Yellowjackets – The Dollhouse Review

Sometimes, when you’re weary and wandering in the woods, anything can be a place of refuge… until it’s not. Welcome to the tertiary episode of Yellowjackets (Showtime) titled “The Dollhouse”.

At the crash site, Van (Liv Hewson) shares a few kind words about the deceased. With detritus of the wreckage providing the departed’s only tombstones, all six of the departed have a semi-proper resting place.

Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) leads the living in prayer, igniting a flashback in Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) being a child, watching her dying Nana (BJ Harrison). With this, she breaks from the pack.

Presently, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) has her own problems to deal with, as a new smear ad has hit the airwaves, zeroing in on speculation of her past. Simone (Rukiya Bernard) advises her not to capitulate to the political beast, but rather put that energy toward her son.

Meanwhile, Shauna’s (Melanie Lynskey) watchful eyes are zeroed in on Jeff (Warren Kole). She tests her ‘beloved’ by asking him to pick her up from dropping the van off for repairs around 4, the exact time his mystery text from the last episode asked to meet. He insists work is paramount. At least something fucking comes first in that relationship.

Elsewhere, Natalie (Juliette Lewis) finds little reprieve from Misty’s (Christina Ricci) dating history. At a gas stop, she finds that Misty had torn out her battery cable. Now they have no choice but to be road besties! Misty emerges with chocolate for her road pal and jerky for herself. I’m with Nat on this one- really, Misty, really?

At camp, supplies are VERY scarce, so rationing is key. As Van doles a little out, Travis (Kevin Alves) snatches a whole fucking snack, much to the protestation of the others. Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) reminds them losing his pops entitles him to be a cock for the moment. Even Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) saccharine optimism is wearing thin for the squad… with no rescue for 72-damned-hours!

The dude’s tantrum isn’t without merit, throwing the mini pretzels at Javi (Luciano Leroux) with a tension you could still cut with a knife.

Unsurprisingly upbeat Misty (Sammi Hanratty) insists Coach Scott (Steven Krueger) nibble on something she snagged as part of his pain pill regiment, giving off eery maternal vibes.

Lottie (Courtney Eaton) goes to check her survival kit for the anti-psychotics. She may be down to her last one.

Taissa swoops in with news of a lake some miles away. Jackie still holds out adamant hope of rescue, but those words are fastly falling on deaf ears, so Taissa then puts it to a vote.

Those in favor of waiting for death top out at Jackie, Lottie, Laura Lee, and Mari (Alexa Barajas) while the opposition, including Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), handily outweighs it.

Van jacks the plane’s compass, Shauna indicates their destination on its exterior, Coach Scott is carried out on a makeshift stretcher and off they go to a source of hope stronger than Jackie’s fleeting words.

On the trek, though Jackie rebuffs Shauna’s offer for a sip of water, Taissa is thankful for her vote, though Shauna is in the dark as to whether it was the right call.

Outside of Jeff’s furniture store, Shauna sits and waits like an animal stalking until, gift box in hand, hubby heads to his car and makes a break for it. The hunt is on, leading her to a hotel lobby. To be fair, who the shit didn’t see this coming?

Along their hike, the girls come across the true reality of their surroundings: an eviscerated black bear being picked clean by a turkey vulture. A wolf can kill anything if the pack’s big enough…

At the park with Sammy, Taissa gets a ring from Jessica Roberts (Rekha Sharma). So far, recon shows nobody’s talked, so Taissa wants her to keep digging, lest she is the lucky recipient of an October Surprise. Jessica says fuck integrity, starting with her opponent’s junkie daughter doing three stints in rehab with a buried arrest. Before she can agree, she must first tend to her son’s fit of anger on the playground. Though Taissa apologizes for him, Sammy’s (Aiden Stoxx) eyes hold zero remorse.

In the woods, Van leads the way, but Taissa is acutely aware of someone or something watching.

Taissa plays their son’s tantrum off, but Simone is worried. Apparently, the other kid claimed Taissa was a ‘cannon ball’ so she believes if they must hit back politically, justice begins at home. Taking away Sammy’s doll only incites an infernal stand against his mother. Though reproved, both parents are pretty fucking shaken.

Before the girls could lose all team spirit in the woods, their first real win appears before them: a massive lake. This prompts elation and disrobing, as the hard-earned win takes form in a bit of a swim. Even stick in the mud Travis gets in on the fun, splashing Natalie. Mari questions if Travis, shirtless and wet is turning hot. Natalie silently considers the thought.

Misty and Natalie finally arrive at Travis’s spot in the boonies. After a knock doesn’t suffice, Natalie takes matters into her own elbow, breaking the glass. They survey the house, with Misty going on about Travis possibly having flown over the cuckoo’s nest.

As Misty checks outside, excited about rummaging through his refuse, Natalie scouts about. She finds the only flannel shirt he’d in the wilderness as well as a photo of the both of them from presumably happier days. She suddenly spots his visage in the mirror only to turn around to nothing. Emotion runs high in this one, though her insouciance precludes her from ever showing those cards.

At the lake, while Misty flirts with Coach Scott, Taissa notices Van in the water in more than a friendly way as she braids Akilah’s (Keeya King) hair. Shauna notices Jackie purposefully bonding with Lottie on the beach to make her jealous.

At the house, Misty arrives with a paystub from a ranch, raising flags because the bottle of booze out on his table is rather expensive. The jig is up, however, as they’re caught by local law enforcement since they broke and entered. On their knees with hands up, Natalie has full confidence in having the true upper hand.

On the other hand, luck doesn’t favor Shauna, attempting to blag a keycard to loverboy’s room. Being with Homeland Security isn’t a line that has looks good on her until rakishly handsome Adam (Peter Gadiot) plays along, saving her from a potential scene. He’s there to grab a martini at the bar and invites her to partake. She reluctantly accepts.

Speaking of those in need of a legit bailout, Misty and Natalie are clean in the slammer. Natalie confronts her cohort about her rigging the trip. Misty’s intentions were simple- with two cars, she was fearful Natalie wouldn’t accept her company.

No time for rumination, as Natalie is granted her call.

While Taissa is doing a bit of research on her opponent’s daughter, Natalie reaches out. Turns out that Tai funded her rehab, but this time it’s different. It’s for Travis and though Taissa claims Travi went ghost on purpose, no amount of plaintive words from the jailed can keep Tai from hanging up.

As the girls are having chicken fights, Van notices Taissa noticing her. Among the frivolity, Lottie notices beacon yonder. It’s not her meds wearing off either, as they all notice.

What they find is a moss-covered log cabin. Lottie senses something off about it, but the rest of the girls continue on in to find the walls adorned with cobwebs, deer skulls, and animal pelts. They also find what may be ritualistic candles alongside a bowie knife. The foul stench ain’t making this find any more Disney either.

Scouring the place for anything of use, Jackie comes across food, but after finding it rancid, Jackie doubles down on her wanting to stay by the plane. Oh, baby girl, you may have been the captain but have you kept eyes on your manager? Looks like she may be taking your spot!

Overwhelmed, she darts outside to anoint the gnarly rash on her thigh and let the deep-seated emotions surface. Shauna notices. Van lightens the mood inside by unveiling the big stack of found porn to the girls. This clearly was a hunter’s home, and from Lottie’s gut, maybe not the most kind of spirits.

Travis snags a mag and ventures out into the woods with Javi in tow, wanting to see. Nervously chewing the gum he was commanded to spit out before, big brother puts the ‘lock on him, asserting that their dad, Coach Martinez was a dick. Natalie witnesses this from afar.

With Natalie back in the cage, Misty’s now up for her singular cell.

At the hotel bar, Adam relays his story to Shauna as to why he quit the NYPD to move back to Jersey, but all she can do is keep her eyes fixated on the lobby. He’s concerned.

“We are who we pretend to be. So we must be careful in who we pretend to be.”

Shauna fesses up, grabbing the attraction of Adam even more. In that honest moment, both notice Jeff and a blonde stroll through the lobby. Her cover story is blown and she bluntly asks Adam why he’s there. His honest answer is that something might have drawn him there, as he doesn’t ask the universe where and why he’s needed- he simply heeds the call.

Misty returns victorious, having called Kevyn Tan. He’s been texting with Misty, convinced she’s Natalie because she’s posed as her. Misty merely craves a chat partner on the ride home anyway, but there’s only one problem- going home isn’t on Natalie’s agenda.

As flies begin to pester a very ripe Coach Scott, Shauna tries to make amends with Jackie, citing what’s wrong or right in the wilderness isn’t so black and white.

She’s scared and just wants her best friend, so Jackie offers her bestie some empty words of comfort: the worst is behind them.

That’s when Coach Scott down falls from swatting the flies, cursing the heavens on high for keeping him alive. He backhands Misty as if she were his biggest gadfly, but the outburst doesn’t phase her. The girls firsthand get to see the nurturing nature of one that has been overlooked. The woods know no emotion, so at least someone has to goddamn compensate!

As young Taissa (Bailey Burr) comforts her perishing grandmother, Nana notices a man with no eyes. So does Taissa. This apparition shows as it takes sight.

Adult Taissa attempts to make amends with Sammy. His one simple query is why his own mother isn’t liked. Her diplomatic response speaks volumes of her character and conviction. He knows she isn’t the bad one, but her inquiring who else is has him keeping mum.

This gives her pause just before reaching out to her opponent, notifying him of his daughter’s drug arrest. This is a mere warning shot because, to be honest, the most dangerous people can still rain down terror with one less bullet.

Venturing outside of the cabin at nightfall, Taissa approaches Lottie. The girl has a really bad feeling about the place, but the hell if Taissa is going to let her teammate be devoured by wolves, so in she must go.

It seems as though Shauna takes full advantage of the hotel, as she enters room 2106 with a reluctant Adam advancing inside. Hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em! Mehh, poor choice of words.

That night, something awakes adult Taissa from her slumber, just as it did her teen self that first night in the cabin. A montage reveals all three generations of Taissa being drawn to something she’s feared all along, culminating in a tasty surprise that had Lottie convinced the whole time.

Misty and Natalie approach Willow Brook Ranch. Proceeding inward, they find a strung-up Travis (Andres Soto), causing Natalie to break down. Misty toughens her up for the moment, as they hear sirens in the distance.

On the car ride, Nat’s convinced that Travis didn’t off himself. Misty hands her the last thing he wrote: “TELL NAT SHE WAS RIGHT”.

This episode was a lovely build-up to things that can only go horribly south. The character building with Taissa throughout the years was a nice prelude to horrors on the horizon. Misty’s demure is also something of interest, seeing as though she was never officially on the field in any capacity. If this is their pitch, let’s see if they all play their positions right.

Robert Kijowski
Robert J. Kijowski is a screenwriter who enjoys a good chuckle and an even better weep when indulging in art both good and even better bad. He enjoys the company of strangers in a theatre but adores the camaraderie of friends watching Netflix. He also loves to talk- a lot. This can be read through his recaps and reviews on the Workprint or heard through his weekly movie podcast, After the Credits. His presence can be felt through Facebook, Spotify or Ouija. Don’t use the latter though- he almost always ghosts people.

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