Yellowjackets Season 2 Ends By Breaking Hearts And Burning It Down

This article contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" season 2 episode 9.

After a complex, fascinating, brutal two months, the "Yellowjackets" season finale is here. "Storytelling" is directed by the brilliant Karyn Kusama ("Jennifer's Body," "The Invitation"), so we should already be prepared for some horror and a whole lot of heartbreak. The episode opens with an always killer needle-drop, "Zombie" by The Cranberries. It underscores a nearly comatose teenage Nat walking through the wilderness and heading back to the cabin knowing she must tell Travis that Javi has drowned.

Travis is relieved to see her alive but immediately mortified when the rest of the girls come back with a half-frozen Javi hanging from a wooden bar. "The wilderness chose," she tells him, but Travis' grief is insurmountable. His little brother who finally returned after months of being missing in the woods is gone. Really, really gone.

In the present timeline, adult Shauna agrees with Lottie's plan to make a sacrifice to the wilderness but says that they have to give it what it's always wanted ... which is a hunt. Lottie is immediately on board and flees to tell the rest of her cult to leave so that it will only be the Yellowjackets in the wilderness tonight. Fortunately, Shauna is not being serious, she's merely buying the rest of them some time to figure out how to deal with Lottie. Shauna, Nat, Misty, Tai, and Van are all in agreement that Lottie is deeply unwell and needs help. Y'all, things are going to get weird.

For the last time until next season ... ROLL CREDITS.

The Sadecki Family reunion

Jeff and Callie are on their way to see Shauna at the compound, discussing how they should go into hiding to protect her, but modern technology has made that almost impossible. They can't decide how they feel about Shauna these days, especially after Jeff tells Callie about the time earlier that week when Shauna almost shot a carjacker. Jeff tells her not to worry because he took the gun from her and put it in a safe place, but Callie immediately guesses that it's in the glove box because, as we learned last season, Jeff is terrible at committing crimes. He's also a himbo extraordinaire, so instead of giving Callie a redirect and pretending the gun is literally anywhere else, he instead tries to block her from opening the glove box, thereby confirming that there's absolutely a gun in the car.

When they finally pull up to the entrance of the commune, they're greeted by a bunch of "the Church of Lottie Day Saints" (as the fandom has nicknamed them), and it understandably gives them the creeps. They decide to find a different way in, nearly running into a car following them close behind. Who is in the car? Why it's detectives Kevyn Tan and Matt "Officer Stache" Saracusa. They're tracking the Sadecki family to the commune, and I am counting down the seconds until Callie uses that stolen gun and pumps him full of lead. Honestly, John Paul Reynolds deserves a lot of credit for playing such a despicable scumbag all season, especially because he's so endearing as Officer Callahan on "Stranger Things," even for a cop.

Seeing how the sausage is made

Teen Lottie's face is finally looking a little less like ground chuck, but she's mortified to hear that Javi is dead. Misty explains to her that they set up their lottery system to choose a sacrifice so that Lottie wouldn't die and they'd have food. "I didn't want this," she pleads, but Misty isn't having it. "You started this. It's done. And it's going to save all of our lives. So you better not start making people feel bad about it now." She goes downstairs and lies to the group, telling them that Lottie is pleased with the wilderness' choice. Girl, you are only going to make this cult situation worse!

Shauna grabs the dressing blade and confronts a devastated Travis, who hasn't been able to let go of his brother. It's time. He leaves while Shauna prepares Javi's body. This time, removing his clothing so no one eats a letterman's jacket. Natalie puts a cloth over his intimate areas out of respect and likely guilt, but before Shauna makes the initial cut, she starts to cry. She's been through so much already but decides the best course of action is putting her winter hat over her eyes, so she doesn't have to look at him as she slits his throat.

It's a nice throwback to last week's episode when she couldn't kill Nat in the cabin once she was asked to face her. Javi's blood drips off the table and into the snow as Shauna instructs the group to leave so she can finish. Coach Ben comes back from his hiding spot to see the carnage Shauna left behind. Natalie sneaks up behind him to let him know what went on, saying that she's "worse" than the rest of them because she let him die in her place. She tells Coach to leave because he's better than all of them.

Dinner is served, unfortunately

Van and Travis have a very intense conversation about accepting the reality that they're alive and why they shouldn't feel guilty about it. Travis has some rough feelings about knowing he's going to eat his little brother, but Van gets through to him by saying, "Let your brother save you, Travis." The next time we see them in the cabin, Shauna has arrived with a slab of Javioli. She gifts him his heart in a symbolic and deeply upsetting act of respect, and Travis tearfully takes a bite before cooking it in a frying pan. The rest of the girls immediately swarm the meat and begin cooking. It's like a super f***ed up version of the unwritten rule that you don't eat the birthday cake before the birthday girl takes her first bite.

Misty brings Lottie her share, and she's a little emotionally destroyed. Misty orders her to eat, recognizing that she's a symbol of survival for the rest of the group above all else. Lottie finally comes down to join the rest of the group, and the girls ask Van for storytime. Normally she recites movies like an audio drama, but this time, she tells the story of them in the wilderness.

In the middle of her tale, Lottie interrupts and says, "I never wanted to be in charge." This is a shocking statement to the group, but Lottie explains that she doesn't "hear" it anymore and it's because the wilderness knows that they've all learned to "hear it, to feel it," and that now it wants a leader to help them make it through their time in the wilderness ... and it's not her.

Conniving at the compound

Misty does some Citizen's Detective work of her own by raiding through Lottie's office, checking the labels of her medication, and breaking into her closet filled with weapons and the cell phones of all of her members. Her search is then interrupted ... by Walter?! He tells her that he came to help, and Misty smiles like a teenage girl in love because she might as well be. Looks like all of our predictions based on show tunes were correct!

After a call was made for professionals to come take Lottie away for her own good, Van and Taissa are doing some creepy mask-making arts and crafts for the faux hunt. Van is not sold on the idea of the hunt or of putting Lottie away. She thinks this is only going to make things worse, and it feels like they're going back on their initial promise to protect each other. As for Natalie and Shauna? They're dulling down knives and rigging the queen of hearts card while "Sad but True" by Metallica as performed by St. Vincent plays. They want the hunt to look realistic for Lottie's sake, but they have no plans of killing anyone.

Natalie sneaks away to visit Lisa who is dyeing clothing that specific cult shade of heliotrope, warning her to leave before things get dangerous. It's an emotional scene because Nat genuinely appreciates everything Lisa has taught her about forgiveness, and clearly cares about her enough to want to protect her from whatever craziness is about to go down. Lisa is suspicious of the situation because Natalie has clearly forgotten that she's talking to a girl who willingly joined a cult. 

This isn't going to end well.

Walter's here to save the day!

Walter is singing "Send in the Clowns" while cooking hot cocoa when Kevyn Tan sneaks up on him. Ha! Cops are clowns! He acts like a total detective fanboy as a Citizen Detective himself and offers him a cup while giving him information about Shauna. Things converge when Jeff appears and calls out Kevyn for following him and Callie. The two talk things out and Jeff tells Kevyn that he's the one who killed Adam Martin. "I did it to protect her, I did it to protect our family" he tearfully confesses ... until Kevyn drops dead in the middle of the kitchen. WALTER POISONED HIM. Walter gleefully introduces himself to Jeff and asks him to help move the body with the same kindness as someone gentle parenting a toddler. Bless you, Elijah Wood.

While everyone is getting things ready for the hunt, Lottie is in her room spiritually preparing. Taissa calls up the mental health facility and tells them to call off the crisis team they'd previously arranged and that they intend on bringing her themselves. Van's previous words about how the group promised to take care of one another have clearly resonated with her. They don't want Lottie to be locked away for another decade, they want to help her. God, I hope this doesn't backfire.

Callie is confronted by Officer Stache in the woods, and he knows she has the gun. In the middle of their confrontation, he receives a call from Kevyn, but really it's Walter playing a recording of him into the phone to make it sound like it's him. He panics and starts trying to find Kevyn before he's attacked by Walter who steals his gun and delivers a killer monologue about how he has the ability to connect Kevyn or Officer Stache to both the murders of Adam Martin and Jessica Roberts. He can get with the program and let Kev take the fall or he can go down with him. I'll give you one guess on what option this sniveling little worm takes.

Burn it down

Lottie delivers a motivational speech to the cabin about who will be her successor. "The wilderness chose who fed us. It's already chosen who should lead us," she says. Misty stands up thinking it's her because of course she does, but Lottie assigns Natalie the leadership position. The wilderness spared her and took Javi instead, a "sign" that Natalie is the one who will lead them to survival. At this point, I legitimately had to hit pause and walk a lap around my apartment because this feels like a foreshadowing that Natalie is going to die in the adult timeline. Ugh, I'm going to barf.

The girls suddenly start bowing to Natalie, with Melissa even taking off her hat and Misty curtseying to honor her. Meanwhile, Coach Ben is watching from outside, furious that Natalie has finally bought into the seemingly psychotic mess of groupthink in the cabin. He doesn't look sad, he looks angry, and that is never a good sign from him. He's already proven to be impulsive, and I'm worried he's going to pull something terrible.

Good news and bad news, I was right, because the next time we see everyone in the cabin, it's because it's on fire and they're all trapped inside. They all grab weapons and break down the door, frantically grabbing whatever they can to stay warm and alive. Van is the last one out of the cabin before it completely goes up in flames and crumbles to the ground as "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the Bunnymen plays. We don't see who, how, or why this all happened, but my money is on Coach Ben barricading them all in and hoping to kill them all. I guess now we have our answer to why they look so feral in the pilot. 

Without a home to keep them grounded, they've officially got nothing left than each other.

The hunt begins

The group all takes turns shuffling the cards, and the intensity of this drawing scene is similar to the first time they picked, with the tension through the damn roof. I swear I can hear my heartbeat. Lottie is very committed to the ritual, warning Taissa she "knows what happens" when people refuse to draw a card. I smell foreshadowing for season 3! They each throw their cards into the fire after they've picked, and the deck continues around and around the group until ... Shauna draws the queen.

They all back away to put on their masks and grab their weapons. Lottie reminds Shauna that she can submit or she can run. Shauna calls a time-out and asks, "We're not really doing this, are we?" and accuses all of them of losing their minds. "There's no 'it' she says, it was only us." Lottie replies, "Is there a difference?" Woof. Shauna turns away, indicating to Lottie that she's chosen "run," and the girls chase her down.

The hunt is short-lived as Callie fires a shot from the gun and nails Lottie in the arm. Lottie is convinced this is a sign that "it" is here and is impressed by how strong and powerful Callie is. The girls stop feeding into the act and break character, but Lottie is still fully on-board. "She's like this because of us," Van says. Lottie is repeating her "What do we hear?" wilderness chants. Oh god, this is BLEAK.

They all tie her up for her own safety, but she is convinced the darkness is present in all of them. She tells Natalie that "she was always its favorite," which sets her off. Suddenly, Lisa appears with a shotgun, seeing what looks like Natalie threatening her precious leader. Misty takes a running start to stab Lisa, fearful that she's going to kill Natalie, but Nat pushes her out of the way. No one else is going to die in her place.

'I killed my best friend'

Misty accidentally plunges the *syringe into Natalie, and she dies before all of their eyes. Natalie envisions sitting on the plane with Javi. "I'm not supposed to be here," she says, but then she sees her younger self who tells her, "We've been here for years." Teen Lottie appears in the vision and tells her, "It's not evil, just hungry, let it in." Natalie takes a big breath ... and we're out of the vision and back to the compound. She's gone. Natalie is dead on the ground ... and the police are calling it a drug overdose.

Walter gleefully joins up with Misty and tells her that the Adam Martin situation has been taken care of, but Misty cries into his arms as she confesses to killing her best friend. I thought Walter was going to die by the end of the season, but this arc is so much more satisfying for him and provided some much, much-needed levity in such a heartbreaking episode. Jeff reunites with Callie and Shauna, and he tells them that everything's going to be okay, but Shauna knows that even though she's gotten away with murder, things won't be okay, because Natalie is dead.

Wellness workers come to take Lottie away, but Van and Taissa tell her that they're going to come to visit her. Lottie is convinced that Natalie's death is giving the wilderness what it wanted and that now it's pleased with them all. "You'll see," she says.

I guess we'll have to wait to see.

Buzzworthy moments and additional thoughts

Fans have been speculating for a while now that Natalie was going to die, but I kept those thoughts out of my previous recaps because I think it hurt too much to imagine that as a possibility. Natalie starts the show in the pilot by saying that she's looking for her purpose, and she found it. Javi's innocent life was taken to spare hers, and it ate her alive for decades. She made the choice to spare Lisa, another innocent person, thereby sacrificing herself and giving her some sense of redemption.

I'm not saying it's right, and I'm not saying that I believe self-sacrifice can erase the sins of the past, but considering this was Natalie's decision, this is the closure she chose for herself. She is introduced in the pilot in group therapy wearing purple, and she dies wearing purple surrounded by the only people who could ever understand her.

At the party in the pilot episode, teen Natalie takes LSD and hallucinates a vision of Misty staring at her through the fire. Both the pilot and this season finale were both directed by Karyn Kusama, indicating that Natalie's fate had been sealed from the very beginning. It was always going to be Misty. Anyway, I'm gonna go throw up and cry now.

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

*A previous version of this review said Misty used a knife to stab Natalie. It was a syringe, likely filled with fentanyl or phenobarbital, which is why her death was declared an overdose.