‘Yellowjackets’ season 2: ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets high school girls

“Yellowjackets” Season 2 is among us, and it appears as though a cult-like following may be emerging for the show that — ironically enough — features cults. The hit drama broke Showtime streaming records with its Season 2 debut, which became the cable network's most streamed season premiere — and was also “Yellowjackets”' most watched episode yet. The show follows a dual timeline, in 1996 and 2021, and centers on a girls high school soccer team from the 90s that survives an airplane crash, leaving them stranded in the Canadian wilderness. 

The group must cope with the consequences of the crash, tragedy, death and trauma, while hoping to survive long enough to be rescued. There is, however, a dark spin on the show. If there wasn’t, fans would simply deem “Yellowjackets” as a cold climate version of Lost. So, how does “Yellowjackets” distinguish itself? Well, along with outright cannibalism and murder rituals, the show features a supernatural aspect that develops over the course of the season. As viewers, we are also all taken back to our 9th grade discussions of Freud’s Id, ego, and superego as we read Lord of the Flies. Once sweet, innocent teenage girls devolve into a savage state, and it appears — based on the record S2 debut — fans are here for it. The frequent cuts to future scenes, depicting cult-like madness in the Canadian winter, leaves us excited for what is to come. As the show goes on, audiences can better understand how the haunting memories of the girls follow them as adults.

Nostalgia from the 90s only emphasizes the storyline — evident in clothing style, culture references and, most notably, music. Ella Purnell as Jackie, Sophie Thatcher as Natalie and Samantha Hatratty as Misty, all bring a unique voice to their characters. The writing is strong and the dialogue is witty. But beware, the show isn’t really about language: by the season’s end, the girls are nonverbal, howling. 

But, not all is good, however. The modern plotline is a drag… an overextended, unwanted drag. In 2021 we rejoin Natalie (Juliette Lewis) fresh out of rehab, Taissa (Tawny Cypress) running for state senate and Shauna (an outstanding Melanie Lynskey) as a newly disaffected housewife. Mysterious postcards, an apparent suicide and the threat of blackmail force them to team up with Misty (Christina Ricci) in order to discover who is on to their secret. I often find myself yearning to fast forward, wanting so desperately to return to the Canadian wilderness. The modern plot of “Yellowjackets” S2 feels forced and unnecessary. Melanie Lynskey as adult Shauna, though a well respected actor, does not give her best performance. To put it bluntly, the acting overall is unengaging and the writing uninspiring.

As you can likely tell, my feelings on “Yellowjackets” are a mixed bag. What I will say is this: you are guaranteed to enjoy at least half of each episode. So take that as you will. Nonetheless, I would still recommend that all at least try the show out and see how you like it. It will certainly leave you shocked. 


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