‘Yellowjackets’ Episode 5 Confronts (and Conceals) Ugly Truths

From Callie's afterschool activities to Travis's final message and a deadly admission from Misty, honesty takes center stage in "Two Truths and a Lie."
A teenage girl with curly blonde hair and glasses, wearing an athletic jacket, sits by a cabin window and looks up at someone speaking to her; still from "Yellowjackets"
Samantha Hanratty in "Yellowjackets"
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Yellowjackets” Season 2 Episode 5, “Two Truths and a Lie.”]

Faith can be an interesting thing. In religion, it offers many people comfort and purpose; an explanation for how the world works and a framework with which to live a meaningful life.

Then there is the other kind of faith: Trust. Where religious faith is mostly internal, trusting a person, idea, or institution depends as much on the recipient as on the believer. When you lose faith in someone, it’s because of something they did.

Both types of faith feature prominently in “Yellowjackets” Season 2, Episode 5, “Two Truths and a Lie,” written by Sarah L. Thompson and Katherine Kearns and directed by Ben Semanoff. As storylines explore the companionship and community based on trust, the title invokes a secret third thing: trust betrayed, and its dire consequences in this series. In the wilderness, Lottie (Courtney) Eaton leads the teens in something that falls between morning prayer and group therapy, but which most importantly feeds their growing hunger for a new leader. In the present, Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) acolytes start to welcome Natalie (Juliette Lewis) into their rituals, to which she seems suspiciously amenable. When Misty (Christina Ricci) comes to rescue her, we get an intriguing reversal of their wilderness ideologies — when young Misty (Samantha Hanratty) was at Lottie’s side from the start and young Nat (Sophie Thatcher) wanted nothing but distance.

The inversion of past and present persists throughout “Two Truths and a Lie,” next with the relationship between adult Tai (Tawny Cypress) and Van (Lauren Ambrose). All the adult women on “Yellowjackets” deserve extra appreciation for building a mostly unknown past into their performances, a skill on prominent display this episode. Viewers don’t know how or why Tai and Van’s relationship ended (there’s a quick quip about Shauna’s wedding, implying they were there together); Cypress, Ambrose, and counterparts Jasmin Savoy Brown and Liv Hewson discussed key moments with the showrunners, but even a few road markers hardly give the full picture. What’s instantly apparent is Taissa’s ease in Van’s company; she no longer feels the suffocating need to be perfect (pressure she puts on herself), calm, and in control. She breaks down, says she’s “fucking terrified,” like she hasn’t been in years, not since — something. She can’t even say what. She could simply be referring to their months without rescue, or to a specific incident brought on by sleepwalking disassociation.

For her part, Van tries to admonish Tai for bursting back into her life (even if it isn’t the most valiant resistance). Van’s is a deliberately lonely existence — isolated, as Jessica (Rekha Sharma) alluded to in Season 1. She’s mostly off the grid and like Lottie, living in a time capsule. She runs a literal video store in 2023, one where she rents out VCRs as well as VHSs and has friendly interactions with regular customers who view her as a film encyclopedia. Her life is outwardly old-timey small-town charm, inwardly stale doughnuts and morning beer. When Tai walks through the door, it suspends time even more within the walls of While You Were Streaming.

Oh, and she lives in an attic. Healthy!!

Two women smiling and chatting in a colorful, busy attic den; still from "Yellowjackets."
Tawny Cypress and Lauren Ambrose in “Yellowjackets”Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Elsewhere in the present, undercover cop Jay (John Reynolds) deploys some textbook manipulation to thwart Callie’s (Sarah Desjardins) advances — but he doesn’t know whose daughter he’s dealing with. Callie quickly uncovers his identity and lies to him about Shauna’s (Melanie Lynskey) affair, because as much as she hates her mother she’d rather not see her go to prison for murdering her art school lover. Jeff (Warren Kole) is horrified, while Shauna feels a mix of relief and pride, the latter emotion mirrored on her daughter’s beaming face. If Shauna is proud — and I dare say she is — she doesn’t lead with that, but with the obvious thrill she gets from sharing this twisted secret with her family and turning the murder coverup into a bonding activity. She’s being practical about throwing off the cops, but as I’ve mentioned before, she’s also being essentially Shauna.

Another truth is exposed when Walter (Elijah Wood) accuses Misty of killing Adam (Peter Gadiot). There’s the flattery he’s been piling on — calling her charming and impulsive, which are traits of most serial killers — but he also says she wouldn’t have got away with it. Misty seethes because he complimented her and he caught her, and because she didn’t kill Adam but she did kill Jessica and ostensibly got away with it. Ricci does a fantastic job portraying all those roiling emotions and landing on what adult Misty has decided will be her calling card: loyalty. If there’s one thing we know about Misty Quigley in the present, it is that she’s fiercely dedicated to her friends (albeit in her own twisted way); the thought that this man might give up on Nat or endanger the others is simply beyond the pale, so she sends him away.

In the past, Misty and Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman) carry the notorious poop bucket out to dump (oops) its contents, playing a game where they tell each other their deepest, darkest secrets. Izman has clearly had a blast portraying Crystal’s theater kid mania, and brings both sincerity and a dash of the sinister to this scene. Before Misty spills The Secret, Crystal stares her down with those blazing eyes, declaring how lucky they both are to have a friend like this. It’s just ominous enough that I wonder if there was an element of manipulation; people have tried to manipulate Misty her whole life, and Crystal may not have been the exception.

Intended or not, the result is that Misty discloses her biggest secret, that she destroyed the plane’s black box on the night of the crash. As she rounds on Crystal, begging her not to tell, she eventually shrieks out: “I’ll fucking KILL YOU!” It’s meant to be a threat, but immediately becomes reality as Crystal falls off the edge of the cliff. When she goes down to the body, something passes across Misty’s face; after an exhausting day (and episode) of uncovering the truth, she knows she has to lie.

Luckily for Misty, her lie about losing Crystal during the storm is quickly eclipsed by Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) and Tai’s (Brown) return to the cabin, with Shauna actively in labor. New life is on the way, as Lottie told us that very morning, “and we can’t wait to meet him.”

Food for Thought

  • John Reynolds is such a dirtbag in this show and he’s killing it.
  • Javi (Luciano Leroux) tells Ben (Steven Kreuger) that “She told me not to come back.” Who’s she? “My friend.” Extremely un-chill!!
  • Travis (Kevin Alves) figuring out exactly how Nat lied to him feels a little too quick and convenient. So much of “Yellowjackets” often points to the simplest explanation, and it just feels a little too galaxy-brain of him to conclude that she faked his brother’s death to break his faith. It’s likelier — certainly more palatable for Travis — that she found some other bloody clothes or herself believed it. It just reads like this was sped along to make time for other stories, so I hope it was worth it (and not more Episode 4 filler).
  • Adult Natalie calls Lottie clinically insane and says “Her delusions have hurt people!” What’s that referring to?
  • I know Gen Z did not invent the term “bestie” but it instantly distracted me to hear it in the ’90s timeline.
  • This was the first condom full of lotion I have seen in a 2023 release, but it was not the last.
  • “We brought it back with us” is the new “We have to go back!”
  • I feel like we’re drawing out this whole ~darkness thing. Nat’s recollection isn’t the massive twist it’s framed to be, and I have to assume what they brought back was…trauma?
  • Why is Lottie so terrified of the antler silhouette? Given the detail she’s put into recreating the wilderness as an adult, had she not bargained for its power? Is she somehow not the antler queen? It just clearly symbolizes something different to her than to the audience right now.

Grade: B-

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.