Where to stream it? Showtime or the Paramount+ w/ Showtime bundle
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, Courtney Eaton, Liv Hewson, Samantha Hanratty, Steven Krueger, Kevin Alves, Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Simone Kessell, Lauren Ambrose, Warren Kole, Nia Sondaya, Alexa Barajas, Nuha Jes Izman, Elijah Wood,
Directed by: Ben Semanoff
Written by: Katherine Kearns & Sarah L. Thompson
Intro: Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 5 Review
This weekend's episode of the psychological horror drama series, Yellowjackets, slowly returns its surviving group of former high school soccer team players closer to the darkness.
The second season's fifth episode is titled “Two Truths and a Lie.”
Minor spoilers ahead for those who have not seen Yellowjackets Season 1, along with the previous four episodes of Season 2.
This episode takes an iconic page from The Office and makes the most meta joke you will ever see for this genre of television. Executive producer Sarah L. Thompson and co-producer Katherine Kearns wrote an excellent teleplay with a vital thought-provoking theme about darkness. Also noteworthy are a couple of smooth transitions between some scenes: the slamming of the front cabin door and an adult opening the mirror door to a bathroom medicine cabinet, or the transition of two girls fighting against a snowstorm into the static of a television set.
The Poetry in Performing a Lie
There is something poetic about “Two Truths and a Lie”, and it is not just the personification of nature within the snowy white weather. As Crystal (guest star Nuha Jes Izman) suggested in “Digestif”, “It’s all about failure. You keep failing to find what’s true about the character [until]… You found the biggest truth of all: we’re made of lies.”
The poetry of nature in this episode suggests a struggle for enlivenment, which is synonymous with posthumanism. When the Yellowjackets see nature as an entity itself, it is almost as if there is a force that they must live with or so be overcome by it. German biologist Andreas Weber writes of enlivenment as a balance between humankind, nature, and in other cases, technology. Although, that is not the only message being provided here.
A chunk of the episode deals with the darkness as another kind of entity. The late French philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle says that “night is our truth”, that it “dismantles us from within”, and that “without any backstage or rehearsals, in the course of the play everything is exposed”. The screenwriters strongly reflect these sentiments when one character states: “[As if mirrors, g]iving voice to our darkest thoughts is how we gain access to our deepest truths”; to which another character says: “Do you get how lucky we are? Some people never find someone they trust enough to share their deepest secrets”.
While this occurs in most if not all characters, Misty Quigley (Samantha Hanratty and Christina Ricci) sets a great example of the darkness when it comes to sharing scenes with either Crystal or Walter Tattersall (guest star Elijah Wood). In Dufourmantelle's writing of risk in theory, the darkness is preceded by the spiral and is followed by revolution and Hell. We have seen the Yellowjackets uncannily confront the past via spirals and cycles. By extrapolation, this season's major storyline should involve darkness.
Performances and Character Developments
Callie Sadecki (guest star Sarah Desjardins) and Shauna Sadecki née Shipman (Melanie Lynskey) are another perfect example of mirroring. Shauna's constant refusal to deal with the past – i.e., her murdering of a man – has become a fight against the darkness. Not only does adult Shauna have to perform a prolific lie, but she now has her daughter playing a role in their attempts to keep this a secret. Also, for some reason, Randy (guest star Jeff Holman) is in on the act this season, and he is not quite the brightest bulb in town…
Teenagers Shauna Shipman (Sophie Nélisse) and Taissa Turner (Jasmin Savoy Brown) share great scenes together, both delivering some heavy lines of dialogue about trust and collective power. With the next episode coming, Shauna will be undergoing heavy circumstances. As was with both Ben Scott (Steven Krueger) and teen Charlotte “Lottie” Matthews (Courtney Eaton), the character must strive through the darkness as a means to confront the truth.
Out of the entire character roster this weekend, adults Taissa (Tawny Cypress) and Vanessa “Van” Palmer (Lauren Ambrose) have the loveliest chemistry. Having been in one full episode, Ambrose solidifies her role as Van, while Cypress delivers a fine handful of lines about Taissa being conquered by her darknesses. Viewers can only hope that she will properly face her truths in the latter half of the season.
Final Thoughts: Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 5 Review
With heavy substance, this weekend's Yellowjackets calls upon the poetics of darkness as an act to successfully contain lies and secrets about the past. While arguably one of the more pivotal episodes of the season thus far, we must first invite you to see next week's episode. The members of the high school girls' soccer team have their darknesses. However, it is important to remember that, like Ben, exterior to that group, Travis Martinez (Kevin Alves and guest star Andres Soto) struggles with his personal truths as well.
Dufourmantelle writes: “in our relation to chance, death, time, love, and especially to our birth, we must confront a degree of absurdity that will never be resolved in any system of knowledge, any given order, any secret, or any conspiracy”. I believe this is the case with Travis, and Alves and Soto portray the male role so well. Perhaps, it is not adult Lottie (Simone Kessell) or he himself who killed him. Additionally, he is not necessarily Natalie “Nat” Scatorccio's (Sophie Thatcher and Juliette Lewis) foil or mirror. Rather, the darkness must have consumed him. To spiral back to the series' main mystery: what exactly is in the wilderness all those years ago that is catching up to these characters? Only time will tell.