As 4 Non Blondes serenade us with their anthemic query, “What’s Going On?”, we realize that adult Van (Lauren Ambrose) has never fully let the 90s rest. The fact that she runs her own VHS rental is proof that she’s never moved on. Taissa (Tawny Cypress), however, is one blast from the past that Van might not have appreciated wound.
Out in the mountains, slight signs of thaw begin to show. Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) greets a restless Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) as Van (Liv Hewson) informs her flank Lottie’s commencing morning meditation. Shauna seems the only one out of this circle. Even Akilah (Nia Sondaya) joins the squad, with her ultimate reason being sound enough: much like a pregame ritual, it might not help, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and the team practice sensing the world around them. This tapping into nature is paramount for the survival of the team as well as life to come. The group’s monotone responsorial to Lottie holding court sounds pretty damn cultish, but she’s simply trying to get the team to form tethers beyond mere friendship. Yellowjackets ride or die and in order to get to protection so impenetrable it’s incalculable, they must tune into not only their surroundings but also each other, in spite of Shauna’s remonstrance.
Knocking back pins and beer with Callie (Sarah Desjardins), Matt aka Jay (John Reynolds) is playing with fire, evident when he loses a bet for a kiss. Plying an underage girl with alcohol is one thing, but physical contact is where he draws the waning thin blue line. Thankfully, his full bladder and their waitress’s finished shift lead Callie’s curious oculars to her bowling buddy’s true identity. With some quick, well-intentioned thinking, she pins the cheating on Randy. Will remediation prove a gutter ball or another strike in the making?
In the cabin, some cast doubts on who (or what) Javi (Luciano Leroux) has become. Travis (Kevin Alves) is not willing to grill his catatonic bro for the team. He’s also not willing to go on any further hunting expeditions with Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) after the stunt she pulled. Akilah’s still protecting her little rodent friend before being almost caught by Mari (Alexa Barajas), handing out chores in the form of playing cards. Crystal’s (Nuha Jes Izman) fun time with Misty (Sammi Hanratty) is cut short when she draws the shit card.
Presently, Misty (Christina Ricci) and Walter (Elijah Wood) are en route to the Purple People. To pass the time, he proposes the game of Two Truths and a Lie, only to bypass his own rules in order to know Misty better. Too late, they’ve fallen on the commune.
Meanwhile, Callie presents to her parents: the solution to a problem she created. Though Jeff (Warren Kole) isn’t exactly onboard for the narrative of his wife cheating with his best friend, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) isn’t mad at the plan, actually exciting Callie. Like mother, like daughter.
Travis finally gets his brother to at least down some bone broth, imploring him to divulge where he was all this time. Blood from a stone and no amount of kind words from Natalie will fix what she’d broken in Travis, which was trust and now the whole cabin knows.
As adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) presides over a small cluster in the workshop, Natalie (Juliette Lewis) is to focus on Lisa (Nicole Maines), using her as a mirror to delve deeper into the darkness, but before that can be accomplished, she’s got a visitor at the gates and before you can say “Open sesame”, Natalie tells Misty to go pound walnuts.
On their trek to dump the team’s waste, Misty and Crystal continue their girl talk, sharing secrets. Crystal lets her innermost self out to Misty, admitting that her name is Kristen, only adapting Crystal the Pistol out of cowardice to speak up. I can relate. During my freshman year of high school soccer, my hair was dyed auburn and I was called Fozzie, due to my melanin matching my ‘do. It also was the first time I had an identity with any team and I was beloved. The hair color ultimately didn’t stick, but the nickname sure as hell did.
The humdinger of secrets comes when Misty admits that their being stranded was by her own design, having destroyed the emergency transmitter. Playing it off like a joke wasn’t convincing enough, but Misty’s threat to Crystal was, leading to her biggest role yet: convincing the team she didn’t just drive her bestie off a goddamn cliff.
Misty the sleuth is dumbfounded a teammate slipped through the cracks. As she postulates Lottie’s motive, Walter is convinced that Misty might be a killer in her own right—namely Adam’s. A dealbreaker that’s not made, though. Visibly perturbed, Misty puts the kibosh on the whole operation, leaving her stranded in the rain.
Speaking of shooting a shot, that night, Shauna meets Randy (Jeff Holman) at the motel for their ‘rendezvous’ with Detectives Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) and Matt knowingly on her tale. Before he can squeeze whatever ejaculate he can into a condom as ‘proof’ of their affair, Shauna squeezes him on information about his dockside interrogation.
In the cabin, Shauna wakes up to Lottie speaking to the baby. She unsurprisingly flips the fuck out on her, though to her shock, Taissa stands up for Lottie causing Shauna to bolt out into the woods.
Post-shower, Taissa inspects to contents of Van’s medicine cabinet only to find oxycodone, but that’s the least of her host’s worries. Taissa brought shit to Van’s doorstep after years of no communication. It’s not a cool move, but desperate times and the such. Taissa’s in no position to deny help lest she endangers somebody else she loves. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and for the remaining Yellowjackets, whether they are aware of it or not, this couldn’t buzz truer at a more pivotal time.
In the motel bathroom, Randy’s not living up to his namesake. He’s more wet-noodle than uncooked spaghetti and his only out comes in the form of something else.
Natalie finally gets her shot at infiltrating Lottie’s office, uncovering file after file. Armed for bear, she storms into their nightly healing session to reveal Lottie, but no amount of accusatory screaming is turning the tide in her favor. She instead must relent to Lottie, because whatever secrets lay dormant in Natalie’s head from Travis must be unlocked. Access codes to the Zion mainframe they are not, but still remain pretty fucking invaluable to Lottie’s plight.
With the snow picking up, Taissa’s attempts to comfort Shauna are only met with confrontation. She’s freaking out and all things considered, prayer circles aren’t exactly helping her current state as the storm goes from 3 to 11 along with Shauna’s contractions.
Though Kevyn’s sufficiently convinced, Matt’s ‘stache is twitchin’. Something doesn’t sit right, and he was on the money. A condom was found, but its contents are fugazi. It’s lotion. It’s a point for team law, Matt’s clearly but they’ve been made, so that goal doesn’t count.
Upon finding Javi’s sketches, Ben (Steven Krueger) reaches Javi, talking about his ‘friend’.
The team calls out to them, deep in the blizzard. Taissa takes a moment to connect and tether herself to her surroundings, guiding a pained Shauna through the milky white violence around them. She can hear Van connect with the storm.
Van wakes up next to a sleeping Tai and takes her oxy. She hasn’t recovered either, and with Tai’s ‘other’ self now awake, they have miles to go before they sleep.
From one trance to another, Lottie puts Natalie under. She allows her to revisit the last time she’d seen Travis alive. A beach, an infidelity, and an overdose were all that Natalie needed to see a reality where nobody made it out alive on that plane.
Natalie was right. Whatever darkness was out there and in all of them still resides.
Out in the cold and dark, Shauna and Taissa still trudge along until they appear at the cabin’s doorstep and not a moment too soon. Danzig’s “Mother” fires up along with one expectant scream. Bundle up. It’s going to be a long night.
It’s precisely half-time in the game. With Van up to speed on the shit show that is Tai’s returning somnambulism, Lottie excising Natalie’s demons to better tango with her own, Shauna tossing a bit of obfuscation onto her trail and Misty injecting herself into the muck and mire, the stakes haven’t been higher.
Though the cinematography has been consistently exceptional, the portrayal of a blizzard and the opaque nature of sight (or lack thereof) was a thing of beauty. The cutaway from the blizzard to ‘snow’ on the present day on Van’s tv screen was hauntingly brilliant.
Serving as the interlude, this episode was the right amount of calm before the literal storm. It was all gestating before it does what these girls do best—kick into high gear. It gives more backstory on Misty and the lengths she will go to feel wanted and needed. At this juncture, we’re made acutely aware that the woods haven’t changed the DNA in anybody but rather underlined and amplified what was already in them.