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Yellowjackets S2 Finale: What Song Is Walter Singing?

At the onset of the sophomore season of "Yellowjackets," there was no shortage of excellent performances and meaty plot twists to look forward to. And yet it was newcomer Walter Tattersall, played with unnerving earnestness by Elijah Wood, who emerged as the absolute best part of Season 2. An exuberant citizen detective with a disposable income and a yin for problem-solving, Walter is a well-matched co-detective and romantic interest for Misty (Christina Ricci).

One of Misty and Walter's many shared interests is their love of musical theater, and in the Season 2 finale, Walter gently sings "Send In the Clowns" as he cooks up some phenobarbital-laced hot chocolate. Written by Stephen Sondheim for his 1973 musical "A Little Night Music," "Send In the Clowns" has eclipsed the popularity of the musical it was written for and stands among Sondheim's best compositions. It gained further popularity following cover recordings by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins.

As he whisks the deadly brew, Walter sings the opening lines: "Isn't it rich? Are we a pair? Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air. Send in the clowns." It's one of many overt musical theater references in Season 2 of "Yellowjackets," and like the other tracks, it provides telling context about Walter and Misty's relationship, as well as other cheeky allusions to what's going on in the show.

Send In the Clowns is one of many musical theater needle drops

In addition to the excellent '90s needle drops that make up the "Yellowjackets" soundtrack, Season 2 has been full of musical theater compositions beloved by Walter and Misty. Both characters show an affinity towards "The Phantom of the Opera," a play about a lonely outcast with violent tendencies, and in the finale, we learn that Walter is just as likely to act on those tendencies as Misty (RIP Kevyn, we hardly knew ye).

Another musical that gets some tongue-in-cheek love is "Sweeney Todd," the 1979 production by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. "Sweeney Todd" follows the titular barber, who slays his clients to be used as mincemeat for his neighbor Mrs. Lovett's pies. In other words, it's the perfect cannibalistic counterpart for "Yellowjackets." In Episode 8, "It Chooses," Walter enjoys a quiet night in, listening to Barbra Streisand's solo rendition of "Not While I'm Around" while he drinks milk out of a snifter and does multiple jigsaw puzzles at once (Walter is nothing if not eccentric). The lyrics detail one character declaring his infatuation with Mrs. Lovett, not long after Misty had her own dreamy vision about Walter.

The final musical theater reference of the season, "Send In the Clowns" tells the story of two lovers whose relationship is hopelessly out of sync. When Frederik rejects Desiree, she laments the missed opportunity, singing of one lover on the ground, one in mid-air. Are Walter and Misty similarly out of sync? She did cast him aside on their road trip, but with "Yellowjackets" Season 3 on the horizon, the lovebirds could still figure things out. And if "A Little Night Music" provides any hints, Frederik and Desiree do end up together. That same fate could await Walter and Misty.