The first season of Yellowjackets ended with a lot of lingering questions. The chaotic season finale, which saw a teenage Jackie freeze to death in the wilderness, was equal parts frustrating and compelling: Who kidnapped Nat? Is Taissa actually crazy? Will Shauna get away with murder? And, most importantly, when are the girls going to eat someone?
Thankfully, these questions are answered—at least in part—early on in season two.
The series, told over two timelines, doesn’t hesitate to kick things into high gear, which works in its favor. The slow, mysterious burn of the first season, about a girls soccer team trapped in the wilderness after a plane crash in 1996 and the events surrounding the survivors in 2021, often felt like a tease. From the outset, viewers were made aware that in the woods things went dramatically amiss, leading to a cult of teen girls eating each other for ritual and survival. But we never discovered who was eaten, or why.
While the present-day timeline continues where it left off, in the past we jump forward two months. It’s the dead of winter and the girls, along with their assistant soccer coach Ben (Steven Krueger) and their deceased coach’s son Travis (Kevin Alves), are freezing and rationing food. Their remaining meat, which is dwindling quickly, is being stored in a makeshift shed alongside Jackie’s frozen corpse, which is waiting to buried. Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) is ravaged with guilt and spends her days talking to Jackie (Ella Purnell). Travis and Nat (Sophie Thatcher), wrapped in ripped clothing, scour the surrounding landscape for Travis’ brother, who has been missing since the ‘shroom-induced orgy of season one.
Everyone is tense and jumpy, especially Tai (Jasmin Savoy Brown), who continues to dissociate in her sleep despite the best efforts of her girlfriend Van (Liv Hewson). Misty (Sammi Hanratty) is given the literal cold shoulder by the group, but it’s Lottie (Courtney Eaton) who has everyone obsessed and rattled in equal measure. Lottie, who we see committed to a mental institution following their rescue, is convinced the forest wants to give them something if they are willing to honor it. Which is all to say: Something unhinged is clearly about to happen.
Meanwhile, in the present, Nat (Juliette Lewis) wakes up to discover she’s been reunited with Lottie, who now runs a purple-clad cult in the woods. Misty (Christina Ricci), fearful something bad has happened to Nat, is hot on her tail. Tai (Tawny Cypress), now a state senator, is falling back into old habits as her personality continues to splinter. But it’s Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) who is the most off-kilter. She, along with her hapless husband Jeff (Warren Kole), find themselves in a mess of evidence that may lead the police to Shauna’s door, proving that she did, in fact, murder her lover. Shauna, our housewife protagonist, is perhaps the most messed up of them all.
Creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson have a lot of expectation to live up to in the new episodes. The massively-acclaimed and undeniably gripping first season felt unexpected and delightfully strange. Was it a horror series, or a supernatural one? It almost didn’t matter because it amplified the true terror of being a teenage girl, a species so vicious she will eat her own to survive. For the most part, the next chapter of the story is equally as satisfying and delicious, although occasionally nausea-inducing and often overindulgent. Very quickly (I watched the first three episodes for this review), the show gives us what we so desperately want from a series that promised cannibalism from its initial scene.
As the trailer reveals, new characters, as well as older versions of Van (Lauren Ambrose) and Lottie (Simone Kessell), are on the way. Elijah Wood joins the cast as a fellow citizen detective, who may be friend or foe to Misty on her search for the missing Nat. But it’s Lewis, Ricci and Lynskey make Yellowjackets such must-see TV. All of the show’s actors are strong, but it’s this trio, playing wonderfully fucked up women who have no interest in so-called good behavior, who are the most captivating. Also great: the music, which continues to be impeccable.
Despite the generous slew of answers in season two, more questions emerge. Some may be answered as the journey continues (season three has already been greenlit). But the mystery lingers, which is what makes Yellowjackets so much fun, as does its tone. This is not a show about nice people doing nice things. Instead, it revels in their badness. And, sometimes, that’s cathartic.