Editor's Note: Welcome to The Buzz! Our weekly recap of the latest Yellowjackets episode. Nothing but detailed spoilers below, so proceed with caution!
The last time we saw the Yellowjackets, things were looking pretty dire for them in both the past and the present. In 1996 after being stranded in the middle of nowhere after a horrific plane crash, the threat of incoming winter and a shortage of the food supply raised the tensions between the group to a new high. Shauna and Jackie had a falling out, and as a result, Jackie was forced to sleep outside, where she's frozen to death, signaling the start of what's sure to be an intense winter. In the present, Shauna convinces her fellow former teammates to help dispose of her dead boyfriend Adam's dead body in what's sure to be the perfect cover-up. Until Shauna sees reports of him missing making the rounds on TV. Did I even mention that new Senator-Elect Taissa has a hidden sacrificial altar in the walls of her home? All this and not even mentioning that Lottie Matthews is still alive and running a cult that's kidnapped Nat right as she's about to take her own life. Lots of jaw-droppers in that last episode of the season, and it all ended with more questions than answers, leaving us ravenous for seconds. It sure seems things are going to get even more dire… Just how dire? Well, it's finally time to find out.
The Season 2 premiere opens on an interesting note, with young Lottie handing out blessings. It was a pretty big reveal last year when we learned that she, indeed, was the Antler Queen leading the pack. We then cut away to what looks like the Yellowjackets boarding an airplane post-rescue (and very obviously shaken), hounded by the press hoping to break what's sure to be the year's biggest story. Lottie then releases a primal scream at the crowd before it transitions to a montage of her undergoing various forms of therapy that culminates in electric shock therapy. Could this explain Lottie's disappearance after the turmoil the girls experienced?
In the present, Misty is perusing the Citizen Detective's subreddit investigating Adam's disappearance and notices a particular poster (Elijah Wood's first appearance, though its voice only) offering up theories that hit a little too close to home. In hopes of silencing him, Misty begins downvoting all of his posts. Meanwhile, Shauna and her daughter Callie have a strained relationship. Callie knows her mother was having an affair with Adam, and in the wake of his disappearance, she knows something is up with her mom. She's a good foil, and the tables have turned on their mother/daughter dynamic. While Taissa adopts a new dog in hopes of saving the family she loves very much, her wife reveals she knows about the altar in the basement, confusing Taissa, who later finds it with no recollection of how it got there
Jumping back to the past is probably the most interesting element of this episode: an appearance of Jackie seemingly alive and well? She and Shanuna are discussing the latter's relationship with Jeff and how it all began when Shauna kissed him in the woods one fateful night. Here's the kicker: it's revealed Jackie is still a frozen corpse, and she's been dead for two months. Is Shauna's overwhelming sense of guilt powerful enough to summon the ghost of Jackie or just a few frozen hallucinations? This is the deepest conversation these two best friends have shared on screen, and one of them is dead. After moving around her body too much, Jackie's ear falls off, and Shauna pockets it, keeping a piece of her friend wherever she goes.
In the present day, Shauna calls Jeff to tell him that Adam has an art studio in town. Their relationship seems stronger than ever as Jeff is in high spirits and a light mood that quickly changes when he realizes they must go there to ensure Adam doesn't have any incriminating evidence against Shauna. As they enter, they're shocked to see that his studio is filled to the brim with paintings he did of Shauna. Knowing they can't leave it like this, they decide to use paint thinner to smudge every face of every painting, but in the middle of it, they decide to get intimate after struggling to do so for all of season 1. After clearing out his art studio, the pair go home and grill a family dinner in the winter as an excuse to burn Adam's ID and Shauna's journals.
At the cabin, we see that Nat and Travis have been using their hunting expeditions to map out a topographical layout of the area around them. The woods that once seemed like an endless cage maze is now starting to feel like a grounded place they're exploring in the hope of surviving. Here, we learn that Travis has been using this time to search for his brother Javi who has been missing since Doomcoming last season (two months ago in Yellowjackets time). Nat and the rest of the group are skeptical he's even out there after all this time if Jackie's well-preserved corpse is anything to go by.
Adult Misty is shaken by Nat's disappearance at the hands of Lottie's cult. Determined to find out what happened, she bugs the manager of her motel for any and all information regarding Nat's stay there. With that being a dead end, she takes note of the motel's security system and turns to a certain subreddit for help. Elsewhere, we find out exactly what happened to Nat when we see her chained to a bed with escape seemingly impossible. A young woman (Nicole Maines in her first appearance) comes in to check on her, and Nat talks her into unlocking one of her restraints so that she can eat (I'm sure she won't come to regret that decision at all).
Travis is getting overwhelmed with their situation after an unsuccessful hunting trip. Being stranded and starving while winter wages on and with no luck finding game, it's easy to understand why. Throwing a missing brother into the mix is a pretty good recipe for a panic attack that strikes him unexpectedly. Unsure of what to do, the girls are alarmed until Lottie embraces him. He begins to see visions of the forest and starts to calm down. Between the blessings at the beginning and the healing properties shown, one begins to wonder whether Lottie has actual supernatural abilities or if it's a shared delusion. Or even worse: an outside force. Lottie ends their session by saying Javi is alive, while an enraged Nat yells at her for giving him false hope.
With one of her restraints unlocked, an adult Nat uses it as an opportunity to escape. She graphically stabs the fork into the young woman tending to her and flees. Running throughout the compound, Nat happens upon a familiar procession. Animal masks obscure the faces of the revelers as they prepare for a ritual in which they bury a man alive. Being confronted with Lottie Matthews (who is very much alive and well), Nat threatens her but Lottie stops her in her tracks, claiming she has a message... from Travis. Meanwhile, Callie finds a piece of Adam's ID card in the family grill and decides to hang on to it.
To cap things off: Shauna has a private moment back at the cabin, in which she decides to eat Jackie's ear.
Yellowjackets is back with a bang. For every answer given, multiple questions spring forth. This season premiere wasn't afraid to get to the grim bits right away, and I have a feeling this season is going to go to the darkest places imaginable. Who knows what this season has in store for us, but lord knows we're in for one hell of a ride.
Needle Drop of the Week: "Last Resort" by Papa Roach. Something gives me great satisfaction about seeing Jeff rock out in his car to the anthem of every angsty teen in the late '90s. "Why are you so sweaty?" Well, "Last Resort" will do that to you.