The following contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S1E4, “Bear Down” (written by Liz Phang and directed by Deepa Mehta)
Yellowjackets S1E4 begins with a repetition of the plane crash, moving this time to focus on Natalie’s perspective. She reaches over to grab a man’s arm, and that man turns out to be her father…sans half a head.
With “Bear Down,” Yellowjackets continues to play in the space of resonance between events set apart in time, and we see this again when Natalie returns home, says hello to her mother, and then a younger version of herself walks in with Kevyn. They engage in some very era-appropriate conversation about whether Nirvana is selling out, before Nat’s dad (Derek Hamilton) barges in to be a misogynistic buzzkill.
Nat doesn’t kill him, ultimately—or at least not straightforwardly. I don’t think insulting someone in a way that causes them to lose their head (both literally and figuratively in this case) constitutes murder or anything, but it would be to some degree fair to suggest Natalie caused her father’s death, even if she shouldn’t bear blame for it. And I’m sure she’s felt all of this throughout her life—a strange mix of guilt and relief at the man being gone. As she tells Travis, it messes you up when you’re dad is dead even if he was a bastard.
But, back to the scene in the plane with which S1E4 begins—whose arm was Natalie actually holding? Or was there an arm there at all? Her dead father suggests cryptically that there is someone or something beckoning them (“We’re almost there. It’s been waiting for us.”), which again teases us in the direction of a supernatural element in Yellowjackets, or it could be interpreted more as a hallucination induced through the trauma that exits normal time.
I might suggest the two things are the same at some level. What is metaphysics if not thought diving into the monstrous depths of being qua being, to try and think it through and bring order to the chaos? Whether what Nat experiences is a sign from the beyond is less important than whether she interprets it as such. And of course, this is also a dream, or so it would seem insofar as Natalie wakes up to see Lottie staring blankly towards the attic.
In 2021, Natalie meets up with Kevyn, apologizing for the confusion caused by Misty sending text messages pretending to be her. Of course, she wants to use the fact that he’s a cop now to learn information about what happened to Travis, and it’s really not clear to what extent the affection she shows to Kevyn is genuine. I think it is, but also note that she sticks to the suicide line straightforwardly with him, which is pretty close to lying given her insistence to Misty earlier in S1E4 that Travis was definitely murdered.
Kevyn was her best friend, but after the events unfolding in the woods that friendship ended, though not out of any malice or through any falling out. She’s just not the same person anymore insofar as her self is fractured by the Event into a before and after. She can’t tell him the truth, and we can’t be friends if we can’t live in the truth.
You’ll say we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
Still I know you just don’t care
I see you, the only one who knew me
But now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It’s plain to see we’re over
And I hate when things are over
When so much is left undone
And I said, “What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”
She said, “I think I remember the film
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it”
And I said, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got”
Now you’ve got that song stuck in your head, too. Misty is so relatable.
Deep Blue Something released “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1995, but I recall it hanging around for quite some time. It’s no surprise if Ben is a bit annoyed by Misty deciding to sing it when he is trying to poop in the woods. But also no surprise is that she doesn’t start with the chorus as most people would, but right at the beginning, with lines few of us remember.
In 2021, Misty is looking up advice about how to talk to someone grieving a suicide as she calls Natalie, because of course she is, but she’s more interested in being a part of Nat’s investigation than anything, whether she thinks it was suicide or not.
It’s also possible that Misty killed Travis or had him killed, though I don’t think so. It seems almost likely, however, that she called the cops after she and Natalie broke into Travis’s place last week, even if it’s not clear why yet. Maybe she just likes the attention.
In 1996, Misty raises her hand enthusiastically when Ben asks who wants to slit the deer’s throat, but he either doesn’t see or ignores her (a difference without a distinction, really). So she trips him later and tricks him into thinking he fell himself.
You may not see someone to be afraid of when you look at Misty, but you’re wrong.
It’s Shauna who slits that first throat in the woods, and our minds are led immediately to the throat of the girl at the center of the ritual in the pilot. Did Shauna slit that throat, too?
Her affair with Adam continues as they do things she missed out on doing as a youth, or that’s the story. But it’s noteworthy that Adam seems to have no idea about what she went through, which is striking given the pressure put on Taissa in contrast. Perhaps he hasn’t put it together or is completely unaware, but it kind of seems more likely that he is feigning ignorance for reasons yet unknown. The way he showed up at the motel Shauna followed Jeff to remains a little suspicious.
Taissa attends an event where she wants to court Diane Rafelson (Lauren K. Robek) as a political backer, but whom she instead ultimately tells off. Rafelson’s condescension is clearly what sets Ty off but it’s clearly also her insistence on not telling her secrets that’s at play.
And I think this isn’t just her wanting to protect herself from the truth getting out but a reticence to even pretend to give a deeper insight into it. This truth is dearly personal to Taissa and she is offended by the salacious interest in her past, in addition to being worried about the consequences of people knowing.
She’s also apparently a vegetarian now, if I haven’t mentioned.
Lottie finds another symbol in the woods, and then a plane. Van comes close to death again, as does Jackie, who sort of maybe saves her. It’s pretty clear Van does not, in fact, think they are “like even now.
Creepy Sammy hides in a cabinet being creepy.
Travis retrieves a ring from his dad’s corpse—or rather Natalie does because he can’t stomach doing it—which he then gives to Javi.
Shauna has been keeping a journal. We saw in the pilot that she still has it.
Akilah warns Misty that some berries are poisonous. When pushed on whether they are lethal or will just make you trip, she admits she doesn’t know.
The most immediate reference to Yellowjackets S1E4’s title, “Bear Down,” is in what Misty says to Travis when she is trying to help him manage to have a bowel movement at the beginning of the episode. Of course, the girls also saw a dead bear (down on the ground) in “F Sharp” and there is a good chance Misty’s mask was made from a bear pelt in Episode 1.
Speaking of animal imagery, I suppose I would be remiss if I failed to mention the wolf Taissa seems to see wandering the halls of the house where she attends the fundraiser. Presumably that wolf is not actually there, but the important question regardless would be what it represents symbolically. Maybe it’s time to go back to those scenes from the pilot and try to identify the pelts people are wearing?
This show’s a blast. See you next week.