Post Mortems

Yellowjackets' Warren Kole Parses Jeff's Place in Season 2's 'Daisy Chain of Catastrophe'


This post contains spoilers for this week’s Yellowjackets. Proceed accordingly.

It’s early yet in Yellowjackets‘ second season, but we’d like to nominate “I could’ve gone strawberry” — uttered by Jeff in this week’s episode — as a strong contender for our second favorite line said by Shauna’s bewildered husband. (Because, c’mon, it’s not likely that anything will top Season 1’s “There’s no book club?!“)

In this week’s episode, Warren Kole’s character continues to struggle with the notion that his wife (played by Melanie Lynskey) had an affair because she was bored by her life and her marriage. The strawberry line? His regret regarding a moment in the past when she wanted to introduce a flavored sex aid into their routine, and he wholeheartedly rejected the idea. Later, when the couple gets carjacked, Jeff is shocked at how brazenly Shauna acts when their lives are threatened by a guy with a gun. (Read a full recap here.)

Complicating everything is the fact that Jeff is complicit in the murder of Shauna’s lover, Adam — and every once in a while, he has a major freakout about it. Because, as Kole points out, when the adult members of the Yellowjackets are up to their highly illegal business, someone‘s gotta be the stand-in for the audience.

“Just in case you’re getting too comfortable with everything that’s going on in this show, allow Jeff to remind you,” he says, laughing, “this is psychopathic, pathologically wrong behavior, pretty much by everybody.”

Read on for Kole’s thoughts on Episode 3 and the season so far.

TVLINE | It seems to me that Jeff is doing his version of soul-searching this season. Do you think that’s an accurate take on what we’ve seen so far?
Whether he wants to or not. [Laughs]  Maybe it’s the burgeoning man within him. And not that I can relate to this or anything, but he’s stretched his adolescence pretty far. He’s in his 40s — and maybe a lot of guys can relate to this — there’s still this hanging on, this fierce rebellion against some of the structures of adulthood that he has pushed down, and he’s dealing with a really intense crisis. All of his ideas of what his reality is, and what his world is, are being challenged. Who he is. So, he’s got to do his best to rise to the occasion.

I think his loyalty to Shauna and his love for her really is clear, and gives him some direction. But he’s like anybody in this situation. He’s kind of rudderless, and he’s searching for meaning, searching for an explanation, even if he winds up kind of blaming himself, like a child would do in an abusive family — which we see him doing in Episode 3. But as much as he’s trying to control this thing, we get more and more indicators, whether they’re private moments, like him regressing in the car… with the Papa Roach playlist, — you know, [Laughs] the playlist that he still listens to regularly and hasn’t been touched in 30 years or whatever — to some bad dreams he has later on in season, that really let him know how much his subconscious is screaming at him that his beloved wife is manifesting into a monster. Maybe.

yellowjackets-season-2-warren-kole-interview-jeff-shaunaTVLINE | In Episode 3, Shauna talks about how she was tired of the boring version of her, and the affair with Adam grew out of that.

TVLINE | Right. And while that’s a heightened version of it, I think people can relate to getting into your 40s and realizing your life isn’t what you once imagined it might be. Even though what’s going on with them is completely messed up, it is new and different — do you think there’s a bit about it that’s exciting for them, in a weird way?
Well, it brings them into the present. So, where there once was this shadowed marriage full of secrets, and we can maybe be a little sleepy about some of the realities, they’ve got a clear mission now. They’re in covering this crime, literally. So, sure. It’s exciting. It’s dangerous. I think Shauna may be getting more of a payoff with the excitement than Jeff is. He’s just trying to keep up, and there’s this [sense of] how far is too far? When is it enough? When in the game do you have to forfeit? And you know, maybe that’s when Callie is just too much in jeopardy to continue, and someone’s got to draw the line.

TVLINE | You have an epic spit-take in Episode 6. [Editor’s note: To avoid spoilers, we won’t discuss what prompts the outsize reaction.]
Yeah, I read that, I was like, wow, we’re going there. We’re going to try this on. I get my first spit-take.

TVLINE | Can you please educate me on the finer points of how to nail such a large reaction?
Well, you’ve got to set it up… I wanted to be chomping on a piece of licorice, or just something, a nervous tic of his that I kept kind of throwing out. And the writers or the director wisely redirected me. But since I had a spit-take, it’s just like, give me a straw or something to be chewing on, so I’m loaded, you know? The gun is loaded, and that way, it just sort of happens, and maybe it pays off, and it’s not too cliché or anything. Did it come out all right?

TVLINE | It was great. And in Episode 3, I love that his idea of being spontaneous was going to Colonial Williamsburg. Bless his heart.
Yeah, you know, it’s like the dress [in Season 1]. He gets an idea in the fantasy in his head. The quick decision maybe doesn’t pair up perfectly with the woman that he’s dealing with. He’s trying! Like, he gets what he’s supposed to do. He gets that he needs to do something. It’s just what he’s choosing to do…

TVLINE | Right.
… it’s not particularly effective. He’s trying, though! That’s what you’ve got to draw out of that. He’s not running away.

yellowjackets-season-2-warren-kole-interview-jeff-shaunaTVLINE | He’s definitely trying. That scene about the strawberry lube comes to mind. It was sweet, in a bizarre way, his trying to figure out his culpability.
“Where did I go wrong?” you know? “How could I have staved off this daisy chain of catastrophe?” Yeah. It can’t be Shauna, you know? It’s got to be me, and it’s come down to that damned lube, you know? “I’m a strawberry guy. I could’ve been, almost was.” This is just great writing, and it clarifies this guy. With every great line out of his mouth, you can sympathize and like him a little bit more. It was a great bait-and-switch that they pulled with this character.

What did you think of Episode 3? Sound off in the comments!

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