The closing minutes of the second episode of Yellowjackets‘ season 2 saw the team cross a line that was at once shocking and yet fully expected: turning to cannibalism.
Early in the episode, aptly titled “Edible Complex,” teen Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) decides it is high time they get rid of Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) body after discovering that Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) was still doing Jackie’s hair and makeup, months after her death, while spending hours with her body in the meat shed. With the ground frozen solid, preventing them from burying Jackie, Taissa demands they cremate her body.
After building a funeral pyre for Jackie and setting it on fire, the girls go to bed inside the cabin. In their absence, a gust of wind—or perhaps a supernatural force—blows a snow drift out of a tree that lands atop Jackie’s body, as the fire continues to burn below her. The result? Jackie’s body is essentially cooked, and the smell of it wakes everyone up, beckoning them back outside.
In the end, it’s a starving Shauna who prompts the rest of the group to begin the feast after she takes the first bite. “She wants us to,” Shauna says, sparking the feeding frenzy. The scene cuts between the group wildly eating Jackie and a fantasy sequence, which sees the girls and Travis (Kevin Alves) adorned in tunics and crowns, enjoying a feast of fruit and wine. Only Coach Ben (Steven Krueger), the sole adult among the teens, refrains from joining, hiding in terror in the cabin instead.
Cannibalism has long been teased in Yellowjackets, which opened its series premiere with the team, trapped in the wilderness, seemingly hunting down one of their members in order to eat her. How they got to such a point is one of the show’s driving mysteries. Season 2, which began in late March, is diving right in; the premiere saw Shauna take a bite out of Jackie’s frozen ear at the end of the episode. And early in episode 2, Shauna, who is hallucinating conversations with Jackie’s body, also helps herself to a piece of skin from her dead friend’s arm.
Considering the show’s initial opening moments, and that a good number of the girls, as well as Travis, survive 19 months in the Canadian wilderness cannibalism seems like somewhat of a foregone conclusion. It’s gross but not fully unexpected that they eat Jackie, given that they have noted their lack of food. We still don’t know what pushed them toward hunting one of their own, but we do know that these decisions have real ramifications for the rest of their lives.
And according to the showrunners, making the decision to start eating each other won’t be the most difficult dilemma that the Yellowjackets come up against.
“Their choices are going to become more morally ambiguous—because that’s what we’re really interested in,” co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco told Variety following the season 2 premiere. “You could make the argument that cannibalism is so terrible, and we can argue that for the next 10 minutes. But you could also wait and see what they’re actually going to have to face, and the choices that they’re going to have to make. I think you’ll find that it gets even more complicated as we go.”
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