The following recap contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S2E1, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” (written by Rich Monahan and directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer)
Yellowjackets S2E1 picks up two months after the events of the Season 1 finale in 1996, but it’s clearly been less time than that in the 2021 timeline, as it feels more like days than even weeks since Tai (Tawny Cypress) won her State Senate seat and the Sadeckis saw the report of Adam’s (Peter Gadiot) disappearance. Larry the motel manager (Andy Thompson) confirms as much to Misty (Christina Ricci), actually, with regard to Nat (Juliette Lewis) vacating her room. You probably don’t need me to explain this to you.
I was glad to see that a lot of the significant footage released in the trailer for Season 2 was right here in the first episode. Most significantly, we get shots of the team returning to throngs of press in 1998, and it’s clear here that the point is to serve Lottie’s (Courtney Eaton) story, as we segue right into her institutionalization.
We knew from Season 1 that Lottie had mental health issues prior to the plane crash, and it would be easy to suggest she goes off the rails in the wilderness because her meds have run out. I’d go so far as to say that’s true. But it does nothing to grapple with her apparent premonitions prior to being medicated in the first place, which we saw back in S1E6—the same episode where she embraced her visions and was baptized by Laura Lee (Jane Widdop).
The strange shots from that scene recur as Lottie receives electroshock therapy: Lottie in a cavern, surrounded by candles. It’s probably worth noting that we don’t have an explanation for these images. Even if they are just in Lottie’s head, we’re left to speculate about their significance.
Later in 1998, she calms her roommate in the institution, and by 2021 Lottie (Simone Kessell) is running some kind of retreat. She gives a speech about finding one’s true self, and I have to admit I’m on board!
Lottie is a shaman.
Of course, it turns out the ritual is kind of weird, with people in animal masks and a nude guy getting into a grave to be covered with dirt. But that all seems harmless! And even if it isn’t… I mean, I’m on Team Lottie in 1996, too.
I suppose I should probably be more concerned with how she kidnapped Nat. Lottie says it’s because she has a message for her from Travis (Andres Soto), which is intriguing, but it also still seems eminently possible that Lottie killed Travis, so there’s that.
I kind of don’t think so, however, as it doesn’t quite fit with what we see of Lottie and her group in S2E1. Maybe they did kidnap Nat to keep her from killing herself, as Lisa (Nicole Maines) suggests. Maybe they tried to do the same for Travis but were too late. Maybe Lottie is about to tell Nat what she was right about.
I’m going to forego a deep examination of the ethics of kidnapping someone to keep them from hurting themselves. It feels like it would be a tangent. Short answer: It’s probably not OK? I wonder if people are going to debate this point.
Back in 1996, Travis (Kevin Alves) and Nat (Sophie Thatcher) are making daily rounds to look for Javi (Luciano Leroux). He’s been missing for two months, so the safe money would be on him being dead. But Lottie believes he’s alive, for what it’s worth. She also hits Nat and Travis with some Wiccan juju before they head out each day. Good times.
And of course she draws the symbol on the frosty window pane. I made a joke in my Season 1 recap that maybe Javi was hanging out with the Man With No Eyes. Maybe Javi is the Man With No Eyes? That would be something. I have no idea how he could have survived out in the cold for two months, but clearly this storyline is going somewhere.
There are a few new members of the team introduced in S2E1, though I think Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) is the only one whose name I caught. She’s annoying everyone by humming and then singing loudly, which is kind of an odd character trait to use to distinguish someone who’s supposedly been in the background the whole time, but I’ve decided that’s the meta level joke. Kind of like how on Lost we found out all of a sudden one day there’d been a well-known actress hanging around the whole time.
Anyway, it looks like Misty (Samantha Hanratty) may have a new BFF, though I at the same time kept thinking that Misty might murder Crystal. That’s just Misty, though! It’s hard to pin her down. Probably they’ll sing showtunes together. We know Misty loves showtunes.
Back in 2021, she’s helping Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) prepare to be interrogated by the cops, should that happen, and correctly reads that Shauna hesitates too much in confirming she’d disposed of Adam’s stuff and answers too quickly about her journals. She still has all of that stuff, or did have, until she and Jeff (Warren Kole) burn it all in their grill. Not terribly successfully as it turns out, since Callie finds a remnant of Adam’s license the next day.
Shauna and Jeff are really not great criminals. I hope they did more to those paintings in Adam’s studio than smear the faces, because if the cops find that they are going to get really hung up on just how weird it is that someone wrecked the faces of all of these women, and that’s it. We’ll see what happens, but Walter (Elijah Wood) is clearly already piecing things together. So I guess Misty is going to try to throw him off the trail? That should be fun.
Speaking of Adam’s studio, though, it exists and he actually was an artist, which I had begun to doubt if I’m honest. There is also a rather odd painting that the camera focuses on more than once, including an instance in Jeff’s flashback to bending Shauna over, as he jams to Papa Roach in his car.
Back in 1996, Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is hanging out with Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) corpse. They’re playing a game of MASH, which is a totally normal thing to do with the frozen body of your former best friend. Though we see Jackie at first as though she were alive, and indeed we get a lot of Ghost Jackie in this season premiere, given how she showed up in Season 1, I’m led to wonder whether Shauna has been visited by her for decades or only those moments. I am, for the record, presuming she is just in Shauna’s head.
Regardless, Ghost Jackie interrogates Shauna about how things started with Jeff, which leads Shauna to push her. Being a frozen corpse, she just falls over. And her ear breaks off.
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen” ends with Shauna deciding that ear will make a good little snack, and I have to admit it took me far too long to snap to the joke in the episode title.
In fairness, I think Shauna mostly just didn’t know what to do with that ear, as it stood as evidence of her strange relationship with Jackie’s body. Yet, all of this also means that we don’t know yet that they don’t eat Jackie. They definitely still could. She’s in their meat locker, after all.
How we get from here to the scenes we saw in the pilot is the big question, of course, and I want to believe Yellowjackets can pull it off in a way that works. It’s a difficult task, because you can’t really build a line that “makes sense” so much as you need one that diverges from rationality at a certain point. And I don’t mean because of the cannibalism, but because of the ritual around it.
Back in 2021, Tai is forced to confront the altar she/The Bad One made in her basement after Simone (Rukiya Bernard) calls her out about it and threatens to go to the press if she doesn’t resign her position and seek help. Which… I think there is about zero chance of that happening, knowing Tai, so I don’t know if I should be predicting that she’ll murder her wife? Probably.
Again, I have to think that the 1996 Tai (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is destined to slip further and further into being The Bad One all the time. She’s apparently been biting Van (Liv Hewson), who insists she can take it. I’m eager to see how this all moves forward.
The Yellowjackets Season 2 premiere sets the table more than anything. Perhaps it gives us an appetizer. We’ve met the adult Lottie now, but not yet the adult Van (Lauren Ambrose). It’s a tantalizing first course, but I’m ready for dinner.
Never was a cornflake girl
Thought it was a good solution
Hanging with the raisin girls
She’s gone to the other side
Giving us the yo heave ho
Things are getting kind of gross
And I go at sleepy time
This is not really
This, this, this is not really happening
You bet your life it is
You bet your life it is
Honey, you bet your life
It’s a peel out the watchword
Just peel out the watchword
– Tori Amos, “Cornflake Girl”
See you next week.