Since season 1, the psychological mysteries of the wilderness and what exactly happened in the aftermath of the plane crash has been at the forefront of Yellowjackets, even when it appeared in vague terms. Lottie has held the answers, both as a teenager and now as an adult, and season 2, episode 2, “Edible Complex,” finally gives us some insight into her powers, which have become the key to the many secrets that have plagued our main characters in both timelines.
Back in the wilderness, Natalie and Travis continue to be at odds with one another, mostly due to his grief over his missing younger brother Javi and the Lottie-sized wedge in their beliefs about his fate. Natalie’s frustrations with Lottie’s role in their newly formed society come to the surface as she questions how Lottie has been anointed as their leader while Natalie and Travis are the ones providing food for the group. Travis shrugs it off, saying that everyone has a role to play. You can tell that this pisses Natalie off, further driving her to commit an evil deed that she’ll surely regret: while she and Travis split up in their hunt, Natalie cuts her leg to smear blood on one of Javi’s garments and presents it to Travis when they reunite. She claims to have found it hanging on a branch, spelling out his supposed demise and absolutely crushing Travis in the process.
Lottie, of course, says she still feels that Javi is alive and keeps Travis’s hopes up. (And if you’ve ever participated in television discourse, you’ll know that a character is never really dead until you see it happen in-frame.) Natalie and Travis finally sleep together by the end of the episode, but he’s consumed by visions of an angelic Lottie mid-hook-up, which may explain why she ends up being the last person to see him alive 25 years later.
According to Adult Lottie, Travis called her the night he died saying that the wilderness was calling him and the only way to battle the summons of that mysterious symbol was to hang himself on a crane and speak to the emblem while in a state of low consciousness. At first, Lottie declines to help but upon his insistence, she says she’ll stand by on the condition that she will lower him as soon as he goes fully unconscious. But when it happens, the button on the crane’s remote malfunctions and Lottie can’t save him. It feels like Lottie isn’t telling the whole story, especially as we see some of her disturbing visions that follow—including a statue engulfed in fire and possessed woman in the attic who quickly turns demonic (and looks eerily similar to their deceased hyper-religious teammate Laura Lee)—which seem to be straight out of a horror film.
Adult Misty has become a Reddit Warrior in the 2021 timeline, adding levity to the new season. While she’s trying to throw people off the scent of Shauna’s murderous actions, her protective instincts have only created a target on her back as another citizen detective has caught on to her schemes. The two amateur investigators play their own little cat and mouse game that begins with a blank note left in the office fridge at Misty’s job and ends with her deciphering the message with a blue light, which reveals the other Reddit enthusiast knows exactly who Misty is and her involvement with Adam’s disappearance. While we haven’t explicitly put a face to the name yet, we know Elijah Wood is joining the cast and we get a brief glimpse of his as-yet unnamed character at Misty’s job.
The two Yellowjackets I’m most worried about are Shauna and Taissa, both of whom are hiding secrets from loved ones and just generally not coping well in the present day. Taissa is slowly unraveling and doing her damndest to not fall asleep, knowing that her demons often come out when she’s in slumber (early in the episode in the wilderness, we see her almost sleepwalk off of a cliff before Van saves her). The camera angles portray her tilted state, capturing her from odd perspectives as she guzzles coffee, works out, and fights her body’s needs. But it’s all for nought: she hallucinates that her son Sammy walked to her house to play with their new dog. She immediately calls Simone who rushes over to pick him up, only to find that he’s not there, but his bedroom window is open.
The estranged spouses get in the car to search for Sammy when Simone gets a call from his school, where he’s been waiting for two hours for someone to pick him up. It’s the last straw for Simone, who yet again urges Taissa to get help. Tawny Cypress perfects Taissa’s tortured psyche as an evil look takes over her face—but it’s gone in an instant when they’re hit by another car. Normally I’m able to suss out an impending car crash from the second that two characters are distracted behind the wheel, but this one took me by surprise given all of the other psychological and supernatural factors. The crash seemed to hit Simone’s side of the car and her fate hasn’t been revealed, but adding full custody of Sammy (who could have his own potential demons) to Taissa’s plate could make things even messier.
Meanwhile, Shauna’s connection to Adam has been sniffed out by her former classmate and local cop Kevyn Tan (Alex Wyndham), who pays a visit to their home to question how well the two knew each other. Melanie Lynskey is so good at playing the ever-polite, damsel in distress facade of Shauna even as she continues to fail at covering up her crime by getting caught in a web of smaller lies. Callie saves Shauna with a fake excuse about a mother-daughter shopping trip, but doesn’t hide her disdain as soon as the police leave their house. Instead, Callie goes to a local pub and strikes up conversation with an older man who goes by “Jay” (played by John Reynolds from Search Party fame) who connects with her about living in a small town and having a difficult relationship with his parents. I thought this could be the Javi answer we’ve all been looking for, but was quickly proven wrong when “Jay,” actually an undercover cop, appears at the police station in the very next scene telling Kevin that Callie admitted to her mom’s affair. I wasn’t expecting the police to be circling Shauna so quickly, but I guess our girl wasn’t exactly discreet.
Teen Shauna continues to deal with the grief of Jackie’s death, finally allowing her body to be laid to rest. Because the ground was too hard to be dug up, the team opts to cremate her, though Shauna doesn’t let anyone take Jackie’s clothes. Lottie does lift her necklace and places it around Shauna’s neck as an ongoing emblem and memory of their friendship. They set the pyre ablaze and return to the cabin when a strange, supernatural force takes over.
Yellowjackets’s camera work depicts something more sinister swirling throughout the forest, manifesting in a large gust of wind that pushes snow onto the pyre and puts out the fire on Jackie. Her body somewhat…cooked, Shauna gives the green light we’ve all been waiting for: “She wants us to,” referencing a hallucinated conversation she had with the corpse earlier in the episode. (“It’s time to be honest, Shauna. You’re hungry,” Jackie’s corpse said to Shauna as she applied makeup to her best friend’s face. When Shauna argues that they’re getting by with their foraged meals, Jackie presses, “That’s not what you’re hungry for.”)
Say no more; with Shauna making the first incision, the girls literally dig in without much hesitation. But Yellowjackets doesn’t just descend into cannibalism in the dark. Instead, we’re treated to a literal Thyestean Feast—an event in Greek mythology where Thyestes, a king of Olympia, was served his own children’s flesh by his vengeful twin brother Atreus as revenge for adultery. Thyestes participates unknowingly while drunk, letting out a belch that signified his satisfaction with the meal and loss of self-control.
While we don’t hear burps and belches in “Edible Complex,” we do get a direct nod to Thyestes and the forfeiture of control: the team is cautious at first and then quickly ravenous, ready to devour their friend at a make-believe feast fit for Greek gods. Outfitted in decadent opulence with white togas, gold leafy accents, and dramatic hair and makeup styling, the team sits around a positively overflowing table. Fresh strawberries and oranges, bottles of wine, a perfectly roasted chicken, and a plethora of burning candles set an inviting scene for this fateful moment.
But while the feast is real, the romantic nature of it is false. Intercut between the girls’ shimmering banquet is their reality in which they’re hungrily grabbing at Jackie’s burnt body in the middle of the woods, faces smeared with their friend’s remains. Notably, not everyone participates in the meal: Coach Ben seems disgusted by the turn and retreats to the cabin with a horrified look on his face. If this becomes the team’s main source of food, Coach Ben could be one to watch as a rogue dissident.
Aside from Shauna’s foray into flesh eating at the end of the premiere last week, it’s the first explicit confirmation we’ve gotten about their journey to cannibalism in the series so far. For it to come immediately in season 2 is a welcome push forward of the central narrative, and now that the door has been opened, many questions arise: how do the team’s morals guide them? At what point does the desperation for food lead to violence between the growing factions of the team? Given the ominous hints at a supernatural presence in the woods (that have, for one, kept Jackie’s charred body intact for the eventual feast), what else will they be coaxed into? What role does the symbol play in all of this?
It’s fascinating, though not surprising, that Shauna is the key to unlocking this promised cannibalism in the wilderness. She’s a proven sadist, murdering not just Adam but also the innocent rabbit found in her yard, and her relationships—from the one with her high school best friend, to those with her husband and daughter—are all tinged with both jealousy and guilt. Cannibalism is the gateway to Shauna’s future violent crimes, and violence seems to be her way of holding onto control in situations that are rapidly deteriorating around her. She may have engaged in the Thyestian Feast alongside her peers, but her discontent paints her as Atreus: a mastermind with ulterior motives.
Radhika Menon is a freelance entertainment writer, with a focus on TV and film. Her writing can be found on Vulture, Teen Vogue, Bustle, and more.