‘Yellowjackets’ Season 2 Review: Double Down On Darkness
it’s show time Yellow jackets arrived in 2021 amid a crowded streaming schedule. Within weeks, a sleeper hit emerged after the show landed like a jackhammer and then unrolled like slow-burning splatter art, scattering tiny fragments of events in the woods after a female high school football team survived a plane crash. We soon realized that fighting back from a traumatic situation might just be the beginning of the horror.
I’m starting with a dark note here, I’m aware of that, and how Car I do that during Women’s History Month?
Still Yellow jackets ain’t exactly a bouquet of tulips, y’all. No “proper” woman behavior went down in these Canadian woods, and those horrors have yet to be fully exposed in the eyes of today’s public, but the show’s sleight of hand remains masterful. For one, it’s hard for the uninitiated to describe the show. It cannot be reduced to survival drama or compared fairly Lord of the flies except the frame. And sure, there’s cult-like haunting and physical brutality, but emphasizing those side effects feels like a disservice. Frankly, the show also transcends its own cruelty to give us an intriguing characterization that proves it Yellow jackets has more to offer than desolation and blood and horror with a side of the supernatural.
The show pulls off nearly impossible feats of storytelling in this way, which is why I’m going to defy a “standard” review. I’m not going to even begin to analyze all of the themes that really make this show tick. Because yes, I digress and yet I realize that this series has so many layers that I can’t adequately address them all at once. Spoiler avoidance is also paramount, and fan theories will soon be floating around for us to analyze.
It’ll be a good time, I promise.
But let’s start here: you will feel anxious watching this new season and it will be worth it. Also, I recommend rewatching the Season 1 finale for a number of reasons. The first, of course, is to refresh the various threads of the story. The second reason, almost as important, would be to recapture the spirit of the central four – Natalie (Juliette Lewis), Misty (Christina Ricci), Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Taissa (Tawny Cypress) – as they head into their high school reunion in slow motion to the admiration of all the men in the room.
This clip brings me to the first of a few points as to why this season remains as strong (if not stronger) than the first.
– Yellow jackets continues with *chef’s kiss* throughout the soundtrack: As the clip above demonstrates, this show does the best job of weaving in those catchy tunes you might not have realized were dominating the background noise of your own 1990s. Offspring’s Keep ‘Em Separated doubles as a frivolous set of lyrics could means more, and it turned into such a ridiculous party anthem, much like the Yellowjackets juxtaposition entering that silly reunion party. Few people were aware at the time of the cleanup that had just taken place after Shauna’s lover met a violent end. And Season 2 is good at highlighting both darkly humorous and profound moments with music, which I expect we’ll analyze as the episodes wear off. However, I’m happy to report that the promise of a perfect Tori Amos moment is realised, and this part of the show remains a highlight.
– No other current TV show can represent multiple timelines quite as well: One side of the story almost always gets the wave in shows with dueling timelines. A character set will always be sparse. Sh*t usually gets confusing, and two timelines tend to be more of a gimmick than a useful strategy. I would like to invite you to prove me wrong here, but please don’t tell me that The Witcher or western world did it better. I will laugh. (True detective Season 1 maybe? Sure, I’ll admit that, but I’m talking about recent shows.)
The Yellow jackets Writers did the thing. They seamlessly blended the past and the present. Likewise, the young and older versions of these main characters feel faithful to their counterparts, and season two reinforces that strength. Sophie Thatcher delivers a teenage Natalie who is on track to be the burned-out version of Juliette Lewis. Samantha Hanratty is just as off-kilter and chilling as watching Christina Ricci’s version, fatally spearing cigarettes and naming a bird Caligula. Jasmine Savoy Brown gives us a youthful Taissa whose cutthroat feels natural for a political candidate with a thirst for sacrificial rituals. And Sophie Nélisse gives us the teenage Shauna with so much pent-up anger simmering beneath her gentle and socially acceptable surface that we can easily believe that the adult Shauna has fallen into a deadly affair that unfolds in season 2.
— This thematic tightrope walk: Three of these ^^ characters are currently suffering from PTSD. And Yellow jacketsTreating the aftermath of trauma is a far cry from, say, Room. Do you remember how boring that movie was? Bree Larson’s character expected to celebrate freedom, and instead she fell into a deep depression. Reintegration is tough, and that’s not inherently easy to observe. The recovery isn’t linear either. It’s not particularly fun to watch in real life or in many movies. Still Yellow jackets does such a good job of adding black humor to all the “backsliding” moments that all the grim details are washed away. Instead, we want to know what’s next and how these characters will manage to cover up their last fuck to bury the past.
And my goodness, do these actresses ever milk these roles. Decades of experience lie behind the belts of Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci Yellow jackets arguably gives them (especially in the latter case) the roles of their lives. Ricci is fine-tuning her role (both she and Hanratty are getting crazier this year), and I’m so happy for her that she found it. And don’t even get me started on how Melanie Lynskey finally gets her due date, because I’ll continue if you allow me.
— About the women stuff: Sure, the show’s title is a cheeky nod to Lord of the flies, but these are stinging hellions that not only attack mercilessly when threatened, but also unprovoked. Dealing with stupid social hierarchies is difficult enough in conventional settings. In the woods, these ladies can escape expectations, but worse pressures erupt. As adult women, they couldn’t go on, not with publicity and hangers-on and all. It’s no wonder they can never adapt, and you can expect this fight to get more messy for Shauna and Taissa and more complicated for Natalie. Only Misty never hides who she really is – someone willing to amputate and maim and poison and kill to get anyone’s attention.
I’m really not sure who’s the scariest.
Season 2 also gives us a more structured look at the clutter of human interaction. Take Shauna and Jackie’s best friendship, which came to a tragic climax when Jackie was literally frozen out of the group. This season begins with Shauna and the group deciding how to overcome this incident. This guilt clearly stays with Shauna into adulthood and affects every relationship she has, including with her prom king husband (and Jackie’s ex), Jeff. You might be right in assuming he’s going through some things this season after what Shauna did and you’d be right. He may even be scared of his wife as he asks in disbelief, “Are you Rambo?” I would look into a spinoff of these two, but I’m not sure either will survive this series.
— Season 2 is what you expect, thank goodness, only amplified: The physical elements are more brutal Yellow jackets in season 2. The sense of despair increases in both timelines. Also, yes, that moment of the season one finale is going somewhere: “Antler Queen” Lottie Matthews is still alive (and reasonably sane) and has a major role, as portrayed by both Courtney Eaton and Simone Kessell, their grown-ups Version represents a very different type of healing from the past. This dichotomy went to places of anger where I didn’t expect it to. In fact, the whole season is full of surprises, and we’re all lucky enough to have them Yellow jackets return.
Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” returns Sunday, March 26th.
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