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Yellowjackets Uses Classic TV Trope To Tell Horrific Tale In S2E6

Contains spoilers for "Yellowjackets" Season 2 Episode 6 — "Qui"

Sure, TV tropes are overused — there's an entire website devoted to tracking the most egregious ones — but they exist for a reason. When they're done correctly, though, they can provide a real gut punch, and the sixth episode of Season 2 of "Yellowjackets" provides a compelling argument as to why sometimes tropes are actually kind of great.

In the 1996 timeline, where the girls' soccer team is struggling while trapped in the remote wilderness, a young Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is pregnant, and the fate of the baby is one of the show's biggest questions. Episode 6, titled "Qui," gives us an answer... and it's at once grim and a masterful interpretation of one of the most classic of TV tropes.

Shauna finally gives birth, which kind of had to happen at some point, and the girls gather around, desperately trying to help despite their lack of both medical training and clean equipment. Any number of things could go wrong, and based on Shauna's perspective, they do: the baby is starving because he refuses to breastfeed, he bonds with Lottie (Courtney Eaton) instead, and then, uh, the team eats Shauna's baby just like they did to Jackie (Ella Purnell). After a series of dreams, Shauna wakes up to find out the worst thing of all; the baby died during childbirth. It's a classic "it was all a dream" trope, but here, it just works.

What happens in Shauna's many, many dreams?

Shauna wakes up to find that her baby didn't make it, which is harrowing enough — but before that, she has a series of unsettling fantasies about what happens to her baby. At first, it's joyful; she has a healthy baby boy, and as she tells him, it's her and him against the world. Before long, though, her dreams start getting intense and frightening. In one, she's so hungry that the baby won't latch, and as a result, he's starving to death. In another, Lottie somehow ends up nursing the baby boy — even though she wouldn't be able to produce any milk — which enrages Shauna, who already has her issues with Lottie. 

Finally, Shauna watches, horrified, as the team devours her baby — a fate for him that fans feared for ages and that the cast and crew even publicly ruled out. The scene is the worst case scenario, obviously, but it's a testament to the show that, when we find out that Shauna's baby didn't get through the birthing process, it's even more harrowing as she calls out for her child and the screen cuts to black.

Other famous television shows have used this particular trope

"Yellowjackets" definitely isn't the first show to use the "it was all a dream" trope, and it won't be the last. Plenty of series have used this to varying degrees, and perhaps the most famous is NBC's medical drama "St. Elsewhere," which ended its entire run by revealing that all of the show's events took place inside of a young autistic boy's — Tommy Westphall, to be precise — snowglobe. The implications of Westphall's snowglobe ended up creating a tangled web that encapsulates almost all of pop culture, which people have spent years charting; "Yellowjackets'" dream isn't quite as enormous as that, but "St. Elsewhere" was definitely an inspiration for every other show that utilized this trope.

"Roseanne", "Life on Mars," and "Lost" also famously based their series finales within dreams, albeit very differently, whereas shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did it for just one episode like "Yellowjackets." In any case, the wild cannibalistic Showtime series, which has proven itself as one of the most creatively bold shows currently on the air, excelled by making Shauna's birth experience into a true house of horrors. There's more to come from this season of "Yellowjackets," but Shauna's birth scene and the dreams that followed made for a dark, horrifying, and unforgettable moment.