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A man sits at a table with a woman slightly out of frame in this photo by Showtime.
More introverted than many of the girls, Travis (Kevin Alves) often looked pensive in Season 2 of “Yellowjackets.” (Image: Showtime Networks)

Despite how you feel about him, there’s no discounting the harrowing trauma endured by Travis Martinez (played by Kevin Alves as a teen and Andres Soto as an adult) throughout “Yellowjackets.” The teen girls and the adult versions of their characters have experienced their fair share of tragedies since (and including) the plane crash that left them stranded in the wilderness, but that doesn’t mean Travis hasn’t greatly suffered too. Yet fans don't look at him in the same light as his female counterparts. He was one of the more polarizing and unlikeable characters introduced in the first season, and the discourse surrounding him only grew in Season 2. But have our perceptions of him changed for better or worse?

Don’t You Know You’re Toxic?

A man shoots a rifle at something offscreen in this photo by Showtime.
Travis showed his usefulness in Season 1 of “Yellowjackets” with shooting and hunting skills. (Image: Showtime Networks)

Toxic masculinity ran rampant in the 1990s, and Travis’ character in the 1996 timeline embodied that concept from the beginning. Given that Travis was thrown into a life-and-death environment and surrounded by people he didn’t know or feel comfortable with, it’s not surprising he acted out in negative ways in early episodes.

Before Season 2 aired, Yellowjackets Hive interviewed Kevin Alves, who said Travis being an unlikeable character was intentional. Travis evoking unfavorable feelings within the fandom speaks to the caliber of Alves’ acting and the writers’ scripting. In one of the most explosive scenes in Season 1, for example, Travis pointed a gun directly at Natalie (Sophie Thatcher), showing us how fast he could fly off the handle when pushed. It wasn’t a sight viewers enjoyed, especially considering how much fans love Nat — and we weren’t supposed to enjoy it either.

Travis’ nickname “Flex” also brought out an unappealing side to him in the wilderness timeline — and had dire consequences. When his nickname was revealed in Season 1, it made Travis feel insecure and set off a devastating chain of events that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The moment led to Jackie (Ella Purnell) and Travis sleeping together, which led to an argument between Jackie and Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), which led to Jackie sleeping outside and freezing to death. We can’t help but wonder if Jackie would still be alive had Travis reacted differently and not let his insecurities get the better of him.

Slowly, It’s Taking Over Me

Teenage brothers sit side by side, looking at something offscreen in this photo by Showtime.
Javi (Luciano Leroux) and older brother Travis were the only characters related to each other in the wilderness. (Image: Showtime Networks)

From Travis’ first appearance in the pilot, we got the impression his presence on the Yellowjackets’ team trip to nationals wasn’t his idea. He seemed less than thrilled to be there, and we also sensed underlying tension within the Martinez family before they boarded the fateful flight. Based on conversations later in Season 1, it’s assumed that Travis didn’t have the best relationship with his father. While on a hunting trip in the wilderness, Travis confided in Natalie about his dynamic with his dad, and they bonded over the conversation. Natalie, who had significant issues with her own father, even told Travis, “It always sucks when they are gone, no matter how sh***y they were.”

We empathized with Travis and his little brother, Javi (Luciano Leroux), as they watched their father die before their eyes after the plane crash. Even if it was his coping mechanism, the tragedy didn’t give Travis the right to be a “d**k all the time,” as Natalie put it. He wasn’t the only one shell-shocked and grieving. Many viewers, including us, also didn’t care for the way Travis treated Javi after they lost their father. Travis forcing Javi to spit out the gum his father gave him for the plane ride was yet another example of how quickly Travis could become unnecessarily combative and aggressive.

Travis, who didn’t want to go on the team trip in the first place, blamed his father for the fact that he and Javi were trapped in a figurative hell on Earth with no means of escape or rescue. He took out all of his emotions on those around him. Not long after the gum incident, however, we saw a softer side to Travis. He hiked back to the crash site in an attempt to retrieve a ring that was buried with his father’s body. His desperation to hold on to a piece of his father and his emotional breakdown made us see him in a new light. Natalie was the one to comfort him in that moment, strengthening the bond between them. If Nat liked Travis, shouldn’t we?

Can You Feel Me Now?

A man digs something up in the snow in this photo by Showtime.
For a brief moment, terror took over Travis as he imagined Javi buried in the snow while searching with Natalie (Sophie Thatcher). (Image: Showtime Networks)

By the time we arrived at “Doomcoming” in Season 1, Travis and Natalie’s blossoming romance was over as fast as it began thanks to the Jackie debacle. Just when fans were starting to come around and see Travis positively, his sleeping with Jackie provided huge ammunition for those who disliked him. We agree that Travis sleeping with Jackie was wrong, but it didn’t warrant what happened to him next: Most of the girls, under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms found in the wilderness, tried to rape and kill Travis.

If it wasn’t for Natalie and Jackie stumbling upon the group in the forest, there’s a good chance Shauna would have actually slit Travis’ throat. Living to tell that tale came with some scars, both literally and figuratively. Travis faced further heartbreak: After already losing his father, Javi ran off during the chaos and Travis couldn’t find him.

Javi’s disappearance for two months drove Travis’ story in the first half of Season 2. Many of the characters presumed Javi was dead, and when Travis wouldn’t give up hope, Natalie planted bloody shorts in the wilderness in an attempt to get Travis to accept his brother’s likely fate. We imagine Travis’ emotions at the time were further complicated by the group’s decision to eat (yes, eat) Jackie, given that Travis likely felt some guilt over her unexpected death.

The fandom breathed a collective sigh of relief when Javi was found alive, but we knew what that meant for Natalie and her relationship with Travis. Her lie about Javi being dead was exposed, and Travis instantly went cold and pushed her away. We were almost brought back to early Season 1 Travis at that point.

I Took a Sip From My Devil’s Cup

 A man consumes a human heart in this photo by Showtime.
Travis kicked off the “Javi feast” by biting into his brother’s raw heart. (Image: Showtime Networks)

Despite his estrangement from Natalie, things seemed like they were looking up for Travis when he was reunited with his brother — until they weren’t. In Season 2, Episode 8, Javi ran away from the group again, but this time he was running to help Natalie as she was being hunted by the other survivors. Travis probably didn’t consider that his brother may not come back alive this time, given the circumstances. Later, the realization on Travis’ face that it wasn’t Natalie who died was almost as painful as watching Javi drown in that freezing water. Seeing Travis cradle Javi’s frozen body broke our hearts.

We knew what was about to happen next — as did Travis. In order for everyone to survive, they had to eat Javi. In the second season finale, Van (Liv Hewson) told Travis he needed to let his brother save him, and he ultimately did. Watching Travis take a bite of Javi’s heart definitely made our stomachs turn in more ways than one. Imagine the guilt you would feel consuming a family member’s body so you wouldn’t die yourself. We’re not sure that’s something you could forgive yourself for.

We wonder if, in Season 3, Travis will place any blame for Javi’s death on Natalie, since she was the one who should have been killed. Could that be why he moved away and changed his name after they were rescued?

Too High, Can’t Come Down

A man grabs a woman’s shoulders in this photo from Showtime.
A desperate adult Travis (Andres Soto) sought guidance from his former wilderness spiritual leader, Lottie Matthews (Simone Kessell). (Image: Showtime Networks)

Judging by the way things panned out for adult Travis, it’s safe to assume he never got over what the group had to do to survive in the wilderness. Survivor’s guilt likely followed him to the grave. We can thank our lucky stars for adult Misty (Christina Ricci) though. If not for her handy-dandy accordion file full of details on all the survivors’ whereabouts, we may have never known what happened to him post-rescue.

Misty’s information on Travis sent adult Natalie on the wild goose chase we saw throughout Season 1. It started with Natalie just trying to find him. Once Travis was shockingly found dead, the storyline morphed into a quest to uncover who killed him. Natalie was adamant he never would have committed suicide.

We were given more insight into the night Travis died throughout the course of Season 2, but all from adult Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) perspective. According to Lottie, Travis called her out of pure desperation and fear. Struggling with lingering psychological issues from their time in the forest, Travis supposedly wanted to get close to death so he could “talk to it” and enlisted Lottie’s help in hanging himself. But when she pressed the equipment button to lower him back down as he fell unconscious, Lottie alleged it got stuck, culminating in Travis’ death with a noose around his neck.

We saw something else during this flashback: Lottie envisioned a demon version of Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) at the same moment Travis was hanging from the machinery. She didn’t clue Natalie into that little detail, and we know better than to completely trust Lottie’s version of events.

Among the other loose threads with adult Travis was the “Tell Nat she was right” note he left behind, his emptied bank account, and the night Natalie overdosed and then told Travis they brought the darkness back with them. It still doesn’t add up to a clear picture of what happened to Travis in his adult life, but with Natalie — the only person who was truly seeking answers about Travis’ death — now also dead, will we ever find out anything more?

Losing My Head, Spinnin’ Round and Round

A young man cries in this photo by Showtime.
The grief of losing his brother finally overtook him as Travis shed some tears. (Image: Showtime Networks)

When looking back on teen Travis’ journey through both seasons, it’s evident that he’s not the same person at the end of Season 2. His demeanor, attitude, and entire persona have changed, and some fans’ perceptions of him changed too. Travis initially gave us plenty of reasons to dislike him, but he seemed to journey from one of the most polarizing characters on the show to one viewers are now empathetic toward.

His initial treatment of Javi and Natalie — and his disdain toward the group as a whole — all factored into the general ill will we felt toward him. As time went on, however, there were more reasons our hearts broke for Travis. Losing not one but two family members in the wilderness affected him in ways the others couldn’t begin to comprehend. There may have been a bit of resentment toward him since he was the only one who had a family member with him, but that connection just gave him another thing to lose in an environment that had no qualms about taking what it wanted.

We know teen Travis will be with us until the end of the wilderness timeline, but some questions remain. Will the wilderness take anything else from him? With Natalie as the group’s new queen, will his safety be guaranteed? Are his days of toxic behavior behind him, or will he explode again in the future? Whether we love to hate Travis or hate to love him, we can’t wait to see what Season 3 has in store for our favorite group of cannibals and its only male member.

One thought on “Travis Martinez in ‘Yellowjackets’: Love to Hate Him or Hate to Love Him?

  1. Steven Knicks says:

    Definitely HATE him

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