On the one hand, there is sleepwalking—a real and reasonably common condition in which people rouse from their slumber into a state of semiconsciousness. A person who is sleepwalking might wander, or ravage the fridge, or in some cases become violent.
Then there is whatever Taissa Turner has in Yellowjackets. It seems like sleepwalking, except Sleeping Taissa appears to have complex plans and desires all her own. In Season 1, her extracurricular activities included climbing trees to watch her son Sammy at night; destroying Sammy’s toys in positively Sid-like fashion; killing the family dog, Biscuit; and creating a shrine in her home’s basement featuring Biscuit’s head and the stick-figure symbol from the woods—prompting her wife, Simone, to move out with Sammy.
This season, Sleeping Taissa has continued to wreak havoc. In the second episode, Taissa (played as an adult by Tawny Cypress) hallucinates that Sammy turns up at the family home, having walked there from school. Taissa calls Simone to let her know, prompting her to rush over … only for the pair to realize that Sammy isn’t in the house. They jump into a car with Taissa at the wheel, at which point Simone gets a call from Sammy’s school revealing that he never left, and making clear that Taissa’s grasp of reality is continuing to slip. But instead of facing a reckoning, Taissa blinks heavily—and there is Sleeping Taissa, who glares at Simone before flooring it into an intersection, where their car is immediately struck.
Having escaped much damage herself, Taissa uses the bathroom at the hospital where Simone is now unconscious and seriously injured. Though wide awake, she sees Sleeping Taissa in the mirror, who twice mouths the words “go to her” and forms a triangle around her left eye—a seeming reference to Van. (We haven’t yet had confirmation in the series that Van survived the ’90s timeline, but Showtime released photos of Lauren Ambrose in costume as adult Van.) This came after Taissa shouted at the reflection, “Tell me what you want!”—which is to say that Sleeping Taissa really does want things, and not always the same ones as her conscious counterpart.
Sleeping Taissa certainly seems to believe she’s not the same person as conscious Taissa. In the ’90s timeline, teenage Sleeping Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) tells Van that she can apparently engage with the Man With No Eyes—more on him in a moment—“only when she lets me,” before clarifying that the “she” in question is Taissa. (Episode 3’s line delivery MVP: Liv Hewson’s teen Van sounding positively exhausted when she asked, “There’s a she, too?”)
If Sleeping Taissa is capable of acting independently, just how much of what’s befallen conscious Taissa this season was actually the former’s handiwork? Did a sleep-deprived Taissa hallucinate that Sammy had shown up at her house, or did Sleeping Taissa trick Simone to get close to her? Did Taissa nod off for a moment while driving, or did Sleeping Taissa purposefully steer into traffic so Simone would get hurt? If Sleeping Taissa had to wait for conscious Taissa’s sign-off in ’90s—even if that was just Taissa bedding down for the night—does she still have to now?
Sleeping Taissa has an uncanny connection to the symbol that seems essential to unraveling the show’s biggest mysteries. In Episode 2 of this season, she nearly marches off a cliff beside a carving on a tree in the ’90s timeline; in Episode 3, she leads Van to another carving on a second tree. In the present, Taissa awakens at Simone’s hospital bedside to find that she apparently etched the symbol onto the back of Simone’s hand while sleeping.
Perhaps the central question in Yellowjackets is whether all the disturbing happenings in both the past and present timelines are the result of a supernatural force or the effects of lingering trauma. Taissa increasingly seems like the key to finding out the answer. Did she make those carvings in the woods herself, or otherwise subconsciously spot and bookmark them to visit later? Or is Sleeping Taissa actually connected to a mysterious entity?
That entity, if it exists, would seem to be the Man With No Eyes. Taissa alone has seen him, most recently on her sleepwalking jaunts in the woods as she attempted to follow him. Critically, her connection to him is yearslong: Outside of his spooky apparition in the show’s opening credits, we first saw him early in Season 1, in a flashback to young Taissa at the deathbed of her ailing grandmother. As the two discuss the nature of death, her grandmother has a moment of panic when she sees a reflection of the Man With No Eyes in a mirror. Taissa also seems to see him and screams. “Don’t let him take me!” Taissa’s grandmother cries. “Don’t let him take my eyes!”
Was Taissa’s dying grandmother’s moment of panic enough to traumatize a little girl, such that a decade or more later Taissa continues to hallucinate a version of what her grandmother said she saw—one that particularly plagues her when coupled with her somnambulism? Or have she and at least one family member been dogged by the Man since long before the plane crash? If it’s the latter, then it seems like it’s not the woods, the cabin, or even Lottie’s pseudo-witchcraft that are cursed—it is and always has been Taissa.
In either case, it’s not hard to see why the Man With No Eyes would resonate with Taissa and the rest of the group. As adults, the survivors grapple with their enduring fear that someone will find out what really happened in those woods in the ’90s—which, at the very least, now includes cannibalism. Judging by present-day Shauna’s monologue in this week’s episode about the intricacies of removing skin from a human corpse because “people are always so sweaty when you kill them,” it seems pretty certain cannibalism will happen multiple more times. And at the rate things are going, snacking on your pals is unlikely to be the only atrocity before rescue finally comes.
Much of the discussion around Yellowjackets has turned on the series opener, in which an unidentified girl is chased through the woods, killed, butchered, and ultimately feasted upon by a group of others. Throughout the hunt and feast, the characters are heavily disguised with only eyes and a few fingers visible. The Yellowjackets’ fellow survivors are the only witnesses to their greatest shames and the things they believe will be their undoing—the ones that they wish no one had seen, and which, if their flashbacks are any indication, they wish they could unsee themselves. Of course a Man With No Eyes would appeal to a group obsessed with witnesses and trauma—even, or perhaps especially, as he leads them further into the darkness.