Yellowjackets was one of those shows where the word-of-mouth buzz slowly grew over time, then grew too loud to ignore. With season one being one of the most acclaimed shows of 2021-22, the sophomore season certainly has a lot more to live up to, and in the opening episodes, it certainly delivers on the promise.
Co-creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson said they envisioned their Showtime drama as a five-season series, and so far, they are doing a fantastic job of answering certain questions whilst adding no layers to the mystery. Season two looks like it will answer enough questions to satisfy eager viewers only to add enough surreal new twists to sustain this show for future seasons.
Season 2 picks up all the threads almost straight away. 25 years ago, winter hit the Wiskayok High School soccer team, the titular Yellowjackets, and coaches as they remain stranded in the unforgiving Canadian wilderness. The survivors of the plane crash are now living as comfortably as possible in a tapper’s cabin.
Amongst the teens are the very pregnant Shauna (Sophie Nélisse), Lottie (Courtney Eaton), Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Van (Liv Hewson). Tensions are running high as food is running low, and no one wants to clear out the pee bucket.
Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) spends most of her time out looking for survivors or any form of help with her new boyfriend, Travis (Kevin Alves). He is passionately on the search for his missing brother Javi (Luciano Leroux), who the others believe to be dead.
25 years in the future, we meet more of the grown-up survivors in the form of Lottie (Simone Kessell)–who it was revealed had emptied Travis’s bank account after his death in season 1–and Van (Lauren Ambrose). Lottie now runs a wellness retreat that probably isn’t as healing as she suggests it is. Van is desperately trying to capture her missed youth which was overrun with trauma and burden. Kessell has the same ethereal qualities Eaton gives the younger Lottie, whilst Ambrose is a lot more melancholic and less playful than Hewson’s younger version of the character.
Misty has two new friends, both of whom come with our mysteries and perils. Teen Misty (Sammi Hanratty) befriends theatre kid Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), bonding over their detachment from reality. Grownup Misty (Christina Ricci) finds a kindred spirit in Walter (Elijah Wood), an armchair detective who has a nose for getting involved in other people’s business. Misty continues to be one of the most intriguing characters on the show, in both past and present, helped by Hanratty’s manic performance and Ricci’s comic timing.
Shauna is still reeling from the death of her best friend Jackie, now spending her days talking to the ghost of the former popular girl. The guilt for her behaviour towards Jackie in life and death delivers some of the show’s most twisted imagery. In the present, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff are trying to relight their marriage by doing illegal activities together.
Adult Taissa’s (Tawny Cypress) blackouts are worsening, alienating both her wife and her son, as well as herself, from reality. We also delve deeper into teen Taissa’s (Jasmin Savoy Brown) sleepwalking tendencies. We start to learn what is causing some of the show’s more haunting imagery and Taissa’s detachment from reality.
A less interesting plot point, Detective Kevin (Alex Wyndham) starts to investigate Adam’s disappearance and drags Shauna and Jeff’s daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins) into proceedings. Although Lynskey is having a huge amount of fun as an anti-hero, her modern-day story feels aimless. Whenever you are with the adult women, you can’t help but yearn to be back with the teens in snowy Canada. The second season keeps the present-day ladies apart for just a little too long, wasting their natural chemistry.
Yellowjackets continues to excel at toeing the line of ambiguity, successfully balancing thriller, mystery, dramatic, and supernatural elements. Are these women mentally ill, are they somehow cursed, or is there some darkness being manifested? The supernatural certainly follows these women around as Lottie’s visions start to return and the Antler Queen rises again. The joy of the writing is that every person will have a different reading on whether there is a malignant presence in the lives of these women or they are simply going through a shared trauma.
Because Yellowjacket explores the mindset of several characters, in both the past and present, reality and fantasy begin to blur. You will be frequently reminded that because we are seeing events playing out from certain characters’ points of view, that doesn’t make it a reality. Season 2 smartly plays with perceptions of reality and time, sometimes presenting fever dreams and visions as facts, toying with memories and stories until no one is really sure what the truth is.
Yellowjackets is a show that greatly benefits from the weekly format because every episode will likely breed many theories. The second season amps up the gore, horror, wackiness, and mysteries, taking bold risks with its characters and mostly pulling off the big swings. May the buzz continue to grow with this wild series.
Yellowjackets (Season 2) premieres on Showtime on March 24
by Amelia Harvey
Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy
Categories: Anything and Everything, Reviews, TV, Women Film-makers
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