Sunday, April 16, 2023

REVIEW: 'Yellowjackets' - Natalie and Lottie Are Pitted Against Each Other to Provide for the Survivors in 'Old Wounds'

Showtime's Yellowjackets - Episode 2.04 "Old Wounds"

Relive your youth by hitting the road! Take a road trip with your child! Go on vacation with a new friend! Hitchhike, if you must! Just make sure you pack a good playlist for the ride. Some recommendations from us: "Anything You Can Do," "You Get What You Give," "Instinct," a famous composition by Frank Comstock, and absolutely *not* anything from Starlight Express.

"Old Wounds" was written by Julia Bicknell & Liz Phang and directed by Scott Winant

In the present day, road trips are required across the board. Some of them are relatively easy and actually completed - like a trip to the farmer's market or an escape to an area with no cell service to make a confession. Others are in pursuit of comfort and answers. It's a way to connect the adult characters thematically. It's the direction Taissa was heading in after leaving the hospital. However, she had no control over the destination. She was directed to Van, who is the latest of the Yellowjackets to be revealed as a survivor of the wilderness. It's a major reunion. Their bond was so deep in the woods. They carried the burden of Taissa's sleepwalking together. They approached it with two opposing views. It still plagues Taissa. She is still drawn to Van. That's a crucial detail. They recognize each other despite years apart. Taissa needed Jessica's research to even know where Van was. That reunion is all that the story turns out to be. It doesn't have much substance beyond that. The same is essentially true with Misty and Walter. Their plot reveals how similar the two actually are. Their behavior mirrors one another. Misty fears it's the kind of worship from a typical Yellowjackets groupie. He doesn't see that as the most interesting detail about her. Instead, he was intrigued by her behavior as a citizen detective. He was drawn to her because of the references she made. He saw a kindred spirit. Those parallels are obviously there. He cautions her to hold back instead of storming into a situation. They haven't discovered Lottie's cult yet. In fact, Misty doesn't even know Lottie's followers are the ones who kidnapped Natalie. They did so to save her life. That intervention was deemed necessary. On this compound, Natalie and Lottie have the obvious connection because of what they survived together. However, Natalie was drawn immediately to Lisa. It was a connection born out of fear and physical assault. The emotions run deeper than that. They have both dealt with suicidal thoughts. They aren't actively trying to take their lives. Natalie sees the power in that. Every other concern can be tossed off to the future. And yet, they enjoy relative safety at the compound. They exist under Lottie's leadership. Lisa believes she has the strength to return home to see her fish. Instead, she's greeted by a mother who believes she is the only person who can help Lisa. Natalie speaks up in her defense. It doesn't exactly help. Her heart is in the right place. A fish is all it takes to foster a stronger connection. That's a simple gesture. It's far more extreme when Shauna decides to tell Callie about killing Adam. She is completely honest as well. Shauna and Jeff both made mistakes. They are coping with trying to keep their family together. Callie is understanding. She is mature enough to handle these complications. It's certainly startling to Jeff. It may not last. It allows a moment of peace for the family. That's comforting while Shauna actually delights in the unpredictability of the future as well as the weight of keeping her lies straight.

In the past, the Yellowjackets look to both Natalie and Lottie for guidance. People ascribe importance onto them because of what they have provided so far. With Natalie, it's very practical. She is the hunter. She goes out every day hoping to find an animal to bring back to feed the survivors. With Lottie, it's spiritual. She feels more connected to this environment. Her openness directs good fortune towards the group. Everyone wants to believe in Lottie's convictions. Her rituals provide comfort. It's a form of protection. It offers guidance while trapped in an inescapable situation. Shauna grows concerned when someone has taken an extra helping of bear meat. Accusations turn towards Scott. However, he remains drifting off to his own imaginary life with Paul. That's awkwardly included. One scene doesn't quite do enough to suggest ongoing importance with this narrative device. It almost certainly spells doom for Scott. That's a concern for the future. At the moment, Lottie and Natalie engage in a conflict over who can provide for the survivors. They test the strength of their convictions. Natalie has been a successful hunter. Meanwhile, others believe Lottie has guided nourishment to the cabin. She embarks on the cold only armed with a knife. She almost freezes to death. She made a blood sacrifice to the wilderness hoping it would provide. That created a convenient trail to follow. She is saved. She endures severe hypothermia. Natalie does as well. She bears the weight of victory slipping from her grasp. A moose is trapped in the ice. She needs help breaking this precious meat free. Instead, the weight is too unbearable to manage. Natalie receives a cold splash of the icy water. These injuries can be healed. Natalie and Lottie come to an understanding. They put up a good fight. Neither one of them were victorious in this challenge. And yet, the Yellowjackets project this conflict onto them constantly. It's a battle of beliefs. Sides must be chosen. A clear winner is declared. Lottie was certain Javi was still alive. It didn't make any practical sense. Natalie sought to comfort Travis as he accepted the lethal truth of his brother's likely fate. However, Taissa and Van find Javi wandering the woods when they go searching for their own hidden message. Taissa is connected to the wilderness. That too has been a narrative projected onto her. It's inescapable no matter how hard she tries to deny it. Van serves as the face of that acceptance. She put the pieces together. Because she did so, she knew precisely where to look. Lottie knew Javi was alive but Taissa knew where he was. It doesn't make any sense. Yet the reunion occurs. More answers are needed. It appears parts of this environment are warmer than others. Natalie and Travis saw that during their hunting trips. They didn't know what it meant. Javi survived but has returned changed. That's already obvious. The darkness creeps in and alters all of the survivors. That's true no matter what time their stories are set in. That's the foundation of the show. The creative team still finds inventive ways to deliver that message with enough intrigue to keep everyone guessing along the way. How these characters survive isn't ultimately as important as why they continue to do so despite the turmoil each of them carries.