Yellowjackets S2E2 Recap: “Edible Complex” — De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum

Shauna looks downwards, standing in the snow in Yellowjackets S2E2

The following recap contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S2E2, “Edible Complex” (written by Jonathan Lisco and directed by Ben Semanoff)

That’s “Climbing Up the Walls” by Radiohead playing as Yellowjackets S2E2 reaches its climax. The song was released in 1997 on OK Computer, and while it was written in 1996 (and while it may also be 1997 by now out there in the wilderness), there’s really no chance the Yellowjackets have heard it. Who cares. Here are the lyrics:

I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps your toys in the basement
And if you get too far inside
You’ll only see my reflection

It’s always best when the cover’s up
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we’re friends till we die

And either way you turn
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there
Climbing up the walls

It’s always best when the light is off
It’s always better on the outside
Fifteen blows to the back of your head
Fifteen blows to your mind

So lock the kids up safe tonight
Shut the eyes in the cupboard
I’ve got the smell of a local man
Who’s got the loneliest feeling

That either way he turns
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there

Climbing up the walls

Thom Yorke has said the song is about the unspeakable; the monster in your cupboard. Thematically, it’s perfect.

Jackie's corpse wearing makeup

S2E2 opens with a reprise of Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) hanging out with Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) corpse. This time she braids her hair and does her makeup in addition to receiving some taunting from Ghost Jackie about what happened to the ear.

It’s a good scene, and disturbing, as Jackie cuts into her arm and then notes that Shauna is the one with the knife. But it’s just a little nibble for now, and we don’t even see that happen. I’m inferring it did from when Lottie (Courtney Eaton) notices a chunk of flesh missing as the team prepares to burn Jackie’s body. Of course, she covers it up. Lottie knows discretion.

Many thought after last week that Shauna would begin doling out little bits of Jackie with the rations she’s been in charge of, which was a good theory given the corpse was kept in the meat locker and all. But what we get is so much more than that. “Edible Complex” ends with a veritable bacchanalia. Reality is intermixed with fantasies of the group dressed in Roman attire. And “Climbing Up the Walls” comes to its climax. We’re there everybody! It’s time for dinner.

Shauna, dressed in Roman garb, takes a bite with a wide smile

I’m pretty sure all are in attendance for the feast, with only Ben (Steven Krueger) abstaining. Not sure that bodes well for him, though of course literally everyone has predicted he’ll die to the point where it would be more surprising if he doesn’t. He recoils and goes to hide inside as the girls and Travis (Kevin Alves) gorge themselves. I wonder what the conversation will be like in the morning.

And I’ve misspoken, of course. All of the surviving girls with speaking roles in Season 1 are present for the banquet, including Akilah (who has been recast, with Nia Sondaya taking over the role). The new faces we met in “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” do not seem to be there. I wonder where they are. Are they still asleep? I guess we have to expect them to be horrified when they learn what happens. Maybe Crystal (Nuha Jez Izman) will sing a song about it.

Wait, do you think there will be leftovers?

Misty and Travis look over at each other in Roman garb in Yellowjackets S2E2

I’m not sure what to make of the contrivance that leads to the event. I don’t eat meat, so I googled whether there is a method of cooking that involves ice. It looks like maybe there is, but I don’t know if that really plays much of a role as opposed to the fallen limb keeping the body from burning all the way.

Has Yellowjackets primed us enough to the notion that everyone is this hungry? Sure, why not. Who hasn’t been awaiting the cannibalism?! This is as fine of a way to get there as any, with the aroma of roasted flesh wafting to the noses of weary and hungry bellies. It’s plausible enough, and way more fitting than a subtle route, like Shauna sneaking the others addictive morsels, would have been.

This occurs as if by an act of the gods. If it strikes us as somewhat implausible, we shouldn’t get hung up on that so much as we should think about how it does the same for the group in the wilderness, who awake in the middle of the night to an unexpected and tantalizing roast. Are they dreaming? Is this really happening? You bet your life it is.

And then we can imagine how Jackie’s necklace will come to play the role it does, with the girl in the pit in the pilot wearing it to mark her as the next “Jackie,” as if in repetition of this bounty. It will clearly take a bit more to get there, but man if you had everyone in a circle gorging themselves on Jackie’s flesh in Episode 2 on your bingo card, more power to you.

It’s OK. She wanted them to.

Jackie looks upwards

It’s Taissa’s (Jasmin Savoy Brown) discovery of Jackie’s dolled-up corpse that spurs the team to burn it, but she’s right there with everyone else once it’s time for dinner. I’d love to take the time to expound on the meaning of the facial expressions of each in the circle before Shauna takes the first bite, but so much else happens in “Edible Complex” that I should probably get to it. Suffice it to say, I don’t think Tai was sleepwalking here or anything like that. She seems fully aware of what’s going on.

Tai takes a big bite from a fork

Yet she does indulge in some somnambulism in Yellowjackets S2E2, breaking free from the rope by which she’s been tied to Van (Liv Hewson) at night and coming perilously close to walking right off a cliff. And what’s she doing? Why, following the Man With No Eyes (Brody Logan Romhayni), of course.

It remains worth noting that we’ve only seen this man from Taissa’s perspective, with the only possible exception being his appearance in the Season 1 opening credits (though I actually think that’s from Tai’s perspective, too, and we just don’t get the shot from her perspective within the series). The shots we get of him here are the same as those in the Season 2 credits, if you’re keeping score at home.

The Man With No Eyes in a suit in the woods

I continue to wonder about the significance of this figure. The first time we saw him was when Taissa was even younger, as her nana lay on her deathbed. Indeed, her nana freaked out and pleaded for Taissa not to let him take her eyes, so one hypothesis is that young Tai fabricated this image in response to this traumatic event. Another explanation is that he’s real. I think he might be Javi (Luciano Leroux), though that wouldn’t really fit terribly well with Tai being the only one who sees him, so perhaps not. The role has also apparently been recast, for what it’s worth, unless there are somehow two of them. It was Brahm Taylor in Season 1 and here it’s Brody Logan Romhayn. So, lots of questions.

One thing that is clear is that in 2021 Taissa (Tawny Cypress) is not doing well. She calls Simone (Rukiya Bernard) to let her know that Sammy (Aiden Stoxx) wandered over to her house after school to see her, except Sammy was apparently never there at all. It’s not super surprising if Tai is hallucinating, as we see her at pains to avoid sleep in a montage earlier in the episode. But is she hallucinating as that montage ends and her reflection in the mirror turns to look at her in anger? That wouldn’t make sense.

Tai sits in front of a mirror, with her reflection looking over at her, in Yellowjackets S2E2

The most obvious explanation would be that this is the Bad One, who is truly a separate entity and getting mad about being stifled by Tai’s self-enforced insomnia. But, of course, that would involve committing ourselves to the reality of the supernatural in Yellowjackets, and I’m not quite ready to do that.

Regardless, the last we see of 2021 Tai she’s gotten herself T-boned with Simone in her car. I guess poor Sammy will have to wait at school even longer. I’ll spare you a rant about how I hate the T-boning trope in TV because in this instance it actually works. This wasn’t a matter of someone somehow planning to be able to T-bone a car to pull off a kidnapping or rescue; Taissa just wasn’t paying attention to the road, ran a stop sign or whatever, and blamo!

I presume she will be OK, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Simone dies. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

Nat and Lottie walk through a field with trees and a mountain behind them

In other 2021 news, Lottie (Simone Kessell) offers Nat (Juliette Lewis) an account of what happened when Travis (Andres Soto) died, and the first thing I want to say is that I’m not entirely sure I buy it. I’m presuming that the scenes are from Lottie’s perspective or relate to her story and that it might be a mistake to think they are giving us an unvarnished representation of events. It’s true that we see things that Lottie does not relay to Nat (more on that in a moment), but I’m still suspicious that she’s misrepresenting things.

Anyway, according to Lottie, Travis had begun to feel haunted by the spirits of the wilderness and wanted to have a near-death experience in order to contact them. The idea that being close to death draws them out is new information, and Nat doesn’t seem to chafe at the idea that Travis would say this, which is interesting given that in Season 1 she insisted that he was never into that stuff.

Lottie with a hand on Travis's chest, glowing with light

He seems more into it than she is in the 1996 timeline, taking Lottie’s blessings and having visions of her during sexy time with Nat (Sophie Thatcher), so I’m not entirely sure how to square this circle at the moment. Regardless, in Lottie’s retelling, he was the one who arranged the candles in the shape of the symbol, and he insisted that he would hang himself if she wouldn’t help him.

She says she’s going to let him down as soon as he loses consciousness and not a moment later, but the buttons malfunction and so Travis dies. Nat does chafe at this, with good reason. It’s a little too convenient in terms of letting Lottie off the hook. Moreover, none of this really explains why Travis left that note for Nat or gave Lottie access to his bank account. And if he did leave that note for Nat and Lottie took it, why didn’t she contact Nat sooner? Why did she instead send some guys to watch her, claiming they had to act fast when it came down to it to prevent her from committing suicide? Things don’t quite add up with Lottie’s story in a few ways, in other words.

But I do believe that she saw Laura Lee (Jane Widdop). Whether this was actually the ghost of Laura Lee or a figment of Lottie’s mind, I’ll leave to you to make up your own mind about. But I believe she had this vision in that moment. What’s interesting is the flash to when she was looking up at Laura Lee from beneath the surface of the lake in “Saints” during her baptism. My impression is that she had a premonition of Laura Lee’s death in that moment and it freaked her out. But she didn’t trust it, which is somewhat ironic since Laura Lee was at the time encouraging her to have faith in her visions.

Perhaps Lottie took that lesson from there, but she’s freaked out again here, which is fair because who wouldn’t be if they saw this phantasm of Laura Lee in a desolate warehouse yard? But what I really want to note is an image that flashes during this scene, as though Lottie sees it while freaking out. What is going on here?

Lottie's face covered in blood in Yellowjackets S2E2

I think this is the face of the young Lottie, covered in blood. Will she have her own near-death experience out there in the wilderness? Will this be pivotal in her becoming the Antler Queen? That’s what I think anyway.

Meanwhile, she insists that Javi is still alive even as Nat and Travis return to camp with confirmation of his demise. Of course, Nat fabricated that confirmation, but it’s not like Lottie knows that in any direct way. Still, I can’t help but believe her. All logic points to Javi being dead, and I can almost excuse Nat’s ruse as an attempt to get Travis to accept this fact, and yet…

Nat and Travis stand outside the cabin

I can’t actually excuse Nat, by the way. Call me a Kantian, but the deception doesn’t sit right with me. It does, however, add a wrinkle. If it turns out that Javi is alive, then Travis might discover that Nat lied to him, in which case I guess he ultimately forgives her so I should too. But somehow I don’t think things are going that way (even though I just said I believe Javi is alive).

Who knows! All I can say is that I never thought I would care this much about what happened to Javi and it’s all way more interesting to me than the widespread Season 1 theory that he grows up to be Adam.

Shauna sits on her couch

Speaking of Adam, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) is pretty squarely in the sights of the cops with regard to his disappearance. Kevyn Tan (Alex Wyndham) pays her a visit to talk about it, and we later learn that his partner Matt (John Reynolds) followed Callie (Sarah Desjardins) to the bar where she proceeded to flirt with him. And she tells him her mom was cheating on her dad. Not looking great.

Matt looks over, with a moustache

However, I am pretty sure that you need a body in order to prosecute a murder, and they aren’t going to find one of those. It’s possible they may find some limbs, but Misty (Christina Ricci) cremated the head and hands, so I’m not sure how much trouble Shauna can get in unless she cracks or does something stupid. And while that’s possible, I somewhat doubt it.

Jeff (Warren Kole), on the other hand… I love him, but deciding to blackmail some women you know did some things when they were teenagers stranded in the woods… that was not the smartest move. He’s honestly lucky Shauna has been so forgiving about it. But Jeff also believed she was going to book club. I worry about him holding up under pressure.

Walter looks over and smirks

Walter (Elijah Wood) is also on Shauna’s trail, even if he doesn’t know who she is. S2E2 sees him leaving Misty a note written in invisible ink, and boy can I not wait to see these two interacting on the regular. It’s one true pairing territory already, I can feel it.

Anyway, Walter is going to help Misty figure out what happened to Nat while she tries to keep him off the scent about Adam. And it sure is a shame that she’ll probably end up having to murder this man she’s also sure to fall in love with. Friends have to come first though, you know.

I find myself thinking back to the end of the pilot in light of “Edible Complex”—namely to that shot of Misty (Samantha Hanratty) removing her mask and smiling. In “Doomcoming” we saw the girls go after Travis with visions that he was a stag, at least in part because of Misty’s shrooms. Could it be that she ends up tricking them on purpose with regard to the girl in the pit and only she knows what they’ve really done?

Misty after removing her mask in Yellowjackets S1E1

I honestly don’t think so, if for no other reason than the necklace. But then why this mischievous smile? Is she just being Misty? Eventually I guess we’ll find out.

“Edible Complex”

I’m honestly surprised to see Yellowjackets go full cannibal this early into its second season. We all knew this was coming, of course, but it really opens the question of where the show goes from here. They’ve been stranded in the wilderness for several months, and we know they’ll be out there for 18 months in total, returning to New Jersey in 1998. Presumably, there will be game to hunt once it gets warmer, so it’s possible Jackie will be the only long pig they eat before spring. But then there will be another winter…

What comes next promises to be an exploration of group dynamics in the aftermath of the event. I’m sure some will deeply regret what they’ve done. Ben and the others who didn’t partake will probably be terrified. We’re likely on the path to a schism of some kind, but who knows what form it will take.

Meanwhile, we have the supposed resurgence of the darkness in 2021, and I think we should be suspicious of Lottie’s story about Travis and of her group as a whole. At some point, the adult Van (Lauren Ambrose) is going to enter the story, and I wonder if Yellowjackets will be able to pull off a move where the 2021 storyline starts to become more compelling than the one in the past.

We’ll see. For now, enjoy the feast. Go watch the scene again.

I’ll see you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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