Episode five of “Yellowjackets” Season 2, “Two Truths and a Lie,” presents a dramatic transition. To what, exactly? The destination remains obscured, but this episode makes it abundantly clear that whatever is coming, it’s terrible news for the Yellowjackets. “Two Truths and a Lie” thrillingly marks the slow beginning of converging plotlines, setting up the potential for an unseen common enemy or force in both timelines. Until then, it plunges its characters deeper into turmoil and danger.
The episode starts with a proper introduction to adult Van (Lauren Ambrose), the owner of a video store adorably named “While You Were Streaming.” Her reunion with Tai (Tawny Cypress) comes fraught with high emotions, though it doesn’t get the emphasis you’d expect. Instead, it’s more about Nat (Juliette Lewis) and Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) tenuous truce to uncover the truth behind Travis’s death and Shauna’s (Melanie Lynskey) increasingly complicated bid to throw the cops off her scent. Callie (Sarah Desjardins) finally shows that she is her mother’s daughter in her handling of the family secret, and her quick thinking helps her family now – but may complicate Shauna’s predicament later.
While the present timeline gets the spotlight in this episode, the past still takes great strides toward collapse. Friendships are fracturing, pushing the precarious group dynamics toward disaster, all while Lottie’s (Courtney Eaton) influence grows more substantial. More important is the way it continues to use the teens’ plotlines to bolster their adult counterparts. Tai and Van’s reunion in the present may not receive much screentime just yet, but it gets enriched by their teen selves enjoying a less contentious point in their relationship. Conversely, the unsettling trouble Misty (Samantha Hanratty) gets herself into reveals more about her motivations in the present, as adult Misty (Christina Ricci) wedges herself into the role of Nat’s savior.
The show’s almost uncanny ability to lay the groundwork for a potent payoff later continues. That’s exemplified to a smaller extent in “Two Truths and a Lie” when Misty balks at “Stayin’ Alive” playing on the car radio. It seems a minor, inconsequential choice more reflective of Misty’s music preferences, but a shocking scene late in the episode reveals why that song instantly repulses her. Not only is this a demented punchline to a darkly funny yet cruel joke, but it’s a heady reminder that nothing is superfluous in the world of “Yellowjackets.” No dialogue is throwaway or moment unimportant; it all contributes to a larger picture somehow.
Naturally, because this is “Yellowjackets,” the transitionary episode builds to explosive reveals that suggest a pivotal turning point is incoming. The questions it raises aren’t simply a cliffhanger meant to carry us into the next episode but rather dangle overarching possibilities for the whole series. Thus far, “Yellowjackets” uses the dual timelines to demonstrate just how deep the trauma of surviving that ill-fated plane crash is embedded into the characters’ psyches, emphasizing the psychological horror through disruptive lives and patterns of self-destruction.
“Two Truths and a Lie” suggests that perhaps it’s time for the psychological horror to take a back seat and let whatever is leaving mysterious symbols in the woods take center stage.
Episode 5 of “Yellowjackets” Season 2 is available to stream now for Showtime subscribers and the episode will make its on-air debut on Sunday, April 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.