Yellowjackets Goes Through Some Devastating Labor Pains

This article contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" and discusses potentially triggering content.

After a week off the air, "Yellowjackets" returns with everyone's favorite high school memory — underfunded and poorly executed sex ed! The girls are learning about "the miracle of life" from an old tape being played by Coach Ben because it's the 1990s so of course an athletic coach or gym teacher is also tasked with educating how babies are made.

A shock to no one, Randy is the class clown who can't resist making comments about the man in the video having a small peen, because there's nothing gayer than a straight man's comedic discomfort about nude men. Van rightfully shoves her entire hand in a condom to prove that Randy's claims they're "too small for him" is total B.S. and Misty is hushing everyone for talking because of course she is. Jeff passes a note to Shauna in class, which has students talking, so their little affair was much more involved than we'd previously realized.

Also, I'm realizing I have absolutely seen this exact birthing video featuring a graphic depiction of an amniotic sac popping like a bubble. And I'm sure with that description alone, I just jogged some memories of some of you reading this. Shauna vocalizes "Jackie likes poppies" as she passes his desk, a less-than-smooth way to throw off suspicion by pretending she's helping out a friend.

Cut to the wilderness — Shauna is in labor and no one, including Misty or Coach Ben, has any idea what they're doing. It's a fascinating juxtaposition that borders on hilarity ... but I'm not unclenching from stress anytime soon. I know you, "Yellowjackets," and I know there's no way in Dead Woodman's Cabin Hell a show like this is going to make light of a situation this harrowing.

Roll the opening credits. We're back!

Misty joined the cult!

Misty has to fork over her earthly possessions to join Lottie's intentional community, which includes the syringe she used to kill Jessica Roberts. She struggles to hand over her cell phone, with two unread text messages from Walter blinking in her notifications. "Our phones keep us captive to other people's priorities," one of Lottie's followers tells her. Ain't that the truth. Lottie is shocked to see Misty, who tells her to bring Natalie or she'll turn her over to the IRS for what she assumes is "routine tax evasion." Lottie claims they saved Natalie from herself, but Misty doesn't believe it because "you're not even friends," which seems to trigger another vision for Lottie. She invites Misty to stay a while, pitching it as a good thing for Natalie ... but I don't trust that vision. Someone or something wants the Yellowjackets together again.

Natalie is shooting cans outside, telling Lisa to stop trying to be friends with her because "I'm poison, I ruin people," and completely convinced that she's responsible for Travis' death. Lisa rightfully tells her that it's not her fault, but Nat's not hearing it. "We saw so much ... we did so much f***ed up s*** out there. And yeah, maybe it was to survive ... maybe. But I don't think we deserved to," she says. That's not ominous at all, Nat!

Lottie returns to her new therapist because the visions aren't subsiding and she's worried it's a sign she was never ill, and that there was really something terrible in the wilderness. "We did terrible things in its name and I thought that when we were rescued that we left it there but now I realize, we brought it back with us," she says.


Lisa still rules

Misty joins a therapeutic musical circle, drumming along while a woman screams and cries like a less cathartic version of that scene from "Midsommar." The cell phone speech guy from earlier is making small talk with Misty, prying about her texts from Walter. She tells him she's just going through the motions until she can talk to Natalie, which grinds the room to a halt. Her knowing Lottie and Natalie makes her the most popular girl in the cult, which is all Misty has ever dreamed of.

Lisa visits Natalie again and gives her The 14th Gilly, her pet goldfish. It's clearly a peace offering in the hopes that Natalie will stay alive at least for the day because she'll feel responsible to keep the fish alive. "You know I don't deserve your friendship, right?" Natalie states. Nicole Maines continues to be a stand-out character this season as Lisa. "Suffering is inevitable and only by meeting it with compassion can we truly begin to grow," she says. The words resonate with Natalie ... and me, if I'm being honest.

Misty has become popular at the commune because she's got stories about Lottie and Natalie, but she's thrilled to actually see Natalie alive and well. "Knowing Lottie basically makes us celebrities," she says. God, she is so starved for attention. Natalie asks about Walter, but Misty blows off the question. There's no way we're not seeing more of Elijah Wood this season.

Natalie pulls out Lisa's fish to suffocate it, saying "You'll thank me later," but she can't do it. She puts him back and lets him live another day ... before finally wearing the purple heliotrope clothes.

Labor pains in the wilderness

Back in the cabin, everyone is looking to Misty to help Shauna with her pregnancy, but she doesn't know what she's doing. Considering she literally just killed a girl, I'd say she's not exactly in the best mindset. Akilah steps in because she remembers how contractions work from her sister's pregnancy, and those Mom-friend skills are coming in handy once again! Shauna doesn't think she can take a day and a half's worth of labor, but Taissa is hyping her up. She may not have had her back during the day, but she's stepping up where it counts by keeping Lottie away from her.

Shauna is in labor and blood ends up on Misty's hands, triggering a reminder of what just happened with Crystal/Kristen. Misty is in her Lady Macbeth era. Coach Ben tags in, but the sight of the blood is too much for him to handle. Natalie and Akilah take over and do a really good job of lying to Shauna to keep her calm.

Cult-washed Travis grabs an animal skull off the wall and slices open his hand to provide a blood offering in the hopes that it will help. Lottie and her followers all place trinkets on the skull, and Lottie tells him, "The wilderness recognizes your sacrifice, and so do I." GIRL, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Shauna looks rightfully horrified, but she's in too much pain to really do anything about it. 

Akilah and Taissa try helping Shauna deliver, but something is wrong. The placenta came before the baby. Misty is losing it because she and Crystal had a plan to deliver Shauna's baby together, which is clearly bringing up a lot of feelings. Lottie calms her down, and tells her, "You can save our baby." Our? OUR, Lottie?

Three's a crowd for Van and Tai

Van's office sports a "Footloose" and "Scream" poster on the wall because she just keeps getting gayer and coming-of-age-ier by the second. Van tells Taissa that The Bad One talked to her and said "This isn't where we're supposed to be." Taissa apologizes for her alter trying to kiss her, but realizes that her other side said "we," not "I." Van says she wants no part of a "we" with Taissa ... but the way Lauren Ambrose plays her, the subtext says otherwise.

Tai sees all of Van's overdue bills and tries to pry about her future. They're bickering like an old married couple. Misty calls and tells them where she is, and Van calls out that Lottie is a "diagnosed schizophrenic," so it's well known to them all that Lottie is viewed as "crazy" by the general public. Taissa calls out Van's hypocrisy of accusing her of "living in the past" for wanting to see Lottie's compound on the grounds that Van's fashion hasn't been updated since the '90s and she runs a VHS rental store. Van corrects her by saying she embodies "a past where we actually thought being happy was something that was possible, not the one that happened," and we can jot this one down as another topic to talk about in therapy this week when my doc asks how my coming-of-age teen girl movie podcast is doing.

Taissa asks Van if she's even trying to be happy or dating, and Van says she uses apps for casual hookups but she's given up on love. She tells Taissa not to flatter herself because "it wasn't because of you," but I'm calling B.S. on that. It is absolutely because of Taissa. I've been around enough broken-hearted lesbians to know that face, VAN.

Everyone loves a baby

Back in the cabin, Misty tags back in and helps guide breathing exercises, offering a calming presence to Shauna. Turns out Misty's shushing of her classmates back at school is coming in handy because if she didn't grow up to be a serial killer, she would have been a pretty phenomenal doula. Misty is genuinely doing a good job, and my heart is starting to break because there's no way this is going to go well. Lottie and her followers continue their ritual over the animal skull because there's nothing "Rosemary's Baby" at all about a cult chanting while a horrified woman tries to give birth.

I want to highlight how fantastic the parallel timeline jumps are in this episode in particular because much of Shauna's labor is sandwiched between scenes of adult Shauna and daughter Callie. There's some truly beautiful narrative storytelling happening between the scenes, and I have no idea how Melanie Lynskey and Sophie Nélisse manage to play one another with such perfection. This episode in particular allows the audience to forget we're watching two timelines, as the stories feel the most connected they've ever been.

Shauna gives one final push ... and she's met with the smiling faces of her team. Lottie was right, it's a boy ... except "Pitseleh" by Elliott Smith is playing, one of the saddest songs ever written. I have a bad feeling about this. Oh my god, I'm going to throw up.

The Sadecki crime family

In the present, Callie and Shauna have been called into questioning and Jeff is in full dad mode, worried about his daughter. Shauna says it would have been better if Callie had screwed the cop instead of dating him because if she had, nothing she shared would be admissible. The pair show up, and Officer 'Stache is a total sleazeball. Jeff's in his car listening to "F*** Tha Police" though, because this show is determined to make him my favorite himbo.

Officer 'Stache tries to play head games with Shauna by acting like she's a bad mother and a "bored housewife," but she throws it right back in his face, putting on the waterworks, and giving a monologue about how she didn't ever want to be a mom and that Callie only exists because she was trying to save her marriage to Jeff, something that only happened out of guilt and shame (Jackie's power continues), before admitting to the affair, but not the murder.

Kevyn tries to play good cop with Callie, but she's turned a new, Sadecki leaf. She also puts on the waterworks and lies about hooking up Officer 'Stache. "We'll see who a jury believes, especially when they ask me to describe his weird ass balls," she says.

Jeff convinces Shauna to join the others at the compound until the heat subsides, meaning she, Natalie, Misty, Taissa, Van (armed with plenty of Jonestown jokes), and Lottie are back together once again. Upon arrival, something is very, very off. Lottie isn't wearing orange like the sun, she's on the other end of the color wheel in blue.

A bird's eye view shows us that the camp, and all of them ... are in the symbol.

Teenage post-partum tragedy

In the cabin, the sound of the baby crying is starting to grate on everyone already, and Shauna's postpartum has set in. One night, Shauna wakes up to Lottie rocking him and trying to feed him like this is "Barbarian." If Shauna doesn't beat the brakes off her by the end of this season, I'm jumping into the TV screen and doing it myself. She finally has a lovely moment with her baby, telling him, "It's you and me against the whole world," and he finally latches on and feeds. The look of joy on Sophie Nelisse's face is the complete inverse of her DIY abortion episode. The range she has? Throw her awards. All of them. That night, Shauna has a nightmare that the team has eaten her baby, including Coach Ben. Fortunately, she awakes ... but we realize that she lost a lot of blood and went unconscious during childbirth. 

The room is silent and somber. Shauna's baby was stillborn. Everything we saw with Shauna and her struggles to feed? It didn't happen. She imagined it while she was unconscious. Shauna's baby is gone.

Fans have been theorizing since the pregnancy announcement about the fate of the baby, but actually seeing the outcome is one of the hardest things I've ever watched on a TV show. The show could have gone in an outlandish direction and the audience would have accepted it, but "Yellowjackets" continues to subvert expectations by reminding us all that the worst things in life aren't unthinkable nightmares like cannibalism or plane crashes — they're the tragically common experiences that so many of us share while simultaneously feeling so alone in our sorrow.

Shauna's repeated pleas of "Why can't you hear him crying?" while cradling her baby's corpse are absolutely harrowing. The episode ends with Shauna directing her question to the camera. It's heartbreaking, but it feels appropriate. Anything more would be in bad taste.

Buzzworthy moments and additional thoughts

While Shauna is in labor, the sound of her birthing pains is too much for Coach Ben to handle, so he covers his ears and resorts back to his fantasy world with Paul ... but something is weird. He's imagining himself with Paul and other gay men, but they're in a well-furnished version of the cabin. Ben is hearing Shauna's cries while in his fantasy world, meaning the visions are combining. He can't keep running away to his fantasy land. He's going to have to face his reality, or he'll be doomed to it.

  • I love the "Scream" poster in Van's office especially because Jasmin Savoy Brown, who plays teen Taissa, is one of the Core Four of the new "Scream" films. A beautiful little touch of production design there. 
  • Van talking about getting her needs met on an app and keeping things casual is really hilarious because I swiped right on "Casual only. Just looking for someone to play Mario Kart and make out with" and now we're married. SWIPE RESPONSIBLY.
  • At this point I think the writers have a board where they think of hilarious things to make Warren Kole do because Jeff's spit take was GOLD.
  • "Pitseleh" by Elliott Smith ends with these lines: "The first time I saw you / I knew it would never last / I'm not half what I wish I was / I'm so angry / I don't think it'll ever pass / And I was bad news for you just because / I never meant to hurt you." Okay, now read that knowing what we know now about Shauna's baby, and try not to cry so hard you throw up.

Until next week, "Yellowjackets" hive. Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!