Laura Lee. We barely knew thee. It’s a strange choice in this week’s episode of Yellowjackets to take one of our most intriguing supporting characters, allude to a full episode devoted to her, and instead wave her off with three inglorious scenes. The first flashback sees Laura Lee diving into the shallow end of Christian summer camp, banging her head against the pool floor. She comes to after extensive CPR and first glimpses a golden cross hanging from the lifeguard’s neck. “No, Laura Lee,” he says looking her straight in the eye, “I didn’t save you, He did.”
And so starts the contemptuous tone the episode takes towards Laura Lee and her faith, which is jarring because up until now, Yellowjackets has had a more nuanced approach than that. Sure, we all giggled at her suspecting the plane crash was divine punishment for her just thinking the c-word but she showed real poise leading them in prayer over the graves of the people killed in the plane crash. It was also clearly a wise move on her part to avoid the séance, but she still came to the rescue to physically beat the evil out of Lottie with her bible.
It makes it all the sadder that when she makes a plan to fly the decrepit plane for rescue, it’s shown to come from a place of misguided religious hubris and willing martyrdom. When the episode concludes and the plane catches fire—first burning her teddy bear before exploding above the lake—it’s hard to entirely comprehend the tone. For all that the Yellowjackets themselves collapse devastated on the shore, the explosion hits like a punch line. And Laura Lee’s story, particularly thanks to an excellent performance from Jane Widdop, deserves better.
But before we set off down Laura Lee’s tragic path, the episode starts on as hideous an image as we’ve ever had, one more successfully tinged with humor. Van lies on a lit funeral pyre missing most of her cheek, watched by her sobbing teammates and Taissa still drenched in wolf blood. As her clothes catch fire, she begins to come to, and her friends realize they have set fire to a very much alive person. Watching her teammates patting her down as they acknowledge they’ve added extensive burns to her list of injuries is truly grotesque, which makes Liv Hewson’s delivery of “Really? Fire?” all the more hilarious.
Meanwhile, in the present day, two pairs of relationships are at the fore: Missy butting heads with Nat while Shauna bonds with Taissa. Missy vs. Nat proves the funnier of the two. It’s a grim sight watching Nat drunkenly smear eye makeup over her face (even if Juliette Lewis still somehow makes it look cool) and order a bag of cocaine. And even with a woman tied up in her basement, it’s hard not to find Misty as endearing as she is terrifying. Using her surveillance of Nat, she spots the cocaine delivery and uses herself as a literal human shield, shoveling as much cocaine into her nose as humanly possible. Sadly, as the way things tend to go for Misty, she isn’t met with gratitude. “I have never even tried cocaine before!” she screams…