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TV Review: ‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Will Keep Viewers Buzzing

(L-R): Nuha Jes Izman as Teen Crystal, Samantha Hanratty as Teen Misty, Alexa Barajas as Teen Mari, Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna, Courtney Eaton as Teen Lottie, Nia Sondaya as Teen Akilah, Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie, Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa, Steven Krueger as Ben Scott and Liv Hewson as Teen Van in YELLOWJACKETS, Season 2. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

Do you hear that sound? Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Yes, that sound. It started in late 2021 when Yellowjackets premiered and since has only grown louder. At this point, the buzz is almost deafening as the fanbase continues to grow. The Showtime series, from creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, has had fans swarming online, piecing together the puzzles and developing theories as they try to solve its multiple mysteries and unanswered questions.

After being privy to watch the first six episodes of season two, let me start with some good news and some very good news. First the good; some of your questions will be answered. The better news: this season avoids any signs of a sophomore slump, capitalizing on what the series does best to sink its stinger deeper than ever before.  

If you are new to the series, don’t worry. In this review I try to stay as spoiler-free as I can, only hinting at major moments while avoiding key specifics.

For those not in the know, Yellowjackets tells the dark and winding tale of a girls’ soccer team forced to find ways to survive after a plane crash leaves them stranded in the wilderness. Just how far they go to make out alive is explored in the 1996 flashback portion of the first season. The rest of the season focuses on the team as adults, facing the lingering trauma and repercussions of the decisions they made to survive. Just what those actions entail remains a mystery. 

(L-R): Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa, Jenna Burgess as Teen Melissa, Mya Lowe as Teen Gen and Liv Hewson as Teen Van in YELLOWJACKETS Season 2. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

Season one concluded on an emotionally riveting note that seemed tough to followup. It was not long into the second season when it became apparent the showrunners would not rest on their laurels. It starts with some big swings that quickly sets the trajectory for a more shocking and darkly funny season that expands the world, mysteries, and mythology while also answering questions. Of course, do not be surprised if those answers are quickly followed up with new questions.

This season picks up a couple months after the events of season one. The girls are fighting off starvation as winter has set in and food is scarce. The numbers have dwindled a little as a couple of Yellowjackets have died off in the most dramatic fashion (this includes a major player whose death has taken a serious toll on the team.) In the present day, we follow the core Yellowjackets: Shauna (Melanie Lynskey), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), Nat (Juliette Lewis), and Misty (Christina Ricci) are all facing their own escalating challenges. 

One of the most impressive parts of the series is its ability to juggle all the intertwining and evolving storylines with a rhythm that keeps you locked in each one. I do have to admit, it can be a bit annoying at times as they lead you right to the edge of a cliff waiting to see who falls, only to switch to another. I get over it quickly, so I guess that is a testament to how invested I have become.

After 6 episodes into the season my excitement reaches heights mainly due to the ability to dig deeper into the characters even as the cast grows. I found myself wrapped up in some of the more standard drama (at least in Yellowjackets terms) and forgetting the connection to all the tragedy, cannibalism, supernatural, and conspiracies.

The best example is Shauna (Lynskey) who is a powerhouse hiding in plain sight behind the quiet, suburban housewife exterior. Shauna is working through some extremely difficult family matters from last season which include lies, cheating, murder, rabbit meat, and more. The situation has her daughter and husband searching for normalcy – something that does not look to be arriving anytime soon (which is a good thing.)

Melanie Lynskey as Shauna in YELLOWJACKETS Season 2. Photo Credit: Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME.

Lynskey remains the series MVP as the writers take full advantage of her versatility. One standout scene has Shauna face to face with a chop shop worker that ends in the most intense and delicious of ways. As mentioned in my interview with Lynskey last season, people knew her work but not her name. If you don’t know her name by now, you will when Emmy season comes around.

One of the pleasant surprises of this season is the chemistry between Shauna and her husband Jeff (Warren Kole). Their pairing has led to some of the season’s funnier moments, as they now work together to cover up a murder, all while their daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins) grows ever more aware that her mother’s not that innocent.

The series’ stroke of genius is its use of flashbacks to visit the younger versions of these characters witnessing how they came to be the damaged adults they are now and vice versa. Through young Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) we experience how the loss of Jackie shattered her, something that makes adult Shauna’s strength and perseverance even more impressive. This season the 1996 Shauna takes us on an emotional and psychological roller coaster that covers new territory for the character that is not always easy to swallow. Nélisse delivers again this season in a demanding role that examines her trauma in the most ghostly of ways. 

Then there’s Misty. Sweet, innocent Misty, more unhinged as ever and funny as hell. There’s so much to enjoy about the character and Ricci’s off-balance embodiment is a treat to watch everytime she is on screen. From outrageous cookie cakes to how she downvotes on social media and her unique style of interrogation prep, she had me laughing over and over, especially as she teams up with Walter (series newcomer, Elijah Wood) another “citizen detective” to find Nat.

(L-R): Christina Ricci as Misty and Elijah Wood as Walter in YELLOWJACKETS Season 2. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

Just below the harmless, librarian-esque surface is perhaps the most deranged character on the show, one who you cannot put anything past. This is true for both the adult and teen version (played with unnerving effectiveness by Sammi Hanratty). Misty remains an unpredictable cocktail; the perfect mix of comedy and mania.

The series offers such a variety of the characters, each with their own quirks; another reason it is so easy to watch. The ultra-competitive Tai (Cypress) and younger Tai (Jasmin Savoy Brown) may seem the most stable at first glance, while underneath they are unraveling, losing touch with reality, the bounds of which we have yet to reach (and people are starting to notice.) Together they have helped turn up the creepy, horror elements this season. Then there’s the tortured Nat (Lewis and Sophie Thatcher) who was kidnapped from a near-suicidal moment last season only to awaken in the company of a cult led by the adult version of Lottie (Simone Kessell, her younger self played by Courtney Eaton both whose ‘Antler Queen’ roles are expanded on this season.) Kessel and Eaton’s growing presence as Lottie explore supernatural elements of the series in a way that we can expect to piece together for a long time. 

(L-R): Courtney Eaton as Teen Lottie, Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna and Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa in YELLOWJACKETS, “Edible Complex’. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

A few episodes into season two the adult version of Van joins the show (played by Lauren Ambrose who never disappoints.) While not given a ton to do in the episodes I have seen, there are hints of much more to come – I cannot wait. Ambrose’s appearance reminds me of just how well these actresses capture the essence of their counterparts (the younger version played by Liv Hewson). A combination of brilliant casting, writing, direction, and performances really connect the two versions of each character.

When I said the show juggles a lot, I meant it. I only skimmed the storylines and character, for the most part avoiding any big reveals or moments so you can enjoy watching it unfold for yourself. (Don’t worry, anyone looking for theories or discussions will certainly find every last detail dissected on Reddit, Discord, etc.) This season provides more heaping servings of mystery, suspense, and madness. None of it would matter if not for the outstanding performances by the cast across the board who harness it all to prevent the off-beat from becoming off-putting.

Lauren Ambrose as Van in YELLOWJACKETS Season 2. Photo Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.

Yellowjackets is hitting on all cylinders. It is obvious that Lyle and Nickerson are committed to delivering an immersive experience that is rewarding on many levels. From the double-ended character development, to the clever clue-dropping writing and editing that keeps viewers searching for answers, to the always on-point needle drops, even the smallest details do not seem to have been taken for granted. It is why this series lingers in your brain long after the credits roll. The dedication carries over beyond what is on the screen to this pitch perfect marketing. Every commercial, every tweet, every social media post hones into what the fans love about the series. Brilliant.

Yellowjackets offers a lot to sink your teeth into and does not look to be slowing down. This season really ramps up the supernatural aspects quickly. I am here for all of it. Especially episode one’s very cool cameo which I absolutely loved. Is this the quality of storytelling that keeps viewers endlessly guessing and engaged sustainable? That is something we will have to see in seasons to come. But more than halfway through the second season I am as captivated as ever because of all it offers. It is dark, funny, stomach-churning, weird, bewildering, heart-wrenching, eerie, and shocking, but most of all Yellowjackets is addictive as hell. I have been stung. The show’s venom is in my veins and I want more. I need that buzz. 

Yellowjackets season two premieres tonight on Showtime. If have not watched yet, be sure to catch up with season one first before jumping in.

SCORE: ★★1/2


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Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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