Reflections Before the Yellowjackets Season 2 Finale: On Nat, Lottie, and “It Chooses”

Nat and Lottie walk through a field with trees and a mountain behind them in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 2

The following contains spoilers for Yellowjackets through Season 2 Episode 8, “It Chooses”

If you read my weekly Yellowjackets recaps (and I hope you do!), you’ll know that I had something of a negative reaction to S2E8, “It Chooses,” when I first watched it, which at the time of this writing wasn’t all that long ago. But I’ve kept mulling the episode over and thinking about my criticisms in light of what I’ve seen others saying about it out in the world. And while I think a lot of my quibbles hold, I’ve come around with regard to the most central things—namely, the incredibly significant character moments for Natalie and Lottie that close the episode.

I fell into a certain kind of viewership the first time through “It Chooses,” which I would in general encourage people to try to avoid. I got caught up in what I wanted Yellowjackets to be instead of taking it as it was. It’s a fine line because, as I said to someone shortly after the episode aired, subverting expectations isn’t good in itself; sometimes it’s just bad writing. And I do think part of my job here is to call out bad writing when I see it.

But after watching S2E8 again and thinking about a number of things that have occurred in Season 2 up to this point, I think that I was being uncharitable with regard to the writers’ decision for Natalie to be the one who drew the queen of hearts in the first iteration of a ritual the Yellowjackets are sure to repeat. The groundwork for this was laid better than I originally realized.

Nat in front of a curtain with a pained look on her face

The big stumbling block for me, in terms of the character development, was that Natalie’s character in 2021 always already made sense to me in light of what we knew. The move to ritualistic cannibalism itself felt sufficient to explain the way she’s wracked with guilt. At the beginning of Season 1, she tells her fellows in rehab how she’s lacked a sense of purpose, and if we fill in that the sense of purpose she used to have was related to the ritualistic cannibalism, it makes perfect sense that she’d have trouble reconciling herself to missing that.

And I think that all holds. But the events of “It Chooses” retroactively color what we’ve seen of Natalie (Juliette Lewis) in 2021 up to this point. I didn’t need this kind of moment for it to make sense, and so it didn’t land as powerfully for me as it did for others (apparently including Sophie Thatcher). Indeed, it struck me as shoe-horned in, but as I’ve sat with it I’ve realized that it tracks.

The young Nat's head resting on the lap of the adult Lottie

Think, for instance, of how Natalie becomes the younger version of herself as she rests her head on Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) lap in “Two Truths and a Lie.” Lottie (Courtney Eaton) wasn’t directly involved in the events of “It Chooses” in the wilderness timeline, but she’ll surely be called upon to make everyone feel OK about what they’ve done moving forward, and I still believe she will ultimately be the Antler Queen.

She’s going to be the one who consoles Nat and assures her she’s a needed member of the group, and who convinces Travis (Kevin Alves) that the wilderness chose Javi (Luciano Leroux), as sad as that is. So that moment at Lottie’s retreat takes Nat back to that feeling of acceptance and purpose she’s been missing. But now she wants to process it all.

Towards the end of “It Chooses,” just before Lottie proposes they sacrifice a member of the group to solve their adult problems, Nat makes the plea again for them all to talk everything through. They never have. And they’ve never apologized to Natalie for trying to kill her and eat her. Instead, they got her to accept that this was an OK thing for them to do. Natalie, the skeptic, is ultimately going to have to believe in the power of the wilderness in order to be able to live with herself, and with these others upon whom she depends in order to survive.

She let Javi die. They all let Javi die. On some level, they know they let Javi die. And yet they must live in denial in order to survive.

Nat (Sophie Thatcher) looks anguished standing in the snow. Van (Liv Hewson) is behind her, looking stern

Van’s (Liv Hewson) denial is the strongest. If you watch her face during these scenes, it becomes utterly hard and cold. When she pronounces that the wilderness chose, she doesn’t so much believe it as she asserts that this is what must be believed. So if you don’t believe it, she’s basically become evil. But it tracks with her character development, as she’s been longing for a sense of purpose and now feels she’s found one in being something like a cardinal of the wilderness.

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

Speaking of facial expressions, they do a lot of work in terms of adult Lottie’s arc making sense in “It Chooses.” As the conversation proceeds in the Sharing Shack™, we regularly cut to how Lottie is reacting to what she’s hearing.

Remember that she discovered that her psychiatrist wasn’t real right before this, and that scene, where the shrink becomes the Antler Queen and asks if a hunt without violence feeds anyone, is terrifying if you take it from Lottie’s perspective. She thought she was seeking help to escape the darkness, but she was talking to the darkness all along.

The Antler Queen sitting in Lottie's living room

And of course, that’s inside her. She is the one who’ll adorn herself with those horns and locks of hair. She knows this but also can’t accept it. She’s never been able to accept it. In the return of the repressed the past floods back in with all of its concomitant affects and she’s overwhelmed.

In response, she only knows two moves. The first is to push it away, and she tries to do this. She rushes to tell the others that they have to leave. She wants to hold onto the fact that the visions aren’t real. But they don’t go. Nat tells her to stop resisting, and as she’s sucked back into the group she’s also slipping towards the second move: to embrace their previous belief system as having been true all along.

Watch the scene again, if you need to. You can read it on her face.

Lottie looks troubled

In terms of where we go from here and what the season finale has in store for us, I find something sticking in my mind that I initially thought was almost too minor to mention: Lottie’s suggestion that they all take shots, one of which is poisoned, doesn’t parallel how we see the ritual develop in the past.

It’s close to the drawing of cards, but the most significant development that comes with Javi dying instead of Nat would seem to be that this makes their ritual less straightforward. If we go back to the pilot, we see a girl running scared through the woods until she falls into a pit. It seems reasonable to infer, in light of “It Chooses,” that she drew the queen, but the whole ritual involves her running, with the one to be eaten being whoever dies first, whether it’s the one who drew the card or not.

A girl in white at the bottom of a pit

So perhaps some version of this is what we’ll see play out in the adult timeline in the season finale, in which case no one is safe. I also struggle to see Nat and Misty (Christina Ricci) playing along, but I’ll wait to see how this all goes instead of leveling any criticisms prospectively.

Another note, though, while I’m at it, which I don’t know what to do with: There are 52 cards in a deck. In “It Chooses” we see Van shuffle the queen of hearts into the deck, and then members of the group start drawing cards. It’s kind of stupid that they each seem to be taking the top card from the deck, but I expect to have to look past that. What feels a little more significant, and like something the writers of Yellowjackets wouldn’t be asking us to simply ignore, is that they’d have to each draw a card multiple times in order to guarantee that someone drew the queen.

Nat (Sophie Thatcher) holds up the queen of hearts

That seems in tension with how individuals clearly feel themselves to be safe after they draw a different card in “It Chooses,” but maybe it isn’t. Maybe that relief would still make sense even if they know they might be at risk again in the next round, should it come to that.

Or maybe there are a couple dozen members of the team we never see. That might strike a lot of us as rather lame, but there aren’t a whole lot of people for them to kill over the coming year if we’re seeing everyone.

Regardless, my biggest problems with “It Chooses” on a first pass lay in how I felt it didn’t track with the Nat and the Lottie I thought I knew. But I’ve come to accept that it instead reveals aspects of these characters that I might not like, but which do fit with what we’ve seen before.

Lottie looking down at her hands, with blood on them

And it turns out that there was a little line of dialogue in S2E5 indicating that Javi found the queen of hearts somewhere. It’s in the background, but Akilah (Nia Sondaya) asks him where he found it. I didn’t notice and didn’t find it on Reddit when I searched, but it was there. So apologies to my fellow Citizen Detectives for saying it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what to make of this explanation for the queen’s presence. You might suggest that Javi was the first one to draw the card, actually, since he was the one who found it, if you want to imbue it with a real kind of magical significance. But I’m more curious about where he found it and where the other queens are. The queen of diamonds is also in the Season 2 credits, and we haven’t seen that show up yet. I suppose maybe that’s a shot from the 2021 timeline and there will only be the one queen in the past. But then I still wonder what happened to the others.

A lighter being held to the queen of diamonds in the Yellowjackets Season 2 opening credits

Ben (Steven Krueger) finds Javi’s hideout in “It Chooses,” but we still don’t know who Javi was referring to when he mentioned the friend who told him not to return to the others. And I do think that what Ben discovered indicates that there is someone else in the wilderness. I do not know who that could be.

We don’t know what the deal is with the Man With No Eyes, and we still don’t know why or how the man some are calling Cabin Daddy showed up in Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) vision unto death in the Season 1 finale.

A man in the doorway in the Yellowjackets Season 1 finale

So there are some big questions heading into S2E9, which I doubt will all be answered this season. At least I hope they’ll spend a good amount of time hemming, hawing, wailing, and gnashing their teeth about actually eating Javi. Letting him die was one thing, but now they have to make dinner.

No early access for me this week, so I’ll be watching the Season 2 finale on Friday with everyone else. We’ll get the recap out as soon as we can.

Until then, remember: a hunt without violence doesn’t feed anybody. Sorry, Javi.

Written by Caemeron Crain

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

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