Sunday, May 7, 2023

REVIEW: 'Yellowjackets' - The Trauma of the Past and Its Effects on the Present Can No Longer Be Ignored by the Survivors in 'Qui'

Showtime's Yellowjackets - Episode 2.06 "Qui"

Trapped inside on a snow day, the Yellowjackets revisit the highlights, humiliations, and traumas of "Health Class." Taissa and Vanessa help each other kindly rewind, Misty explores joining a classic Cosmic American tribute band, Lisa helps Natalie carp the day, and Shauna gets a pop-quiz on her cookie-reading assignment.

"Qui" was written by Karen Joseph Adcock & Ameni Rozsa and directed by Liz Garbus

Ignoring problems and their subsequent consequences has produced a number of hardships for the Yellowjackets in their adult lives. Some have been able to mask the pain better than others. However, it's present within all of them. It may not be some mythical darkness that was unearthed out there and returned with them. Instead, it's simply the internal weight of what they did to survive. They may not even be justified in the actions they took. They may never deserve forgiveness from those they betrayed. After going through the trauma of childbirth, Shauna fears her fellow survivors will eat her baby. That's the terror she feels. She understands the impulse. She was consuming human flesh before anyone else. Everyone saw her pregnancy as a reason to remain hopeful. They weren't destined to die in the wilderness because Misty destroyed the black box. They had a reason to live. Misty is trusted to deliver the baby. And yet, she is still reeling from killing Crystal. It wasn't some innocent mistake she could forget. She's still in the immediate aftermath. The emotions and guilt over what she did are still raw. She's not in the proper headspace. All the plans for this event have gone out the window. Everyone could only prepare so much. None of them have gone through this trauma before. They hope for the best. They pray for the best possible outcome. This is the moment in which many of them surrender to the higher power Lottie has uplifted in the wilderness. It becomes very real to them. In fact, they may believe Shauna survives because of their sacrifices and beliefs. They simply didn't surrender enough to ensure both lives were saved. It's reassuring that one did. That's not comforting to Shauna. She envisioned a life with her newborn son. It wasn't picture perfect like Coach Ben always wants to escape to. That's not a viable thought that crosses Shauna's unconscious mind. She's still trapped in the wilderness with her teammates. She bonds with her son. She understands how it's the two of them against the world. Others project importance onto this creation of new life. However, it's her responsibility to protect him from the forces that wish to lead with destruction. That's not what occurs. Instead, Shauna's son doesn't survive childbirth. He dies. She cries out for him. Everything she experienced was so real. She can't reckon with this distressing reality. This is the moment in which her mind breaks. It's absolutely heartbreaking to see her endure it. It all comes from her perspective as well. The Yellowjackets were equally terrified because they feared losing another friend. That doesn't occur. They find solace in that. That doesn't comfort Shauna. Instead, it only further amplifies the message that only darkness lingers in the wilderness. It's futile to hope for anything more. Nothing is coming to offer more safety than what is already known. They each have to face that reality instead of ignoring it for as long as possible.

That mindset has extended into adulthood for each of the survivors. Everyone was comforted by the thought that Lottie was institutionalized. Once they got that information, they had the freedom to stop thinking about her. And yet, Lottie quickly formed a new identity that provided clarity and comfort to others. The people from her former life were completely in the dark. Natalie is grateful to a certain extent because she was spared from death. She was willing to end it all. She still easily falls into that headspace. She and Lisa lean on each other in that way. They just have to care for a fish. That's as much effort as they can put into the world right now. Anything more would simply be too overwhelming. Any apparent mistake would provide the ammunition they need to completely give up. Many of the characters are reaching that breaking point. Natalie isn't the only one struggling. She sought understanding of why Travis did what he did. She lost the strongest relationship in her life. Others care about her. Misty projects more meaning onto their friendship than Natalie does. However, the Yellowjackets need each other because they are the only people in the world who truly understand the darkness of their actions. Again, that doesn't immediately present as forgiveness. They may deserve these grim fates. Shauna enjoys the unpredictability of her lies. Sometimes they are intentional. They are mostly destructive. And now, Callie is behaving the same way. Every situation requires more lies. That only makes things worse. Answers may not be found at Lottie's compound. That's still the destination where everyone ends up. Misty gains entry out of curiosity. She believes her friend has been brainwashed. Then, she appreciates the admiration people give her for personally knowing Lottie and Natalie. That makes her a celebrity to the people who also believe Lottie has the power to heal them from their traumas. Lottie believes her visions are tied to the past. They are forcing her to acknowledge just how real that quest for survival once was. It can't easily be blamed on her mental illness. She encouraged others to follow her. That led them all down dark paths. Van doesn't want to engage with any of this. She simply wants to drop Taissa off. She can't ignore the power of this moment. This reunion is crucial. It will serve as the first epic confrontation the survivors have ever had. They each embarked on their own lives after being rescued. They each swore to secrecy. They understand the shame and darkness of explaining what happened out there. It's been a burden for each of them. They can't escape that. It may not be possible for forgiveness and recognition to come from each other. That's simply a more promising step than the despair they have each been on as individuals. The various corners of the show are coming together. That doesn't necessarily make the numerous plots carry the same weight. Some characters have been kept busy instead of allowing their stories to resonate with their ongoing concerns in a visceral way. However, that final moment still packs a rather powerful punch. One that aligns with the devastation Shauna feels in the past.