Karyn Kusama, who directed the show's pilot, returns to helm the final episode of Yellowjackets season 2, and it's a fitting choice. The events of this episode see us come full circle, in a way, from where we started – except it's Yellowjackets, so it's not quite that simple.
As far as opening needle drops go, 'Zombie' by The Cranberries playing as the group brings Javi's frozen corpse back to the cabin may be a little on the nose, but we'll overlook it. Sophie Thatcher's performance as teenage Nat, however, is a highlight of the episode – Nat is torn up inside, juggling grief, guilt, and relief, and Thatcher embodies that pain in a way that's almost difficult to watch.
In the present-day timeline, the newly reunited survivors are going along with Lottie (Simone Kessell)'s plan to enact a realistic hunt to appease whatever entity haunted them in the wilderness. Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), and Misty (Christina Ricci) are keen to get Lottie committed to a psychiatric facility, however, but Nat (Juliette Lewis) and Van (Lauren Ambrose) aren't so sure. Despite Misty breaking into Lottie's office to find her doctor's contact number and requesting a crisis team, Van eventually convinces Taissa to call the hospital and put a stop to it, reminding her that her sleepwalking episodes mean she's just as unwell as their former classmate.
After the events of last week's episode in the '90s timeline, Nat's relationship with the other adult survivors has been thrown into a new light – has she really, fully forgiven them? A vague conversation with Lottie's follower Lisa (Nicole Maines) emphasizes the strain that forgiveness has on her, even now – forgiveness for the other survivors, but also forgiveness for herself. Meanwhile, Callie (Sarah Desjardins) and Jeff (Warren Kole) drive up to the compound to warn Shauna that the cops are on her case, but Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) and Matt (John Reynolds) have followed them.
Back in the wilderness, Ben (Steven Kreuger) returns to the cabin and is shocked to see Javi's corpse being sliced up for their next meal. He tells Nat about the tree hollow he found in episode 8 and asks her to join him there, but she refuses, too wrapped up in guilt to allow herself any reprieve from the situation at hand. Cut to Ben in his newfound shelter, trying – unsuccessfully – to start a fire, until he spots some matches (Chekhov's matches, to be precise…).
In 2021, Jeff confronts Kevyn and confesses to killing Adam in a crime of passion, begging to be arrested. Before that can happen, though, Kevyn promptly keels over – Walter (Elijah Wood) has poisoned him after offering him a cup of spiked cocoa and enlists Jeff's help to dispose of the body (poor Jeff. That man just wants to sell furniture, but he keeps being asked to dispose of bodies).
Meanwhile, Callie is looking for Shauna in the woods, but she runs into Matt. Luckily for Callie, their interaction is interrupted by a phone call that Walter has made from Kevyn's phone, luring Matt to his body. Walter is waiting for him by the corpse and informs him that he's (somehow) planted enough evidence to frame Kevyn for both Adam and Jessica Roberts' deaths. He says Matt can take the credit for uncovering Kevyn's corruption, or Walter will frame him instead.
So… is that it? Is the Adam Problem, a two-season-long arc affecting nearly all the major characters, wrapped up, just like that, nice and neat with a bow on top? It would be disappointing if it was, not just because it feels too much like a copout, but also because it reduces Wood's playful and enigmatic turn in the series to nothing more than an all-singing, all-dancing deus ex machina.
Out in the woodland surrounding the compound, the ritual is now underway, and it's just as deliciously nauseating and suspenseful as the one we saw in the wilderness in the last episode – even more so now, in fact, as we don't know with any certainty who will survive this time around. After the deck of cards makes several laps around their circle, Shauna finally draws the queen. And, when it becomes clear that Lottie isn't stepping down, she starts to run – all the way into Callie, who stumbles across the hunt and shoots Lottie in the arm to defend her mother.
Back at the cabin in 1996, Lottie says she never wanted to be in charge, but the wilderness chose her because she was the only one who knew how to listen. She can't hear it anymore, though, because it doesn't need her – they all know how to listen now, and it's chosen Nat as their new leader by refusing to allow her to die. Nat and Lottie's reconnection in the present day makes a lot more sense now – she owes Lottie for bringing her back from the brink in the wilderness, transforming her from victim to leader.
The interruptions to the 2021 hunt aren't over yet, either, with Lisa arriving on the scene with a shotgun – she overheard them talking about killing people in the wilderness and starts to threaten Nat, who she thought she could trust. Misty runs at her with a syringe of poison, but Nat jumps in front of Lisa at the last minute, and, in a healthy dose of irony, Misty stabs her instead.
As she lies dying, Nat finds her consciousness on a plane with Javi and her teen self, who informs her that she's "been here for years." Teenaged Lottie also appears and tells her that 'it' isn't "evil, just hungry, like us," and encourages her to "let it in." Is this merely a poison-induced hallucination, or is there something spookier (and, dare we say it, more Lost-esque) at work?
Back in the cabin, the rest of the girls are sleeping, but Shauna is awake in the attic writing in her journal. That is, until she smells smoke – the exterior of the cabin is on fire. Shauna wakes up the other girls and they manage to break down the front door, and the episode draws to a bleak close as they watch their makeshift home burn to the ground (although we don't see the source of the fire, we think it's safe to assume that Ben and his newly acquired matches are to blame).
While the season doesn't end on a cliffhanger as such, it's hard to guess where the show could go next. After a relatively slow season, this is an exciting place to be – whatever happens in season 3, it's going to be big.
In short, the finale is flawed, but compelling, viewing. Some storylines may have been wrapped up a little too smoothly, but we're willing to wait and see how things transpire in season 3. It's obvious at this point that the writers are playing a long game, but let's hope that they make sure to look a little closer to home in the next installment.
That's a wrap on Yellowjackets season 2 – for more from the wilderness, check out our guide to everything we know so far about Yellowjackets season 3, and for more viewing inspiration, take a look at our picks of the best new TV shows.