Adult Van arrived into our Yellowjackets lives to the sounds of “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes—a song that famously asks, “What’s going on?” And we’ve all been asking the same question about adult Van since she first appeared on Yellowjackets. Vanessa Palmer is no longer the teenage goalie who always had a smile for anyone, nor is she the wilderness believer we see emerge later in the woods. No, even though she’s running an incredibly cool video store, Adult Van feels shut down. She’s not paying her bills. She’s not taking of herself. And in episode seven of Yellowjackets season two, we find out a terrible truth about adult Van: she’s fighting cancer.
Earlier in the season, Tai found a bottle of oxycodone in Van’s medicine cabinet prescribed to V. Palmer. But Van waved off her suspicions, noting that it was actually her mother Vicki’s medication. Van explains her mother passed away and left behind the pills. But ultimately, we see her in great pain fishing the medicine out of the trash. For the keen viewer, it seemed clear that this was some good old fashion foreshadowing. Although Van’s mother may have been ill as well, adult Van was facing down the ailment she’d assigned to her mother, cancer.
While in Lottie’s compound, Adult Van and Tai get closer again and end up kissing. But Van admits that she can’t wait for Tai to figure out her life so they can get together again, literally. Although Van doesn’t specify what kind of cancer she has, it seems like it’s not the kind that can be easily cured. According to adult Van, she has only months before the cancer kills her.
The big question is, however, will adult Van actually die on Yellowjackets, in season two or beyond? On some levels, having the survivors die from a mundane cause after everything they’ve been through has some poetic irony to it. It does seem like at least one of the adult women is doomed to a fatal end. However, we hope that Van ends up last on that list, despite the ominous cancer diagnosis. Although Yellowjackets is an incredibly queer show, it does not actually have that many queer characters.
Coach Scott’s days already seem numbered. And to have Van survive so much in the wilderness, reach adulthood, and then meet death would be an unfortunate turn into the Bury Your Gays trope for the show. We’d like it much more if Lottie and the wilderness could somehow cure Van instead. We want Van to get her faith and her life renewed. Adult Van deserves so much more than the darkness she’s stuck in. Our fierce, queer icon deserves, instead, to really live.
Forget adult Van; we’d like to see elderly Van on Yellowjackets, please and thank you.