Type keyword(s) to search


Yellowjackets' Shauna and Callie Take the Fraught Mother-Daughter Relationship to Another Level

The impact of Shauna's first brush with motherhood in her present day is clear.
  • Melanie Lynskey and Sarah Desjardins in Yellowjackets (Photo: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)
    Melanie Lynskey and Sarah Desjardins in Yellowjackets (Photo: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

    [Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for Yellowjackets Episode 6, “Qui.”]

    Yellowjackets finally revealed the fate of teen Shauna’s (Sophie Nélisse) baby. Even though the end result seemed like an obvious one, that didn’t make the child’s death in Season 2, Episode 6, “Qui,” any less heartbreaking, especially with the bait and switch that is Shauna’s own birth-induced hallucination. For just a moment, it seemed like the baby would survive and Shauna would be able to wholeheartedly embrace motherhood — how could she not, when her child’s very existence was so miraculous? That makes the return to reality so much more painful, as she realizes her son, who she felt even more strongly connected to than she thought she would, didn’t make it.

    Shauna’s reaction in the immediate aftermath of the loss is primal, played to devastating effect by Nélisse. But the effects of her complicated relationship with motherhood are also plainly evident 25 years later. Adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) has spent the entire series so far grappling with her relationship with her daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins). Shauna seems to regard Callie with a sense of superiority and jealousy — the former because her daughter will never truly know all that she survived, and the latter because she now sees her daughter experiencing the adolescence she missed out on.

    Even thinking about the child she was able to raise is a reminder of the child she lost in the woods — Callie is a walking reminder of Shauna’s darkest moments and unrealized potential. It results in a combative dynamic that has more beneath the surface than the typical fraught relationship between a teenage girl and her mom.

    In young Shauna’s fugue state, she cradles her baby and says, “It’s you and me kid, it’s us against the whole world.” Adult Shauna letting Callie in on her murderous secrets and turning her into an accomplice is like a dark and twisted fulfillment of the promise she made in the woods, though it’s now Shauna and Callie against local law enforcement, not the world. It provides Shauna with a sense of relief that she no longer has to pretend to be a perfect suburban mom at least when around her family, and it seems to excite Callie, who embraces Shauna’s less-than-legal strategies to put one over on the cops. As with most situations in Yellowjackets, it’s not exactly conventional, but it’s brought this mother and daughter closer than ever.

    The Yellowjackets all so desperately wanted to leave the trauma of the woods behind them that when they got back that many of them fell into a pattern of what they thought they were supposed to do with their lives — for Shauna, that meant putting on the façade of the perfect suburban wife and mother.

    Adult Shauna lays it out for Detective Matt Saracusa (who we can now definitively confirm is no relation) while being interrogated: “I never even wanted to be a mom,” she says. “You have a kid that you don’t want to save a marriage that you got into out of guilt and shame and you just, you can't really let yourself love either of them. But of course you do, you love them despite yourself — you’re just incredibly bad at it.”

    Just saying it out loud is a breakthrough for Shauna. When Callie first caught her in the midst of an affair in Season 1, Shauna went into survival mode. She did everything she could to keep her daughter from spilling the secret. And once Callie found out she’d killed Adam, she instantly got her daughter involved in schemes, barely even batting an eye at the detail that her underage daughter was drinking and flirting with an older man in a bar. But in this moment, Shauna lets her guard down and admits (at least partially) to what she did to sacrifice herself for her kid. She’s been spending so much time making sure her daughter doesn’t turn on her, she almost forgot that she should be protecting her daughter from the horrors of the world.

    New episodes of Yellowjackets stream Fridays and air Sundays at 9:00 PM ET on Showtime. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Yellowjackets, Showtime, Melanie Lynskey, Sarah Desjardins, Sophie Nélisse