Winter is bad news as a recurring theme in many survivalist/horror shows (ask Jackie from Yellowjackets' first season). In the series premiere, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen,” the survivors are doing their best – two months later, in 1996 (considering the circumstances). Meat is scarce, so they have to ration it. Javi is still missing, and young Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) try to cover ground looking for him. Things are looking grim. As Natalie and Ben (Steven Krueger) work on a map of the entire island, even Ben gives Javi a slim chance of survival.
However, there’s still an ounce of hope left. Young Lottie (Courtney Eaton) is tranquil, marks Nat and Travis with sage as they go out daily, and calms Travis down when he has a panic attack. While she does it and tells him Javi is alive, Travis has this euphoric view of her coupled with an altar. Does he start to get mesmerized by Lottie? She has been spot-on for many of her prophecies. But where could Javi be?
As for young Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), things aren’t looking too good in the psychosis department. She’s been taking many trips to the meat shed and talking with Jackie's corpse. A lot of this is coupled with the guilt of her death and the fact she’s carrying Jeff’s baby. In the imaginary conversation, they start to understand why Shauna still went after Jeff knowing he was with Jackie; quite frankly, it was because she wanted to.
Shauna doesn’t want to admit it to herself – but in the present day, her older self has started to accept she likes these “bad” things about herself. Speaking of bad things, Shauna has a ghoulish obsession with Jackie’s frozen ear. That is the most significant mic drop this episode could have had. Initially, I thought Misty was the ringleader in any supposed cannibalism, but this is definitely a turn.
Seeing young Van (Liv Hewson) and Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) get closer together as they try to combat sleepwalking was sweet. It makes you wonder why they haven’t contacted each other in the present day – mainly because Van is so understanding about her condition. Was there something that happened in a traumatic fashion to cause this close relationship to end? Perhaps we’ll find out when adult Van shows up in the storyline. Otherwise, young Misty (Sammi Hanratty) often gets relegated to grunt work since the hallucination stew mishap. One new castmate Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), loves to sing musicals – much to the annoyance of her fellow survivors.
Things aren’t that much better for the present-day Yellowjackets. Adult Taissa (Tawny Cypress) has no time to celebrate her Senate win. After what he finds in that basement altar, her estranged wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard) is terrified of her. Unfortunately, their son Sammy and their new puppy are caught in the middle of everything. Will Simone make good on her threat to go to press with what she found? If we’re talking about adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) or Misty (Christina Ricci), they seem to have no issue with doing what needs to be done to conceal secrets.
Taissa is in a high-profile position where a lot more is at stake. Not only does she have to work to keep whatever happened on the island a secret, but her sleepwalking has become more of an issue. On the other hand, Shauna has made peace with what she’s become (or always was). She and Jeff (Warren Kole) work together to burn away Adam's attachments with Shauna.
It’s a testament to Lynskey’s hold on the character. When they get to the arm studio, Jeff is disturbed by the number of paintings depicting his wife. However, Shauna uses that moment to charm him. Given that their daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins) is exceptionally not ok with everything that’s going on – the dynamic of how this plays out with be something to see. Shauna is revealing her non-remorseful side, and Jeff is cool with it – at least for now.
Misty is left to tie up loose ends. First, there’s a question about a Reddit post looking into Adam’s payment history. Then there’s the other factor of adult Natalie (Juliette Lewis) being kidnapped to what we find out is his adult Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) cult. Seeing Lottie’s life right after being rescued is almost jarring. When she got back home, she was catatonic and subject to electrotherapy. When we see her in the present day, Lottie is in full command of people.
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen” answers some questions and brings about more of them simultaneously. Why was it that Lottie’s altar wasn’t covered in snow? Is Shauna’s “hunger” only going to grow as the winter goes on? How does Misty come into power with the girls being so against her? This season premiere gives a good swath of its horror premise and dives into enough mystery to hook viewers in.