The following contains spoilers for Yellowjackets S1E9, “Doomcoming” (written by Ameni Rozsa & Sarah L. Thompson and directed by Daisy Mayer)
It may sound weird to say, but in some ways I am most impressed by what doesn’t happen in Yellowjackets S1E9.
We’re taken right up to the edge of the kind of scene that punctuated the pilot in “Doomcoming,” as everyone (except Jackie) trips on mushrooms and things get wild. Shauna has a knife to Travis’s throat before Nat arrives to push her away. Lottie looks at one point just a step away from becoming the Antler Queen in appearance, and it all flows in a believable way to take us to this point.
To push things to the brink and then pull back shows an immense amount of confidence on the part of the creators of Yellowjackets because they have to get here again and clearly believe they can. When they do, maybe it will be as simple as Jackie calling them out for almost killing Travis and then…well it won’t be Travis because he survives into 2021, but maybe Ben?
Misty intended to give Ben shrooms to help him get over his hangups about how society would view their relationship, but Mari puts them in the stew she’s making for Doomcoming when Misty isn’t looking. The best part of this, though, is that when Misty finds out she just smiles. All the better!
But then she overhears Ben telling Natalie that love is the meaning of life, and this leads to him breaking it to her that he’s gay. Who knows what Misty will do in light of that information. I still can’t decide if Ben was very smart or very stupid to pretend to have a secret romance with her in order to placate her, but if that was smart, this was stupid. Maybe he should have just been honest with her from the beginning…but she had already poisoned him at that point.
In 2021, Misty is bonding with Jessica Roberts, and I have to say I am legitimately not sure if she’s being serious when she acts like she is going to get a ghostwriter to do a tell-all book. She plays the part very well, but she is clearly playing, and despite their bonding Jessica is still very much bound to a chair.
It’s an indeterminate sort of thing, right in the middle where you aren’t entirely sure how to read it, which is all over the place in Yellowjackets, honestly, and part of what I love about it. It also makes this scene (and many others with Misty) very funny.
Regardless, she answers the door when Nat comes knocking, questions her apology because Natalie never apologizes, but then seems truly flattered by the compliment that she knows how to do things. And she’s clearly excited about the prospect of helping to dispose of a body.
We should recall that at the end of the pilot, Misty was the one character who was revealed to be clearly into and happy about the cannibalism. I wondered in writing about that episode how this girl at the margins would come to occupy a place of power in the group, and we’ve seen a lot of the answer as to how over the course of the season. Note, though, that Misty was not a part of the group of girls who started after Travis in S1E9—she was busy elsewhere.
So once again we have Misty missing out on the fun. Presuming she has more shrooms, there’s every chance she is going to actively try to make this sort of thing happen again.
For the moment, however, Lottie has taken something of a leadership role, or at least she exerts her own kind of influence. She acts more like a prophet than a queen, if we’re parsing terms, but the seeds of that were sown several episodes ago. It’s not entirely clear how the girls view her ramblings in the cold, sober light of day, but as they trip on the night of “Doomcoming” they fall under her sway.
They have to stop Jackie because Travis doesn’t belong to her, but Lottie insists that this isn’t about Natalie. Do the girls then want Travis for sex or for food? Is there a difference?
I, for one, was glad to see Lottie lock Jackie in a closet and tell her she doesn’t matter anymore. That’s become increasingly clear over the course of Yellowjackets, and Lottie gives voice to this truth.
Jackie has been trying to assert her importance by doing childish things like refusing to eat. When she insists that it doesn’t matter, it has the flavor of a tantrum. If she wants to dump her dinner on the ground, maybe it’s about time she became dinner herself.
Yellowjackets S1E9 begins right where we left off last week, with Shauna confronting Adam in his apartment. She’s drawn the conclusion that he’s the blackmailer, but it would seem that my hunch that maybe what we saw in her closet in “Flight of the Bumblebee” was tinged by her perspective was on the right track. At the end of the day, we learn that Adam was definitely not the one behind the blackmail, and I think these events pretty definitively rule out the idea that he is Javi. But in all of the action, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we don’t really learn who he is, unless the truth is he’s just a guy named Adam Martin who lied about going to Pratt and who somehow does not use the internet at all (and never has).
It’s further significant to notice what is laced into the flashbacks we get of Shauna during this scene. They start with her meeting Adam and moments in their relationship, but as we get closer to the murder, the shots include killing and cannibalism we saw in Episode 1. This, plus the way that adult Shauna becomes young Shauna as she stabs the blade into Adam’s abdomen, would seem to indicate with some certainty that Shauna was/will be involved in the rituals in the woods, and that is just bolstered by how it is Shauna in 1996 who comes close to slitting Travis’s throat (at Lottie’s urging).
I’ve assumed from the beginning that this was the case, but it is particularly striking given that we also learn in “Doomcoming” that Jeff has known about what happened out there in the woods for some time. He loves her anyway, empathizes, and has always wished she might open up about it someday.
He’s a good man, that Jeff, even if he was blackmailing Shauna’s friends with the information he got from reading her journals. I do have to question, though, why these journals were missing from the safe when Shauna looked before she killed Adam, but back later. When you think about it, this makes no sense.
Also, Jeff apparently told Randy Walsh about his scheme, which wasn’t a very good idea. And I’m not entirely sold on the notion that he did this because his furniture store was in peril, or that he was with Bianca because she works for the dangerous people he got a loan from and not because they were having an affair…so, OK, maybe I am actually a bit suspicious of Jeff. But it’s sweet of him to offer to take the fall (and to be aghast that there is no book club). I think he’s probably genuine in all of this. Either that or he is a conniving sociopath. One of those.
Jeff being behind the blackmail does not solve the question of what happened to Travis, however, much to Natalie’s chagrin. She doesn’t even learn this truth in “Doomcoming” as Shauna and Jeff decide to blame the extortion attempt on Adam, but Natalie does receive a text from Suzie, who’s on the case with regard to Travis’s bank account. So basically we can expect Shauna’s lie to unravel at some point, probably in Season 2.
Taissa is worried in 2021 that she’s lost Simone and Sammy because of her “sleepwalking,” but I’m more wrapped up in her 1996 relationship with Van if I’m honest. I’m glad Van is alive, and she seems to have forgiven Tai even if I didn’t think she should or would be able to. She’s got an indomitable spirit, that Van, and it’s great to see.
In preparation for “Doomcoming,” Tai makes the pair matching masks because Van is self-conscious about her scars. They present their love in public, and everyone celebrates it.
While tripping (involuntarily) with Natalie, Coach Ben waxes philosophical about how love is the reason we’re here. And he doesn’t mean there in the wilderness, even if Misty might take it that way; he means here at all, alive and breathing. Love is transcendent, providing meaning to our lives in ways that aren’t quite rational.
In the most poignant moment of “Doomcoming,” everyone around the fire begins singing Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” (though we might note that Lottie starts is), and it’s perfect. The song came out in 1994, but its pervasiveness into 1996 cannot be overstated. Indeed, I have no idea if there is a way to check, but I believe it was our Homecoming song in 1996 at Cuyahoga Falls High School, which I attended. If not, it surely was the preceding year.
The lyrics speak to love bringing light to a grey and dim existence, and really couldn’t be better matched to the loves we see burgeoning between Tai and Van, or Travis and Nat:
There used to be a greying tower alone on the sea.
You became the light on the dark side of me.
Love remained a drug that’s the high and not the pill.
But did you know,
That when it snows,
My eyes become large
And the light that you shine can be seen.
Baby, I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the grey.
Ooh, the more I get of you, the stranger it feels, yeah.
And now that your rose is in bloom.
A light hits the gloom
On the grey.
There is so much a man can tell you, so much he can say.
You remain my power, my pleasure, my pain, baby.
To me you’re like a growing addiction that I can’t deny.
Won’t you tell me is that healthy, baby?
Of course, much of that could also be taken as foreshadowing of dark things to come in the winter, when it snows. But in all of that, there is clearly also a love, perhaps even closer to addiction. Lottie is either mad or touched by the divine, and “Doomcoming” brings the others for at least a night into that haze of thrilling ecstasis.
Will Lottie become the Antler Queen? Will the Yellowjackets feast on human flesh next week in the season finale?
I can’t wait to find out.