Yellowjackets Episode 3 Ponders Normalcy Post-Cannibalism

[Editor’s note: The following review contains spoilers for “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 3, “Digestif.”]

“Once flesh has been tasted, it’s a slippery slope,” “Yellowjackets” showrunner Jonathan Lisco told IndieWire ahead of Season 2.

That’s exactly where our characters find themselves at the top of Season 2, Episode 3, “Digestif,” written by Rich Monahan, Sarah L. Thompson, and Ameni Rozsa and directed by Jeffrey W. Byrd. After waking up in the middle of the night and consuming the cooked remains of a teammate, they must figure out how to move forward.

Refreshingly, “Yellowjackets’ doesn’t dive face first into cannibalism after the consumption of “Luau Jackie“; there’s an immediate reckoning, with each character differently handling the incident, but the girls and Travis (Kevin Alves) aren’t exactly practicing cannibals yet. The episode description on Showtime describes their current feeling as “an unusual hangover,” which is about as on-the-nose as it gets; the memories are fuzzy, the actions were maybe not entirely conscious, and they ate a lot before going back to bed. Nat (Sophie Thatcher) shakes and stares at the body, giving the impression that she maybe did not sleep for the rest of the night. Others emerge bleary-eyed to take in the scene, and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) fully doesn’t remember.

Van (Liv Hewson) reminds Tai, yells at her even, about what happened, saying that Tai couldn’t have been sleepwalking because they interacted and spoke (she also offers the chilling detail that Tai “ate her face” which feels like one detail too many in the moment). “Digestif” reveals a LOT about Tai’s sleepwalking, and by episode’s end it’s not believable that Tai didn’t do this, but the most likely explanation. Our next glimpse of the sleepwalking Taissa is when she sits bolt upright in the middle of the night and easily unties her bonds, waking Van.

“If I let you go, can I come with you?” Van asks. Even if she suspected it, she’s still shocked when the person she’s addressing actually speaks: “Yes. Come.”

As “Tai” speeds into the woods, they have a quick exchange about where they’re going; somewhere unknown, somewhere led to by the man with no eyes, somewhere they only follow “when she lets me.” The “she” is Taissa and the “me” remains a mystery. This conversation is so rapid and so proportionately terrifying, and one of “Yellowjackets”‘ most expedient and chilling reveals. Tai isn’t just sleepwalking; she’s ostensibly dissociating, appearing possessed. The man with no eyes is something that scared her as a child and could be a projection from her subconscious — but that doesn’t explain how she saw him all those years ago, or why she doesn’t identify as herself when in pursuit.

A woman in a white sweater looks into the mirror, her reflection anxious; still from "Yellowjackets"

Tawny Cypress in “Yellowjackets”

Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME

In the present, adult Taissa’s reflection continues to go rogue, this time mouthing the words “go to her” and mapping Van’s bandages onto her face. Whether this is a hallucination, dissociation, or anything else, it’s a tried-and-true horror device that has the desired effect. It’s interesting that the reflection maps out Van’s bandages, which she only seemed to have on for a few weeks after Season 1’s wolf attack. This might just be an easy way of identifying Van without words (and more effective than drawing a scar on one’s cheek), but could it be more than that? Van had those bandages on at least through Doomcoming, a night that unleashed all kinds of energy among the Yellowjackets and in line with their connection to the woods. Did this version of sleepwalking Taissa only come into existence a few months into the wilderness?

Teen Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) tells Lottie (Courtney Eaton) “I just feel so fucked up,” an evergreen thesis for the show. Lottie soothes her by saying that they all ate Jackie, together, like a twisted callback to the team dinners they must have shared before the crash to get excited and nourished before a big game. This leads to Mari’s (Alexa Barajas) demented “Are we having a baby shower?” (was she eavesdropping? Mari STOP) and an uncanny excitement lighting up the girls’ faces in the wake of recent events. The urge to return to normalcy is so palpable, so desperate, that it squashes the absurdity of throwing a party while starving in the wilderness for a baby that no one knows how to care for once it arrives.

Baby shower prep commences with a focus on Misty (Samantha Hanratty) and Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), the group’s resident outcast weirdos who have quickly become best friends. This loosely mirrors what’s happening in the present, when adult Misty (Christina Ricci) teams up with Walter (Elijah Wood) for a citizen detective interrogation. Izman and Wood give quality, magnetic performances, but their characters are obvious offshoots of Misty herself. Walter is especially dubious; he admits to lying to get close to Misty, which Jessica (Rekha Sharma) did in Season 1 with ulterior motives. She spoke to Misty exactly the way she knew this overlooked closet psychopath would want to be addressed, and while Walter might be doing the same either manipulatively or with good intentions — skullduggery is Misty’s love language. Interrogating Randy (Jeff Holman) brings them closer and makes her vulnerable.

Adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) doubles down on feeling fucked up, showing her true colors this episode by pulling a gun on a carjacker and then using it to free her hostage van. Unflinching, she tells the man at the junkyard how difficult it is to peel human skin from flesh, how sweaty people are after they’re killed, and how badly she wants to pull the trigger. There’s a sense that she’s wanted to say all this for years — decades even — without fear of judgment or retribution, as she came to realize that life outside the wilderness would never be as freeing as life in it. “Yellowjackets” continues to underscore that its tormented characters were their truest selves during the most harrowing, unfortunate time in their lives — and that they will never know peace after leaving it behind.

An adult man and woman stand outside a school bus yard, the woman holding a gun at her side; still from "Yellowjackets"

“You’re not Rambo!”

Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME

Food for Thought

  • More on him later, but Coach Scott (Steven Kreuger) is not long for this world. My theory since Season 1 has been that Misty will kill him in a crime of passion but what’s happening now seems so much worse (I also thought he’d be the first one to get eaten, so take that with a grain of salt).
  • (Speaking of salt, I cannot stop thinking about how they ate Jackie unseasoned and I am going to hell for this.)
  • I’m skipping a lot of the present-day storylines because they really feel like treading water. Fingers crossed that literally any of that comes into focus later in the season.
  • The interrogation scene is admittedly hilarious; it’s peak oblivious Randy and also peak unhinged Misty, with Ricci let loose while she hides.
  • I know I wrote about Taissa but I cannot stress enough how worried I am about her (past and present!). Any amount of worry feels insufficient!
  • Very funny that “We’re not out of the woods yet,” the ominous Season 2 tagline, is eventually uttered by…Simone’s nurse.
  • At one point Mari says she hears dripping, which everyone ignores. Why include this if it’s not significant? The cabin has leaks, as we already know, but is this something else? Is she hallucinating the sound of dripping blood?
  • There’s so much going on in this show that we barely have time to acknowledge how hot Kevin Tan is (Alex Wyndham). He’s really hot!
  • “Argument-followed-by-bird-suicide” was not a “Lost” parallel I saw coming. I have no choice but to stan.
  • When Lottie says — almost offhandedly — “We should gather as blessings” about the dead birds, it’s remarkable to watch handful of girls immediately, wordlessly obey this, delivering them at her feet. Lottie’s authority is undeniable, and it’s affecting more and more survivors.
  • Travis’s “You okay man? You seem…weird” to Coach Scott has the same cathartic levity of Coach saying “Holy Christ” in Episode 2 when he finds out what Shauna was doing in the meat shed. This show knows exactly when we need a laugh!
  • For a long time I thought Taissa’s eyes were deliberately tinged red in the present to hint at her dark side; then I met Tawny Cypress and learned that she has stunning blue eyes, so these are contacts. FYI!
  • The end of this episode is one of my favorite and most haunting soundtrack cues all season, and a killer performance from Kessell with exactly zero words. Talk about phenomenal casting.

Grade: B-

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