The Past Is Catching Up With The Yellowjackets, And It's Scarier Than Cannibalism

This article contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets."

After last week's episode finally gave us our first look at Lauren Ambrose as Adult Van, episode 5 of season 2 picks up right where we left off with our favorite cinephile. We're given a tour of Van's apartment and video rental store, set to the soundtrack of "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes because nothing screams "LESBIAN!" like the sound of Linda Perry. In a surprise to absolutely no one, Van's house is a maximalist pop culture wonderscape, further proving that if I were one of the Yellowjackets, I'd be Van (a Buzzfeed quiz also confirmed this but whatever). She's got rainbow rugs, she's got an amazing race car VHS tape rewinder, and her apartment is located conveniently above her store. Some curious youngsters are fascinated by her shop. "These boxy things are movies?" Remember kids, physical media FOREVER.

An eager customer comes in to return her copy of "Party Girl," a lovely metatextual moment as the director of that film, Daisy von Scherler Mayer, also directed the first episode of season 2 (and "Doomcoming" in season 1). The eager customer exclaims her love of Parker Posey to which I can only nod and say, "Same, bestie." Van takes the time to recommend Cheryl Dunye's brilliant "The Watermelon Woman," and again I can only laugh about how hard this show is coming for me with the depiction of Adult Van.

The episode then catches up exactly to last week, with Taissa showing up unannounced. There's something heavy in the air the second they catch eyes. This isn't some warm and fuzzy love. This is awkward ... and then Taissa passes out before cutting to the opening credits. HERE WE GO AGAIN!

Good morning from the middle of nowhere

Okay, I know that the forest is supposed to be a terrible sign of danger, but every establishing shot looks beautiful enough to be on a deeply screwed-up "Wish You Were Here" postcard. And yes, I am immediately reminded that Jeff and Randy used a postcard to start their blackmail scheme. The snow looks like it's starting to melt a little bit, but I'm not buying this as a sign of spring. I'm from the Midwest. I know a warm day fake out before mother nature dumps a pile of snow in my lap and flips me the bird when I see it!

Taissa wakes up with the ropes still around her arms. She didn't sleepwalk! Some time has definitely passed in the cabin, however, because Shauna is very pregnant. Taissa heads outside to join Van for some of Lottie's "woo woo bulls***" but Shauna is too logical to join. Taissa claims she's only attending because Van is convinced Lottie's influence is what stopped the sleepwalking. "Happy wife, happy life," she jokes.

Lottie is outside delivering some breathing exercises to the group. Reminder: she's the one girl who has actually been to therapy and she's basically parroting mindfulness exercises and sensory grounding techniques. If it works, it works, but also ... these poor girls are getting advice that is no different than Instagram "therapy" infographics. Lottie wants them to "nurture [their] relationship with nature," seemingly inspired by Shauna's impending birth. Lottie is very convinced it's a son and gets them all to chant about how they can't wait to meet him. If Shauna does a son, it's gonna be REALLY hard to convince anyone that Lottie isn't magic, even though her odds are about the same as calling for "red" while playing roulette.

Javi's still weird. Akilah's still a delight

Javi is still acting a step above comatose and the girls have no problem speculating in front of his face. "What if he did die and that's his ghost?" Melissa suggests. Yes, this character does have a name! They also assume Javi is the one who stole their extra bear meat, but I'm not convinced. I'm still on team Pet Sematary. Travis has no issue with Javi's silence, but all the issues with Nat's planting of bloody clothes. Javi does eat soup so he's not a zombie at least. "Please, just tell me where you were, Javi?" he asks. Javi looks directly at Lottie and then eats his soup in silence. What does she know?!

"Maybe he wouldn't be so f***ed up if I found him sooner, so that's on you," Travis barks at Nat. Look, I get his anger, but also ... you gotta admit this is beyond comprehension, Travis. He should be dead. I think this is what Jordan Peele was talking about when he wrote, "What's a bad miracle?" Afterward, Coach Ben finds Javi's collection of ominous arts ... and he finally speaks! "She told me not to come back," he says. When Ben prods as to who he's talking about, he simply says, "My friend," and then walks back to being a total weirdo.

Meanwhile, Akilah is still parenting her mouse. She tells Taissa about a pre-game ritual she used to have, and Taissa mocks her because the JV team sucked. I love the scenes with Taissa and Akilah. "It just felt good, like we could pretend it made a difference," she says. Using a sports superstitions is a fantastic way to connect to the religious following of Lottie. Having hope in something is better than not having any hope at all.

No more Miss Teen Angst

In the present day, a riot girl band is playing at the bowling alley. I choose to believe this is a reference to "Josie and the Pussycats" to continue our Parker Posey film appreciation in this episode. Trash 'Stache cop makes a reference to "The Big Lebowski" on his undercover date with Callie, clearly forgetting she's 17 and his joke is lost on her. She makes a kissing bet that he takes, thinking she's gonna suck at bowling. She, of course, hustles him, but he avoids kissing her. I'm still sticking by my theory that this whole investigation gets destroyed because he's an idiot. 

Anyway, Jay heads to the bathroom and Callie sneaks a peek at the bill to see that his name isn't Jay. She googles him and it looks like those "local cops do good" press releases to try and humanize the police just backfired! Callie is noticeably weird in the car after her realization and NotNamedJay, continuing to suck at his job, asks leading questions about Callie's mom and the affair. She plays his dumbass like a fiddle because she is Shauna's daughter after all! She puts on the waterworks and claims she found out who her mom has been sleeping with ... and names Randy. LMFAO CALLIE, ARE YOU NUTS?! RANDY?! Hey, I guess this means we're getting more Randy this season, so I'm thrilled.

Back at home, Callie confesses to her parents what's been going on with Jay. "A f***ing cop?!" Shauna screams. "How old is he?" Dad exclaims. Jeff, never change. I love you. It's not great to learn the cops are tracking them, but Callie giving Jay bad intel is fantastic. Her parents agree that she did good, and Callie is SO excited. She was made for a life of crime!

Shauna and Randy have a hot hotel 'date'

Shauna meets up with Randy at the motel where everything that happens is bad and the owner tells no one, and the cops show up because of course they do. "You look f***ing amazing!" Randy screams. I hate how much this show makes me love aint-s*** men. Jeff doesn't have all the details and assumes this has something to do with "Natalie and the FBI thing," which, it doesn't. Shauna then cuts to the chase and hands him a condom to jerk off into so it looks like they had sex. Honestly, this scene is magic. I love how "Yellowjackets" can effortlessly weave in hilarity with, yanno, cannibalism. Melanie Lynskey's delivery of "don't you dare think about me" as he retreats to the motel bathroom is gold.

Sadly, Randy can't cum and no amount of pumping up the ol' "Randog" will do it, so he fills the condom with complimentary lotion and calls it a day. 

  • 1) I'm shocked this motel has free lotion.
  • 2) These cops are gonna find that.

Annnnnd after Shauna and Randy leave, they do! "Without a warrant, nothing is admissible," Kevyn says. Uh, yeah. This is why I'm still convinced this whole investigation is gonna blow up in your faces! NotNamedJay discovers the lotion because it looks like lotion in a condom and not splooge. NotNamedJay is proud of his discovery because it proves his theory that Shauna was sleeping with Adam and killed him (which she did) but the fact they're on this wild goose chase at all means, as Kevyn says, "The kid intentionally gave you bad intel." BUSTED, YOU DOLTS!

Sherlock and Moriarty are on the rocks

Misty and Walter are on their drive, listening to Tropical F*** Storm's cover of "Stayin' Alive," likely a reference to the "Saturday Night Fever" jukebox musical that definitely exists. Walter proposes they play two truths and a lie, but tells all truths so that Misty can learn more about him. He's trying to get her to be more honest about herself but she only gets through "I don't like monkeys" and "We're asking the wrong questions about the moon landing" before they find the entrance to the compound. They show up to rescue Natalie and Misty is shocked to that Lottie "committed to a mental institution in Switzerland" Matthews runs the compound. 

Natalie refuses to come with them because she's working on her own thing from the inside. Misty is devastated, and Walter is not a very comforting presence. He wants her to let it go, but Misty is torn up by Natalie's refusal to come home and her "failure" for not knowing what Lottie has been up to. She starts to spiral out of control and Walter interrupts by mentioning he knows that Misty doesn't actually know Adam Martin. He correctly deduces that she killed Adam to help a friend and says that she's charming and impulsive — traits of most serial killers." And yet, he doesn't run. 

Walter likes Misty "regardless of her extra-curricular activities." Misty grabs her bags and leaves, telling Walter to go I can't tell if it's because she's scared of his detective skills or if she's afraid she's going to kill him. He drives away but I doubt this is the last we'll see of Walter. With nowhere else to go, it looks like Misty is about to join the cult too.

'We brought it back'

Inside the compound, Natalie makes a scene and accuses Lottie of scamming her followers after learning she has their phones, bank information, and information on all of their families. She thinks it's a huge gotcha, but everyone gave that information to Lottie willingly. Nat screams that she's clinically insane, and the cult turns on her.

She and Lottie talk it out, but Lottie's mention of Travis brings Natalie to her knees. "You know what he was going through. You started it," she accuses Lottie. She says, "I know," and convinces her to try a technique with flashing lights. It's a weird version of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, but it helps Natalie unlock what happened the last time she saw Travis alive.

The two were doing drugs together in a beachside hotel as adults, and Natalie overdosed. As she lost consciousness, she saw a version of the crash site where they didn't make it, and the vision of the Antler Queen enters the plane. EMTs deliver Narcan, and Nat comes back. "I saw it. I felt it. We brought it back." Lottie looks genuinely terrified of everything Nat is saying, which has completely reshaped how I feel about teen Lottie. Natalie has an answer to what Travis' card reading, "Tell Nat she was right," is all about. "The whole time there was something, some darkness out there with us or in us. It still is. That's what I was right about." Natalie lays her head in Lottie's lap, and the image shifts to her teenage self. 

Lottie turns her head and sees the Antler Queen's shadow on the ground. Perhaps the question these last two seasons shouldn't have been "who" is the Antler Queen and instead "what" is the Antler Queen.

Unhappy wife, unhappy life

Back at Van's apartment, she's digitizing a wedding video and I'm fighting the urge to point out all of the Easter eggs in her apartment. Thankfully, fellow /Film writer Erin Brady will have a piece focused solely on this area, so keep your eyes peeled. Van is upset that Taissa has shown up unannounced after all this time, but those "first love" vibes are still strong, and she doesn't need Taissa to say a word to know that the sleepwalking is happening again. Taissa isn't ready to tell the truth, so she gifts Van the striptease pen as a distraction. She loves it, of course, because she hasn't changed a bit. She asks, "Remember when we swapped that fancy guest book pen for one of those at Shauna's wedding?" This means they're together at least long enough after the rescue for Shauna and Jeff to get married, but the photos in Shauna's house show Sophie Nélisse in the wedding gown, which implies they got married young.

Taissa spends much of their reunion deflecting, just as she used to do as a teenager. I love how as adults we like to pretend that we're all grown-ups and beyond who we were in high school, but the way our personalities are somewhat fixed from childhood is wild to process, and "Yellowjackets" does a great job of reminding us of that. 

After Taissa finally showers, she notices Van has oxycodone in her cabinet. She claims it was for her mom. "At least you were talking again," Taissa says. Implying that they were together long enough post-crash for Van to be on her own and separated from her mom. "Cancer scared the b**** right out of her," Van jokes. "Maybe you don't have to be dying to have regrets," Taissa says. I can only echo Van when she screams, "No, you don't get to do this."

A difficult reunion

Tawny Cypress and Lauren Ambrose are absolutely fantastic as they bicker with one another. Van references both "High Fidelity" and "Seinfeld" in a flurry, and snaps back with, "I'm mixing my pop culture metaphors because I'm f***ing upset!" God, I am so much like Van it physically pains me. I can't wait to talk about this episode in therapy this week! Watching Van and Taissa argue is depressing and magnetic. This is obviously no shade to Taissa's wife Simone (who is probably still in a coma), as she deserves so much better than what she's been given, but Taissa and Van have "it." There's something about them that just works. Maybe because what we're seeing is who Taissa really is, and not the political facade she puts on to impress Simone. Van offers to help, but Taissa is afraid to ask for it. "I don't wanna hurt any more of the people I love."

Taissa eventually sleeps on Van's couch, and it's a familiar setup for the two. Van stays up all night to monitor and Tai hopefully sleeps. When she has a free moment, Van digs the medication out of the garbage and takes it. Oh no, does she have an oxy dependency? Taissa wakes up and comes after Van and kisses her, aggressively. We've seen this look before. She's not awake. "Oh, you're the other one, aren't you?" Van asks. "This isn't where I'm supposed to be," Taissa says. GIRL, WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! 

Ugh. I feel like this is leading toward a reunion at Lottie's compound.

The ballad of Misty and Crystal

Crystal pulls the "pour the bathroom bucket" chore card, and Misty volunteers to help. On their journey, they share secrets, like how Crystal dumps poop randomly in the woods when she doesn't feel like heading to the cliff and that she got fingered backstage during a production of "Bye Bye Birdie." Relatable, except mine was during "Godspell" because I'm a blasphemous monster. It's then that Crystal reveals a massive secret ... her name is actually Kristen, but she never corrected anyone because she was afraid they wouldn't like her anymore. This moment of vulnerability inspires Misty to share a secret of her own, and suddenly everyone watching is clenching their entire body because we know where this is heading. Misty admits that people didn't like her before the plane crashed and that "some people never find someone they trust enough to share their darkest secrets." OHHHH NO. 

Kirsten swears on her mom's life (shout out to Carol) that she won't tell anyone and Misty confesses she destroyed the plane's transmitter — meaning, she's the reason they're all trapped. Kristen is understandably terrified. Misty tries to play it off, but she's "not that good of an actress." Kristen tells Misty, "You're not my best friend, you're a psycho." Kristen is playing with fire, and we can all tell where this is going. Misty threatens to kill Kristen if she tells anyone, but that isn't a concern after Kristen backs away and falls off the cliff onto the frozen dumping ground below.

Misty goes down and tries CPR, complete with "Stayin' Alive" chest-compression training. No wonder she turned the song off when Walter played it in the present timeline. "I'm sorry, bestie," she says. RIP Kristen. You were a real one ... and you're probably going to be eaten.

Can you keep them in the dark for life?

Shauna wakes up from a nap to Lottie touching her pregnant belly and whispering to her womb. "It's good to talk to them in utero," she defends. "Yeah, so they learn to recognize their mother's voice" Shauna snaps back. Lottie's fixation on the baby is W-E-I-R-D, but Taissa weirdly defends her. COME ON, TAI. NOT YOU TOO!

Shauna storms out and Taissa follows, and the two have it out. Shauna sees the two factions of survivors aligning across the lines of following Lottie and screams at Taissa for abandoning her for the prayer club. Taissa tries (and fails) to justify her actions, and quips that everyone is excited about the baby. Shauna dives into a long overdue speech about her pregnancy:

"If anyone should be excited it's me, but I'm rightfully freaking the f*** out about having a baby in the middle of the f***ing woods, and newsflash: having a bunch of psychos praying for me in some weird f***ing tree cult isn't making my life any easier."

I've said it for over a year now, but Sophie Nélisse is a powerhouse. 'I don't need your f***ing prayers, I need you to have my back!" Taissa confesses that she's finally not afraid to fall asleep and that she's not going to apologize for doing what she needs to survive. Shauna is struck with labor pain, and the weather harshly pivots to a blizzard. WHAT DID I TELL YOU EARLIER?!

Taissa and Shauna get a little lost in the snow, and Taissa repeats the exercise Lottie had them all do earlier to listen to nature. Again. This is a grounding exercise. YOU'RE JUST CALMING DOWN. Taissa and Shauna make their way back to the cabin, as does Misty who now has the perfect cover of losing Kristen in the storm. Shauna's now in labor, and "Mother" by Danzig starts to play. Is this my favorite needle drop of the season so far? Yes. Yes, it is.

Buzzworthy moments and additional thoughts

After my last episode, I had some readers ask me how I write these because it feels like I'm writing them in real-time, but I don't format the recaps in chronological order. The answer is that I watch the episode and type notes with my reactions as they are happening and then go back to arrange each "story" in the episode together. Those "real-time" reactions are exactly that. These are unfiltered thoughts given structure so you all don't think you've come across the ramblings of a mad woman because otherwise, each week would just be an all-caps wall of "OH MY GODDDDDD!" and that sort of unhinged behavior is reserved for the dying star known as Twitter.

  • I desperately need to know what kind of woman Tammy is, because I must know the kind of woman willing to marry Randy.
  • While we're talking about Randy, did you know that in porn they often use a combination of Ceravie face wash and cream of coconut whenever they need to simulate splooge on screen? Don't ask me how I know that.
  • Look, I agree that we need to have serious discussions around the right to die with dignity, but knowing that Misty has a future in elder care, her adoration of Jack Kevorkian makes me SO nervous. How many people has she killed?!
  • I have a bad feeling that something deeply messed up is going to/is going on with Javi which becomes the reason why Travis develops a drug dependency as an adult.
  • Seeing Lottie's look of terror when she sees the Antler Queen's shadow appears has completely rocked my world. What does she know that makes her that scared?! What nightmare awaits us all?!

Until next week, "Yellowjackets" hive. Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!