Each week Terry and Joe discuss the most recent episode of Showtime’s serialized thriller, Yellowjackets.
Spoilers follow for episode 9, “Doomcoming”
Plot: You are cordially invited to The Doomcoming. On the brink of death, the Yellowjackets opt to throw one last rager before careening into oblivion. An increasingly paranoid Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) struggles between keeping her cool and being Shauna.
What a wild episode, Joe. Right away it answered a few questions that have been plaguing viewers from pretty much the beginning. The person doing the blackmailing? I called it, Jeff (Warren Kole). Bianca? We both called it: not an affair. The reason: Money problems. Adam (Peter Gadiot)…well, he’s still somewhat of a question mark at this point, but unless Shauna discovers a ring while they’re disposing of the body…probably not Javi.
But let’s rewind.
The episode opens where “Flight of the Bumblebee” ends, with Shauna asking Adam who the fuck he is and Adam looking at her with confusion and concern. As she tears through his warehouse apartment (Side note: if you’re an artist, does that mean you must live in a warehouse apartment? C’mon Adam, it’s so cliche), he becomes more and more bewildered as she becomes more and more adamant that he is the Glitter Bandit.
Eventually, she comes across a book written about the Yellowjackets experience and, to her, this proves he knows who she really is. Plus: the combination of the safe, it turns out, is the flight number and “any fanboy could figure it out.” As we’ve seen throughout Yellowjackets, particularly with Taissa (Tawny Cypress), these survivors are dealing with immense trauma and, as Adam tries to plead his case, events from 1996 come flooding back in flashes, and Shauna ends up stabbing him.
When Shauna gets home, she discovers the journals are back in the safe, which leads to her second epiphany that Jeff is the one blackmailing them. Well, he thought he was blackmailing Taissa and Natalie (Juliette Lewis)…hence the reason Shauna never received a postcard. Jeff was going to lose the store and got a loan from some sharks/mobsters; not only is he not having sexy with Bianca, she’s actually part of the mob (and also terrifies him).
Then he hits Shauna with another revelation: it turns out that, although not a fanboy, Jeff discovered the safe’s combination and read her journal a long time ago. He’s deeply in love with her and has been only with her.
Warren Kole hasn’t had the most to work with as Jeff because his narrative function is to be suspicious and the focus has rightly been on the survivors…but he turns out such a fantastic performance in these scenes, Joe. The way he almost vomits once he learns that not only has his wife cheated on him but she murdered the person she cheated with and it’s, in a roundabout way and if you squint your eyes, sort of his fault. It’s really moving stuff.
Here’s a man who’s struggled to keep his business afloat and provide for his family, discovering that his wife has been cheating on him and that, by blackmailing her friends, a potentially innocent man has been killed. Almost worse? “There’s no book club?!”
But he also understands their relationship, potentially better than Shauna ever has, as he tells her, “we’ve always been these people. Secrets have always been a part of us.” In an episode filled with WTF moments, these tender scenes of a couple finally communicating are what Yellowjackets does best. I love that beneath all the bombast, we can have intimate scenes and conversations like this one, as well as the bonding scene between Tai and Shauna in the previous episode.
Oh, but Joe. The bombast.
How did these revelations sit with you, Joe? And let’s bring it back to 1996, where a whole helluvalot happened. What did you think of the titular “Doomcoming” and Misty (Samantha Hanratty)’s inadvertent role in bringing our women closer to the brink? What do we make of that almost orgy, the guttural calls and…well, Lottie (Courtney Eaton) in general? Finally, Jackie (Ella Purnell)’s days are numbered, yeah?
Woo boy, Terry, you cued me that this was a big episode and you weren’t kidding! What I really enjoyed was how unexpected everything was – from Shauna’s bloody confrontation with Adam (I didn’t think he’d die!) to the drunken/shroom orgy/”stag hunt” in 1996, Yellowjackets said “fuck the slow burn, we’re nearly at the finale and it’s GO time.”
Sometimes it seems as though penultimate episodes are harder to pull off than finales because series run the risk of offering nothing but set-up. Strangely Yellowjackets is doing just that – what with Adult Natalie showing up at Misty (Christina Ricci)’s place asking for help with Adam’s body, Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma) teetering dangerously close to be off’d and 98% of the secrets from 1996 rearing their head as the girls succumb to inebriation.
And yet none of these storylines feel like they’re spinning their wheels until next week’s finale. If anything, every aspect of Yellowjackets is barreling ahead at full-steam. There’s a propulsive, giddy energy to so much of what happens in “Doomcoming” that by the time the teen girls are chasing Travis (Kevin Alves) through the woods in their prom dresses with their woodland jewelry and stabby objects, the danger is palpable. It doesn’t hurt that director Daisy Mayer, along with director of photography Trevor Forrest, shoot this like a full-blown action scene, the camera rushing to keep pace through the dark woods before editor Kevin D. Ross cuts to shots of the hollering horde of girls rushing at the camera. It’s genuinely unnerving…and exhilarating?
When Yellowjackets debuted, you and I spent a great deal of time unpacking the “Lord of the Flies with girls” description some folks were using. At the time we may have been slightly defensive because the description was more of an elevator-pitch that suggested the show was derivative. With these scenes, though, it’s actually kind of apt: this is the true genesis of the clan of fur wearing, people-trapping girls that we watched consume another human in that cold open all those weeks ago.
Circling back around to unexpected developments, though, is Lottie’s involvement in all of this. Last week I bemoaned how Laura Lee’s backstory and send-off was so much less meaningful than the girl who could predict the future, but it’s clear that Yellowjackets writers were laying some pretty significant groundwork with this character throughout the back half of the season. Suddenly Lottie is using her own kind of religious fervour to galvanize the girls and order them into nearly committing unspeakable acts. And while I won’t lie and say that I didn’t enjoy seeing Jackie get a bit of a comeuppance when Lottie tossed her into the pantry, the group’s new leader is giving off some serious Mrs. Carmody in The Mist / Bev Keane in Midnight Mass energy here.
What makes perfect sense is how the timing of Lottie’s ascension is the result of two unique but disastrous elements: 1) the extremely dire food shortage that has the girls literally eating grubs and 2) the impromptu decision to drink and party to excess. The latter is an age-old tenet of young adult narratives, but here it is even more justified than usual considering the severity of their situation. At the top of the episode, Jackie announces that they will be dead in a few short weeks when they run out of food. It makes sense, then, for the others to sign on for a party (aside from Tai, who shoots the idea down, leading to the evening’s ominous condensed name).
Amusingly the ill-advised drinking goes hand in hand with emergency situations; it’s practically a trope of disaster and horror films where individuals are stranded in strenuous environment conditions. Of course that’s when the boysenberry wine comes out! And then, in true Yellowjackets tradition, Misty comes along to make matters even worse. This is arguably the closest the ‘96 plot has come to replicating the zaniness of Ricci’s 2021 performance, as her leaving the mushrooms behind only for them to end up in the stew is pure comedy.
But yeah, even if that is very funny, the entire last act of this episode is pretty terrifying. What we’re seeing is a full-blown fucking power move by Lottie. Just like that, she’s got herself a tribe of scared, hungry, sexxed up followers.
So yeah, Jackie and Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) should be terrified. I’m just in awe that after weeks of speculating where and how the rift in the group would arrive, I think we’ve finally hit upon it…and it’s being driven by Lottie of all people!
Terry, do you think people will continue to follow Lottie after the drugs and booze wears off? Did you feel sympathy for Jackie considering the whole party is just an excuse to fuck Travis? And what did you think of Coach Scott (Steven Krueger)’s loud and proud declaration of his sexuality?
Reading your case for Lottie’s newfound power, I have to think you’re onto something, Joe. Hear me out…Lottie has been acting incredibly shady ever since the seance where she seemingly became possessed. The show laid out in the same episode the fact that she’s very sensitive to unnatural/supernatural feelings. This is something Yellowjackets has toyed with as it did the “is it or is it not supernatural” dance throughout the season by presenting things that may look supernatural but could be rationalized away.
But the way Lottie leaned into the Doomcoming this episode suggests that she is, in fact, possessed. Whether she’s been this way the entire season or not is up for debate, but I think this episode is where whatever is haunting the forest finally gets its claws into her.
Once they’ve taken the shrooms and are getting incredibly high, Lottie mumbles, “something’s coming” and then follows it up with “We won’t be hungry much longer.” It’s after this that she, to borrow your analogy, goes full Bev Keane, yells at Jackie that she took something that didn’t belong to her before locking her up and whipping the rest of the Yellowjackets into quite a ferocious fervor. The sounds they make to ward off the wolves eerily contrasts with the sounds they made in the first episode’s cold open. The caws and whispers and guttural sounds are a direct callback.
All of your speculation makes me wonder if Lottie is the one who blew up Laura Lee on that airplane.
Lottie is the one who repeatedly warns them that the forest doesn’t want them to leave, sowing discord and panic into the group. What better way to prove to them there’s something lurking in the woods than to blow up the plane? To take the speculation further, I think whatever monstrous being has been potentially hiding in the woods was waiting for their guard to be let down. It starved them, making the deer flesh rot and the wolves beset them. It’s given them no hope for the future, leading them to one last hurrah. And the final straw: a mix of alcohol and hallucinatory shrooms allows it to really dig in. They’re scared, starving and stoned out of their gourds…this is the perfect time for something to do some possessing.
So, yes. I could absolutely see this as the start of their downfall and the rise of Lottie…or who/whatever’s controlling Lottie.
As for Jackie…man, I don’t know. Of course I feel some measure of sympathy but Yellowjackets hasn’t exactly been kind to her. She’s spent most of the season ignoring chores, bemoaning her fate, being the stereotypical popular girl and secretly twisting the minds of people to get what she wants while also just trying to destroy everything in her wake…she’s kind of getting her comeuppance, yeah?
Onto more positive developments, I loved that both Taissa and Van and Scott were able to have public declarations of their sexuality. I particularly enjoyed his, “Did you hear that mom, dad, God, all my furry forest friends? I’m gay!” I’m also glad that the Tai/Van moment got unanimous praise from her fellow Yellowjackets. It might be a bit of a rose-coloring of the past (again, 1996 wasn’t a great time for queer people) but it was a nice moment.
But we have one episode left, Joe and it sounds like we might be going to another dance. What are your expectations for the finale? What do you want it to reveal and what answers do you actually think we’ll get?
Yes, we do have another dance on the horizon and considering what’s happened in the past, it’s safe to expect some fireworks at the reunion! Initially I thought that it was a missed opportunity not to synch the two events up in a single episode, but clearly it was a deliberate decision on the creative team’s behalf.
Why would that be?
Well, it is the finale so obviously shit is going to go down. Having Doomcoming occur now leaves space in the finale to explore the aftermath. Presumably the girls will come down and begin to deal with the consequences of their actions (I can only imagine how that’ll go: “Umm, sorry Travis, we didn’t mean to sexually assault and try to murder you”).
It definitely won’t be as simple as that; in fact, it seems safe to assume that we’ve reached the point where we begin to rack up a body count. This moment has been teased all season and now we’re finally about to get into the thick of it.
What the reunion looks like is less certain. In some ways the big “threats” of the present have been dealt with: Adam is dead and the truth of Shauna’s affair is out in the open. There’s the possibility that the Bianca/mob stuff boils over, but it seems more likely that disposing of Adam’s corpse will prove to be problematic, particularly with Jessica still locked in the basement.
There’s also the results of Tai’s election and, since we’ve speculated about her supernatural connection, that could turn into something nefarious, too. After all, we still don’t know who/what killed Travis earlier this season…Something is still out there.
That seems like plenty and I fully expect Yellowjackets to end on an absolute banger of a cliffhanger. We’ll be back to discuss all of the ups and downs next week when we return to GaylyDreadful to chat about the finale, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.”
Yellowjackets airs Sundays on Showtime