There are layers upon layers of tragedy surrounding Natalie Scatorccio’s death in the Yellowjackets season 2 finale. Sure, there are the usual notes of pain over losing a beloved character. The knife to the gut is especially sharp if Nat happened to be your favorite. Equally expected is the special sense of loss that comes with watching a teenager beat incredible odds, only to still die way too soon. (Just on a bit of a delay, if you will.) Those aren’t the only ideas to consider. And we expect many more to cross our minds in the intervening time between now and season 3. (We’re looking forward to that third season…if and only if the studios finally give the WGA a fair deal.)
One theme that I just can’t get out of my mind, though, is this sense of inevitability. Or, well. Call it inevitability, coupled with an endless circle of grief and denial, of convenient lies and horrible truths. If Yellowjackets season 2 has taught us anything, it’s that trauma is a cycle. And it’s one whose beginning and end may just be one and the same. When it comes to Natalie Scatorccio, that ouroboros manifests itself in a life that was never, not once, well lived. One that was destined to end far too soon — one cut off, yet somehow still spinning along in certain established cycles even after death, just as the slightest glimmer of hope was forming.
A life for a life…for a life
As we see in the 1996 timeline, Natalie was supposed to be the first teammate hunted and killed to help the others survive. Prior to that ritual coming into play, she was their best hope for hunting more traditional sorts of food. But no matter. The wilderness decided, so she was supposed to die. Except she didn’t — Javi did. And now, this, too, could be decided by the wilderness. That elusive, supernatural-or-not thing that everyone except Natalie had bought into by that point.
Suddenly, once the team anoints her as Lottie’s successor, maybe Natalie began to believe, too. After all, “the wilderness decided” certainly helped her shove down the guilt of not even trying to save Javi’s life. But that guilt, much like so many other aspects of the Yellowjackets’ story could not, however, be denied forever. Enter self-loathing, leading to an adulthood of addiction, of a toxic relationship with Travis, of isolation and so much more. All the things that will resurface, like that regret, again and again.
Maybe it really was the wilderness or some other dark entity. Or, maybe not. Yellowjackets season 2 seems to lean a little harder on the former explanation than the latter…but only just. Regardless, the modern-day timeline corrects the “mistake” of the past. Now, Natalie is actually the first to die in the ritual, rebooted (if you will) for the surviving adults in the middle of a different forest, this time on Lottie’s cult’s home turf. And so, that particular loop of the infinite cycle closes itself. But it reopens a new loop — Misty’s own guilty conscience and whatever path that leads us down.
But we return, as “Storytelling” does, to Natalie’s fated death. One way or another, when folks started turning on one another, Natalie was always going to be the first to go. That’s a crushing enough sentiment, but Yellowjackets takes it one step further: One way or another, Natalie Scatorccio was going to die of a drug overdose. A chance at a new and better life, it seems, was for people like Lisa — never someone like her.
“I’m not supposed to be here,” she says on the plane after her death. But “we both know that’s not true. This is exactly where we belong. We’ve been here for years,” her younger self retorts. Whatever that means, and I know many of us have theories upon theories of what it does, one thing is pretty clear: this is the only way a story like Natalie’s was ever going to go.
Yellowjackets Season 2 Closes A Season 1 Loop
Forget all the work she’d done on herself. And forget that Natalie actually died by Misty’s hand (needle) in an act of sacrifice that was, in some ways, the mirror image of Javi’s death to prevent her own. (On this side of that mirror, though, her promised death prevents Shauna’s.) But we arrive at a new inevitability here.
Because Natalie was, it was decided early on, exactly the type of person you’d expect to slip into, and eventually die because of, addiction. She was everything society told us was bound to be just another case of overdose. Fate marked her, in some ways, even before 18 months of trauma in the woods. (Consider, for example, her “type.” The grunge girl, the punk rocker, the loner. The girl from the troubled home with her own all-too-familiar origin story — abusive male figure, same old methods of shame.)
That, of course, brings along with it another ending that takes us back to the beginning — this time, of preconceived notions. Of stories wrapped up with a little bow, presented all-too-neatly, and with no one to care about finding the truth. Nat’s conviction that Travis would never commit suicide is portrayed as just the denial that comes along grief as her search for answers drags on in the series’ first season. As its perfect compliment, her own death at the end of Yellowjackets season 2 that cements she just may have been right all along.
Returning to the tragedy of this story, it’s simply too late for Natalie’s vindication. Because she, too, is dead. And society explains away her death with a believable lie, never validating anyone who might question it, as well. No one offers any other story — not anyone we can trust as a reliable narrator, at least. And why should they? Because, after all, it’s such an easy explanation.
Who cares if Misty’s loudly crying about killing her best friend, when there’s a much more plausible explanation? Of course the addict overdosed, just as the obviously-depressed Travis, always the outsider even back then — even before he had to consume his little brother’s heart — must have decided to end it all on one particularly dark night. If anyone hears Misty, they can believe their easy fiction, simply shrugging of her words as survivor’s guilt. Or, maybe, she simply means that she didn’t help enough, early enough, to make a difference. Simple!
And with that connection comes an interesting sort of mystery. Perhaps, we can even call it a delicious heart for us to to devour as we wait for more answers. What if the supernatural wilderness was talking to us all along? Consider Travis’ last words. “Tell Nat she was right” may refer to the future in which she’ll scream into the void about his own death. His lost future, now our past, in which no one ever believed Natalie.
Or, just as dark, they could always be about something she said in the past. That thing she said in her vision of their last night together, or maybe something else. What if, in keeping with the theme of us forever caught, spinning through our cycles of grief, trauma, and untimely deaths…it was both?
Maybe, at the end of the day, and here at the end of Yellowjackets season 2, simply nothing matters. The when, the why, the how…they simply force us to rotate infinitely, always consuming our own tails — always recycling our own incorrect theories. The wilderness decides, after all. And it’s decision is this endless turbulence is exactly where we belong.