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Yellowjackets Director Sheds Light On One Of The Season 2 Finale's Most Confusing Moments

Sep 06, 2023

As anyone who read the headline above can no doubt tell, we’re set to discuss perhaps the biggest issue I had with Yellowjackets’ twisty Season 2 finale, and not from an "I can't believe they did that!" perspective, but more of a "Did they mean to do that?" angle. (As such, SPOILERS are below for those who haven't watched.) The element I took issue with was Van and Tai seemingly not having any kind of a follow-up plan after intentionally calling off Lottie's psychiatric hospital pick-up in the adult survivors’ timeline, since that played its own part in the lead-up to Natalie being killed off. Now, that question seems to have been answered, thanks to the episode's director.

Karyn Kusama, arguably best known for her genre work on films such as Jennifer's Body and The Invitation, definitely didn't leave the world of horror behind in her years of TV work, having helped episodes of HBO's Stephen King adaptation The Outsider and Amazon Studios’ recent TV remake of Dead Ringers. Her work on Yellowjackets's latest finale is something of a full-circle return, as she also directed the pilot episode. Speaking with Uproxx, Kusama was asked about the aforementioned plan falling apart as soon as the hunt for Shauna started, and revealed that it was the collective hive-mind shift that so quickly knocked their instincts for a loop. In her words:

The shift is specific to each character. I definitely think that was the challenge in that sequence — pulling off the idea of the collective shift. I certainly recognize that it's hard to achieve. All I can do is cross my fingers that it worked. I would say that the act of pulling the cards, the idea of this sort of collective Russian roulette that they’re all playing, and that had been so… As set up in the second season, had become the terrible, brutal survival logic of the team and of those girls.

So in some ways, Karyn Kusama appears to be attributing the women's behavior to something akin to the most depraved Pavlovian reaction imaginable, which would have possibly become second nature to the girls while out in the woods. Which makes sense to me now that I realize that's the case, though I can't say with certainty that the scene itself delivered on that notion. Admittedly, that may be for the best, as it might have gone too far in the opposite direction for stars Lauren Ambrose and Tawny Cypress to specifically say something like, "I forgot what I was doing right before this all started."

Kusama continued explaining that group-embedded trauma, and how each woman had a different threshold for it, saying:

What I always looked at was this idea that these incredibly traumatic events almost became embedded in their genetic material, so that as soon as they go through even the act of drawing the cards, it kicks in something unconscious or subconscious that's not really in the realm of logic or rational thinking or going to that original plan. And that Shauna is somebody who, despite the terrible thing she's gone through, has this uncanny ability to divorce herself from that nightmarish irrationality. I’m hoping that the sequence evokes the sense that not everybody can split themselves as efficiently as Shauna can. Suddenly we’re seeing friends become antagonists before our very eyes, and that was what we were going for.

Anybody who's worked in a restaurant for an extended period of time will often fall back into old habits anytime they’re in a kitchen, and the same idea can be applied to similar behavioral patterns of all kinds. Albeit ones that aren't nearly as horrifying as what the survivors have gone through on Yellowjackets. One can only hope to not suffer that kind of ingrained instinct. Unless that someone is the Antler Queen, of course.

We still have lots of Yellowjackets questions that will hopefully get answered in Season 3, which is only getting further away with each day that the WGA writers strike continues. Thankfully, fans can look forward to a special bonus episode airing before then, even though it's not clear just yet what we’ll get to see in that installment. (Fingers crossed it involves Jason Ritter's cameo, though.)

While waiting for more Yellowjackets madness, check out what star Sophie Thatcher told CinemaBlend about approaching the role of Natalie in a different way for the upcoming season, and rewatch past episodes with a Paramount+ subscription.