"Yellowjackets" gives Natalie another shot at fulfilling her purpose

BYOB at the sharing shack

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published May 19, 2023 3:05PM (EDT)

Juliette Lewis as Natalie (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)
Juliette Lewis as Natalie (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

The following contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" Season 2, Episode 8, "It Chooses"

Barring murmurs of the possibility of a "bonus" episode for Season 2 of "Yellowjackets" — something hinted at by co-creator Ashley Lyle in March — the finale (we think) is right around the corner. And while it may be hard to imagine how the numerous plot-lines and mysteries we've been obsessing over for the last two months could possibly be tied up in just one (??) remaining installment, the puzzle pieces are starting to come together.

Building off of the framework established in Season 1, we've learned a thing or two about the wilderness and what it wants, primarily via a narrative crafted by one main character, Lottie Matthews (Courtney Eaton/Simone Kessell) who — in both the '90s and present-ish day timelines — has vacillated between believing and disbelieving her own woo-woo spookiness as much as we the viewers have. But belief is a sticky thing.  

Just like a bullet can be fired into another person's flesh, a belief can be planted into another person's mind.

Like a loaded rifle or a hunting knife, belief is innocuous when the safety's on or when the blade is sheathed. Present, but dormant, it relies on a need for it to be called into use. Without a need to put a belief into motion, it affects only the person who holds it, but when engaged via a wide variety of variables (fear, sadness, ego, etc.) it can often lead to dangerous scenarios. Just like a bullet can be fired into another person's flesh, a belief can be planted into another person's mind.

Whether Lottie truly and consistently believes that the wilderness wants one of them to die doesn't matter, because she's gotten everyone else to believe it, so it's going to happen. It's just a question of how, who and for what purpose. 

With this season coming to an end, it feels like a perfect time to revisit the previous one and gather up any little nuggets (RIP) in an effort to better tie them together with everything we've more recently been shown. Doing just that over the past few days, a few specific things jumped out at me. 

In the Season 1 pilot, where we meet adult Natalie (Juliette Lewis) for the first time, she's participating in a group therapy session at the rehab she's about to check out of. Dressed in a purple cardigan — which didn't stand out then, but sure does now — she opens up about feeling as though she's lost her purpose after being rescued from the wilderness. 

Later in that same episode, during a scene in the '90s timeline in which the Yellowjackets are partying in the woods the night before leaving for the flight to compete in nationals that never actually makes it there, teen Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) sees Misty (Samantha Hanratty) standing near some trees staring at her, although she wasn't actually present at that party. Showrunners have hinted that this particular scene would make sense later, and I believe it does now. As does the mention of "purpose."

(L-R): Luciano Leroux as Javi and Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)In Episode 8 — perfectly titled "It Chooses" — teen Natalie cheats death. And while it wasn't the first time (plane crash) and won't be the last (OD, suicide attempt) this time it was aided by Misty and will be the time that haunts her the most as the instance in which she didn't give the wilderness what it wanted. She didn't fulfill her "purpose."

After being pummeled to a pulp by Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) in Episode 7, Lottie (Courtney Eaton) is peeing blood from a likely kidney infection and her body won't be able to recover without proper sustenance. Natalie, Ben (Steven Krueger) and a few of the others don't much care, but a plan is put in motion nonetheless. Lottie's not the only one on the verge of death. 

In an extension of a practice already in use — drawing cards to determine who does what chore — everyone circles up for a darker game of chance where whoever pulls the Queen of Hearts will be killed and eaten, ensuring survival (at least from starvation) for awhile longer. Natalie pulls this card, but Travis (Kevin Alves) intervenes, allowing Natalie to flee the cabin and sending his brother Javi (Luciano Leroux) out to protect her from the others as they attempt to hunt her down. 

Natalie survives. Javi doesn't.

Twenty-five years later, in a conversation we see take place with Lisa (Nicole Maines) at Lottie's "intentional community" in Episode 6, "Qui," Natalie talks about ruining people and having done things back in the wilderness to survive that makes her think she doesn't deserve to. It seems likely that letting Javi die although she was the one who was chosen to factors into these sentiments.

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As we're shown the events that lead to Natalie's survival and Javi's death in the '90s, the adult Yellowjackets are told about them by Lottie while spilling all their darkest secrets in her "sharing shack."

"None of that was real, Lottie," Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) says, a reminder that even as theories are being built on what we're hearing and seeing in these episodes, there's no guarantee that any of it actually happened, or is happening. 

Believing, once again, that the darkness in their lives will only be abated by giving the wilderness what it wants, one of them, Lottie suggests that they drink from a circle of cups, one of which contains Phenobarbital — the same medication used by the Heaven's Gate cult to enable mass suicide in 1997, as Misty points out.  

"We don't get to choose. It chooses," Lottie says. And as the episode ends before any of them take a drink, we don't yet know if Natalie, this time, fulfills her purpose. 


  • If Natalie doesn't end up dying in the finale, I still think Van, Callie or even Jeff are good possibilities. After Jeff's nightmare about Shauna killing him with her electric kitchen knife hands it seems like he may be considering leading the cops to her, which would put a lot of extra people in Lottie's proximity, which doesn't seem like a good place to be right now.
  • Which seems worse, belt soup or Nugget jerky?
  • Tai's teen "other" is somehow even scarier than her adult "other."
  • What is Walter up to? Notice the purple coat he pulled out of his closet? 
  • Oh God, so there are underground tunnels. Poor Ben with his winterized crutches. What the hell is he gonna find in there?
  • What if next week's finale ends with another dead dog? I don't think I could take it if Steve dies too. 

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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