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The Yellowjackets have been putting a lot of their decisions into the "wilderness" lately. Too bad about the last victim.
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Season 2 Episode 8: 'It Chooses'
Earlier this season on "Yellowjackets," young Natalie recruited her teammates to help her try to get a moose out of a frozen lake. The moose proved too difficult to dislodge and disappeared into the icy water, leaving the teenagers defeated and hungry.
Now, in the penultimate episode of the season, Natalie is in a similar situation watching a body sink under the ice. Except this time she lets it sink to save herself and provide food for her survivors. And it's not an already unconscious animal. It's Javi, the little brother of her sometime lover Travis.
The moment also calls to mind another situation Natalie encountered. Hoping to ease Travis' suffering, she previously lied and told him that Javi, who escaped during a drug-induced frenzy last season, had died. Here, she is partially responsible for Javi's actual death, as long as Javi was just trying to get her to safety.
When Javi is pronounced dead, Van solemnly says, "The desert has chosen." But did the wild really choose? Or girls?
As this season draws to a close, the Yellowjackets' desperation in the wild reaches a new high — or rather, low — point. Lottie is bruised, inside and out, from Shauna's beatings. Akilah realizes that her little mouse friend has been dead all along, that cute, furry body is just a desiccated corpse. And everyone is starving. Really hungry. And extreme hunger means that rational thought has disappeared.
Lottie tells Misty that if she dies, the others shouldn't let her body rot. But Lottie has such an influence on the group that they can't imagine losing her leadership. So instead of letting Lottie die, they invent a new ritual. Standing in a circle around their makeshift altar, everyone picks cards. Whoever gets the Queen of Hearts will be sacrificed. In this inaugural draw, Natalie draws a losing card.
Whatever discussions there were about how the ritual would unfold were left off-screen, making everything seem eerily rehearsed. We never hear a word about the rules of this deadly game that might demystify it, so the ease with which it is played is uncomfortably natural. There is no debate about how it will work. Simple, and everyone accepts it with the helplessness of those who haven't eaten for too long.
Shauna places Jackie's necklace on Natalie before bringing the blade to her throat from behind. Natalie accepts her fate, but with one condition: Shauna must face her when she cuts. Shauna hesitates and Travis rushes to help, attacking Shauna and forcing Natalie to run. The girls, bloodthirsty, chase Nat through the wintry landscape, while Javi comes to her rescue, offering to lead her to his hideout.
While Lottie's followers claim to know something about what the "wild" wants, Javi has actually learned her secrets. The only other person who has a sense of what he has discovered is Ben, who uses Javi's drawings to discover a cave filled with tiny animal bones under a tree, where the boy resided in apparent solitude.
And then Javi dies. The ice cracks and he falls inside as hunters with guns catch up to him. "If you save him, the others will get you," Misty tells Natalie as she drags her away from the hole. Natalie, realizing that Misty is right, stops arguing. Javi will become the next meal, we guess.
The legacy of these cannibalistic traditions flows into today's action.
Contemporary scenes generally contain a lot of exposition that we as the audience already know, but the other characters don't. After Shauna explains that Adam's remains have been found, Van, not understanding the whole cover-up situation, throws away Shauna's keys so she can't drive home to Jeff. Lottie brings the whole group to the "sharing cabin", which proves true to its name.
Shauna says that Adam wasn't actually blackmailing her before she killed him, it was Jeff and Randy - and that she may have told the police too much. (Speaking of sharing...) Tai says that she was the one who hired Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma) to investigate her teammates to protect her political campaign. Misty shared that she kidnapped Jessica and then "took care of it." And, of course, they all share how they helped Shauna cover up Adam's murder. (We see the gruesome fruits of their labor in the pictures the cops show Jeff in hopes of getting him to talk.)
After all that recognition, Lottie shows up with an idea and a drink. Phenobarbital was added to one of the cups. Lottie's plan is another casualty. "We give him what he always wants," she explains. "One of us." Her reasoning is that it's—whatevertohe is — he will help them survive the various torments they are going through if they offer him one more sacrifice.
She leaves to chance who should die. That's what the wild would want, she says. "We don't decide," she explains. "She chooses."
But these women still seem to project a lot about what the "wild" is looking for - and, in turn, absolve themselves of any guilt associated with their own actions. Natalie could have kept trying to save Javi, but she didn't. That's not wilderness, that's choice. It is Lottie who represents potential death to her friends. Not the wilderness.
The series has yet to convince me that something truly supernatural is going on. Instead, we see a lot of desperate and scared people doing cruel things to save themselves, while allowing others to suffer. It reminds me of Jackie's death at the end of Season 1, which was the result of simple teenage meanness rather than any creepy presence.
The surviving Yellowjackets can only blame the wilderness for so much. At some point they must take responsibility for all the pain they have caused. Still, perhaps the guilt would be worse than actually drinking Lottie's deadly potion.
More to chew
I'm generally a fan of the "Yellow Vests" music cues, but a few in this episode felt a little too jarring. Walter listens to "Not While I'm Around" from "Sweeney Todd," a musical about cannibalism. As Natalie tries to avoid arrest, we hear the Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" in which Billy Corgan sings, "Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage." Also maybe a little too convenient.
It said: Nice house, Walter.
It's nice that we finally know what was probably going on in the opening sequence of the pilot, even if we don't know who they were hunting. (I'm not sure that last detail will matter in the end.)
Callie's poster of Shawn Mendes in her bedroom is a very funny production design choice.
Melissa reads a copy of "Sassy." Long live "Sassy".
I'm glad Misty finally asked Mari out. Someone had to.
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