In Defense of Misty, the Only Good Friend on ‘Yellowjackets’

In Defense of Misty, the Only Good Friend on ‘Yellowjackets’

A disclaimer: I have always gravitated towards unstable people. Maybe it’s because I was bullied as a child. You see, when you get picked on, aren’t athletic, and—I don’t think I need to add this but will—aren’t popular, you come up with ways to compensate. This is how a lot of people develop stunning personalities; I, unfortunately, opted instead to embrace unbridled chaos. My boyfriend promises me, completely voluntarily and without any prompting every single day, that he doesn’t mind. (Wait, am I unstable?) And I think that’s why when I sat down to watch Showtime’s Yellowjackets, I felt an immediate kinship with both young and adult Misty (played by Samantha Hanratty and Christina Ricci, respectively). I love mess, almost as much as I love loyalty, and she’s got both in spades.

For those not watching 2022’s first breakaway hit, Yellowjackets follows a group of female high school soccer players after their plane crashes in the wilderness on their trip to Nationals. Half the series is a flashback to the past, documenting the immediate trauma that comes with surviving a plane crash and being marooned. The other half of the timeline follows the adult lives of four survivors of the crash. At the core of both groups is Misty: a (fellow) weirdo who serves as the team’s equipment manager. She wasn’t liked in school, and she’s not particularly liked in her adult life. She’s tolerated in the woods, only because she’s a teenager who is strangely adept in the field of trauma medicine.

At the end of Episode Two, when Misty privately smashes the plane’s black box, thus extinguishing any hope that the team will be tracked down, a couple of colleagues told me: Misty is crazy! Misty is a nightmare! And I’ll be honest with you, because you’re reading this, and that makes us really close fucking friends… I don’t think they get it. Like, sure, I guess that Misty is the reason that this group got abandoned in the woods for months longer than they would have been otherwise, but… to quote Vanessa Hudgens from her Instagram Live from the beginning of the pandemic, “Yeah, people are going to die, which is terrible, but like inevitable?” If Misty didn’t bust that box, then we wouldn’t have a show, people. This is what we like to call, in the biz, a “net positive.” And people like Misty? Those are the types who you want around. Smashing that black box was not a violent act. It was a favor (!) because all Misty wants to do is demonstrate how good of a friend she can be. And she needs time to do so.

Misty, who is misunderstood and under-appreciated, just needs a friend in her life as good as she is.
Paul Sarkis

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, she jumps into action. When the coach’s leg is smashed under a piece of the plane, she is the one brave enough to take an axe and amputate that dangler with one swift swing. She’s out here setting bones, cauterizing open wounds, and stitching faces back together. Sure, did she also later trip the coach with an amputated leg, making him fall to the ground? Yes, okay, that wasn’t great. But maybe if he had really appreciated her from the jump, she wouldn’t have to reiterate how important her presence is. Did you think about that, y’all?

In our current timeline, as another mystery unfolds around the four surviving women, it’s Misty who remains one step ahead. When her friend Natalie (played by Juliette Lewis) needs a ride upstate to visit an old friend, Misty is happy to lend her her car and company. Yes, the reason Natalie needed the ride is because Misty ripped her battery wires out, but whomst among us? I ask. Whomst! When a fixer hired by Tai named “Jessica Roberts” was blackmailing the four survivors into admitting they partook in cannibalism out in the woods, do you know what Misty does? She kidnaps that woman, holds her hostage, and then laces a box of chocolates with fentanyl meant for the woman’s ailing father… just to make sure she remains chill.

Now, I know that you’re thinking: I don’t know, Justin, sounds kind of intense. To that, I say 1) I love that we’re on a first name basis and 2) You say intense. I say loyal.

Can you imagine having a friend who, unprompted, would go so far? I once asked my best friend to pick me up from the airport and he laughed at me. I’ve known this guy for a decade. Do you know where Misty would be in that scenario? She’d be piloting the fucking plane, taxiing directly down the tarmac until we made it directly to the car she arranged to drive me home. And if anyone tried to exit before me, she’d cut their throat with that tiny knife on the thinking end of a wine key. Instead of this Misty judgment and skepticism, maybe we should be asking ourselves how we can be a friend more like her.

christina ricci as misty in yellowjackets, “no “compass photo credit kailey schwermanshowtime

All these years later, Misty hasn’t just improved. She’s ascended.
Kailey Schwerman

I’m not here to say she’s without fault. She keeps her fridge stocked with Coconut La Croix and has a parrot named Caligula, which is the name of a notable Roman emperor whose reign ended in unchecked tyranny and sexual deviancy. I’ve never trusted a bird owner, and much like God does with lukewarm Christians, I spit Coconut La Croix out of my mouth with disdain.

But look at me, already contradicting myself. I am focusing on Misty’s bad qualities as opposed to celebrating her for the loyal, eccentric individual she is. Yellowjackets has awakened something in me that I’ve needed to stir for a long time. How far would I go for my friends? Would I figure out how to, like, find fentanyl and/or steal prescriptions from my workplace? If the answer to that is “no”—and just so we’re clear, it is—then it’s me who needs to take a long look in the mirror.

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