Welcome to our Yellowjackets Sting Meter. We’ll measure the erratic, unexplainable behavior of the show’s main lineup, ranking them according to how dangerous, deadly, and certifiably insane they appear in each episode. Who’s just a whacky worker bee and who gets crowned Mad Queen of episode five’s “Qui”? Let’s find out.
Fans already know that Yellowjackets is the kind of show that comes with its own unofficial trigger warning. We’ve already witnessed acts of cannibalism, murder, suicide, and Elijah Wood eating a syrup-drenched, mustard-laced breakfast meat taco. Our stomachs can handle just about anything.
That said, and in all seriousness, episode five’s “Qui” comes with a different kind of trigger warning that deserves to be uttered aloud. We’ve seen loss and grief and hopelessness on this show before, but not like this — so heartbreaking and capriciously cruel that it makes you wonder how much more these characters can take before they simply break.
Of course, that’s assuming there were any sane ones left to begin with.
Queen Bee – Shauna Shipman
Shauna Shipman might just be the most interesting character on TV right now. As young Shauna, Sophie Nelisse plays a lost and grieving teen struggling to survive — not just the wilderness but the guilt of inadvertently causing her best friend’s death. In the present, Melanie Lynskey shows how that unresolved trauma bleeds into every facet of this woman’s life, from the walls she puts up with her own family members to the mask she effortlessly dons in a police interrogation room. Is she a murderer or a bored housewife? A terrible mother or a woman so broken from past posts that she can’t fathom letting someone get close to her like that again? We might never really know, which is what makes her downward spiral in the current timeline so delicious and fascinating to watch. But it’s Nelisse’s work in the past — that gruesome delivery, that nerve-wracking breast-feeding fantasy, and that devastating back-to-reality moment — that deserves the applause here. No wonder Shauna Shipman is so f*cked up, she’s suffered more than anyone else on this show by a mile.
It’s hard to decide which of the Mistys is more batsh*t in this episode, so we’ll list out their erratic, unhinged behavior here for you to decide. In the cabin, young Misty (Samantha Hanratty) is drawing a blank on how to provide doula services to a teenage girl bleeding out on a creaky mattress while her teammates join hands and chant nonsense in the background. She keeps getting flashbacks of Bee Gees songs and dead besties lying frozen at the bottom of a cliff. This is not how D-Day (delivery day) was supposed to go. In the present, Misty’s emptying her syringe-filled, jam jar jam-packed pockets to become a fledgling member of Lottie’s cult (sorry, intentional community). The two have a tense reunion before Misty begins interrupting sob-fest therapy sessions to brag about her Yellowjackets connections and hunt down a visibly-annoyed Natalie. Both Mistys seem happier ignoring their own pressing problems (Crystal’s death in the past, Walter’s missed calls in the present) in order to become the center of attention of their friend group once more. We’d be a bit snarkier about it if it didn’t lead to the end-of-episode Yellowjackets reunion we’ve all been waiting for.
Both Juliette Lewis and Sophie Thatcher play terrific punching bags but man, we wish this show would let up a bit when it comes to the undeserved trauma and self-loathing. In the past, Nat is desperately trying to help her friend, even going so far as to join in on Lottie’s mystic mantra if it staunches the bleeding and saves the baby. In the present, she’s having a really bad day at target practice and contemplating killing a goldfish to prove she’s poisonous to those around her. Some people might need an intentional community to sort through their issues but, hear us out, maybe Nat would do better with an all-inclusive resort stay and a bottle of anti-depressants to snack on?
Lottie’s witchy mojo seems to be on the fritz in the past but it’s her current mental breakdown that feels more concerning this episode. Not only is she beginning to question whether she was ever actually insane or whether an evil entity has attached itself to her friends — tormenting them in the years since they escaped the wilderness with the goal of dragging them back to that forested hell once more — but she must also host an unannounced high school reunion with a bunch of girls who haven’t kept in touch because they thought she was locked up in a Swedish mental institution for the past decade. Talk about awkward.
All we’re saying is this: Travis was suspiciously quick to unhook that Longhorn skull and start leaking blood all over it.
Oh, men aren’t useless? Explain this guy then.
We’d never badmouth a lesbian who owns a video rental store named “While You Were Streaming,” but we do need to amend our earlier assumption that Vanessa Palmer was the most well-adjusted adult on this show. She’s popping pills and ignoring past-due notices and clinging to her electric dildos instead of forming any kind of real romantic connection with another human being. Her excellent taste in music aside, Van is not okay.
Taissa Turner fans likely walked away from this episode thinking two things. First, Jasmin Savoy-Brown is truly a top-notch birthing coach. Second, just because a girl wrote that she loved you in blood one time doesn’t mean that, years later, you can offer her dating and real estate advice on the same day. Your sleepwalking alter ego just tried to murder your wife Taissa, and you’ve likely missed your swearing-in ceremony at this point. Get a job and stay away from her.
Callie continues to make a strong case for receiving the Most Improved Player award on this show but her performance at the police station in this episode marked the first time we truly saw the mother-daughter resemblance between Shauna and her wayward teen offspring. It was almost, dare we say, heartwarming.
Music is Jeff Sadecki’s form of therapy. Also, we’re pretty sure he voted to defund the police. What an ally.
Showtime’s ‘Yellowjackets’ streams on Fridays, followed by TV airtime on Sunday nights.