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Yellowjackets S2E7: “Burial”

Yellowjackets S2E7: “Burial” was written by Rich Monahan and Liz Phang and directed by Anya Adams.

Previously on Yellowjackets

Unfortunately for everyone, I went on and on about issues I’ve been having with this season. (Even more unfortunately, many of these issues persisted throughout this episode.)

“A [raving pack of teenaged cannibals] ate my baby!”

In the 1996 storyline, everyone’s feeling real dark about the baby. Shauna’s practically catatonic, of course, but the effects are much more far-ranging. For all the sh*t I’ve been giving the Yellowjackets writers lately about the lack of real character development this season, I think they did a lovely job showing how this death creates ripples throughout the group.

Shauna crying
Surprisingly, losing a baby is not fun for anyone.

Most notably affected here are Misty, Van, and Coach Ben. Misty, who can’t tolerate failure in herself, is clearly grappling with her inability to step in as a hero during delivery. On top of that, she overhears some of the girls expressing skepticism about her involvement in Crystal’s disappearance. This triggers Misty’s (well-placed) anxieties about her human mask slipping and maintaining her status within the group. To save face, she calls for a search party for Crystal.

In the meantime, Coach Ben is struggling. He once again hallucinates his boyfriend. This time, though, it’s explicitly a vision, not a memory. He watches Paul talk to someone on the phone before urgently hustling Ben out of the cabin and telling him he “can’t stay.” The message is clear. Ben shaves and makes his way to the cliff, intending to throw himself off. Coincidentally, it’s the same cliff that Crystal plummeted from two episodes ago. (Which means it’s also the cliff they’re using as a sewer, which…ew.) Misty is there too, digging through the snow in search of Crystal’s corpse. Way to implicate yourself, girl. Mysteriously, Crystal’s corpse is nowhere to be found. Call the barbeque off, everyone!

Misty sees Ben hesitating at the edge of the cliff and tries to discourage him from jumping. In a strong bit of dialogue, he asks her if she can just push him off. It’s good to be reminded that Ben has always been able to see who Misty is. Desperate to stop him, Misty pleads with him before threatening that, if they get rescued, she’ll tell everyone that he was a pedophile. Or worse: gay!

Ben looks upset
To be fair, this is also how I felt when I taught middle school and had to spend a few months with teenagers.

Ben wearily tells her to go ahead and tell everyone, and I know this is supposed to be a pivotal moment for his character, but it’s not really hitting for me. I don’t know if it’s the performance or the writing or some combination of the two, but this journey of self-acceptance hasn’t really worked for me this whole season. In comparison to other storylines on the show, it comes off as trite and paint-by-numbers. The other characters are reckoning with complex relationships, disintegrating senses of self, shifting group identities, and their own inner darkness. Ben is recking with regrets about not living an out and proud life. And actually, even as I type that, I realize that on paper in could’ve been (should’ve been) a thoughtful and touching story thread. But it just never came together for me. We were told how deep Ben’s regret and self-loathing is, but I never felt it.

I’m also not feeling some of the choices they’re making around TeenMisty this season. She’s getting a lot of Big Emotional Scenes this season and, while some of them make sense in context, a lot of them don’t feel earned or in character. It’s like there are two types of TeenMisty scenes: the ones that actually align with the story and ones that provide fodder for Samantha Hanratty’s Emmy reel. So, for instance, her big meltdown when Ben is about to jump makes sense because it’s this Misty-specific combination of like a smidgeon of genuine emotion mixed in with a bunch of artifice and manipulation. But her freaking out and sobbing “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” when searching for Crystal’s body doesn’t. It feels like they’re trying to walk back the more challenging and difficult-to-love aspects of her character, which I — of course — hate.

Misty looks upset
With Sophie Nélisse entering for Best Actress, the 1996 girlies are scrambling for that Best Supporting spot.

Anyways, Ben lives. Boo. If I have to endure one more boyfriend-vision scene hammering the same character notes over and over, I’m going to lose it.

Losing My Religion

The last character whose reaction to the stillbirth is highlighted this episode is Van. This is a surprising choice, which I love because I feel like we’re reaching a critical scarcity of surprising choices this season. We get an interesting scene between her and Tai where we finally get some insight into why Van has been such a fervent believer in Lottie’s powers. She explains that she just assumed that she kept surviving through all these near-death experiences for a reason. That some greater purpose kept her alive. But now she’s not so sure. This makes sense for her character. If we follow Lottie’s logic, the other deaths in the woods can be explained away rather easily. Everyone prior to Jackie can be written off because Lottie hadn’t yet tapped into the wilderness spirits. And Jackie rejected Lottie’s “protection” and died because she didn’t show proper respect to the forest. The baby, however, is a shock to this belief system, particularly given how much stock Lottie was putting into “his” arrival.

We also get a scene with Tai and Lottie where they discuss their respective relationships with the supernatural, which should’ve been interesting, but feels a bit shoe-horned in to draw a parallel to their present day relationship.

Lastly, we have Shauna, who is understandably completely f*cked up about the baby. Though I wasn’t a big fan of last week’s episode, I think the way they’re exploring her reaction to the stillbirth is great. Given the starvation, blood-loss, and trauma, her inability to distinguish reality from dream makes complete sense. More than that, though, the specific delusion she’s carrying with her — that the other girls consumed the baby — reveals an important emerging facet to her character. While Shauna previously found comfort in the powerful group identity formed in the wilderness, she’s now beginning to recognize it as a potential threat. If we go back to look at Shauna’s journey throughout this season, we can see a growing understanding of how her assimilation into the group played a part in pushing Jackie out (and ultimately led to Jackie’s death.) Now, it feels as though the inverse has happened with her baby. That, because she’s part of the group, the group had a claim to the baby that she couldn’t protect it from. Very interesting stuff.

And so, when she rages out at the end of the episode, it makes total sense. She first strikes out at Misty, the easiest target, as Misty is the closest thing to an outsider that the group has (barring Ben, of course.) But Shauna isn’t mad at the outsiders; she’s angry at the group itself for the imagined offense of eating her baby and the real offense of subsuming her identity. She turns on Lottie as the group’s go-to representative. Lottie, in turn, for the first time utilizes a genuinely manipulative cult tactic (intentionally or unintentionally it’s yet to be seen) and instructs Shauna to take her anger out on her. Shauna obliges, beating Lottie to a bloody pulp and effectively transforming Lottie’s position in the group from dubiously-qualified spiritual guide to pious martyr. Though the show’s been pulling its punches a lot this season, it definitely didn’t here (and neither did Shauna.) Shauna beats Lottie so brutally that her inevitable survival will likely revitalize everyone else’s faith solely due to its sheer improbability. It’s genuinely difficult to watch. We end the episode with Shauna sitting outside and plunging her bloody fists into the snow while contemplating her seemingly limitless capacity for violence.

Lottie with a bloody nose
Just call her Saint Sebastian

Reunited and it feels so…eh

Meanwhile, in the 2021 storyline, our adult Yellowjackets are enjoying a tentative reunion. Some of this really worked. Unfortunately, a lot of it didn’t. I think it’s the cult stuff that’s killing me. It is so incredibly ill-conceived and inconsistent. It’s almost as if the writers decided that Lottie was a cult leader at the end of last season but then realized they didn’t have a plan for the cult, so they kept the rules and details vague enough so that they could bend them to fit whatever other narratives they were hoping to push forward this season.

In this episode, we learn for the first time that all new cult members are supposed to engage in one of (conveniently) five therapies on the first day on the compound. This never came up when Misty or Nat joined but whatever! Also, Nat is all-in on the cult now, which simultaneously makes sense for her character and feels somewhat unearned. We don’t see much of Nat, Tai, or Van completing their “therapies,” but we do spend a lot of time with Shauna and Misty.

I would venture that Shauna’s therapy is the sloppiest writing of the episode. She chooses “self-care” as her therapy and is led to the barn where an acolyte hands her a goat and tells her she’s responsible for it for the day. Because the best self-care is caring for something else, apparently? It makes no sense and, on a certain level, it’s not supposed to, but on another level it doesn’t even make sense within the context of the little we know about the cult. It’s a transparent excuse to put Shauna in a care-giving position so we can once again explore her relationship to motherhood. Except that we don’t explore it in any meaningful way beyond being reminded that Shauna is perpetually scared of hurting the people she loves, and fears that she is not capable of providing safety and protection to her child (or the goat.) You know, because her baby died. In case we forgot. Apparently, even after all the stuff with Callie and all the stuff with the wilderness birth, they still felt like viewers might need to have that character facet spelled out even more explicitly. And, as if the whole situation weren’t ham-fisted enough, they keep calling the goat a kid. Please.

Misty’s therapy makes slightly more sense, but the execution is still iffy. She chooses “guidance” and is led to a sensory deprivation tank by Fork Girl who tells her that her most powerful guide is herself. Sure. I can buy that. What I can’t quite buy is that Misty begins hallucinating immediately. Give it a beat! Anyways, she has a fun little fantasy sequence that’s marred only slightly by a pointless and misplaced Twin Peaks visual reference. John Cameron Mitchell (who I adore) makes his series debut playing Caligula as a glamorous, aging diva, which is as wonderful as it sounds. He assures Misty that she’s actually never done anything wrong in her whole life, which tracks with Misty’s whole deal. Maybe I actually liked this scene more than I thought I did.

Misty emerges from the sensory deprivation chamber
My favorite psychopath

Misty leaves the tank with a new lease on life and immediately calls Walter and leaves him an unhinged message where she professes her affection for him and seemingly admits to Adam’s murder. What an absolute lunatic icon. Christina Ricci really shines in this episode, effortlessly balancing the myriad layers of Misty’s strange, nearly inscrutable personality without ever trying to simplify or soften her. She’s pathetic but flinty, chipper but jaded, both manipulative and sincere. Every genuine emotion that Misty displays is complicated by a deep, innate cunning and cruelty. It’s incredible to watch. And so, so funny and compelling. More of this, please.

While all this is going on, Lottie’s attending a therapy session. And, given the fact that it makes no sense that she would’ve left the compound during this lil family reunion, it’s quickly clear that she’s hallucinating the whole thing. This is confirmed when, in a genuinely fun moment, her “therapist” transforms into The Antler Queen and hisses, “Does a hunt that has no violence feed anyone?” Yes! Good question! Let’s get back to themes like that in this show instead of the same sh*t we’ve been beating to death since the beginning of the season! Also, the room that Lottie and her “therapist” are in is revealed to be Lottie’s quarters. I looked back and it’s the same room that previous therapy sessions took place in, which means Lottie’s been hallucinating this whole time.

The Antler Queen
Honestly? I’ve had worse therapists.

The last little story thread leading up to the conclusion of the adult timeline part of this episode is Van and Tai, and I’ve been avoiding this one because I’m a little let down. On one hand, Tawny Cypress is an absolute star and Lauren Ambrose is a capital A Artist. The control she has over the muscles in her face is honestly astonishing. I swear she’s doing something with the way she holds her jaw to change her face shape to be more like Liv Hewson’s. Also, their chemistry is incredible. But cancer? Really? I lightly suspected they might go this route once Van’s pill habit was introduced, but I so badly hoped they wouldn’t that I didn’t even mention it in any of my reviews. It pushes the Van/Tai storyline into a place of narrative urgency that it really doesn’t need. There’s so, SO much to explore with these two, particularly given how the 1996 storyline has introduced this strange relationship between Van and Other Tai. But now I fear that their story will be rushed towards two eventualities: 1) Van dies in service of Taissa’s character arc (boo), or 2) the Yellowjackets use wilderness magic to miraculously save Van’s life (a slightly less emphatic boo.) Again, they’re sacrificing real character development and any sort of deep exploration of the dynamics they’ve taken such care to set up in service of moving the plot forward.

Van and Tai are about to kiss
This touching moment is about to be interrupted by the silliest plot device possible.

And then we reach the end of the episode, where all the adult Yellowjackets dance around a fire together while, back in 1996, Shauna beats the crap out of Lottie.

Episode Superlatives

Heroic arc of the episode: Adult Shauna, weirdly?

Best villain of the episode: Also Shauna, but TeenShauna

MILFiest: Christina Ricci was bringing it this episode tbh

Acting MVP’s: Christina Ricci killed it, as did Sophie Nélisse (who does such a consistently excellent job that I sometimes overlook her, which is my bad) and Lauren Ambrose (a genius.) I also want to give a shout-out to Courtney Eaton who is such an exceptionally charismatic performer that she’s kind of f*cking up Simone Kessell’s great work because it’s so hard to see Lottie as anyone but Courtney Eaton.

That’s it for Yellowjackets S2E7: “Burial.” See you next week for our penultimate episode!

The girls stand in a circle
Prayer circle that I’ll get over being a hater before next week’s recap


Leave a Reply
  1. Im such a fan of your reviews like you dont even know. The first one I read was the review for Qui, and I loved it so much that I read it twice. It was just so well written

    In regards to the scene with shauna and lottie, i think it went on for too long all for the sake of the scene going along with the song in the background lol.

    as for the calugila scene (hope I spelled that right), it felt a little too ryan murphy-ish

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Written by Saskia Nislow

Saskia is a writer, ceramicist, horror freak, and queer creature. Find more of their stuff at or at @cronebro on Twitter and Instagram.

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