Sunday, May 28, 2023

REVIEW: 'Yellowjackets' - The Wilderness Makes Its Choice as Chaos Reigns Amongst the Survivors in 'Storytelling'

Showtime's Yellowjackets - Episode 2.09 "Storytelling"

Heavy is the head that wears the antler crown is a lesson you don't learn until much later in life... if you ever even learn it at all. Everything's about to get really wild(erness), and we're so excited (so excited) and so, so scared to find out who paid attention to what lessons and when. So, on the count of three, you may pick up your pencil, open your testing booklet, and start this finale exam. One... Two... Season finale.

"Storytelling" was written by Ameni Rozsa and directed by Karyn Kusama

Lottie didn't ask to be a leader. It was simply the role assigned to her. She listened to the wilderness when the other survivors couldn't hear it. The Yellowjackets refused to let her die. That was a very distinct possibility after Shauna let out her rage. Lottie surrendered herself to that brutality. She accepted it. It was for the good of the group. Shauna needed to explode in order to survive. She was hardly the only one losing a grip on reality. Hunger set in for the survivors once more. They were all pushed to the absolute brink. It's been a grueling experience for all of them. They have suffered a shared trauma. For the longest time, Natalie and Ben were on the outside looking in. Even Javi managed to escape for a little while. No one could avoid this collective suffering. Their minds broke in the same way. Anyone who suggests otherwise was simply targeted with complete viciousness. Ben was horrified when he returned to the cabin. While he was gone looking for the underground refuge Javi survived in, Javi died. The survivors created the rules of the hunt. Natalie was the prey. She was the unlikely victim. She let Javi take her place. The wilderness made its decision. Everyone had to accept that. It's most devastating for Natalie when she has to tell Travis what happened. The survivors looked to him to take the first bite. That's his approval for this action. He has been conditioned to not let Javi's sacrifice be in vain. He endured that tragedy. Meanwhile, Misty still carries the burden of killing Crystal. She refuses to let the survivors feast on her friend. Her body is still covered by the snow. Moreover, Misty assigned responsibility to the hunt onto Lottie. All of this was done in her name. When her fever breaks, she too was horrified by what the others did. This wasn't the fate she wanted for Javi. She surrenders her power to the wilderness. She wants to believe in some greater importance. Natalie was called out for a reason. She survived this ordeal. This is a mysterious form of protection. It's terrifying for a moment. But then, the remaining survivors thrive because of the actions they took. They can't deny the wilderness what it wants. That only ends in more tragedy. Shauna survived but her baby didn't. She was broken. Natalie is as well. She sees herself as worse than the other survivors. She let Javi take her place. She has carried that burden for over two decades.

Natalie's addictions stem from that grief. Suicidal thoughts always enter her mind because of the unforgivable nature of what was done in the wilderness. The power of suggestion quickly radiates throughout the group. They accept the hunt as necessary. They acknowledge Natalie as their leader. She can provide in a way Lottie cannot. Lottie passes the torch. She never wanted this responsibility. Natalie carried a different perspective because she was the hunter. But now, the wilderness that looms over the tragedy has taken control. It's the only way to make rational sense. Even that is a futile thought that no one can seriously believe. In the present day, no one wants to consider Lottie's suggestion to give a sacrifice to the wilderness once more. Shauna buys the group some time. It's enough for them to prepare for the hunt. They create a situation that mirrors the ritual that took place all those years ago. It's done with the understanding that they will reap the rewards from the universe should this sacrifice be made. It doesn't matter who dies. It's simply important that someone does. The entire group treats death and murder so cavalierly. It's a transaction meant to improve their lives. That makes them callous and hollow. Shauna isn't even aware of the extent of the damage she has inflicted on her daughter. And now, Callie becomes part of the ritual. She shoots Lottie to save her mom. That love remains powerful. Everyone wants to believe love motivates every single action they take. That too may be nothing more than a convenient excuse. They place their false hope in that concept. They care about these relationships simply because it's what dictated for them to do. All the rules were broken in the wilderness. The survivors found a new way to cope with life. They were eventually rescued. They never healed their inner demons. Natalie found peace and prosperity at Lottie's retreat. That was channeled largely through her friendship with Lisa. They were kindred spirits. Natalie wants to protect Lisa. That's ultimately her final act. She takes the lethal dose of phenobarbital instead. It's emotionally devastating for Misty. She kills her best friend. She has been so motivated in trying to protect her. That always amounts to people dying. That's the solution for everything in Misty's mind. Walter behaves the same way. As such, they truly do deserve each other. It's complicated because of the darkness that looms over everything. None of this is a perfect solution. It only invites more complications in that will more than likely make their lives even worse.

Lottie receives medical treatment. The survivors are forcing her into a psychiatric hospitalization. To them, she has gone crazy. She needs help to address the mental health crisis she is in. Van is the outlier in the group because she doesn't believe anyone can help her who isn't a member of the Yellowjackets. They survived this tragedy together. They promised to protect their secrets. That involves everything that happened in the wilderness. It also extends to their lives after being rescued. They went their separate ways. They can never avoid each other. Their secrets are meant to be carried together. Sure, they still project more meaning onto certain things than they should. That's all a part of this experience. Reality has shifted for each of them. What they were each capable of before the crash is completely different now. Ben was willing to kill all of them because of what they were willing to accept in the wilderness. It didn't work. Everyone survived the fire at the cabin. They break free. That's a stunning visualization of the destruction of their lives. That building can no longer serve as their escape from the wilderness. Its walls provided comfort. Now, the survivors will have to surrender to the natural resources of this place. Ben has a plan for doing so. Javi proved it was possible. The survivors will have to accept that instead of wondering how this is changing them. Those thoughts are constantly being written down in Shauna's journal. That allowed Jeff to know exactly what happened without Shauna needing to share it all with him. Her family is invested. They make sacrifices too. Jeff is willing to be arrested for Adam's murder to protect them. He doesn't have to follow through on that action. Instead, Walter is armed with the skills to completely shift the narrative of this investigation. Kevyn is killed. Matt is recognized as a hero. It's all an elaborate lie. It's a move meant to keep Misty safe. She isn't. She is in newfound turmoil. Lottie finds peace because the wilderness got exactly what it wanted. Natalie is dead. Everything will improve. That's not a guarantee. It doesn't happen immediately either. In the past, death provided a meal to the survivors. In the present, Natalie is killed and Misty can't do anything to reverse her fate. It's labeled an overdose. That's tragic given Natalie's struggles. She didn't want to die. She acted bravely to save a life. Hers was cruelly taken away. That doesn't offer peace. It's just more dysfunction. Soon it will become unbearable. The surviving Yellowjackets don't have to deal with those consequences just yet though despite how personal this new burden place on them already is. More chaos is invited in though.