DISCLAIMER: This recap of Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, “It Chooses,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome back to The Wilderness, acolytes. We’ve reached penultimate episode territory on Yellowjackets. It’s hard to believe the season finale is next week. “It Chooses” is, hands down, the best outing of the season thus far. Both timelines feature jaw-dropping plot twists and narrative-altering moments. It feels like the past and present are genuinely connected for the first time. Firstly, the adults are together and dancing around their survival trauma. Secondly, the teens begin their infamous hunting rituals while the adults prepare to partake in a Wilderness-related ritual — both ending in the deaths of one of their own. 

Javi’s death is a gut punch, perhaps even more so than Jackie, Crystal and Laura Lee’s. Maybe it’s because we don’t see the life leave Jackie’s, Crystal’s and Laura Lee’s eyes, but with Javi, death transpires in front of us in full detail. Poor Natalie. Now I understand her and Travis’s trauma bond and the pain they carry into adulthood. It paints Nat’s suffering, in particular, in a new light. Absolutely heartbreaking. 

Ready to delve into “It Chooses”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with teen Mari (Alexa Barajas) and Misty (Samantha Hanratty) helping Lottie (Courtney Eaton) pee into a bowl. They note how there’s blood in Lottie’s urine. Misty surmises she has a kidney infection. Shauna did kick her pretty damn hard. Mari complains about the smell while Misty lays Lottie down on her mattress. Misty orders Mari to dump the urine and stop being a brat about everything. While descending the stairs, Mari inadvertently drops the bowl, spilling pee on the floor. She starts crying. Before the Mari hate flows in, we could all stand to remember she’s a teen in a terribly traumatic situation. 

Meanwhile, Lottie is inundated with visions from the impending hunt — we see the Queen of Hearts card with the eyes scratched out, and a knife blade pressed against someone’s throat. Akilah (Nia Sondaya) pulls Nugget out of her pocket and chats with him. She dreams about when they’re rescued and how she’ll build a home for him. Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) asks Akilah what she’s holding. She snaps at Tai, stating that he’s hers. Tai gently informs Akilah that Nugget is dead. We see poor Akilah’s cupping a mouse skeleton in her hands. A horrified Akilah tries to process what just transpired. They’re all delirious from starvation. 

Teen Shauna stands in the cabin in The Wilderness while looking shocked in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

(L-R): Kevin Alves as Teen Travis, Luciano Leroux as Javi and Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Next, in the present timeline, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) informs Tai (Tawny Cypress), Van (Lauren Ambrose), Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Misty (Christina Ricci) and Lottie (Simone Kessell) about Jeff’s phone call. She reveals the police found Adam Martin’s remains. She thanks Lottie for her hospitality but needs to be with her family. While Shauna’s en route to her car, Nat and Misty wonder if they buried Adam’s body properly. Tai, Van and Lottie trail behind them. Van knows they’re hiding something. She chucks Shauna’s keys into the trees to force the latter to tell the truth. You can’t keep sh*t from Van. 

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Shauna admits she told Jeff about Adam. Van pieces everything together, realizing they’re all (save Lottie) directly involved in Adam’s murder. Noticing a few of her acolytes watching from afar, Lottie urges her pals to meet her in the Sharing Shack. (Not to be confused with the Shake Shack.) In the past, Tai washes dishes while sleepwalking. Van (Liv Hewson) observes her. When Tai looks at her reflection in the window, we see two Tais staring back — “Other Tai,” who cracks a sinister grin, and our Tai. Tai turns around to face Other Tai until that version vanishes to reveal Van. Van asks her girlfriend if she’s okay. Tai brushes it off, claiming she’s merely lightheaded. Sure, Jan. 

Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) grabs a blanket for Lottie (it seems she feels remorse for beating the snot out of Lottie). Nat (Sophie Thatcher) muses with Ben (Steven Krueger) if, perhaps, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Lottie died. She notices how everyone seems to be under Lottie’s “spell.” Nat tells Ben that she saw Javi bowing before a symbol tree. The wheels turn in Ben’s head, prompting him to search through Javi’s (Luciano Leroux) luggage while the latter sleeps. He discovers Javi’s sketches, including the one with the tree. Maybe he can find that tree. 

Taissa and Van sit next to each other in Lottie's compound in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

(L-R): Tawny Cypress as Taissa and Lauren Ambrose as Van in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Van gives Mari a belt she found in Jackie’s luggage. Perhaps it’ll be a good source of protein. Mari drops it into her soup concoction. Belt soup — it’s what’s for dinner. Then, Mari hears the dripping again. This time, Tai reveals she hears it, too. Suddenly, Mari looks at the wall, where she sees blood seeping through the cracks. She screams. Tai reassures her that nothing’s there. Interestingly, we don’t hear the dripping, indicating that it’s part of their hunger hallucinations. 

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In the present, Jeff (Warren Kole) and Callie (Sarah Desjardins) find Kevyn (Alex Wyndham) and Matt (John Reynolds) on their doorstep. They come armed with a search warrant. Uh-oh. Callie, being the whip-smart girl she is, films Matt while he searches her room. She wonders aloud how a jury will respond to an “old-ass” man attempting to romance a teenage girl. Callie busts out the trademarked Sadecki tears (she takes after her mother). Matt retorts that he believes a jury will see through Shauna’s lies.

Later, Kevyn and Matt show Jeff photos of Adam’s dismembered body parts. Not only did this person dismember Adam with precision, but they also had the mental wherewithal to remove his tattoos. Matt suspects a cheese grater was involved. Ew. Jeff looks like he might vomit. However, he insists his wife isn’t behind Adam’s murder. He orders the detectives to leave, claiming he won’t utter another word without a lawyer present. That’s my man — he stands by his lady. 

Lottie holds a tray of drinks while wearing a flowy caftan in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

Simone Kessell as Lottie in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Meanwhile, the adult Yellowjackets resume their chat in the Sharing Shack per Lottie’s wishes. Van and Lottie are brought up to speed re: the others’ extracurricular activities. You know, murdering lovers and stopping blackmailers. Misty lets slip that Tai hired Jessica Roberts to ensure none of them would talk while she ran her senatorial campaign. In The Wilderness, Misty catches Ben with a knife. He claims he’s merely sharpening his walking sticks to maneuver them easier in the snow. He reassures her that he’s not going to commit suicide. Travis (Kevin Alves) watches while Nat gives Javi fingerless gloves. I’m torn because it’s sweet, but that darn foreshadowing drops my heart into my stomach. 

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Travis apologizes to Nat for insinuating she isn’t a good person. Sure, she purposely persuades Travis that his brother is dead, but everyone makes mistakes. They clasp hands, having effectively mended fences. Misty checks in on Lottie, who’s still plagued with visions. Lottie tries to remove her clothing. Misty attempts to calm her down. Lottie urges Misty to make use of her body if she dies. Ben sketches the location of Javi’s symbol tree and compares it to the map he constructed with Nat of The Wilderness. He departs during the night while the cabin sleeps. 

Next, more secrets come to the fore in the present-day timeline. Misty kept Jessica Roberts in her basement and then murdered her! Her “FBI interrogation” with Walter was a bid to pry info from Randy! Jeff was the blackmailer all along, and Shauna killed Adam for no reason! It’s enough to make your head spin and then some. Meanwhile, Walter (Elijah Wood) constructs a massive cat puzzle while jamming to “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd. He really is Misty’s soulmate. When he learns about the police finding Adam’s remains, he emails the Wiskayok police, claiming he has relevant information to their investigation. I assume he’ll do something to protect Misty, making this song even more fitting. 

Jeff holds his daughter Callie while both sit on the couch in their home in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

(L-R): Warren Kole as Jeff Sadecki and Sarah Desjardins as Callie Sadecki in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Then, Jeff has a nightmare about Shauna arriving home that starts as a fun sexy time and ends with Shauna transforming into Shauna Knifehands™ as she cuts a chunk out of his torso before beheading him. After he wakes up, Jeff wanders into the living room to find Callie drinking a beer. She asks Jeff if she’s anything like her mom since Matt claimed they were two peas in a pod. Jeff talks about Shauna’s time in The Wilderness and how she lost more than her best friend. She lost a baby boy — their baby boy. I love that Jeff is acknowledging this. He knows everything from her journals. 

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Callie is visibly shaken by this reveal and learning more about what her mom endured. Jeff reminds Callie that it isn’t her burden but Shauna’s (and his). I’m glad the show addresses this. Kids aren’t obligated to take on their parents’ trauma. Jeff is the best. Walter pulls a purple coat out of his closet. It appears Lottie can expect another visitor to her compound. In the past, Misty informs the group about what Lottie told her. No one can imagine surviving here without her. Tai takes the reins, asserting they must find a way to eat without sacrificing Lottie. 

Later, at the compound, Shauna apologizes for her behavior and for putting them in danger by killing the wrong person. The conversation turns to The Wilderness and what they experienced. Nat insists it’s high time they talk about it. However, Lottie believes some things can’t be solved via therapy. They’ve endured too much trauma and pain that therapy cannot fix. Maybe they should follow the rules of The Wilderness. Give in to it instead of fighting it. 

Teen Shauna holds a knife to Natalie's throat while both face each other in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

(L-R): Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie, Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa, Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna and Kevin Alves as Teen Travis in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Meanwhile, at the cabin, the teens stand in a circle around the skull. They provide their usual offerings to It. Then, they employ the same method they use for who gets to do the crappy chores: they pick a card. Whoever selects the Queen of Hearts with the eyes scratched out is the loser in this situation. Unfortunately, Nat chooses said card, making her cabinmates the hunters and she the prey. Shauna puts Jackie’s heart necklace around Nat’s neck. Then, she presses a knife blade against Nat’s throat. The Wilderness demands a sacrifice to save Lottie. By that logic, Shauna’s baby was the sacrifice. 

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Nat demands Shauna look her in the eyes when she slits Nat’s throat. This moment is filled to the brim with emotion, a testament to Thatcher and Nélisse’s consummate abilities as performers. Suddenly, Travis knocks Shauna down as the others descend on him. He orders Nat to run. She flees while some of the teens pursue her. Travis, pinned down by a few feral soccer players, urges Javi to protect Nat. Shauna, Tai, Van, Misty and the others grab weapons and give chase as poor Nat tries to stay alive. I love the choice to punctuate the action with The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” here. 

Meanwhile, in the present, Shauna insists to Lottie that it “wasn’t real.” Of course, this is edited to make it look like she’s referring to their hunts in The Wilderness, but I believe this is a misdirect. Lottie prepares six drinks for them, with one of them containing a phenobarbital solution. She explains they use it to euthanize their animals and that it’s a painless, quick way to go. They must resort to the tactics utilized in The Wilderness. Give It what It wants — one of them. I dig how this mirrors the hunt we see in the past. Naturally, everyone thinks Lottie is out of line for suggesting this Russian roulette-esque ritual. 

The teens stand in a circle in the cabin with an animal skull at the center of said circle in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

(L-R): Alexa Barajas as Teen Mari, Mya Lowe as Teen Gen, Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie, Luciano Leroux as Javi, Jenna Burgess as Teen Melissa, Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa, Kevin Alves as Teen Travis, Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna, Samantha Hanratty as Teen Misty and Liv Hewson as Teen Van in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Next, Ben finds the symbol tree. Despite the harsh Canadian winter, there’s quite a bit of greenery growing around it. He notices an opening that leads to a cave inside the tree. Ben climbs inside, discovering a previously lit fire circle and small animal bones of various sizes strewn about. Could Javi’s “friend” reside here? The one who kept him alive for two months? 

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Javi tracks down Nat and claims he knows a hiding place to keep them safe from the others. She agrees to go with him. Nat follows Javi onto the icy lake. We hear the others in pursuit, unleashing fierce battle cries that echo off the trees. When she trips, Javi helps Nat up. The teens almost catch up to them as they continue their trek across the lake. Unfortunately, the ice under Javi’s feet cracks, and he falls in. Nat tries desperately to pull him out. She turns to the others and begs for help. Misty approaches and urges her to let him go. If she doesn’t, the teens will continue hunting her. 

Teen Natalie reaches through a hole in an icy lake to save Javi while the other teens stand at a distance behind her in Yellowjackets Season 2 Episode 8, "It Chooses."

Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie in YELLOWJACKETS, “It Chooses,” Season 2 Episode 8. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Nat reluctantly sits back and watches Javi struggle. The others circle Nat and Misty, some looking pained and others indifferent. Misty looks fascinated. When Javi dies, Van coldly declares that The Wilderness has chosen. Ew. After they pull Javi’s body out of the water, Van and a few others look awfully, awfully hungry. RIP, Javi. You didn’t deserve to die. First Peter in The Great, now Javi. It’s not a good time for TV characters and icy lakes. 

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I love the use of the hazy, dreamy filter to indicate everyone is hallucinating in The Wilderness. From Akilah picturing a mouse corpse as a fully animated creature to Mari seeing blood seeping through the cracks in the walls, the teens’ hunger is deftly portrayed here. I’ve seen a few theories that the hunting ritual and Javi’s death never happened based on Lottie’s “visions” while she convalesced, but I think it’s all real. Lottie’s labored breathing and tossing and turning ceased after Javi died, meaning The Wilderness was appeased. 

It still begs the question of what’s supernatural and what’s not. I believe some things are merely trauma-fueled and viewed through the lens of the group’s collective psychosis. However, it’s challenging to categorize Lottie’s “premonition” before the hunt as anything but supernatural. While she has a mental illness, there’s so much ambiguity regarding the supernatural elements. I don’t think we’ll ever get a clear answer. That’s okay with me. 

Javi, Jackie, Crystal and Laura Lee were undoubtedly the most innocent/weak of the group. I’m starting a prayer circle for Akilah. She’s too pure, and I love her dearly. Please, Wilderness, let her be the eighth survivor.🤞

Yellowjackets streams new episodes every Friday on the Showtime app, and if you bundle Paramount+ with Showtime. You can also catch their cable network airings every Sunday at 9 pm on Showtime

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