Who knew cannibalism could be so lavish?
We’ve all been waiting for the Yellowjackets to officially turn into flesh-eating comrades, after Season 1’s many hints, and our remarkably concerning wishes come true in Season 2 episode 2, “Edible Complex.” We all saw it coming, but boy, did we not expect it to be quite like that.
Played out as a lush bacchanalian banquet juxtaposed with the ruthless reality, the Yellowjackets munch their way through Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) toasted corpse in a no-frills feast where no part of her is off the menu. However, their delightfully dreadful dinner hadn’t actually been part of the plan; the team had been trying to cremate Jackie’s body in order to let everyone — but especially Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) — move on. Instead, a pile of snow lands on Jackie’s burning corpse, snuffing out the fire so her flesh is slow-roasted instead. Following their noses and their tummies, the team slowly shuffles towards Jackie’s body with a salivating Shauna boldly declaring, “She wants us to.”
Now, we all know Shauna’s been tempted to have a little bite for a while. Her small snack in Season 2’s first episode did in fact scream, “Hey! They’re about to start eating each other!” It all makes a lot of sense considering that they’re starving, and Shauna’s pregnancy means she’s really eating for two. But with Shauna’s incredibly questionable behavior since Jackie’s death, is it possible that she always knew — or even hoped — the team was going to have to eat her at some point? Let’s rewind.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.
At the start of Season 2, we learned that it’s been two months since Jackie’s death. Instead of burying her or cremating her right after, the Yellowjackets decided to let Shauna mourn in her own special way — keeping Jackie’s corpse in the group’s meat shed and letting Shauna spend hours on end with her in it everyday. Shauna’s been imagining conversations with Jackie, posing her corpse, talking to it, and even playing dress up. While a part of Shauna’s hallucinations is based on her perception of Jackie, another huge part of it is Shauna’s internal psyche projecting onto her friend. We’re really listening to Shauna’s internal thoughts and conflicts in these conversations, and in episode 2, we start listening to the devil and angel on Shauna’s shoulders speaking in real time.
Her conversations with Jackie slowly start to get more twisted, with Jackie tempting Shauna to eat her. This imaginary Jackie is almost validating Shauna’s darkest thoughts, reassuring her that she doesn’t need her body anymore, the baby needs to eat, and that Travis (Kevin Alves) and Nat’s (Sophie Thatcher) hunting endeavors are a moot point.
But we’re really listening to Shauna trying to justify her cravings in those moments, and imagining an impossible consent to cave into them. The temptation reaches a climax when Shauna accidentally peels off a layer from Jackie’s skin, which almost undeniably suggests that a deeper part of her was ready to eat Jackie’s body despite her surface-level reluctance — which makes her reaction to Jackie’s funeral all the more telling.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.
Simmering underneath Shauna’s craving is a heavily alluded-to crush towards Jackie. You might not see it if you haven’t experienced it, but Shauna and Jackie’s relationship perfectly encapsulates the unique, complicated kind of queer awakening that can arise between same-sex best friends at that age. The entire experience is a mess of feelings, a constant see-saw between “Wait, do I just really want to be like her?” or “Whoah, do I want to be with her?” (Shauna sleeping with Jeff could be seen as another aspect of this push-pull desire.) Maybe by eating Jackie, Shauna thought she could hold on to a piece of her friend forever — bones and all, as they say.
When the Yellowjackets suggest burying Jackie, Shauna defensively rejects the idea saying the ground is too cold to dig through (something that was also eerily said by another onscreen cannibal we’ve seen this year). Was Shauna’s reaction really out of not wanting to let go of Jackie yet, or was she scared that the team was about to waste her secret resource?
Or was it actually both? Shauna’s eulogy for Jackie begins “I don’t know where you end and I begin,” which soon becomes literal in every way when Shauna consumes her, but it rings true emotionally; something heavily implies she’s always seen herself and Jackie as one, infinite, non-negotiable vessel — whether that’s as friends, crushes, or meals. By eating Jackie, she’s making sure that vessel stays afloat.
Even if the Yellowjackets had decided to keep Jackie’s body in the meat shed, Shauna surely was going to have another bite of her at some point. Based on her conversations with Jackie, the ear snack, the skin peeling, and all the subliminal love and desire brewing beneath the surface, eating Jackie was always going to be an end goal for Shauna, whether or not she would ever admit it. The group deciding to cremate her just expedited the process. And when Jackie’s body accidentally cooks instead of chars, Shauna doesn’t miss a single beat, taking it immediately as a sign to dig in.
Maybe the build-up to Jackie’s devouring could have been a coincidental turn of events, but this is Yellowjackets, and it isn’t too farfetched to believe that a part of Shauna always knew this was going to happen and was just waiting for the right time. The forest sending that gust of snow was all she needed to reaffirm her desire — the final seal on a deal she’s been trying to make for two months. And by the Yellowjackets’ mutual willingness, it almost feels like eating Jackie was an unspoken agreement the team’s had for a while, they were just waiting for Shauna’s blessing — and boy, did she give it to them.
Yellowjackets Season 2 is streaming on Showtime, with new episodes streaming weekly on Fridays. Episodes also air every Sunday on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.