsibility of Javi’s death, Lottie passes her leadership off to Natalie who had just escaped death herself. In an eerie scene, the surviving members of the Yellowjackets clasp Natalie’s hands and bow to her like she’s a god.
Misty’s propensity for violence—both physical and emotional—has been charted from the beginning, and is on full display in the finale “Storytelling.” Her mind games with Lottie underscore her manipulation, even though she often presents herself as someone benign; in multiple instances we’ve seen her lash out, destroying the girls’ hope for discovery when she ruined the plane’s black box and threatening Crystal (I mean, Kristen) to the edge of a cliff and down to her literal death. And now, she has more than just Crystal’s blood on her hands—in the finale, present-day Misty stabs and kills Natalie with a poison pen meant for Lisa. That’s two so-called “best friends” who have died at Misty’s hands.
“Storytelling” leaves not one but two dead bodies in another wooded area. Detective Kevyn Tan is also dead, first poisoned by Misty’s beau Walter who later gleefully shoots him to death in the trunk of his car after threatening to blackmail Saracusa for Adam Martin’s death. Later, Natalie sacrifices herself to save Lisa from Misty—a clear act of haunted remorse for letting Javi drown all those years ago (which in itself was another Misty-inspired death). Van and Tai don’t have much to do by way of their own stories and their respective threads are left a little open-ended, but Lottie is carted away to be institutionalized once again while Shauna has a tearful reunion with her family and is likely left to walk free from the murder investigation. It’s too neat of a tie on that story, but also welcomes a more compelling storyline for her in season 3.
There are other loose ends that aren’t tied up or fully explored over the course of the sophomore season. Coach Ben’s fate is still unknown, as the season ends with his discovery of Javi’s tree home and his invitation to Natalie to join him. At the very final moments, the girls wake in the middle of the night to find their cabin is on fire and they’re locked inside—and Ben is the presumed culprit. (In an earlier scene, he was seen taking a fire starter and looking disdainfully at the team as they welcome Natalie as their new leader.) After breaking down the door, the teens are able to escape their burning home unscathed, but now they’ll have to find a new place to live in the wilderness.
More lingering questions are, what exactly happened to Javi while he was out there, and who is the “she” that he referred to once he returned? Tai’s alter-ego and her vision of the man with no eyes continues to be an enigma, as are the fates of her wife Simone and son Sammy.
In Juliette Lewis’s final appearance on the show (at least, as a living character), she’s back on the crashing plane and in a state of purgatory. Visits from Javi, young Lottie, young Travis, and even her younger self reassure her that this is where she’s supposed to be, allowing her to finally be at peace with her life and move on into the afterlife. It all comes back to belief and explanations: was it the wilderness or was it free will that caused her to sacrifice herself this time? Either way, Natalie is dead.
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