[This story contains spoilers from the eighth episode of Yellowjackets season two, “It Chooses.”]
Sophie Thatcher says she has been waiting for a specific Yellowjackets moment to arrive: the one that would connect the dots between her younger Natalie and the tortured adult character played by Juliette Lewis, who attempted to take her own life in the season one finale.
In the 1996 ensemble of the Showtime survival series, teen Nat (Thatcher) is grounded. She’s harbored her own demons even before being stranded in the wilderness after the team’s plane crash. But she’s become a huntress who provides for the group, and she has pretty firmly planted her feet in the pragmatic camp when it comes to the unexplained mysteries of the wilderness and the groupthink mentality of the cult of Lottie (Courtney Eaton). But with the penultimate episode of season two, “It Chooses,” that all changes.
With Lottie nearly beaten to death by Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) in the previous episode and still out for the count, Misty (Samantha Hanratty) and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) make a decision in her place: They have to find someone to eat, but it can’t be Lottie. The cabin draws cards: Whoever draws the Queen of Hearts will be the person who is sacrificed. By an unlucky stroke of the wilderness, Nat draws the card and her bloodthirsty friends chase after her.
Javi (Luciano Leroux) tries to help Nat by offering to take her to the underground bunker that gave him shelter while he was missing, but the ice below his feet cracks. As he falls into the water, the rest of the Yellowjackets convince Nat not to save Javi, insisting that the wilderness made its choice. So, she lets Javi slip under and drown; making a complicit trade in her place.
“You’re like, ‘OK, so this is why she’s so fucked up,’” Thatcher tells The Hollywood Reporter of the clarity this episode provides for Natalie, who grows up to be so haunted by what they did in the wilderness that her addiction spirals and she ends up suicidal in season one. This also helps to explain the demons carried by adult Travis (Andres Soto), Javi’s brother, who killed himself in season one, adding another layer of guilt for Natalie. “Javi’s death is the beginning of the unfolding of Natalie,” she says in the chat below.
Nat has been, in my opinion, the most grounded character in the 1996 timeline. This episode is a big turning point for her with the decision she makes to allow Javi’s death. How did you react when you read this in the script, and how did you begin to make sense of how you would play it?
With Javi’s death, I think there’s a sense of giving in. It’s all such a crazed, hysterical experience. The chase; that almost feels like a fever dream in and of itself. She’s having an out-of-body experience. And even just her giving in to almost dying felt like such a release, that anything can happen and she’s already passed that threshold. But with Javi, I think there’s something in that moment where she’s realizing that she doesn’t want to die, and then feeling that guilt and that selfishness. It’s a huge turning point for her because she’s going to be carrying that guilt with her for the rest of her life. She already had that guilt with faking Javi’s death [to Travis], and this is just going to make her relationship with Travis more convoluted and toxic. But I think it is her giving in and then really not wanting to die. This is the big shift where she’s not the most morally sound. And you continue to see that.
You do now understand why adult Nat is so haunted by what they did out there. Is this that moment for you?
Exactly. You’re like, “OK, so this is why she’s so fucked up.” That feeling that I was waiting for and that I kept talking about waiting for was connecting the dots between the two. It always felt like younger Nat, out of everybody, had her shit together. And I think this, Javi’s death, is the beginning of the unfolding of Natalie. She’s always been focused on survival and so determined. But this kind of taints her morality, and she becomes selfish. And it makes her just a different person.
I know! But, as an actor, I was always like, “When is it gonna happen!”
To take a slight step back to Nat pulling the Queen of Hearts card, we don’t see how the details of the hunt ritual came about, that they draw cards to sacrifice someone to the wildness. Can you fill anything in?
I’m trying to remember — there’s so much that happens this season. There was a scene we filmed that offered a lot of explanation that didn’t make it to the final cut. I don’t know if they’re going to release it later. We don’t know. So I think to justify not having that scene, I think it was a group decision, and it was everybody kind of forcing themselves into believing that this is what Lottie would have wanted, which isn’t true. But I think they’re taking on that natural team dynamic, because they’re a team, and they need a leader, and they’ve always had a leader, and it used to be Jackie. Lottie is this new leader, but she’s out of it. And Misty definitely added some manipulation.
I couldn’t believe Shauna was going to slit your throat and how bloodthirsty Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) was running at you. I was wondering how these relationships flipped. How do you explain that they were actually going to kill you?
You see Tai unraveling over the course of the season, and it makes sense for her to get to that moment. But, in the beginning of the season, you do feel like Tai is someone who is also grounded and someone who you would trust. It’s like an out-of-body experience for everybody. And I think because they’re so starving, and the stakes are so heightened, that everything almost feels surreal. It’s also this group dynamic where if one person decides to run away, that puts them in danger. They’re used to that team dynamic and listening to each other. Natalie sadly ended up being the outcast, which she has been this entire time. But I think there was something scary with rebelling, too, and I think her giving into [the ritual and submitting herself to Shauna to kill her] was her past the point of exhaustion and giving herself over. It was also very brave of her to do that because she knows this will continue to happen.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Yellowjackets streams new episodes weekly on Fridays and airs on Showtime Sundays at 9 p.m. Keep up with THR‘s Yellowjackets season two coverage and interviews.