The Fascinating Duality of Yellowjackets’ Natalie ScatorccioPhoto Courtesy of Showtime TV Features Yellowjackets
There is no “good” vs. “evil” in Showtime’s Yellowjackets; there are only teenage girls vs. nature. Both are deceptive in their beautiful, loving, maternal all-encompassing auras, beckoning those who dare to come forward… all so that they may entirely engulf you in the brutality that lies just beneath the surface.
Natalie Scatorccio (played by Sophie Thatcher and Juliette Lewis) is the crack in the glossy façade that makes up the former glory girls of the Yellowjackets soccer team. She’s not the leader, and perhaps that’s what makes her all the more powerful. Shunned—and possessing a strong tendency to self-isolate—since Season 1 by the others for her abrasive personality, Nat in 1996 has somehow remained the least corrupted by the haunting entity that is The Wilderness.
Until now, it seems. In Season 2’s latest episode, “It Chooses,” the wilderness has finally captured its ultimate victim after struggling to pin her for quite some time. Nat has been The Final Girl for far too long. On one hand, her penchant for explosive emotions and need for control is annoying to the other girls and gets her in trouble. Yet, Nat’s tenuous connection to that emotional side of her that was there before the plane crash protected her, too; while the other girls stopped up their emotional faucets and left them to rust, Nat kept hers at a steady stream.
This allowed her to remain connected to her humanity instead of succumbing to ferality like the rest. But Mother Nature always wins out in the end, and in “It Chooses,” Nat is forced to face that primal instinct that accompanies survival at long last: The innate, primal instinct to keep ourselves alive above anyone else. Nat is chosen as the next sacrifice to be eaten, but Travis and Javi distract the other girls so Nat can run and be spared.
In the end, Javi is the one to die. His death appears to be at the hands of not only nature (given that he falls through thin ice into the freezing-cold lake) and not only of the other girls (as they see his fall as an easy out in choosing him as the sacrifice instead), but of Natalie. His life and ultimately death is in Nat’s hands; she chose not to save him from the ice because she knew if she did, she would have to give herself up.
Nat has always wanted to be the one to control and choose, albeit usually for the greater good. Everything has always been out of her hands, whether due to the other girls’ restriction of her decision-making capabilities or her lack of supernatural powers to control their natural surroundings. Yet when the wilderness finally seems to let her make a choice, she chooses herself after having resisted selfishness for so long, and this is perhaps what irrevocably breaks her.
Whatever you want to call it—Mother Nature, the wilderness, the spirit of the Antler Queen—this power uses this opportunity, and Nat’s utter vulnerability at selfishly allowing Javi to die, to sneak its way into her psyche a little bit after all. All this to say: From the beginning of Season 1, there has always been a disconnect between teenage and adult Natalie. Something has always felt a little off with the way current Nat is, because up until this episode, she has been the only real “heroic” character in the past, doing her best to maintain that altruism in the hopes that it will save the others.
The way past and current Natalie presents herself is ironically the same: She dresses in ‘90s tees, wears grungy eyeliner, and has that same choker she sported in 1996. I think this is partially because she’s still trying to make sense of everything that happened in the woods after their crash. The other women have grown up, putting up a front of having moved on; they have big jobs and children and spouses. But adult Natalie is not as confident or self-assured as young Natalie was, even though they’re both still emotionally mature. I wonder if a little bit of Natalie died that day in the woods when she let Javi die instead of her—something fundamental she’ll never be able to reach again.
Natalie has desperately done everything imaginable with the hopes of expunging the past from within. She was driven to substance abuse and addiction; she then attended rehab for addiction, and therapy to try to work through everything. She attempted to end her own life before falling for Lottie’s wellness cult tactics, the likes of which prey on vulnerable people like Nat; and so much more (some of which we likely have yet to see).
Natalie was made fun of as an outcast, called a slut, and ignored by practically everyone throughout high school save for her athletic ability (but even then, her athleticism is admitted begrudgingly). I think the disconnect between modern Nat and ‘90s Nat comes from a lack of purpose. Young Nat still had time to discover her purpose and still had that fire lit within—a purpose, in an ugly twist of irony, she ends up finding in the wilderness. She is meant to take care of others, and she’s able to (at the very least, try) with the other plane crash victims.
Javi dying means she failed at that purpose. To make matters worse, she “failed” because she chose herself, after openly judging the others for doing so and encouraging them to be less selfish. Nat was always the most emotional, wearing her heart on her sleeve; therefore, for such a vulnerable person whose emotions are usually her saving grace, one huge choice like the one she makes can only lead to a destruction of self so tremendously irreversible.
Natalie Scatorccio has always clung to her humanity. It’s what makes her the most likable character in a show full of ruthless killers and teenage girls (who, in this case, are one and the same). But the wilderness crept in anyhow that fateful day she let Javi die, and no matter what more Nat tries to do, it’s unlikely she or any of the other girls will ever be able to exorcize its existence from the deepest, darkest parts of their psyches. At least, not until the day they die and are returned back to the earth so that it may physically claim them, too.
Gillian Bennett is a writer and editor who has been featured in Strike Magazine, Her Campus, and now Paste Magazine. She enjoys watching copious reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and fantasizing about living in London. You can find more of her neverending inner monologue and online diary on her Twitter or her blog.
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