The following contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S1E6, “Saints” (written by Chantelle Wells and directed by Bille Woodruff)
Yellowjackets S1E6 opens with a set of scenes of Lottie as a child. She’s in the car with her parents and freaks out for no reason, but their reaction to said freakout keeps them from moving the car forward as the light turns green, and thus Lottie seems to have saved them from being caught in the middle of a large wreck. Her mother sounds open to the idea that Lottie is psychic, but her dad insists on taking her to a psychiatrist. Thus, we imagine, the meds begin.
Interestingly, the person on the radio in the Matthews’ car is talking about the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which would suggest that these events occur in 1989. Yellowjackets hasn’t given us a title card with a year for any of its “third timeline” scenes since we were told that Misty’s prank call was received in 1992, and I had been quietly thinking that the entrees into the childhood lives of Taissa and Natalie were in the same year (where the latter’s discussion of Nirvana with Kevyn would have been quite timely). Perhaps they were. Regardless, it feels significant that we’re given something here in S1E6 to place Lottie’s childhood scenes even earlier.
This isn’t the only breaking of previously established form in Episode 6, of course. I’ve noted before how Yellowjackets has had a tendency to center each episode on a particular character, and if that character in “Saints” is Lottie, scenes of her as an adult in 2021 are notably missing. Playing with the structure in this way did, however, have me holding my breath waiting for her to appear at the end of the hour.
I will be very sad if Lottie dies, though the dialogue between Shauna, Taissa, and Natalie in 2021 again implies that there are other surviving members of the team we haven’t seen adult versions of yet. Maybe it will turn out that Lottie is the one blackmailing them. Or maybe, as has been widely speculated on the basis of hair color, we’ve already seen her die at the beginning of the pilot. (That’s a pretty similar gown she’s wearing during her baptism as well.)
The possibility becomes all the more intriguing as the events of “Saints” unfold. Lottie (whose meds are long gone by this point) has visions, or it isn’t clear what is a vision and what isn’t, but she is also led by Laura Lee to embrace a faith in the truth of her visions. That opens up the door for all kinds of fascinating and frightening possibilities.
It’s not so much a question of whether she is truly psychic, but of whether she is coming to believe she is, and whether others will come to believe the same thing.
The deer seems to have been real, as Nat brings it back to camp later in the episode (only for Shauna to discover it’s full of parasites that look like maggots—yum!), but was it really there when Lottie saw it? I don’t think so, insofar as no one else seems to see it then, and Van should have if it was really standing there. So, what does a living deer rotting from the inside symbolize? What kind of harbinger might Lottie take this to be?
And what was going on in the whole scene where she envisioned herself walking through dank tunnels before lighting a candle? It seems pretty clear that was only in her mind.
But when Lottie wanders outside at night with a lantern and stumbles upon Taissa eating dirt…well it seems like that actually happened. It’s a terrifying scene, and one would be prone to think Lottie was hallucinating, but S1E6 ends with the adult Taissa in 2021 mimicking this action, perched in a tree.
It thus seems well-grounded to conclude that she is the “lady in the tree” creepy Sammy has been on about, whom he last week equated with “the bad one.” Wow, BOB, wow. In between speaking and fundraising events for her all-too-passionate run for New Jersey State Senate, our friend Taissa would seem to be experiencing psychogenic fugue states of her own, which date all the way back to 1996, if not earlier.
We can guess that she threw Sammy’s doll down the stairs (which she later found broken, with no idea she’d done it), and have to wonder what other nefarious things Not-Taissa has been getting up to all of these years. How does this relate to the Man With No Eyes, and how will it relate to what happens in the woods?
In 1996, Taissa wants to strike off in search of help, which surely won’t work. Will we ultimately see her instead become immersed in “the bad one” and harness her leadership skills in the direction of ritualistic human sacrifice? One can only hope.
In 1996, Taissa is also trying hard to keep Shauna from hurting herself, as the latter is absolutely terrified of her pregnancy. The dream sequence where she gives birth to a fried chicken she proceeds to start eating is reminiscent of Eraserhead in the best possible way, but I wonder which part scares Shauna the most. It might be the presence of Jackie and Misty as midwives. (I also wonder if she told Taissa the part about eating the chicken.)
Anxiety dreams have a way of being more about the affect that accompanies them than their content, but one thing that is clear is that Shauna very much does not want Jackie to find out about this pregnancy, and thus about the fact that her best friend had sex with her boyfriend. But as she confides in Taissa about this, I can’t help but feel that it is more the shame at the prospect of dying giving birth to a child that stemmed from this act of betrayal that she is afraid of, as opposed to the fallout that would be sure to come vis-à-vis Jackie. This is interesting to note given that, by 2021, Shauna feels no shame in telling the Taylors that she doesn’t like her own daughter, and even shakes her head as Jeff insists she’s telling an inside joke.
1996 Shauna feels a sense of propriety. 2021 Shauna is just over it (cf. her speech to Callie in “Blood Hive” about what would happen if she told Jeff about Adam).
Taissa tries to stop her from attempting to abort her fetus herself in the woods, before ultimately offering her help, but the two can’t do it. In the world of Yellowjackets—given what we know about what is to come—something like this unsafe procedure with the underwire of a bra almost seems like it would have been the least disturbing of all possibilities with regard to this pregnancy. So I will just continue to live in terror of what’s going to happen.
I’m mostly rooting for the cannibalism in this show, if you haven’t noticed, but even I can’t help but squirm at the notion of Shauna’s nightmare being prophetic.
In 2021, Shauna and Jeff go to the Taylors for Jackie’s birthday party, where of course Jackie is absent. Everything continues to point in the direction of her being dead, including the way her mother rambles on about her, demeaning Shauna along the way. It is worth noting that during all of that, Mrs. Taylor mentions that she’s reading Elena Ferrante and it reminds her of Shauna and Jackie. I don’t know what book she is reading, and I haven’t read Elena Ferrante’s work myself, but there is a decent chance it is the first book in the Neapolitan series, My Brilliant Friend, which apparently involves a woman whose friend has disappeared, perhaps intentionally.
It is possible that Jackie isn’t dead but missing, and this is a clue the writers of Yellowjackets have left us. Or maybe Mrs. Taylor is referring to a different book. (It’s also worth noting that Elena Ferrante is a pseudonym, and the identity of the author a mystery, as they insist on anonymity.)
Jackie appears to Shauna again as the latter looks through her room, which has been preserved by her parents—another thing perhaps more common with regard to missing persons than dead ones. She says what happened wasn’t Shauna’s fault before turning right around and saying that everything was totally her fault.
If this is a manifestation of Shauna’s psyche (which is how I read it), I don’t think it is so much an indication that she feels guilt at the deepest level as it is a projection of the imagined antagonism between herself and Jackie with regard to the issue of blame. That is, I think the truth of Shauna’s feelings is in the moment when she says she knows it’s not her fault, prior to ghost-Jackie’s retort. I’m not reading feelings of remorse here, just perhaps some wistful sadness in other parts of the bedroom scene, and Shauna has never seemed very torn up about what happened.
In 1996, Jackie spars with Natalie, whose romance with Travis is heating up. Jackie’s remarks surely resonate with Nat’s memories of her father, and her little diatribe to Travis about how “vaginas have monologues now” puts a point on how she refuses to be shamed. (For what it’s worth, I actually do remember having conversations that were almost exactly like this as a teenager in 1996, should it strike anyone as contrived. I’m less sure whether it tracks for Natalie to be referencing The Vagina Monologues already, though it did make quite a cultural splash.)
In 2021, Natalie reconnects with Kevyn a bit in a way that feels less exploitative than in previous episodes, and she sells her Porsche in order to get the money to pay whoever is blackmailing them (and puts a GPS in the money).
It’s pretty clearly not Jessica Roberts. We know that Taissa hired her to put pressure on the others to see if they would crack, but she doesn’t fess up about that to Shauna and Natalie, so all Misty sees and hears as she spies on them is how her bestie wanted to grab the reporter and force her to talk before Shauna and Taissa talked her down.
Thus Misty—who is not constrained by conscience or fear of consequences—decides to do that herself, and S1E6 ends with poor Jessica Roberts held captive, cuffed to a bed. Probably she was just working to make some money, and it’s Taissa’s fault that she’ll now suffer and almost certainly die. (Whether or not she will be served for dinner strikes me as more of an open question.)
Perhaps she’s not innocent, though, as we still don’t know what happened to Travis or who is behind the messages the women have received. We did learn in “Saints” that Shauna has apparently not been a victim of this attempted extortion, for whatever that’s worth. Maybe it’s Adam who is behind it and he is working her a different way. He wasn’t really in the story this week, save for sending too many text messages.
I expect we’ll learn some significant things in the next episode of Yellowjackets, and I can’t hardly wait. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about how Misty was listening to “The Phantom of the Opera” when she went to meet with Jessica Roberts and drug her, because of course she was.