"Yellowjackets" destroys both the tiger and the cage in its shocking second season finale

The wilderness has officially landed on a lot of people's blacklist

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published May 26, 2023 3:05PM (EDT)

Sarah Desjardins as Callie Sadecki (Kimberley French/SHOWTIME)
Sarah Desjardins as Callie Sadecki (Kimberley French/SHOWTIME)

The following contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" Season 2, Episode 9, "Storytelling"

When "Yellowjackets" debuted its pilot episode in 2021, its use of a dual timeline to introduce the series' core characters as teens, and then as adults, caused viewers to worry about the safety of people already shown to have survived the worrisome thing. 

Over the course of the episodes leading up to the Season 2 finale, we came to understand the literal and figurative ways in which we were right to be concerned. Witnessing most of the '90s Yellowjackets make it through 19 months trapped in remote Canadian wilderness by sacrificing the goodness innate to youth — both outwardly as well as inwardly — they made it possible for their adult selves to live, not knowing, but maybe sensing somewhere deep inside, that there would come a day when it would become too burdensome to push away the feeling that they didn't deserve to. 

The gift of youth is feeling like death is just a possibility. The curse of adulthood is living long enough to experience the possibility of death switch over to a looming inevitability. So in that sense, when teen Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) appears at the side of her adult self (Juliette Lewis) at the time of her death and says, "This is exactly where we belong, we've been here for years," it's not meant to be sad or spooky. It's delivered as the last sentence of a story that wrote itself while she was still believing that something as insignificant to death as "the wilderness" could maybe, possibly, have had other plans. Especially for its favorite. 

Out of all of the adult Yellowjackets who could have died in this finale as the big gut punch we knew was coming, Natalie wanted it the most but deserved it the least. Unable to move past her own methods of survival, which were minimal, if not even helpful compared to the others, she saw forgiveness as a "nice idea" that she dare not seek out for herself.

No one else has even thought to bother. 

Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) — saved from going to prison after murdering Adam (Peter Gadiot) and then hot-potatoing responsibility for it to everyone in her life that she possibly could — has shown no remorse for crimes committed in the wilderness as a teen nor in her hunting ground of suburban New Jersey as an adult. Top that with the fact that she avoided prison only because Misty's new boyfriend (shudder) Walter Tattersall (Elijah Wood) had the wherewithal to clean up after her for no other conceivable reason but to spend some quality Citizen Detective time with the woman who would have gladly killed her herself had she known how this would all shake out. Double top that with a sprinkle of nugget (RIP) and a drizzle of strawberry lube for the stink eye she gave her own daughter, Callie (Sarah Desjardins), in what read as jealousy for, what, her growing up to be someone who saves people rather than killing them out of desperation, fear or a way to avoid the boredom of hijacked domesticity?

Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

Tawny Cypress, who plays adult Taissa, has been issuing warnings via press that many people will be angry after watching this episode, and she's right. Her character – same as Shauna, Misty (Who USED TO BE my favorite), Van (Lauren Ambrose) and Lottie (Simone Kessell) – is more deserving of the demise that befell the wilderness' true

Tawny Cypress, who plays adult Taissa, has been issuing warnings via press that many people will be angry after watching this episode, and she's right.

champion come home, who, out of necessity only, hunted and fed with an honor greater than the phony one shoved off on her after the "antler queen" found her crown to be too heavy. And sure, Natalie really did a number on Travis (Kevin Alves and Andres Soto) and let Javi (Luciano Leroux) die to save her own ass, but everyone makes mistakes, and at least she felt bad about them. 

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More than any other episode in this series to date, "Storytelling" dropped and walked away from the idea that the "it" Lottie chased after (until it became inconvenient) and insisted was inside everyone was anything other than a tool used to spread delusion. 

"You know there's no it, right?" Shauna said while dodging her former teammates after pulling the dreaded Queen of Hearts in Lottie's curtain call ceremony (for now) before being wheeled back to the nut house.  

"Is there a difference?" 

The answer to that is yes and no. 

Whether there is a supernatural woo-woo "it" that followed these ladies home from the woods and wants them to do bad things in its name or not (I'm leaning back towards not. This will change) — "its" don't suffer consequences. People do. So that's the difference.

In this finale, the consequence of a narrative that began with Lottie and infiltrated the hearts and minds of a group of people who would otherwise just have been friends — minus one plane crash — was the death of Natalie. And while the remaining characters will quickly recover from the loss after doing whatever it is they normally do to make themselves feel better (kill someone, abandon dogs and family members to die, etc.) Lottie will be left to simmer in that consequence, once she's fully medicated again. 

Goodbye, Sunshine Honey's Wellness Community.

Goodbye, wilderness cabin, with the blazing fire set by Ben (Steven Krueger) sending smoke into the dark Canadian sky, up and over the city lights just beyond. 

And goodbye, Natalie. Gone too soon. A few times.


  • Kevyn Tan (Alex Wyndham) and Matt Saracusa (John Reynolds) were the least enjoyable narrative tools this season. ACAB. I'm glad Kevyn is dead. He was a d**k to Jeff (Warren Kole), and it serves him right for accepting a mug of cocoa from a man singing a song about clowns. 
  • Travis taking a nibble out of his brother's carved-out heart was very goth. And very sad.
  • Callie shooting Lottie in the arm and Lottie being like "Oh, hey!"
  • Not Shauna scribbling in her journal about the wilderness not picking her to take over for Lottie, AND THEN bringing her best friend, who she KILLED AND ATE, into the mix. I'm mad at you. Don't talk to me for one year. Longer, if this writers strike continues.
  • "I thought it wanted what was best for us, now I'm not so sure," – Lottie, a completely full of s**t person for nearly her entire life.
  • Ben really did just steal matches and an axe from a bunch of teenagers, burn their only shelter down, and then flee into the night. Flash-forward to his high calorie butt meat being the first course on next season's menu.
  • I hope Lisa (Nicole Maines) comes back for her f**king fish. 
  • Related to the above, there's a very sad new message on the Sunshine Honey hotline.
  • "I'm a lifelong asthmatic," – Walter.
  • The implication that Van's cancer was magically cured because Natalie was given over to the hungry "wilderness." . . . OK. 
  • Anyone notice how Shauna never once came close to even pretending to hug or otherwise comfort her daughter in this episode? Much less thank her for saving her life.
  • The use of Nouvelle Vague's cover of Echo & the Bunnymen's "Killing Moon" was so perfect in the scene where everyone was giving tribute to Natalie in the cabin. 

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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