The last episode left off to where audiences were perversely hoping it might have intimated from the Pilot. The stakes are high and the morale has gone low. With one down from the squad, they are at the mercy of the away team. Some positions may need to be shifted, for better or worse. Maybe a red card ain’t looking so bad, now.
Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is teased mercilessly by the ‘guilt ghost’ of Jackie (Ella Purnell) in the provisions shed. The pickings are slim and they’re in the dead of winter. The only thing not dead in the shed is Shauna’s deep-seated issues.
Lottie (Courtney Eaton) is the only one backing Shauna’s journey and people are having enough of ‘the other sick one’ making excuses for someone who in their estimation isn’t doing too hot. Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) is the one willing to call out everyone on that and for another for shitting in the piss bucket.
Admission of guilt isn’t on the table for anyone present, but with the squad growing hungrier, animosity isn’t something one can simply consume because it functions the other way around.
Jackie’s request to be braided and dolled up only serves to pave one path to Shauna’s subconscious: self-preservation. Jackie offers up a butcher’s sample of her own flesh, lest we forget, who’s truly holding the knife.
In the cabin, Van (Liv Hewson) awakes to find Tai’s gone missing. She chases her down into that cold and dark as her beloved seems to amble with intent, besotted by a vision of the No-Eyed Man. Van intercepts its intent before Taissa takes her final leap, which happens to be right near a rock carved with the now infamous glyph.
Adult Tai (Tawny Cypress) attempts her version of self-care by soaking every fibrous sinew with coffee. As Massive Attack’s ‘Intertia Creeps’ plays, caffeine consumption, working out, and showering still give Tai that oh-so-bedraggled glow.
In the wilderness, her younger self notices Lottie getting along with the girls, including Van. Lottie doesn’t escape the disapproving eye of Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) either, especially when she seems to be interacting with Travis (Kevin Alves) post-panic attack. For the journey, Nat always plans ahead.
Travis maintains to Nat that a spiritual guide isn’t so bad. Natalie surely isn’t buying into the healing power of something beyond actual food and warmth. This is where the two diverge, both in opinion and more crucially in the actual direction.
Natalie may be deft in reading the landscape, but certainly deaf in hearing the nature of her fellow teammates, and with daylight at a critical luxury, they decide on a meetup point.
At the commune of Lottie (Simone Kessell), Natalie (Juliette Lewis) is as skeptical as ever. Despite being kidnapped and tied down, in Lottie’s defense, it was in order to keep a teammate alive. It’s not exactly fair calling what Lottie’s built a cult when Natalie’s been in a place that was only a ‘retreat’ by euphemism.
At home, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) attempts in vain to coax Callie into spending more time together which is met with the usual snark. She only knows her mother’s narrative, nothing of the horrid sacrifices her mother had to experience in the wilderness to keep the both of them alive.
Elsewhere, grown Misty (Christina Ricci) tries to get a hold of Taissa to no avail. Misty’s sadly the last to know while also being the first one to the scene and utilizes the only avenue where cunning matters more than appearance—the message boards.
She wants to hack into a security camera and one answer bears fruit she can take a bite into, but it also calls for her to swallow her pride first—a pill without water.
Emerging, Shauna doesn’t get too much time to warm up at the fire before Taissa turns up the burners quickly, demanding answers.
Tai demands the cremation of Jackie to cease the madness- for the sake of the team, for the sake of Shauna’s baby. Even with Lottie in her corner, Shauna’s got no standing to put the kibosh on this.
Out of the woods but into the fire, home life isn’t less chaotic for the poor woman. Old pal Detective Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) makes an unexpected visit. With Cassie eavesdropping, he casts out the news of Adam Martin’s disappearance as if expecting a nibble. Callie interrupts and averts the questioning. Her mother’s floundering and Callie doesn’t want to end in a fish fry. Not yet, at least.
Even with a thank you to her daughter, Shauna can’t help but lie deftly to her face. She may not have the spitfire of Natalie, the ferocity of Taissa, the craftiness of Misty, nor the newfound zen of Lottie, but Shauna isn’t just some geek off the street.
The wilderness carved her into a survivor with a varied skill set, which possibly makes her the strongest. Like a Swiss army knife.
At her job, Misty notices a new entrant (Elijah Wood), wheeling his mother into the building. They make eye contact with an extra smirk pursed on his lips before he passes her, prompting Misty to grab her lunch. There, she finds a letter addressed to her, both sides blank. Most of us can see where this is headed, even though Misty yet cannot.
With a beacon setting, Travis meets Natalie only to find something he wasn’t expecting. Natalie did find something. A pair of blood-soaked shorts. The shorts were compliments of Javi’s suitcase and the blood compliments hers.
Yes, this is fucked up. It manipulates Travis into her arms. It bleeds him of hope. It also, however, cuts the intention down to pure survival, which means a larger focus on food in one more person and less focus on someone that maybe already dead.
At the commune, certain things need to come out, and it’s time for Lottie to reveal all. On the night of Travis’ (Andres Soto) death, he reached out to Lottie, convinced the wilderness was after him. She took note and went to see him.
He wanted to get as close to death as possible, convinced it worked for her and Van. She kept vigil but fell asleep. Calling Natalie wasn’t an option Travis wanted, citing it would only make things worse.
He left before Lottie could wake up, leaving instructions for accessing his bank account, only leaving the note to ‘Tell Nat She Was Right.’ This led Lottie to the ranch where he worked. She was greeted by him, candles lit in the shape of the symbol they all knew to accept or fear.
The plan, a la Flatliners was to see what was on the other side and to confront it before coming back. Though hesitant, Lottie had no choice. The only problem was letting him down. The damn thing jammed and Travis was dead but a few feet off the ground.
Natalie, naturally, isn’t convinced, but as the recounting went further, Lottie tried, but then saw death incarnate before her very eyes in the visage of Laura Lee, the first of the true sacrifices of the woods. Meanwhile, Travis is being hoisted up further.
Before ya know it and bob’s your uncle, Laura Lee disintegrates, leaving Lottie to notice Travis fully strung. This will marinate Natalie for a moment, but before she can plead her innocence, she lashes out at Lottie for her track record of failing to save souls.
This ain’t flying with Natalie whatsoever, but to be fair, neither did Laura Lee back home. I don’t believe that was by any fault of Lottie’s. Though Natalie plans to expose her former teammate, she’ll have to spend the night.
At Tai’s house, the door is chain-locked, and she passes out. The body can only take so much, and cannot survive without the mind. Simone gets in, but Sammy’s nowhere to be found with his bedroom window open. Time for a hunt.
As the pyre is prepared, the issue of Jackie’s clothes is brought up but is immediately put down. Lottie lets her keep Jackie’s necklace and covers up the chunk taken out of her arm. Lottie sees something the others don’t.
At the bar, Cassie and her friend order a bunch of drinks before the hurt notices a guy at the bar checking her out and before she can say another round, starts flirting with him. His story of separated parents resonates with her situation, she spills the beans on her mother cheating on daddy.
As the final kindling has lain, Nat and Travis arrive from the trek only to find a scene too surreal for comfort. Lottie swears she can feel Javi’s still alive, but before Natalie can kiss her fist with Lottie’s lips, Shauna approaches with the flame.
With few words spent, but all heartfelt, the fire is started. Fuck Superman, this one is truly the funeral for a friend. Travis takes the time to say goodbye to his brother as well, only providing warmth for the deceased. Even Taissa comforts her as they all hunker down for the night.
In her cabin for the night, Natalie lays her head down to sleep but not before seeing a flashback of her own—possibly the first time she overdosed.
Misty cleans her bird cage with a UV light, and the lightbulb in her head goes off. The voiceover is clearly Mr. Wood’s character and identifies a man he’s set up for more information and extends his hand on an interrogation date, of sorts. Something has me already shipping them, but it’s too preliminary to call.
At the police station, the guy that flirted with Callie, Matt (John Reynolds) informs partner Kevyn of what he’s gleaned. Kevyn knows it’s not entirely above board to ply an underage with alcohol, but my guy’s only a first year, suspecting that Adam might be at the root of the affair. Kevyn wants to tiptoe on that tightrope, but you know rookies do just the opposite, right, Kevvy?
After the shit show of a day they’ve had, Travis comforts Natalie, unknowing that she may feel regret about earlier and they go at it. She accepts, unaware of what’s on his mind. To be fair, he’s got nobody and she’s got what she wanted.
That’s where things get a bit tricky in these woods that are lovely dark and deep. They fuck, but he’s thinking about the healing of Lottie. The more her comforting gestures mimic his, the more invested he gets in the act itself. To be fair, I don’t know if he feels protected by Lottie or is turned on by her.
Consummating, it seems as though Lottie is watching them. Out goes the candles and a presence through the trees violently shakes the snow from above onto Jackie’s body.
On the drive to find Sammy, Simone gets a call. I never trust scenes in cars with dialogue. Simone gets a phone call that Sammy’s been at school the entire time and has been waiting for a pick-up. It certainly further fucked up Simone’s opinion of their chances until she gets help, but her rage gets the better of her and throws pedal to her mettle, t-boning an SUV. (Nothing good comes from vehicle scenes).
Something awakes the cabin. It’s the sound of the fury. They all go outside, where the snow preserved Jackie, nearly to a perfectly cooked platter. This may not be the woods taking but rather giving…
It’s just a matter of time before this led up to an inevitability. How it went down was the haunting part.
In the final minutes, what goes off is what is imagined in their minds (a bacchanalian feast with all kinds of food). They all consume Jackie at the unborn’s behest. It’s actually a well-crafted scene of how the body will take over in survival mode with the mind compensating for the rest. Radiohead’s “Climbing Up the Walls” only helped to secure this fête as a future iconic set piece of the series, even as Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) shudders at the sight. Will he be next on the now not-so-proverbial chopping block?
Will Callie give up some ghost before the rest of the team can rally together, or was she already born into fealty and ultimately will be their winning goal in PK time?
She rang the dinner bell, after all.