A bespectacled teen girl in dirty, layered clothing, looks down at another teen girl laying on the floor under blankets, her face bloody and bruised; still from "Yellowjackets"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv Darkness reigns in the deadly Season 2 finale of “Yellowjackets.”

Darkness reigns in the deadly Season 2 finale of “Yellowjackets.”

A bespectacled teen girl in dirty, layered clothing, looks down at another teen girl laying on the floor under blankets, her face bloody and bruised; still from "Yellowjackets"

(Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Yellow Jackets” Season 2 Episode 9, “Storytelling.”)

A long time ago, in the picturesque winter of 2022, Lottie (Courtney Eaton) killed a bear and offered its heart as a sacrifice to the wilderness in “Yellowjackets”. She told her friends about her to shed blood and said “she let the darkness set us free”.

That’s definitely not what happened.

Despite Lottie’s best efforts in both the past and present, “darkness” (aka savagery and trauma) completely engulfs the series’ stranded teenagers, following them well into their tormented adult lives. In a season that has gone from bad to worse (in circumstances, not quality), “Storytelling” is the ultimate destruction of hope, light, and sanctuary.

After languishing for most of the season — or at least moving noticeably slower than the parallel ’90s flashback — today’s timeline drives most of the action in “Storytelling,” written by Ameni Rozsa and directed by Karyn Kusama . Every character and plot converges in Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) forest compound, intersecting and overlapping both cleverly and catastrophically. Callie (Sarah Desjardins) and Walter (Elijah Wood) prove to be the biggest jokers, both taking big risks – his reckless, his meticulous – that end up saving the day. Callie showing up in the woods brings the adult Yellowjackets back to reality; there is no clearer signifier in the present than they are from the lived horror of the desert, even when her emotional wounds linger. It’s fair to assume that most hunts didn’t include vehement defense of a loved one, especially after Travis (Kevin Alves) tries to save Nat (Sophie Thatcher) the first time they draw the cards. But here he is; without fear of interrupting the hunt or upsetting the wild because these things are not real to her. At the beginning of the episode, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) tells Lottie that “none of it was real,” while Callie is as real as it gets.

The reason all of this was so viscerally real in the desert is because there was no world outside of it. To escape the hut or the rituals or even eat one’s companions was to die, either from the weather and from hunger, or at the hands of desperate adolescents. The reality is why Travis has no choice but to accept his brother’s fate (Alves is outstanding in this episode), why horror Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and her skeptic exes Nat, Tai (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) all tacitly accept these new rules. If anyone is getting exactly what he wants in “Storytelling,” it would be Misty (Samantha Hanratty), who has been manipulating Lottie’s situation from the moment she carried her up the stairs. She even thinks for a moment that Lottie is going to make her the new leader of the group, but of course that’s not what happens.

Sarah Desjardins in “Yellow Jacket”Kimberley French/SHOWTIME

Where the season 1 finale may have lacked shocking twists, “Storytelling” proposes Lottie’s successor, the one who will lead the Yellowjackets through a brutal winter (more than one, even if they don’t know it yet) and implicitly bear the heavy horn crown: Natalie. The revelation adds context for the adult Yellow Jackets and conflict for the young; teenagers Misty and Shauna reel over the decision, while adults Nat and Lottie still carry this particular day with them years later. Looking back on Lottie throughout Season 2, he’s been chasing not only romance but the favor of the wild, which he thinks he lost to Natalie (Juliette Lewis). Nat’s turbulent emotions stem from the guilt shared by the survivors, most of which he earned when he let Javi (Luciano Leroux) drown and be eaten instead of him. He informed his tumultuous relationship with Travis (Andres Soto) and probably every other relationship down to Lisa (Nicole Maines), all of whom he feared betraying.

Natalie is now one of the rare “Yellowjackets” characters whose fate audiences know – the only one besides Travis who has appeared in both timelines. Knowing Nat’s demise blankets her past with tragedy, not just before the crash and in the desert, but in her adult life up until her death. In her mind, she is on an airplane, not the private flight whose crash changed her life, but a commercial airliner like many she must have flown after being rescued, never shaking off the fear of what it could happen if it crashed. Of her He has visions of her younger self, young Lottie, and Javi: the person he was before the wilderness, the person who believed in her there, and the life he feels responsible for taking from her . In her last moments, Natalie can’t let go of her guilt, a guilt now carried by Misty for accidentally killing her best friend. Others will feel it too for joining the hunt and humoring Lottie, or for going to the compound in the first place. Moving forward, the adult Yellowjackets will have to contend as much with the things they’ve done since they were rescued as with the horrors of the past.

Grade: A-

Food for thought:

  • “Zombie” You are making a fool of me?? Whoever engineered this drop of needle belongs to the prison.
  • For all the cannibalism, hearing the simple, direct words “We’re going to eat Javi” is so jarring.
  • I hope Luciano Leroux’s parents don’t watch this show.
  • Walter is absolutely coming for Jeff’s crown as the show’s resident who blindly supports Wife Guy.
  • Ben (Steven Kreuger) has consistently broken my heart this season, right down to his final plea for Nat to abandon everyone else and survive the winter together. He confirms that he’s abandoned his role as caretaker, that he’s said “Fuck this noise” and is ready to let them all die to save himself and his favorite him. Can’t blame him but everything hurts!
  • That said, I’m 99% sure he tried to burn these girls alive. And I think he warned me about it in March!
  • Something so sick and so foggy about calling Nat his best friend to the very end. Is this deep down an unshakeable desire to be favored by the queen of horns?? I think Nat was his best friend even though the other way around wasn’t true.
  • I love the detail of Shauna preparing her journals during the fire. Not necessary, but after all we’ve been through asking ourselves these things… wow.
  • Don’t Van in ANOTHER fire! Give my girlfriend a break!

“Yellowjackets” Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming now on Showtime as well as on Prime Video, Hulu and Paramount+ with a Showtime add-on.

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