Yellowjackets S2E6 Recap: “Qui” — On the Interpretation of Dreams

Nat (Juliette Lewis), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Tai (Tawny Cypress), Van (Lauren Ambrose), and Misty (Christina Ricci) stand in a row in front of cars and a building in the woods in Yellowjackets S2E6, "Qui"

The following recap contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S2E6, “Qui” (written by Ameni Rozsa & Karen Joseph Adcock and directed by Liz Garbus)

While I think it’s fair to refer to the ending of Yellowjackets S2E6 as a twist, what occurs is fully legible if you pay close attention. That’s not a criticism, to be clear—if anything it’s a compliment—nor should it be grounds for anyone who saw the twist coming to brag about not being fooled. That’s boring.

There is a pretty direct parallel, however, between the presentation of the scene where Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) wakes up after passing out during childbirth and what we saw in the Season 1 finale when Jackie (Ella Purnell) died. In both instances, everyone is smiling in a way that is just a touch surreal and just a tinge too loving. The way the images are presented keys us into their irreality, even if subconsciously at first. And then there is the fact that the baby’s crying is a smidge too rhythmic, almost like a recording on a loop.

Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) holds a baby while Lottie (Courtney Eaton) looks on

As “Qui” comes to an end, everyone knows this was a fantasy (except maybe Shauna). But where many present the idea that events in a film or TV series were “just a dream” as though this were an explanation, Yellowjackets makes clear that we should be thinking about how to interpret the dream.

After all, a good amount of this episode is taken up by it and the thematically resonating storyline with Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Callie (Sarah Desjardins) in 2021. There, Shauna tells Matt (John Reynolds) that she never wanted to be a mother. But in the past (in her fantasy), she apologizes to her baby boy for not wanting him. It’s you and me against the world, kid.

Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) in the midst of a pained sigh

Her failure to breastfeed and ultimate success at doing so can be read right along these lines, symbolizing a movement from reluctance to acceptance and love. Of course, that’s also tainted by jealousy with regard to Lottie (Courtney Eaton). It’s not for nothing that in the dream Lottie successfully breastfeeds the infant prior to Shauna being able to do so, while in reality Lottie refers to him as our baby as she gives Misty (Samantha Hanratty) a pep talk. And we already saw this dynamic between Shauna and Lottie in previous episodes.

As Shauna struggles to give birth, Misty freaks out, and Akilah (Nia Sondaya) does her best to midwife a breech baby, the gang all gathers to pray to the wilderness. Travis (Kevin Alves) cuts his hand to offer blood, there’s a lock of hair and a button, but what’s really striking in retrospect is that none of this works or gives the appearance of working. The baby dies.

So why is Lottie still cutting her hand in 2021? Where are the signs that she’s onto something?

Blood, a lock of hair, and a button on an animal skull in Yellowjackets S2E6

We get another scene between the adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) and her psychiatrist (Jennifer Lines) in Yellowjackets S2E6. It’s still the replacement shrink if you want to hang a theory on that, but what really calls out for interpretation is the fact that she’s never shown in “Qui”—she’s a voice and nothing more, always just outside of the frame.

Lottie’s expressed fear isn’t that she’s going insane but that she never was; that it was all real and they brought the god of that place back with them. If she’s been committed to the opposite notion—that her beliefs in the wilderness stemmed from delusion brought on by trauma—then I suppose she’s been surrounding herself with the symbol (minus the hook) in the spirit of reclamation.

An aerial shot of Lottie's compound, arranged to create the symbol from the wilderness, in Yellowjackets S2E6, "Qui"

That’s kind of weird, but it makes a sort of sense. Her wellness group seems centered on the notion of confronting one’s darkness and working through it. I actually don’t think it’s a cult, for the record. I think all is as it seems to be. And my theory about the replacement therapist is simply that her regular doctor would have upped her meds right away knowing there was trouble to come.

Either that or the psychiatrist doesn’t exist/is a manifestation of the ancient gods of the dirt and sky who want to tempt Lottie back into the fold of sacrificial cannibalism. One of those.

Lottie (Simone Kessell) sits on a couch in a therapist's office

Shauna’s dream does have some odd elements. I don’t mean the cannibalism—that makes perfect sense in context as a fear—but things like Nat (Sophie Thatcher) bringing her tea, which she suspects has been drugged as she awakes to find everyone eating her baby. I don’t really know how to fit that into an interpretation of this as a fantasy, and I did half expect Jacques to show up in the doorway as he did in Jackie’s reverie unto death. It could be that this wasn’t a dream, or that it was but was also somehow more than that.

There has to be some reason we keep getting scenes of Ben (Steven Krueger) and Paul (François Arnaud) in an alternate reality where Ben didn’t get on the plane. This week they’re playing charades. I really hope Yellowjackets isn’t going to go in the direction of some kind of multiverse, but the groundwork is being laid if that’s where the showrunners intend to take us.

Nat (Sophie Thatcher) looks over at Ben (Steven Krueger), anguished, in Yellowjackets S2E6

I don’t think that they will, for the record, but rather that “Qui” is playing with how our psychology in the actual world is influenced by virtual structures like those of paths not taken and possibilities that were crossed out. Ben’s authority has collapsed. He can’t help with the childbirth, even though he showed them a video about it as a teacher in the Before Times. He just pressed play on that video without really knowing anything. And if he can no longer identify as Coach, then it’s no wonder that he fantasizes about what might have been if he’d made the decision to abnegate that position and be with his beloved.

It’s a mix of nostalgia, regret, and hope that Paul might still be there for him if somehow he makes it out of this alive. But probably he won’t. If we’re looking for a narrative reason for these scenes, it seems most likely that they’ll serve as Ben’s swan song and that the point of deepening this character is to make his ultimate death hit a little harder.

Nat (Juliette Lewis) looks down the barrel of a rifle

In 2021, Nat (Juliette Lewis) tells Lisa (Nicole Maines) that while maybe the Yellowjackets did what they did in the wilderness in order to survive, she doesn’t think they deserve to live even if that’s true. She’s blaming herself for Travis’s suicide, and if you’ve been looking for a narrative justification for Lisa’s existence, I’d argue we get it in these scenes.

She helps Nat back from the brink. Even if I thought for a moment that she was actually going to kill Lisa’s pet fish, she doesn’t. As messed up as she is, Nat has always had a compassionate soul, and Lisa’s helping her rediscover that.

Misty (Christina Ricci) sits at a table with a wine glass of water in Yellowjackets S2E6, "Qui"

Misty (Christina Ricci), meanwhile, enjoys crashing the camp as something of a celebrity (because she knows Lottie and Natalie). She’s not a fan of all of the crying, but the food is good and the B.O. factor is surprisingly low, so she’s pretty happy to hang out for a bit as she works to figure out what’s going on. I’ll note that when she hands over her phone, it says that she has two messages from Walter (Elijah Wood), but we don’t know what they say. And it’s her call to Tai (Tawny Cypress) that leads to the reunion that occurs in S2E6’s penultimate scene.

As for Tai, Van (Lauren Ambrose) tells her what the Other One did and said overnight, and she refuses Tai’s offer to help with the overdue bills that threaten her business. She agrees to drive Tai to Lottie’s camp but doesn’t plan to stay. Her face at the end of the episode, though, tells another story.

Tai calls Shauna, though Jeff (Warren Kole) answers the phone. It is absolutely hilarious that he’s listening to “Fuck Tha Police” as he waits for his wife and daughter to get done talking to the cops, by the way. I’m not sure his insistence that Shauna go to meet her erstwhile friends makes a lot of rational sense, as I’m sure the police would not recommend she leave town, but it serves a narrative purpose and Jeff is just enough of a doofus that I’ll allow it.

Callie, meanwhile, has lied to Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) to accuse Matt of statutory rape, so that’s fun. I still think that guy’s head is destined to be bashed in, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we get there. Kudos to John Reynolds for very quickly and effectively making me want to see his character suffer a violent death. That guy makes my skin crawl.


Yellowjackets S2E6 ends with Shauna wailing in lamentation over the fact that no one else can hear her baby crying, and I just want to take a second to thank the writers on this show for not taking an even darker path in this episode. I seriously thought for a moment that we might find out that the dream sequence was a fantasy overlain on a reality where Shauna had been trying to nurse a dead baby for days, and I’m really relieved that wasn’t the case. I mean, it would have been good television, and the foundation for it was there in the early season scenes between Shauna and Ghost Jackie, but, well, I suppose even my stomach has its limits.

Tai (Jasmin Savoy Brown) holds Shauna's (Sophie Nelisse) face

What does happen to the baby’s corpse is something of a question, though. I presume they won’t cook it for dinner or let Shauna play pretend with it, but I can’t rule these possibilities out. And presuming they do simply provide him with a proper funeral, given the way Shauna is in denial at the end of this episode, even that possibility feels fraught.

Baby boy Shipman doesn’t get a name, and the title of the episode (“Qui”) is French for who. So perhaps he’s the referent. Given the French, however, I can’t help but wonder if “Qui” refers to the one who wants blood. Could they be one and the same? Is there a vampire baby on the horizon?

Misty (Samantha Hanratty) has a pained and sweaty face

Probably not, but it’s fun to think about.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

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

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