Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers regarding the second episode of “Yellowjackets” Season 2.
If anyone was still wondering where things were headed on Showtime’s creepy, ambient survival drama “Yellowjackets,” they might not be watching closely enough.
Much of the show’s mystery in the first season hinged on what lengths the titular high school soccer team went to in order to survive a year and a half stranded in the Canadian wilderness following a plane crash – and how as adults, the remaining survivors will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden.
Now, the series finally slices open some of those secrets, as it were, and if Shauna’s (Sophie Nélisse) impulsive snack at the end of the Season 2 premiere last week was any indication – you know to watch this week’s installment, titled “Edible Complex,” on an empty stomach.
But how the pivotal cannibalism moment comes about – one which for better or (most likely) worse continues an unsettling trend that began last year – is a different matter entirely. Not only does the hungry and catatonic crew enter a twisted but artful parallel plane, à la the Last Supper or any number of Renaissance era depictions of it, in order to commit the unthinkable, but the circumstances leading to their collective decision appear to be outside their sphere of control.
Teen Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is appalled to learn that Shauna is hanging out in the freezing makeshift meat locker with her deceased best friend Jackie (Ella Purnell), a situation made even more urgent by the fact that Shauna is also talking to Jackie and putting makeup on her face – all during her last trimester of pregnancy. Taking a stand to make sure the behavior stops there, Taissa convinces the group to dispose of Jackie’s body by cremation, since the ground is frozen solid.
The group gathers (conveniently dry and copious) firewood for a pyre, and as the snow begins to fall once more, they set it ablaze… and it remains aflame deep into the night, until a snow-loaded branch immediately above just happens to give way and douse the flames just enough to set Jackie on a low simmer. The rest needs no description, except to say that the group is awoken from their slumber by an arresting aroma.
As seen in many interludes in “Yellowjackets,” the murky wilderness that has become the teenage survivors’ home seems to be inexplicably willful, and the passage in this episode suggests that the group’s latest mad descent is brought about through no fault of their own. But still, as the action jolts back to present day and we’re faced with adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress) and Misty (Christina Ricci) trying to clean up the messes of their respective adult lives, we’re confronted with the task of trying to find sympathy for people-eaters. The question is, will viewers stick around in spite of that?
Most who’ve watched this “psychological horror show” – as it was recently described by co-creator Ashley Lyle – up to this point will probably say yes… for now.
New episodes of “Yellowjackets” stream on Fridays and air Sundays at 9pm ET on Showtime.