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[This story contains major spoilers from the second episode of Yellowjackets season two, “Edible Complex.”]
Yellowjackets released its most shocking episode yet — and the series of events that ended “Edible Complex” once again begs the question: Just how supernatural is this series?
The wilderness setting in the show’s 1996 timeline has arguably become a character in the hit Showtime survival series. In the past timeline — where the Yellowjackets soccer team’s plane crashed-landed, stranding them for what will eventually be 19 months — the wilderness is haunting several of the teenage survivors. Lottie (Courtney Eaton) has emerged as a spiritual leader who communicates with the land, Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) has sleepwalking visions and the entire group became possessed (while also high on mushrooms) during last season’s “Doomcoming.”
And maybe they were possessed again in “Edible Complex,” when they made the decision to eat their dead friend Jackie (played by Ella Purnell). And maybe Lottie’s spirit appearing during the sex scene between Travis (Kevin Alves) and Nat (Sophie Thatcher) helped instigate the feast.
While Natalie and Travis are having sex, Travis imagines Lottie. Then snow falls on Jackie’s body while in the process of being cremated, which essentially cooks her so she’s ready to be eaten by the starving survivors. And eating Jackie may just provide enough sustenance to keep the team alive through winter.
Coincidence, or a heavy hand of fate?
If you ask Jonathan Lisco, the co-showrunner who wrote the second episode of season two, that depends on the viewer.
“We hope that the audience doesn’t necessarily interpret that, or doesn’t absolutely interpret that, as a love triangle. It’s not just like, Travis is having sex with Natalie but thinking about Lottie. That’s not it at all,” Lisco told The Hollywood Reporter when speaking about the episode, which released March 31. “It’s actually a battle between faith and pragmatism.”
Specifically, the battle over faith centers around the disappearance of Travis’ younger brother, Javi (Luciano Leroux), who went missing after Doomcoming and has yet to return. Lottie has connected with Travis on a spiritual level, telling him to have faith that his brother is alive, while Nat has tried her hardest to get Travis to accept the harsh reality that Javi could not survive for two months on his own.
“Natalie loves Travis, so she doesn’t want this faith to become toxic and even more painful for him in believing that Javi is still alive,” says Lisco of what motivated Natalie to plant a piece of bloody clothing for Travis to find and assume that Javi was dead. “That’s a really beautiful relationship [Natalie and Travis] have. But something in Travis is still responding to faith, and Lottie represents that.”
If you ask the three actors involved in the scene, they refer to their own filming experiences. “I had such a different vision [of that scene]. Because on this show you shoot something one way, and then you watch a cut of it, and you are like, ‘OK, that’s completely different,'” Eaton tells THR. “I don’t think Lottie is the sole reason that Jackie got cooked. But I do think she unintentionally pushed that way and sometimes intentionally. I feel like it’s a group collective that we ended up at that point. I don’t think Lottie has that power sway — yet!”
In support of Lisco’s vision, Thatcher and Alves both agree that Lottie serves a specific purpose for Travis. “I feel like Lottie’s appearance, she kind of serves as a motherly figure. I don’t think there’s anything sexual about it. That’s what I remember Ben saying,” Thatcher (who admits she did not watch her own sex scene) tells THR of the episode’s director, Ben Samanoff.
Alves says that when he read the script, he questioned Travis’ feelings for Lottie. “How does he see Lottie? Is it in a way that replaces Natalie, or is it a way that supplements Natalie?” he tells THR. “We had a lot of questions, and when I talked to Ben about how we wanted to shoot it, we started to dive into the fact that all those flashes that we see have a very motherly nature, the way Lottie handles Travis in those visions, and we started to understand that he’s going through the same confusion that I was as I’m reading it: What do I see in this other person that really has an impact on me? As we see in episode one when she helps him, and he has to cover himself up, there’s a lot of confusion.”
With the Natalie-Travis-spiritual Lottie sex scene then leading into the group’s Jackie feast — which played out both in reality and in a bacchanal hallucination — Alves says the series of events seemed to be happening in an elevated state of mind: “It had that supernatural feel where you feel like you’re in everyone’s mind and this haze, and we’re not fully present as human beings anymore. It was so beautiful and terrible at the same time.”
As viewers have seen in the present-day storyline 25 years later, Travis never recovers from what happens to him out in the wilderness. Travis allegedly took his own life and left behind a message that Natalie was right about the darkness they all found when they were stranded. “I think that you do cling onto that part of your life where you feel like you become more of a person and more of a full human, and it is the most twisted time for him to become more of a full human,” says Alves. “I think he grows as a person while in the plane crash, so a lot of his identity is tied to what happened here. I don’t know if he ever leaves in many ways once he’s back.”
Another reason the show seems to have more of a supernatural presence can be explained by science and what happens to the brain when someone is starving.
“They’re getting more delirious. They’re getting hungrier. That has profound neurological effects,” co-creator Ashley Lyle told THR. “But we’ve always talked from the very beginning about being fascinated by belief and faith and religiosity. We’re sort of very interested in the unexplained. People are constantly trying to find order and meaning in the unexplained. And particularly, when it comes to the bad things that happen to you. And so I think a lot of why this season feels more supernatural is because our girls, and our boys, are finding themselves in increasingly dire circumstances, and they want to find a way to control it — and they can’t. So, they want to find meaning.”
She continued, “And I think that whether or not everything happens for a reason or is completely random is one of the greatest questions that humanity has asked of the universe around us. And that’s a question that could be asked of that scene. Are things happening for a reason? Is there some sort of divine purpose or supernatural purpose? Or is it a confluence of events that are lining up in such a way as to result in certain consequences?”
Yellowjackets releases new episodes weekly on Fridays for Showtime subscribers and airs on cable Sundays at 9 p.m. Keep up with THR‘s Yellowjackets season two coverage and interviews.
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