The Yellowjackets season 2 premiere, titled Friends, Romans, Countrymen, picks up where the show’s first season left off.
In the past, the surviving Yellowjackets are still struggling to make it through a difficult winter. In order to cope with the increasing darkness of their reality, Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) have begun using the former’s daily hunting trips to put together a map of the wilderness around them. In case it wasn’t bad enough that Natalie’s hunting trips continue to produce little results, though, her lover and hunting partner, Travis (Kevin Alves), has also become consumed with trying to find his missing brother, Javi (Luciano Leroux). Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), meanwhile, has taken to talking to the corpse of her dead best friend, Jackie (Ella Purnell).
In the present, Tawny Cypress’ Taissa still hasn’t fully come to terms with the severity of her renewed sleepwalking spells, while Melanie Lynskey’s adult Shauna spends most of the season 2 premiere trying to finish covering up her season 1 murder of her former boyfriend, Adam. In order to do so, Shauna and her husband, Jeff (Warren Kole), break into Adam’s former art studio, have sex, and then proceed to destroy all of the many paintings that Adam did of Shauna while they were together. Later, after jamming out privately to Papa Roach, Jeff helps Shauna burn all of Adam’s remaining belongings, as well as the journals she kept during her time in the wilderness as a teenager.
Elsewhere, Misty (Christina Ricci) spends most of the Yellowjackets season 2 premiere looking into the unexplained disappearance of Juliette Lewis’ Natalie, who was kidnapped in the show’s season 1 finale. While Misty makes some progress in her search as well, Natalie doesn’t get that much closer to truly understanding her newfound circumstances. After waking up strapped to a bed, Natalie promptly stabs her young guard and breaks out of her room only to find herself coming face-to-face for the first time in years with Lottie Matthews (Simone Kessell).
In the premiere’s opening montage, viewers learn that teenage Lottie’s superstitious, cult-leader-like behavior only got worse following the events of the Yellowjackets season 1 finale. Viewers also learn in the same scene that Lottie was institutionalized and subjected to shock therapy after she and her fellow survivors were rescued from the wilderness. In the following years, Kessell’s adult version of Lottie went on to found the health and wellness commune that she now runs. It was also Lottie who ordered Natalie’s kidnapping in the Yellowjackets season 1 finale and had her brought to her commune in upstate New York.
It’s only in the episode’s final moments, though, that Lewis’ Natalie even comes face-to-face again with Kessell’s Lottie, who tells her that she has a message for her from none other than Travis, who died (possibly by suicide) early on in Yellowjackets season 1. From there, the Yellowjackets season 2 premiere jumps back and forth between the past and present — following Natalie and Travis as they discover a tree trunk that, strangely, isn’t covered in frost like all the others around it, while also picking up with Shauna and Jeff’s daughter, Callie (Sarah Desjardins), as she searches through her family grill for proof that her parents may have murdered Shauna’s former boyfriend.
Callie’s search results in her finding a partially burned portion of Adam’s driver’s license — confirming her belief that Shauna and Jeff must have had something to do with his disappearance. Moments later, Friends, Romans, Countrymen flashes back to the past one final time just as Sophie Nélisse’s younger Shauna decides to eat one of Jackie’s ears, which fell off her corpse earlier in the episode.
Ever since Yellowjackets‘ first episode, which showed some of the series’ teenage characters hunting and eating each other, viewers have known that cannibalism was a part of the show’s story. That inevitability doesn’t make the moment when Shauna decides to chomp down on Jackie’s severed ear any easier to stomach, though. Not only is the moment visually horrifying, but the emotional subtext of it just makes it all the more disturbing.
The show’s season 2 premiere makes it explicitly clear that Shauna does not want to let Jackie go. Her decision to eat part of her best friend’s corpse, consequently, feels like a product of not only her own hunger, but of her desire to keep her friend with her. Unfortunately, Shauna seems to believe that the only way to do so is to, well, consume portions of her friend’s body. Thanks to Yellowjackets’ previous flashbacks, viewers know that Shauna’s impulsive consumption of Jackie’s ear isn’t the only instance of cannibalism they can expect to see moving forward, either.
For that reason alone, the final moments of Friends, Romans, Countrymen feel like a bit of a collective mission statement for Yellowjackets season 2 — one that promises that things are about to get a whole lot worse before they get better.
New episodes of Yellowjackets season 2 premiere Fridays on Showtime.
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