Yellowjackets S2E5: “Two Truths and a Lie” was directed by Ben Semanoff and written by Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, and Sarah L. Thompson.
Previously on Yellowjackets
Misty and Walter search for the purple people (eaters?), the cops are onto Shauna, Lottie isn’t great at saving people but does seem to be talented at killing them. Speaking of, TeenLottie is excited for TeenShauna’s baby, which makes two of us. As we’ve heard in just about every “previously on” since it was first said, Taissa is “very sick.” But adult Van is here to make it better!
Be kind, rewind
Episode 5 opens with a reframing of the final scene from last episode, this time from Van’s perspective. Before Tai gets to her store, Van is going through the motions of what we can assume is probably something of a morning routine, rewinding some videos in a cute little race car-shaped device, messily chowing down on a donut, and chugging either a soda or a beer (I genuinely can’t tell and either would make sense here) while staring off into the middle distance. As someone who is also depressed: I see you, girl.
Honestly, I think this makes complete sense for her character and also nicely rounds out the rest of the adult cast. After all experiencing the same highly traumatic event, Shauna is all repressed rage and violence, Nat spirals into addiction and codependency, Taissa’s personality has fractured potentially beyond repair, Lottie is gaslighting her own damn self, and Misty is—well—Misty. And Van? She’s depressed and functioning just fine on a just-getting-by level, which makes total sense for the Van we know and love. When things are tough, she puts her head down and plows through it with little regard for how anything might affect her.
Also, Lauren Ambrose is immediately marvelous in this role. I’ve been watching Servant recently (which is fully buckwild and I encourage everyone to check it out if you haven’t already), and the difference between her high-camp, high energy performance there and her subtle, grounded performance here is giving me whiplash in the best way.
She heads down to the store, gathering up some “past-due” notices on the way, and greets a pair of over-enthusiastic teens who seem to barely understand what a VHS is. Bless. Some lady with a terrible gay haircut comes in, clearly flirting as she talks about how Parker Posey in Party Girl is her new dream woman (I mean, same). Van flirts back by introducing her to The Watermelon Women. Honestly, I’m living because I love both of these movies, but this girl has no chance because Taissa’s here! And immediately collapses. A damsel!
Happy Wife, Happy Life
A stunning shot of the mountains ushers us back into the ‘96 storyline, where we find TeenTai asleep all alone in the attic. She finds TeenShauna feeling grumpy about her forest fetus, and the two have a little bonding time before getting interrupted by TeenVan calling Tai to go to TeenLottie’s little meditation(?) group. TeenShauna feels betrayed by this, which is interesting. Right now, it seems like only her and TeenNat are taking issue with TeenLottie’s leadership. Also interesting is the fact that TeenTai says attending the group may be helping her get rid of her sleepwalking issue.
TeenLottie leads what essentially amounts to a mindfulness exercise with most of the girls (plus Travis) sitting outside in a circle. Akilah joins as well, shooting a meaningful look at Tai as she does. TeenShauna watches from outside the group as TeenLottie says that “new life is coming” and “we can’t wait to meet him.”
Callie goes bowling with Creepy Copstache guy, which normally I would be rolling my eyes about, but this scene ends up being pretty fun. This idiot is so set on catching Shauna out that he’s just fully down to be seen out on a date with a teenager in public. Incredible. A mastermind.
Callie boldly challenges Copstache to a kiss if she’s able to bowl a strike. Looking at her pitiful score so far, he agrees, only to be surprised when she’s able to pull it off. A woman of many hidden talents, much like her mother. Not expecting to be called on his bluff, and implicate himself in a lil sex crime, this fool bumbles through some half-assed excuse about wanting to move slow since they’re both going through so much. Weak.
When he gets up to run to the bathroom, Callie catches sight of his name on the check and, like any modern teen worth their salt, immediately googles him and discovers that he’s a cop. Good job, Callie. Also, good job, writers. I’m so relieved to get some movement on the Callie storyline. If only they could apply this to some of their other B-plots (*cough*Akilah and Mari *cough* Nat and Fork Girl).
As they leave, Callie somewhat clumsily tells Copstache that she discovered the identity of her mom’s affair partner and that it’s…Randy. Lol.
Everyone’s interrogating Javi about what happened to him, but he won’t say a word. One of the Soccer Team Members whose name I still don’t know speculates that he could’ve found other shelter or even other people, but is quickly shot down. After the end of this episode, however, she may be vindicated…
Meanwhile, Travis is being a bitch about TeenNat’s Javi deception because of course he is. Don’t get me wrong, it was stupid of TeenNat to do, but this is very fitting in with their whole nasty dynamic.
Also, Akilah talks to her pet mouse. Spare me.
“Why should humans have to suffer more than Beagles?”
TeenMisty and Crystal do their little dork thing together. As I said last week, I really don’t love how they introduced and set up the Crystal character. Which is a shame because the actress is quite good and the climax of this storyline (which we’ll encounter later in the episode) does a lot to drive forward both the main plot and Misty’s character arc. It just would’ve been so much more satisfying if Crystal ever felt like a real person.
Mari comes over to have them pick chore cards and Crystal gets the sh*t-bucket, which TeenMisty offers to help her with. Sounds cute, probably won’t end in semi-homicidal disaster…
Walter and Misty are back on the road and playing two truth and a lie! Walter, who suggested the game, starts. His three facts are:
- He once owned an artisanal goat cheese company with a goat.
- There’s a non-zero chance that Barry Manilow is his biological father.
- He has stock in Taco Bell, though he’s never ventured inside one.
Misty tries to guess which is the lie, but they’re all true! Which is somehow deeply disturbing. Misty’s two truths and a lie/three truths are:
- She doesn’t like monkeys.
- She thinks we’re asking the wrong questions about the moon landing…
And she stops there because they find Lottie’s cult!
“I can see her bosoms!”
Van watches what looks like old home videos as Tai showers in her apartment. When Tai emerges, Van says it’s been a long time “like, a really f*cking long time,” but as a viewer it seems like it’s not been anywhere near as long as I expected. I guess I had assumed that they parted ways right after their rescue. Or even at some point in the woods. However, the ease and familiarity we see between then, plus some mentions of their time together at Shauna’s wedding seems to indicate that they’ve been seeing each other on and off since the rescue. “A long time” here must mean something like 10 years, right?
Anyways, Tawny Cypress is doing phenomenal work here. Just like in the teen storyline, we immediately see how much Taissa changes in Van’s presence, how much more comfortable, more relaxed, more fun she becomes. Van, in contrast, is guarded, wary, even nervous? So curious. She guesses right away that Tai’s here because the sleepwalking has resumed. I’m fascinated with these two. Thank f*ck for Liv Hewlin and their fantastic performance because I would’ve been so sad if we missed out on adult Van.
“You were kidnapped, right?”
In suburbia, Callie makes her mother proud with her crimes and schemes. The two plan a little set-up for the cops.
In cult-landia, Nat prowls around, trying to find a way in to Lottie’s secret dwelling, but is thwarted by a couple of creepily earnest acolytes.
In our little survivalist compound, Akilah and TeenTaissa have another bonding moment where they talk about TeenLottie’s group and pre-game rituals, and I still can’t get invested in new-Akilah. So far, Mari’s the only background gal who consistently works for me, which is probably at least in part due to the fact that the actress and character have remained most consistent across seasons.
Back at the cult, Lottie’s leading everyone through a very Teal Swan-esque exercise, though a significantly watered-down one. Nat and Fork Girl are working together and at first I’m worried the show’s going to spin its wheels some more with these two, but they’re thankfully interrupted by Misty and Walter!
Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci remind us how f*cking dynamite they are as scene partners as Misty tells Nat that she’s here to rescue her. Nat wants none of it and I can’t tell if it’s because she’s on a relentless quest to avenge Travis’s death or, like I speculated last week, if she’s unwittingly getting sucked (back?) into Lottie’s cult. Looks like Misty might have to symbolically snort all of Nat’s coke again!
Tai and Van are still catching up, with Taissa confiding in a grossed-out Van about her dog-head alter. Van takes it in stride though, which is consistent with their whole deal. Taissa asks to take a shower and I’m confused because I swear she had just come out of the shower in their last scene together. Also, shout out to Van’s Sunset Boulevard poster and her pretty stained-glass windows. This is the dirtbag homosexual bachelor pad of my dreams.
Out in the seriously freezing-looking woods, Crystal and TeenMisty play a quick round of “rapid-fire secrets.” Well, this will end poorly. The escalation proceeds as follows:
- Crystal sometimes doesn’t take the poop bucket all the way to the toilet.
- TeenMisty hates deodorant.
- Crystal let some guy finger her backstage at a dress rehearsal. Classic theater-kid antics.
- TeenMisty walked in on her parents having sex and might’ve been a little into it.
- Crystal’s name isn’t Crystal; it’s Kristin.
- TeenMisty says she noticed people only started liking her after the plane crash.
- Crystal says they’re so lucky they both found someone they can trust with their deepest, darkest secrets, and we all know where this is going…
- A truly deranged smile spreads across TeenMisty’s face as she tells Crystal about breaking the transmitter!
Crystal, naturally, is shocked, horrified, and furious. After all, TeenMisty just revealed that she’s essentially the reason that they’re still out there lugging buckets of sh*t across a frozen mountain landscape. TeenMisty tries to walk it back but Crystal says she’s not that good of an actress. Apparently she is, though, because she has so many of the fans out there simping for her, saying she’s just misunderstood and lonely, when the girl clearly lacks even a hint of empathy and has been proven to be a stone-cold killer. Or maybe that’s just Samantha Hanratty and Christina Ricci being so relentlessly charming and hilarious in the role.
Anyways, TeenMisty tries begging Crystal not to tell before realizing that’s not going to work. Speaking of Hanratty, she is legitimately terrifying as she practically growls that if Crystal tells, she’ll f*cking kill her, before accidentally-on-purpose doing just that and backing Crystal straight off the ledge of the cliff.
She’s horrified, but I truly believe it’s more about having made a mistake than about killing her so-called “bestie.” Anyways, RIP Crystal. You may have been a plot device, but you were a lovely plot device.
In the near-present, adult Misty seems to recollecting. She’s frustrated that she didn’t know about Lottie and is concerned about how she’s going to steal Nat back so that Nat can be her best friend and not Lottie’s. Oh, Misty…Walter watches her quietly before finally coming clean about what he knows.
As many of us suspected, Misty wasn’t particularly slick with her lie about Adam’s mother. Walter did some digging, which led him to the conclusion that Misty was more than likely the actual killer (oops, wrong Yellowjacket, Walter.) Walter seems weirdly unphased by this, but Misty’s furious. She hates being outsmarted! She grabs her things from his car and tells him to leave before barging into the cult compound and demanding to join. Yes! I missed our Misty/Nat double-hander!
Speaking of double-hander (I’m sorry), Shauna arranges to meet Randy at a seedy motel to give off the impression that they’re having an affair. It’s a smart plan, and nearly works, but they’re thwarted by Randy’s inability to get it up when Shauna asks him to jack off into a condom. Presumably embarrassed, he fills the condom with strawberry lotion instead, which f*ck-ass Copstache finds. Kevyn rightfully points out that this means that Callie’s onto them.
Aaaand creepy TeenLottie whispers creepily to TeenShauna’s stomach while TeenShauna naps. Surprisingly, TeenTai defends her, but this doesn’t stop TeenShauna from storming off…into the storm. I’m so sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into me this episode.
“That’s medication for me to mind my own business. You should take two.”
After adult Tai’s shower, we see her rooting through Van’s medicine cabinet. She finds quite a bit of Oxycodone and confronts Van about it. Van spins a tale about it being her mother’s prescription from when she lived with Van during the last years of her fight with cancer. Because Tai knows about Van’s complicated relationship with her mother, this is enough to throw her off-course, but Van’s immediate irritability when confronted with the meds tells a different story. I would just like to state for the record that I called adult Van struggling with addiction when her character was first announced.
Tai tries a smooth little getting-back-with-your-ex maneuver on Van, which unfortunately would’ve totally worked on me, but Van’s not having it. They have an extremely realistic fight, which once again proves why we needed to follow this relationship into adulthood. The naturalistic chemistry between these two actors is matched only by their younger counterparts.
“You started it”
Nat does some creepin’ and peepin’ around Lottie’s quarters, where she finds financial info about all of the cult members. She busts into the meeting center like the Kool Aid man, waving around their financial info and yelling about how Lottie’s preying on them. And everyone’s like…“yeah, we know.”
Lottie sends her acolytes away and masterfully manipulates Nat into thinking that it’s all in her head and that Lottie’s on her side.
In the midst of what is now shaping up to be a nasty-looking storm, TeenTai follows TeenShauna.TeenShauna’s upset that TeenTai has “joined Lottie’s prayer club” and says she can’t believe TeenTai joined “her side.” TeenTai points out that there’s only one side and TeenShauna chides her for believing that. I get that TeenShauna’s weirded out by TeenLottie’s baby obsession, but I think Tai’s right here. Nothing that’s happened so far is cause enough to divide their already small and desperate group. Lottie’s sh*t is weird, for sure, but it hasn’t posed any sort of threat to their survival. Perhaps TeenShauna is just intuitive, but I also think it’s still yet to be proven whether or not TeenLottie will really end up becoming a dangerous figure.
TeenShauna’s also just generally freaked out by having a baby under these circumstances, which is fair. And this fear is validated when she begins having labor pains and a mysteriously strong gust of frigid air begins blowing around them.
“I hear my breath, I hear the wind..”
Safely in the cabin, Coach Ben finds a creepy drawing of a root system on the floor. I’m very curious as to what’s going on with the tree stumps. Javi enters and, shockingly, speaks.
”She told me not to come back.”
When Ben asks who Javi’s referring to, Javi just says, “my friend” and takes the drawing from Ben’s hands before leaving the room.
Now, this could go a couple of ways. This could be referring to TeenShauna, who told him to run. Or it could be FugueTai or some supernatural force, or even TeenLottie. What I’m hoping it isn’t is another group of people secretly living in the woods. Am I alone in feeling like that story is played out?
TeenMisty bursts in from the cold and very convincingly wails about losing Crystal in the storm. This prompts TeenVan to realize that they need to find Tai and Shauna, and all the girls begin calling from them. TeenLottie begins the chant that we were first introduced to earlier in the episode, “I hear my breath, I hear the wind…” The others pick it up, as does a determined TeenTaissa, who lugs TeenShauna across the frozen terrain. Somehow, the voices of her friends and teammates seem to reach her through the storm.
The Other One
Television static brings us back to Tai and Van, who have fallen asleep watching a movie together on the couch. Van wakes up and checks to make sure that Tai’s totally out before fishing the Oxy out of the trash and shakily downing one. Called it. Also, it really makes sense as the drug of choice for someone who’s gone through as much wild physical trauma as Van has. A hand on her shoulder alerts her to the presence of The Bad One, who’s up and ready to make out. And, uh, yeah I think The Bad One has it bad (sorry) for Van. Perhaps even more than regular Taissa does. It’s pretty hot. Sue me.
Van quickly figures out that she’s dealing with “The Other One,” which is an interesting difference in framing. In the normy life Tai was trying to assimilate into before, this part of her was “Bad,” but with Van it’s simply “Other.” Van asks The Other One what she wants, but The Other One just mutters, “This isn’t where we’re supposed to be” before stalking off.
“What always happens”
Nat is letting Lottie hypnotize her for some reason. Like, I am 90% sure she’s getting sucked into this cult sh*t, guys. Lottie urgently tells Nat to remember the last time she was with Travis.
In Nat’s vision, she’s with a grown-up Travis at the beach. We see a picture of him and his girlfriend and Nat says part of her wanted to ruin things for him and part of her just missed him. That tracks. They flirt and do some/a bunch of coke and Nat OD’s.
”What do you see?” Lottie asks.
Nat sees the crash site but instead of the girls emerging from the plane, they’re all dead and burnt to a crisp. They didn’t make it.
”None of us?” Lottie asks, with genuine fear on her face.
”We weren’t alone out there,” Nat replies, as she sees a vision of The Antler Queen stalking down the aisle of the plane. And then The Antler Queen is her and the paramedics revive her.
”I saw it.” Nat says to Travis. “We brought it back. We brought it back with us.”
Okay so, again, I’m really hoping that the “it” and the “she” here are something less tangible that, like, real people. But I’ll wait to see.
Nat realizes that what she was right about is that there’s some darkness that they brought back from the woods with them. She sinks her head onto Lottie’s lap and turns back into her teen self as Lottie shakes with fear and turns her head to see the shadow of The Antler Queen passing over her floor.
The episode closes out with TeenShauna making it back to the cabin with TeenTai. Akilah asks if she’s in labor and she screams and falls to the floor.
Best hero arc: Callie!
Best villain energy: MISTY
Best MILF energy: Van and The Other One
Acting MVPs: Lauren Ambrose, Juliette Lewis, Samantha Hanratty, and Tawny Cypress
Things I’ve already been wrong about: Crystal was first to die this season!
Dumb conspiracy theory of the week: Okay, I have two this week and the first one is silly, but the second one is something I’m coming to genuinely believe.
- Van’s been seeing The Other One more than Taissa knows.
- I think everyone’s assuming that The Antler Queen is a position of power held by one (or many) of the girls, but I no longer believe that’s true. I think that The Antler Queen instead is the role given to the girl who’s next to die for the group, or at least next to be hunted. The haunting specter of The Antler Queen in the present day timeline isn’t necessarily an intangible outside force, but their dead teammates literally coming back to haunt them.
Important symbols: Pieta, roots, rewinding, counterparts
That was Yellowjackets S2E5: “Two Truths and a Lie.” See you in, *sob*, two weeks for episode 6!