[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for Yellowjackets Season 2, Episode 3, "Digestif."]
Like the headstrong teenage girls at its center, Yellowjackets refuses to be put into just one box. The Showtime series is at once a survival drama (complete with beautifully-depicted cannibalism scenes), a supernatural thriller, a poignant romance, and thanks to the addition of characters like Jeff (Warren Kole) — who delivers Season 1's most memorable line read upon learning that "there's no book club" — a character comedy. "Digestif," the third episode of Season 2, adds another genre to the mix: For eight glorious minutes, Yellowjackets becomes a detective caper, as Misty (Christina Ricci) and fellow online investigator Walter (Elijah Wood) embark upon a covert mission to interrogate a "witness" about her missing friend Natalie (Juliette Lewis).
Misty, an eldercare nurse who moonlights as a citizen detective, and Walter first crossed paths on a Reddit thread about Adam Martin's (Peter Gadiot) suspicious disappearance. Using her AfricanGrey alias — an homage to her pet bird Caligula — as cover, Misty has been monitoring the thread to make sure she, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), and Natalie covered their tracks when they disposed of Adam's body, but when a user named PuttingtheSickinForensics correctly surmises that Adam had a lover, alarm bells start ringing in her head. She repeatedly downvotes Forensics' posts, an impulsive reaction that both frustrates the mystery user and piques his interest in the motel video cameras Misty previously posted about on the boards.
In Episode 2, "Edible Complex," Forensics, who we later learn is named Walter Tattersall, takes their online relationship into the real world when he drops by Misty's workplace. A note left in the fridge (and written in invisible ink) reveals he's done some digging into the cameras and found a man who's been living at the motel for months. Walter has never met Misty, but he knows exactly what to say to flatter her ego: "[The man] thinks he's being interviewed by the FBI tomorrow at 11 hundred hours. Would Agent Quigley care to join?"
The note — which acknowledges that their detective bit is serious, but also fairly silly — sets the tone for Misty and Walter's meeting in "Digestif." Their crack detective work takes place not in an interrogation room or on a park bench, but aboard Walter's boat, Great Expectations, which allows him to "leave the country sans passport" (he says, only half-kidding). Misty isn't deterred by the interview's unconventional setting. Like a federal agent claiming jurisdiction over a small-town murder, Misty asserts that the case is hers, and she'll be the one asking the questions. But that bravado turns to panic when she realizes Walter's witness is none other than Randy Walsh (Jeff Holman), Jeff's oafish best friend, and she's forced to hide in the tiny boat bathroom to avoid blowing the whole operation.
With that, Yellowjackets goes full buddy cop comedy as Misty feeds Walter questions via an earpiece, and Walter attempts to keep a straight face as she becomes increasingly agitated with Randy's unhelpful responses. After a few rounds of back and forth, Misty, who's unhinged even on a good day, finally loses it, hissing at Walter to "hit him." Walter may be fine impersonating an FBI agent, but assaulting this buffoonish man is a bridge too far. He excuses himself — "Forgive me. I have IBS" — and runs to the bathroom, where he and Misty renew the age-old Good Cop/Bad Cop debate.
Walter wants to win Randy's trust, but Misty refuses. "He once made Joe Fazio eat a frog during recess," she whisper-yells. "Bad cop is the only way to break him!" Ricci doesn't hesitate for a second as she unleashes this highly-specific childhood memory. Her urgency serves as yet another reminder that Misty has been logging these indignities for decades, and the score is never far from her mind.
Everything in this scene is calibrated to maximize the comedic impact. Misty and Walter are jammed together in the bathroom, stuck between the toilet and sink, bickering as if they're real detectives investigating a real case. When Misty reveals she wants to "break" Randy, the look on Walter's face betrays a mix of fear, awe, and even lust, as if he can't believe this fascinating woman is standing in front of him. He's so thoroughly convinced of Misty's magnificence that he barges out of the bathroom and hits Randy in the face twice, eliciting a well-timed "Dude, what the f*ck?!" from Holman's character.
"Digestif" cuts away from Great Expectations for a quick trip back to the 1990s-set timeline, but when it returns, Walter embraces the pleasures of playing Bad Cop. He grabs a hand drill and waxes on about the benefits of "interrogating witnesses on the water" until Randy admits he saw a "wacky club" of people in purple outfits hanging around the motel at the time of Natalie's disappearance. That nugget of information is enough for Walter and Misty to release Randy — but not without a warning to "remain in town," or else Walter and his spinning tool will come calling.
Ricci's ability to bring Misty's maniacal impulses to life was one of the most exciting parts of Yellowjackets Season 1, but in Wood, she's met her match. (Ricci and Wood have history: They co-starred in 1997 film The Ice Storm when they were teens.) Even as they're arguing about interrogation techniques, their chemistry is palpable, and later, when Walter admits he's "a bored Moriarty looking for [his] Sherlock," it's perhaps the first time Misty truly feels seen by another person. Of course, Walter doesn't know about Misty's black box-destroying, cigarette-poisoning past (or does he?), but given how much fun it is to watch them together on screen, fans may find themselves compelled to root for these two messed up souls yearning for connection, regardless.
Even for Yellowjackets, a show that embraces different tones and genre influences, Misty and Walter's caper is a major departure from what we've seen so far. Their buddy cop comedy couldn't be more different from the surrounding scenes, in which the stranded teenage girls experience a post-cannibalism hangover, but in the context of the episode, this transition works. As we see with young Misty's (Samantha Hanratty) Sweet Magnolias monologue, these lighthearted moments function as both a respite from the darkness and a means of complicating Misty's role as the show's villain. Don't expect Misty to start atoning for her sins any time soon, but at the very least, in Walter, she's found a partner in crime with whom to share them.
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.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.
TOPICS: Yellowjackets, Showtime, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Jeff Holman, Juliette Lewis, Samantha Hanratty