This story comprises spoilers for the Season 2 finale of Showtime’s Yellowjackets.
Again when she was only a member of the championship high-school soccer workforce often known as the Yellowjackets, Natalie (performed by Sophie Thatcher) was a large midfielder, in accordance with followers who studied the few scenes of the ladies in motion. The place comes with little glory. Vast midfielders don’t usually rating the targets themselves; they’re tasked with attacking from the wings and offering assists. They’re quietly highly effective, in different phrases—typically neglected, but integral to a squad’s success.
Off the pitch and all through a lot of the Showtime drama Yellowjackets’ run, Natalie has carried out a equally underappreciated position. In 1996, after the workforce’s airplane crashes within the Canadian wilderness, she turns into a hunter, solely to disappoint her pals when the brutal winter leaves her empty-handed day after day. As an grownup, Natalie (performed by Juliette Lewis) makes an attempt to unmask a blackmailer threatening her and her fellow survivors, solely to be kidnapped by Lottie (Simone Kessell), one other former Yellowjacket. Repeatedly, Natalie has been an important catalyst: Previously, she made clear to her teammates how powerful the chilly can be to endure, and within the current, her disappearance reunited the opposite ladies. But within the second-season finale, Yellowjackets killed her off. Throughout a melodramatically staged, near-farcical scene, Misty (Christina Ricci) unintentionally injects Natalie with a syringe stuffed with poison after Natalie tries to cease her from hurting Lisa (Nicole Maines), a girl with whom Natalie had bonded at Lottie’s cultlike compound. As a strategy to cowl up the circumstances of her passing, Natalie’s demise is deemed an “unintentional overdose”—a merciless punch line, given Natalie’s historical past of substance abuse.
Yellowjackets thrives on twisty plotting and gnarly motion, however dropping Natalie feels deeply misguided. She was the wild card, an unpredictable character who might have interaction with all sides of the present’s ongoing debates—over whether or not the ladies’ barbarism was pushed by pure instincts or supernatural forces, and whether or not the ladies can ever heal from their trauma. As a young person, she ate human flesh to outlive, however she additionally pushed again in opposition to the affect Lottie (performed as a young person by Courtney Eaton) held over the opposite Yellowjackets. As an grownup, she confronted her demons—reasonably than suppressing them, as the opposite ladies did—by chasing clues to the homicide of her ex and fellow survivor, Travis (Andres Soto). Natalie could not have all the time been straightforward to root for, however she was in some ways the ensemble’s conscience, somebody keen to behave when others wouldn’t, somebody posing the questions others feared. Even earlier than the crash, she’d been known as a “burnout” by her teammates. By the point the wilderness took them, she had nothing to lose. Watching her, in each timelines, meant watching somebody uncover who they might be: not only a burnout or an addict, however a real teammate, fiercely attempting to save lots of as a lot of her squad as she might and in search of nothing in return.
The present isn’t utterly carried out along with her; Lottie crowns the youthful Natalie within the finale because the group’s new chief, claiming that the wilderness spared her life and took their coach’s youthful son Javi’s as a substitute for a motive. The event, although, feels rushed. Natalie has barely begun mourning the demise of Javi (Luciano Leroux), and the present glosses over her sophisticated romance together with his brother, Travis (performed previously timeline by Kevin Alves). Worse, these occasions really feel divorced from the present’s astute examination of teenage dynamics. The demise of Jackie (Ella Purnell) final season resulted from the top of a finest friendship, a typical expertise for a lot of high-school ladies; Javi’s demise, in the meantime, comes off as contrived, an accident that has nothing to do with the ladies’ current relationships. Teenage Natalie’s new position—and the adoration she subsequently receives—appears, because of this, like a twist made for the sake of getting a twist.
The twistier the ’90s phase of Yellowjackets turned, the extra tedious the present-day plot appeared. Though that was true for lots of the characters in Season 2, Natalie’s story suffered probably the most. Grownup Natalie’s misadventures at Lottie’s “wellness retreat” paled as compared with Teenage Natalie’s trials within the wild, which included faking Javi’s demise earlier within the season to guard Travis, looking for meals for the complete ravenous group, being hunted by her personal teammates. Each time the present returned to Natalie within the current day, I felt myself dropping curiosity, regardless that in concept, Natalie’s ultimate moments redeem her. She places herself at risk to save lots of Lisa, as a substitute of stepping apart as she had carried out when Javi fell by the ice. However the conditions are nowhere close to the identical—Lisa had been threatening the ladies, whereas Javi had been helpless—and Natalie has solely burdened Misty (Christina Ricci) with contemporary guilt. Misty had already unintentionally brought about the demise of 1 finest buddy; now she’ll should deal with figuring out she was deadly for one more.
By the ultimate stretch of Season 2, the present—so riveting and creative within the arcs it has constructed for characters akin to Misty—appeared to do not know what to do with Natalie. She roamed the compound week after week, befriending folks clad in lavender, passively drifting from room to room. However passive was by no means Natalie’s MO. She was a personality who understood that the stakes solely grew larger after the ladies escaped the woods. As an grownup, she was nonetheless attempting to reply the identical questions she had as a young person: Whom might she belief? What might she do to be higher understood? Yellowjackets might have interrogated Natalie’s jagged path to therapeutic after her time within the wilderness, observing how an individual explores her beliefs and learns to reside a fuller life. As an alternative, it squandered her potential and did the worst factor anybody might do to a vital teammate: It forgot about her.