(The following contains spoilers for Yellowjackets Season 1, and also some generally weird stuff).
You: “They dismembered and disposed of a body. We’re fresh off a near murder-orgy. A girl froze to death. A bear sacrificed itself. Someone got kidnapped by a cult. Someone else got freed from a kidnapping but then got poisoned by a cigarette. There was a high school reunion. Did you see the decapitated dog?”
Me: “Yeah — but no one got eaten.”
Last Sunday night on Showtime, Season 1 of the new hit show Yellowjackets wrapped with a finale that spurred far more questions than it answered (i.e., how the hell was Allie, a freshman at the time of the crash, the chairwoman of the reunion for a class who was three years older than her?) The series follows a high school girls’ soccer team who, in the ’90s, was stranded in the Canadian wilderness for 19 months after their plane crashed on the way to a national tournament, transitioning between their time marooned in the ’90s and the present-day as adults back in their New Jersey hometown. The genre is a bit difficult to define. It’s a psychological mystery drama — where we as the audience are given a few points on a timeline that slowly becomes filled in as the series progresses, but there is also a strong suggestion that a supernatural and occult theme will play a role.
Also, there’s cannibalism.
Or at least there will be cannibalism.
Sufficed to say if you watch this late at night, a light palate cleanser may be appropriate before hitting the hay.
The show is excellent — somehow melding true crime style Easter eggs with Hitchcockian twists and balancing both with a poignant examination of trauma and its effects. Superb acting from the entire cast, foremost by Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, and Christina Ricci is surpassed only by the gobsmackingly spot-on casting which pairs adult and childhood versions of the characters with a precision that had me googling whether or not the actors were related.
When you take this show and its excellent first season and you throw it in a blender with remarks from the series’ creators about an outlined five-season arc, and before closing the lid you sprinkle in a network partner in Showtime who has notoriously allowed their programming to extend long past its peak — the result is a content smoothie that I know tastes delicious now, but by the end could be a bit watered down and unsatisfying. Alas, that’s a question for another day.
Instead, we should focus on the most important question of the show — the one that was alluded to in the series’ first scene, which looms in the background of both timelines, and that will undoubtedly redefine the characters' relationships with each other as well as how we as viewers see them.
Who gets eaten first?
Some suspected it would be Jackie, but with her freezing to death in the season finale and a newfound abundance of subservient bear meat, that now seems unlikely. A few watchful eyes believed the girl in the opening scene who fell into the pit and eventually got chomped on resembled Lottie, but again, thanks to the season finale we know that’s impossible as her character is revealed to be alive and cult-ing in the present timeline.
Rather than continuing the guessing game to no avail; why not flesh out (pun intended) the characteristics that would make someone an ideal entrée? Maybe we can sort through the criteria for what makes a last resort feel like a meal at a 5-star resort — that way even if we can’t come up with a hypothesis for who takes the inaugural trip from friend to table, at least once the choice is made we can look at the decision-makers and say “that tracks.”
In baseball we often talk about the 5-tool player who can expertly run, throw, field, hit for average, and hit for power — so without further ado and with a similar mindset, here are some considerations when establishing a top-prospect in the cannibalism draft.
1) Meat on the bones.
It’s the most obvious for a reason — if you’re going to put yourself through the trouble of killing someone and turning their flesh into food, you better be sure you have enough for everyone. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if you’ve cooked for everyone and you’re in the middle of enjoying Terry’s thigh when someone at the end of the table says they didn’t get a piece? Then you have to go through the trouble of drawing fingers to decide who gets chopped (literally) next, and meanwhile, your food is getting cold and no one is happy.
Major flesh faux pas.
2) Lean vs. Fatty
When you walk into a Ruth’s Chris, you know whether you prefer a lean filet or fatty ribeye, and those same sensibilities should be considered when you’re stranded and deciding whether to eat Ruth or Chris.
Maybe lifting all that firewood has sculpted some tree trunks of muscle on Ruth’s legs. What if Chris has been spending most of his time seated; sewing warm clothes and chewing the (literal) fat? All things to consider, particularly when you’re in a group setting.
(Pro tip: take notice of the rest of the group’s preferences. If they prefer that lean meat? Time to chonk up, buddy. They go for the fat? Better get a morning workout in before you start your chores. They’re playing checkers, you play chess).
3) Do they seem like a haunter?
I don’t know this for a fact, but I imagine the whole process of cannibalism is exhausting for all involved.
There could even be a tryptophan-type reaction where you get groggy and tired post-feast. With that in mind, while I’m fully prepared for this non-USDA-compliant meal to come back to bite me in the form of some extended toilet time, I sure as hell don’t need the haunting to come in the form of some butt hurt and vengeful spirit. Paper covers rock and we played best two out of three, Derek. You lost fair and square, and don’t think we didn’t already taste how sour you were.
4) More annoying to eat or to dine with?
Some friends just suck to eat with.
They don’t contribute at all to the slaughter yet when it’s time to decide who gets the cheeks (obviously the best part), they’re first in line with their grubby little paws. They’re definitely going to be pissed when you throw their name in the mix for next week’s dinner, and they don’t take the stabbing kindly, but I’ll gladly take the one-time screams over the everyday open-mouth chewing and shitty stories.
5) You’re gaining a meal, but what are you losing?
First off, we’re not talking about humanity here. Once you reach the fifth point on the criteria checklist for deciding who to eat, I’d say it’s safe to say we’ve moved beyond that.
No, what we’re talking about now is whether the benefit of eating this person outweighs the responsibilities they’d assumed to this point. Are they your go-to for mediation when the group dynamic gets a bit too #toxic? Maybe they’re the best forager and have been strategic by not telling the rest of the group their strategies. Hell, maybe you have the ideal prospect that hits 1–4 on this list perfectly, but in the cruelest irony, they also happen to be the group butcher.
All I’m saying is that when you eat a friend, that weight isn’t just going to be felt on your conscience or your hips, it’s also going to be felt as you haul 150 lbs. of deer meat that used to be carried between two people, but guess what? Now it’s all on you.
And when the others try to motivate you by telling you “the fire to finish is inside of you!” you’ll have to live with the fact that the fire is Arnold's redheaded ass, and maybe if you chose someone else to eat he’d be here helping.