Yellowjackets Might Be Heading In A Stephen King's Pet Sematary Direction, And We're Scared

This piece contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" season 2, episode 4.

It's only been a season and some change, and "Yellowjackets" has already given us so much. We've seen cults, blood rituals, amputation, murder, dog murder, possession, dramatic sleepwalking, and no one will be able to forget the ungodly traumatic feast of season 2, episode 2's big cannibalism scene. With the conclusion of this week's episode, "Old Wounds," we may soon be adding another one to that list: resurrection.  

While the rest of the girls are placing their bets on the big hunting competition between Nat (Sophie Thatcher) and Lottie (Courtney Eaton), Van (Liv Hewson) and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) hatch a plan of their own. Throughout the angrier, more unhinged second season, Van has been waking up with Taissa in the middle of the night to follow her around on her sleepwalking adventures. She finds that each time Taissa ventures out, she ends up at a tree inscribed with the mysterious symbol that continues to haunt the Yellowjackets into the present. After plotting all these trees out on a map, she finds that — surprise, surprise — they are themselves points that make up a larger version of the symbol. 

Still terrified of her own mysterious connection to the woods, Taissa rejects the theory. But Van is able to convince her to make one more journey to the final point that would complete the symbol on the map. She's desperate to find proof that there's some larger design to what's happening in the woods. What she and Taissa do eventually find out there only raises more unanswerable questions.

Are we out of the woods?

The rest of the Yellowjackets are moping in defeat after both Nat and Lottie return empty-handed when, in a flash, an awe-struck Van and Taissa usher a third person into the cabin. It's Javi (Luciano Leroux), Travis' (Kevin Alves) little brother, who went racing into the woods during the magic mushroom meltdown in season 1's "Doomcoming" episode. He hasn't been seen since, despite Nat and Travis' constant efforts to track him. Nat eventually gets so worn down by the search, so concerned over Travis' inability to start working toward closure, and so anxious that Lottie's insistence that Javi is alive will draw Travis further under her influence, that she blots some blood on one of Javi's old pant legs and presents them to Travis — "proof" that he's not in a state worth looking for. 

We catch one brief glimpse of a chastened Nat ducking into the shadow and away from Travis' gaze, as he pulls Javi into a wonderstruck hug. The girls then start drawing out all the implications of Javi's ultimate survival against the elements. "This means Lottie is right," says Mari (Alexa Barajas), "She's the one who said Javi was alive." Van adds that, sure, "Lottie knew he was alive, but Taissa knew where he was." What's at the root of Taissa and Lottie's mystical connections to the wilderness? We know that neither of them are able to outrun or even control these supernatural gifts over two decades later.

But the more important question that the girls seem (at least for now) to sail past is, how in the world did Javi survive? He says nothing during his brief scene in the episode, but an empty, yet restless look in his eyes might testify to something more foreboding than anyone has realized.

Don't fear death, fear the life after

If you've been watching "Yellowjackets" closely, Javi's return isn't altogether surprising. Nat's misguided saga to protect Travis was definitely building to something, but I have a feeling that the revelation she faked evidence of Javi's death is only the beginning of a pitch-black turn in this storyline. 

When Travis sees Javi he mutters, "How the hell are you alive?" and pulls him into a hug. Javi is not only physically unresponsive to the hug, but when Travis pulls away, Javi's nearly expressionless eyes, tinged with the faintest trace of unspeakable dread, drop away. "Javi, hey, it's me. It's your brother," Travis continues, nervously. Director Scott Winant handles this part of the episode deftly, cross-cutting between Travis and Javi for only a few moments before the girls pivot the conversation away.

It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it indication that, while it's amazing Javi has been recovered, he may not have come back entirely himself. Those narrow, haunted eyes instantly recalled for me the eyes of the resurrected in Stephen King's "Pet Sematary," a novel about the lengths people will go to to defy death. As far as spilling your blood on a sylvan altar, perhaps? One part of Lottie's psychedelic hunting trip showed her letting a slash of her blood onto a mysterious shrine found in the woods — possibly the charm that conjured Javi forth only moments later. From the very first scene in the pilot, "Yellowjackets" has been moving toward cannibalism, blood rituals, and "Battle Royale"-style violence. But perhaps survival isn't the endgame of all this barbarism. Perhaps it's something less base, something transubstantial, inexplicable, and irreversible.

How did someone as young as Javi survive alone in the woods alone for that long? Maybe he didn't? If it turns out that death is not the end in "Yellowjackets," then this is a whole new beginning.