Lottie and Natalie: ‘Yellowjackets’ Ultimate Odd Couple
Cults have never looked this good.
At its core, mixed into all the cults and the sacrifices and the murder cover-ups and the cannibalism, Showtime’s wildly addictive Yellowjackets has always been about the intense, complicated relationships between teenage girls. After their plane crashes and they’re forced to eventually resort to cannibalism, the already messy social dynamics among a girls’ high school soccer team become heightened in the worst way.
As tensions rise and food dwindles, the surviving Yellowjackets struggle for survival, and friendships soon turn fatal—a nightmare scenario made all the worse by the mysterious, seemingly supernatural presence lurking in the woods. Slowly but inevitably, rifts are beginning to develop among the survivors when it comes to who’s a believer in the spirits of the woods and Lottie’s violent rituals and who isn’t—but the inevitable splitting of the group has also yielded a fascinating relationship: the push-and-pull bond between Lottie and Natalie.
Before the crash, Lottie (Courtney Eaton) and Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) just about represented polar opposites on the team—the sweet, soft-spoken Lottie grew up filthy rich with loving parents, while the brash, smart-mouthed Natalie had a nightmarish home life including an abusive father who eventually died in an accident during an argument that turned violent. They’ve got virtually nothing in common—that is, until the crash, when the two are suddenly forced together, as Lottie’s medications begin to run out, and the startling visions that have haunted her all her life begin to manifest in strange ways in the woods. Out of Lottie’s visions develops a full-fledged cult—one in which a blood sacrifice will result in the forest “providing” food for Lottie and those who believe in her.
Though, at first, everyone seems wary of Lottie’s strange mutterings and obsession with what she calls the spirit of the woods, it becomes difficult to ignore the strange events that provide much-needed food, and soon she nearly has the group hooked on her increasingly violent methodologies. Some survivors, like Van and Shauna, seem fully on board with the odd spirituality, while others, like Taissa and coach Ben, are plenty skeptical. Then, there’s Natalie—Natalie, who has become the group’s hunter, alongside Travis (Kevin Alves), because they’re both proficient with the gun. There’s no doubt about it: When Lottie is first discovering her supposed connection to the supernatural, Natalie wants no part of it.
She makes it repeatedly clear—frequently berating Lottie for her bizarre, frightening antics, and telling her she needs to “say a lot less” when encouraging Travis that his seemingly dead brother Javi may still be alive. It’s easy to understand why Natalie isn’t a believer in Lottie’s cult—even if you set aside all the mysticism and the supernatural elements, Lottie’s cult also serves as a twisted symbol of hope, and Natalie has spent her entire life expecting the worst and living without hope. She’s pragmatic, practical, and world-weary. Used to having her heart broken and her hopes dashed, she rails against Lottie’s optimism when she thinks it’s giving false hope to people like Travis or Shauna.
But while she may not believe in Lottie’s methods, it’s also undeniable that Natalie has an intense connection to Lottie—at first, because of their sort-of love triangle with Travis (he and Natalie have a physical relationship, but he’s also had several fantasies about Lottie), but more importantly because of Natalie’s acknowledgement of Lottie as a provider. For the same reason Natalie is wary of the hope Lottie provides the survivors, she’s also loyal to and fascinated by her—Lottie provides genuine solace and sustenance where nobody else can.
Yes, her methods may be revolting to Natalie, but Nat is hyper-aware that Lottie can provide for the group in ways that Natalie and her hunting skills can’t—a dichotomy made explicit when Lottie and Natalie go head-to-head in 3×02 during a hunting challenge.
Natalie might not have a spiritual faith in Lottie like Van does, but as their time in the wilderness together progresses, she seems to be slowly but surely coming to appreciate Lottie’s value to the group. While Natalie may not be pro-cult in the ’96 storyline, where the Lottie/Natalie relationship *truly* blossoms in the present day storyline, with the introduction of Lottie in season two (brought to life be the hypnotic Simone Kessell). After Lottie has Natalie kidnapped and brought to her compound, they reconnect, and yet again, Lottie’s soft-spoken earnestness and belief in her own abilities begins to win Natalie over. But this time, the problem Natalie is facing isn’t starvation; it’s her mental health and trauma as a result of their time in the wilderness.
Yet again, she’s able to turn to Lottie for solace—though this time, it *is* spiritual. Though we don’t quite know yet if Lottie’s intentions are truly good, she tells Natalie that everything she does at her compound is for the betterment of others, and her actions seem to back up her words. Lottie goes to great lengths to make Natalie feel comfortable and welcome—after all, she knows Natalie, knows what makes her tick, and is able to once again navigate around her sharper edges.
Where young Natalie was reluctant to welcome Lottie’s presence in her life, adult Natalie eventually gives in and clings to her as a source of comfort and support as she grapples with her trauma. At the same time, though, it doesn’t feel manipulative, or like Lottie is playing Natalie for some ulterior motive—she has a genuine fondness for Natalie (both in the past and present) that tinges all their interactions (even the frequently combative ones) with warmth.
There’s an intense intimacy to Lottie and Natalie’s interactions in the present day—a contrast of Natalie’s callous brashness (hiding a need for security and love) and Lottie’s warm, soft-spoken kindness (belying her ever-lurking darkness) and combine to create and intoxicating and strangely endearing couple. Both Courtney Eaton and Sophie Thatcher (teen Lottie/Nat) and Juliette Lewis and Simone Kessell (adult Lottie/Nat) have undeniable chemistry—both pairs finding that beautiful blend of Lottie’s openheartedness and Natalie’s skepticism. As a viewer, you fundamentally feel the connection between them, and it’s that ever-present but unexpected bond that has developed into one of the show’s most compelling through lines.
(featured images: Showtime)
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