We open in on the grisly aftermath of our feast. Picked clean to the bone, Jackie drips the remnant of her remains to give an almost musical beat. Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) thinks back to a happier time through the seeming rewinding of a tape.
Spending a casual night with his boyfriend Paul is Ben’s bliss inside his living nightmare. He’s traumatized from last night’s events, and he’s not exactly alone.
Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) isn’t exactly at grips with Jackie’s state of being, but Van (Liv Hewson) snaps her back to reality. They all, save for Ben, partook at the feeding trough. Additionally, Taissa wasn’t sleepwalking. In these woods, if denial is luxury, then acceptance is the gift.
This is true for the rest of the squad, who are feeling internally more than a little funny. Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) steps up and steps in to take the remains to the airplane, to be buried like the others when the ground thaws. Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is too numb to care. Just because they’re accepting doesn’t mean they’re any less shaken, including Lottie (Courtney Eaton).
Now, Lottie (Simone Kessell) is attempting to help others in a session. Natalie (Juliette Lewis) peeks in, but moves along to tour the grounds. She notices Lottie’s flock, if you will, clad in self-harvested purple dyes, until coming across a cabin with Lottie’s horns adorning it.
She also crosses Lisa (Nicole Maines) about to slaughter a chicken. Even with an axe in her victim’s hand, Natalie seems fearless. As Natalie continues on, we notice a bit of blood seep into the moss of a nearby tree. Maybe Travis was right: nature is finally coming for them.
In a haze, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) comes to after experiencing a little bit of a hallucination. They’re not exactly stable with Simone, but the nurse did comment on the infamous glyph adorning her beloved’s palm. Ostensibly not privy to this happening, Tai immediately wipes the ‘good luck’ symbol from the palm… but ya can’t wipe it from existence…
Elsewhere, with Veruca Salt’s “Seether” as a backing, Misty (Christina Ricci) heads to the docks only to find Walter (Elijah Wood) on his boat. Turns out he simply wanted to work a case with the much-vaunted African Grey, but she demands to interrogate since it’s her case and her witness, but Misty books it onto his boat.
Their interrogee is someone she knows: Randy Walsh (Jeff Holman). Remember, good ole Randy from last season? The asshole from high school they all know that turns out to be a go-nowhere in life schlep. Let the Cyrano-ing begin.
Hubby Jeff (Warren Kole) confronts Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) about why she had to go and have an affair with an artist. It was less his denial of ‘strawberry lube’ in the past and more the person he’s become after she claimed he was no fun.
Shauna assures him that the affair was less about Jeff and more about the excitement of the unknown itself. It was a departure from what she is in now, which is safe and sound, and a mother with a husband in a good house in a decent town, Wiskayok.
Sadly, in a lot of well-to-do suburban Jersey towns, I’ve gotten the feeling that being well-to-do and safe isn’t enough. To be fair, what is a better rush than to get out there and test your mettle?
Driving back, Jeff gets a fucking wild hair up his ass and makes a detour. He’s got Colonial Williamsburg (what?) on his mind. Granted, he’s out of his mind, but the decision to be more impulsive isn’t on his side, since he almost hits someone, and is nearly shot before Shauna can wrestle the gun from the carjacker. They still got their car stolen.
The one thing more stolen though was Shauna’s feigned acceptance of getting out of the woods. She now operates at a high level of adrenaline and anything less would be failing. This puts her marriage, despite the affair at a huge loss, as he’s now thinking something happened in those woods she may never come back from.
Her purse and pocket change are the least of Jeff’s worries. It’s Callie’s beloved stuffed toy. If we now are armed with any knowledge, it’s that Shauna would burn the entire Garden State down if it meant Callie could live so she could breathe.
At the commune, Lottie shows Nat something interesting: their original beehive. She extols how important the queen is in the hive. Natalie doesn’t take her words to heart until they talk about the beautiful brutality of nature. If there isn’t any of it, everybody starves.
In the wilderness, teen Natalie prepares for the trek to the airplane. She doesn’t accept the prayer blood tea from Lottie and doesn’t accept the companionship of Travis (Kevin Alves).
Shauna seems ripped from herself for the moment, but Lottie comforts her. What bothers Shauna is that she wanted to partake. They all partook though and Lottie wants to hold a ceremony to welcome ‘him’. The word didn’t escape Shauna, but Lottie skirts by it as ‘for her.’
Misty (Sammi Hanratty) signs off on a baby shower, as is the rest of them.
It is a healing of the group and an exercise in community… sound familiar, Lottie?
With Randy now in the hot seat and Misty feeding Walter lines as she’s checking his onboard medicine cabinet (clever girl), when it comes to not getting an answer to her liking, Cyrano is resorting to violence. She claims that the guy was a bully so won’t cave until it’s met with violence. Boy, this girl is confident…
Teen Taissa and another teammate prepare the baby’s crib, and the other teammate talks about how she’d do anything to see her sister’s baby again. Hint hint, Tai. Take the night off and digest it, if you know what I mean.
Mari (Alexa Barajas) made a nice, if not violently abstract dream maker, but hears constant drips. Lottie’s sewing a quilt. Misty reveals to Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) that her process isn’t working with the group. That’s when Crystal reveals her actor secrets about being a different person. She also reveals she’s absorbed her identical twin in the womb, so consuming another makes her feel like they are channeling another.
Misty’s perfect gift is literally staring her in the face.
Ben hobbled in imagining that the team is after him. This prompts his mind in rewind mode to go back to his big night in the kitchen, where the makeout was the aperitif. In his mind, what made Paul the dessert was Ben moving in and forgetting about states and ultimately Nationals… so this would be the second course in destruction. Bon appétit!
Ben, however, seemed to make excuses and be uncomfortable with what is really at the center of it all. He’s uncomfortable outing himself in a high school faculty. That wasn’t a dream. His failure to his boyfriend is letting him delve deeper into a catatonic state.
Teen Natalie goes back to that frosted tube that is the first home they had, the airplane, and tries to make peace with Jackie. She seems to only be vulnerable to the dead lain before but considers Jackie lucky. Surviving is a living death to her. This is sad but fitting, given her stints in rehab.
This is also foreboding as Jackie encounters a dangerous bounty: a white moose. This big-time boy would have them survive for a long time, but before trying to gore her, she’s only saved by the constraints of the plane door.
Still alive, but without any food, she is hanging on by a needle’s drop (you get it). If she took the drink Lottie offered or Travis, maybe things would have worked out differently. She is, though, after all, at the mercy of nature, maybe the one thing pure.
Misty ramps it up a bit, with Walter going for a more direct approach with an automatic saw. It’s his own, which raises some questions, but he gets an answer because Misty goes harder.
They were wearing all purple and he only noticed because they took all the fantasy from the vending machine. Walter cuts him loose but with a warning.
That night, Crystal and Misty have a powwow about acting. In the failure of character, therein lies the truth. We’re all made of lies.
Later on, Taissa breaks free, but Van (Liv Hewson) asks to follow her. Taissa allows it. It leads them to the glyph at the edge of a rock Taissa was about to jump off last time. Before she can go fully to it, Tai snaps into the cold and dead, finding the symbol. She still has no idea what it means, but she still gives Van a glimpse into the One With No Eyes… only if Taissa lets her. Hmmm. Is this a case of D.I.D. or possession? Tai might actually know who that being is, however.
Back at the gym, Jeff is pumping iron. I guess he’s trying to take out his frustration or feel like a man, and the latter might be truer as he sees Kevyn (Alex Wyndham). Jeff tries to aggressively exonerate his wife from someone he once derided in high school. It’s classic jock-to-outsider syndrome, via high school insecurity.
Speaking of standing up, Shauna then gets a ride to a chop shop. She proceeds to hold up the manager at gunpoint but reveals that she’s not scared and she’d kill him for a stupid minivan. The one thing that stays in her head is the kill. The first time was protection. The next time would be for fun and she doesn’t want to lose her soul… so she ends up with her van back, yet not for anything else but for her daughter and her stuffed animal.
She also has a monologue where it makes me think that Shauna may be the queen of the squad in the woods. She has everything in her life, but she’s given up so much to have the team back home, namely the star player, her daughter. So don’t fuck with her.
In Ben’s dream, he quit the team and accepted his nature. He wants to say fuck everybody else and imagines in his tortured cabin bed that the rest of them would have just perished. He’s pretty sure he’ll die. I think he’s made peace with it, but regrets are already in tow. Maybe he’s written his own eulogy.
Now it’s time for gifts, and though Van created something, Misty went with something performative, which not only entertains for morale but helps in the long run… a monologue from Steel Magnolia. Her coming out and getting out of her shell helps her in her adult life. It’s the defining moment.
Travis isn’t having it but notices Ben’s in a bad way. It’s morbid, but meat goes rotten in different ways. It also shows Misty growing up in front of their eyes. Becoming something new. And it was impressive and it encapsulated what they all felt.
In the now, Taissa is trying to process her hurt with pills in the hospital. The only thing is in the bathroom, her other side rears itself and she can finally see it in the mirror. Maybe the two sides are splitting, but something in her fears it. It’s nearing Van, who lost her eye. Through a Lynchian lens, Van knows where she wants to go.
Misty knows Walter can’t be of use before she knows that Fanta could link the group to an address. Yeah, fuck quarters, the refuge of the ones that don’t want to be found can be found.
She can also read people, but maybe Misty has someone, leaving the unshakeable shaken.
Callie’s only comfort is delivered and Shauna has to answer as to how Van is back. She’s stirred, not shaken.
At Lottie’s session, she finally calls up Natalie with her victim. This is to see if Lisa wants to resort to violence if she was vengeful. She wasn’t. She was Acceptful.
Remember what I said about being acceptable to thine own hand? Is denial a luxury? Honoring is the height of whatever comes, comes at a price. It’s called ego.
Lottie knits a blanket for the baby but with the glyph sewn in. Natalie doesn’t accept the gift because of it. A fight ensues with the blood from Shauna’s nose being at the forefront of it. Never mind the fact that most of the team back Lottie, but a new phenomenon happens. The actual murder of on top of their house. Of crows. She suggests they should round them up as blessings. They all follow her lead.
As Lottie in her commune finds the bees of her hive dead and mired by blood, dripping from the hives, she slightly freaks out before another invites her to lunch. There is no blood. Maybe nature is coming for her.
If what Travis says about finding true nature is getting as close to death as possible, all girls have it in them. Shauna perhaps most of all in ways that she’s not fully aware of. Nobody can be truly out of the woods.
To help you digestif something, it requires a bit of bitterness. Just the way it’s played. It calms the stomach, it’s just not the taste you want unless you’re accustomed to it. The botanicals, especially adorned on Shauna’s head explain a hard pill to swallow. Which they all do.
It goes down as hard as your swallow it. It tastes pretty much like medicine… but maybe it is.