Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of Yellowjackets The girls of the Yellowjackets soccer team have a problem on their hands. And, though they might not know it yet, the solution to said problem lies with their not-so-dedicated Coach Ben (Steven Krueger).
This problem has nothing to do with star players behaving like divas nor with how to ensure a victory over an opposing team, as an uninformed reader may think. It’s a problem of a much more visceral nature that poses a threat to the girls’ own survival.
After all, the girls of the Yellowjackets soccer team have been stranded in the woods for a while, and their concerns are nothing like those of other high school athletes. Trapped in the cold, harsh winter of the woods near the Canadian border, the Yellowjackets are running out of food. And, based on some of the past few episodes of Yellowjackets Season 2, their best way of getting out of this pickle is by turning their beloved coach into a meal. Heck, maybe even two! Coach Ben is a big guy.
Look, we understand that this might sound like a wild suggestion. Are we really saying that a group of teenage girls (and two boys) should literally eat their teacher? But, when we take into consideration the most recent events of Yellowjackets, it all makes sense. Ever since the very first episode of the Showtime horror series, viewers have been made well aware that the survivors of the Yellowjackets soccer team plane crash wouldn’t make it through the wilderness without feasting on some human flesh.
And, in Season 2, this feasting finally comes to be when the girls accidentally turned Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) dead body into a delicious barbecue. Judging by the promo for the upcoming penultimate episode of the season, it won’t be long before another teammate finds themselves living inside their friends’ stomachs. And, well, if someone has to die to keep everyone fed, it’s time for Coach Ben to take one for the team.
Coach Ben’s ‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Plot Has Gone Stale
Coach Ben was never the most important character of Yellowjackets, though he did have his value throughout Season 1 of the show and even part of Season 2. For a while, he provided emotional support for the group, offering an understanding ear for Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) to confess her feelings for Van (Liv Hewson), as well guiding Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves) through their budding relationship. He also served as a catalyst for at least two of the main events of the first season: Misty (Samantha Hanratty) would’ve never smashed the plane’s tracking device if amputating Ben’s leg hadn’t made her feel important and neither would she have poisoned the team if not for her unrequited love for him. However, as Yellowjackets Season 2 comes to an end, Coach Ben’s value for the show only diminishes.
His Season 2 plot started interesting enough. After the aforementioned poisoning incident and witnessing his soccer team diving head-first into the charred meat of one of their colleagues, he quickly spiraled into madness.
Lying in his bed, he now spends most of his days dreaming about a life he never had alongside his boyfriend, Paul (François Arnaud). It’s the kind of story that enthralls viewers both for its tragedy and for the mystery that surrounds it. After all, there is no knowing how much of Coach Ben’s fantasies come from his own imagination and how much is a delusion created by whatever lives in the woods.
Despite being relatively captivating, Coach Ben’s hallucinations aren’t exactly the kind of plot that usually takes too much screen time. It’s hardly a good sign when a character starts to see their own life, real or imaginary, flash before their eyes. And after Season 2, Episode 7, it has become pretty clear that the appearance of Paul is nothing if not a death sentence. When Paul told whatever force he was talking to that Ben “isn’t ready yet,” he wasn’t talking about a big promotion. Misty might’ve saved the coach from taking his own life, but it’s only a matter of time before he kicks it.
But even though any experienced TV viewer already knows where Ben’s story will end, his plot has been dragging on for four episodes now. It’s more than time for showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson to pull the plug. It would be different if Ben had any other kind of possible future ahead of him, but, so far, we have no reason to believe he survived the wilderness nor to want him hanging around any longer. His daydreams about Paul have simply become repetitive.
Coach Ben Hasn’t Been Helpful to the Yellowjackets
But why wouldn’t we want Ben to survive at least until the summer? Well, the answer is that he isn’t doing enough to pull his own weight at the cabin. Ben’s descent into madness has turned him into a somewhat boring character, that does absolutely nothing besides lying around, panicking during Shauna’s delivery, and side-eyeing the girls when they indulge in a little cannibalism. Not only do we keep watching the same delusions play out over and over again, but we also get nothing else from the character besides his imaginary adventures.
Sure, in a better scenario, in which the Yellowjackets had enough food to keep everyone from starving to death, there would be no reason for them to kill Ben. Just keep him breathing until rescue comes, and he would be able to find help whenever he returned to civilization.
However, there is no food around to keep everyone standing. With starvation looking them all in the eye, it’s time for the girls to start picking out those that aren’t doing enough to ensure that at least most of them will make it to the other side. And who is a bigger dead weight in the whole wilderness than Ben? Perhaps little Javi (Luciano Leroux), but, let’s face it, he doesn’t have that much meat on him. Besides, eating children is definitely worse than eating grown-ups on the cannibalism scale.
Getting Eaten by the Yellowjackets Would Be a Fitting End for Ben
Furthermore, children are essential to the story in a way that grown-ups just aren’t (at least, not in the ’90s timeline). At its core, the show is yet another variation of Lord of the Flies-like narratives that imagine what a society created by kids removed from civilization would look like. Yellowjackets is all about upturning societal rules and creating a new order. And, in this new order, adults such as Coach Ben have no place.
Ben is the one element keeping Yellowjackets, the show, and the Yellowjackets soccer team, from reaching their full horrifying potential. As someone that sees the world through the eyes of an adult, he has a more rigid understanding of reality and a stronger adherence to societal norms. He’s the voice of reason, the one trying to keep things in order.
This means that he’s not one to buy into Lottie’s (Courtney Eaton) messianism as easily in addition to the fact that he will most likely have more qualms about resorting to cannibalism. We already know that he can get pretty judgemental about eating other people, even if the person being eaten was already dead, as he was the only one that didn’t partake in the Jackie feast earlier in Yellowjackets Season 2.
This, in turn, has two major implications. The first one is that Ben has fewer chances of making it through the winter, since he’s pickier than the girls, Javi, and Travis about what he eats. Secondly, being the only one to turn up his nose on human flesh amidst a group of circumstantial cannibals puts him in an outcast position that he can only leave by being eaten.
Call it poetic justice. It’s not as if the Yellowjackets have their pick of the most delicious dishes in the wild. Resorting to eat each other is a matter of survival. Even in this dire scenario, Coach Ben still thinks that he’s too good for cannibalism. Well, coach, perhaps it’s time for your team to tell you what they think…