Yellowjackets Season 1 was just an amuse-bouche.
The excellent kickoff to Showtime’s addictive series hinted at cannibalism and ritualistic sacrifice, but it’s only in Season 2 that we truly get at the meat of what happened to the Yellowjackets in the wilderness. This season dives deep into the supernatural hauntings that plagued the stranded soccer team, as well as the darkness that continues to follow them 25 years later.
Given the show’s glowing reception and multi-season renewal, it’s clear Yellowjackets creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson have more room to play. Get ready for more genre-bending, more characters, and bigger stylistic swings. While some of these swings don’t completely stick the landing, Yellowjackets Season 2 remains an irresistibly harrowing watch, complete with new mysteries, jaw-dropping horrors, and a consistently incredible cast.
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The Yellowjackets face major consequences in Season 2.
Murder has consequences, as Shauna learns.
Credit: Kimberley French/SHOWTIME
Yellowjackets continues following two timelines in Season 2: the aftermath of the 1996 plane crash, and the survivors’ lives 25 years later. At the start of the season, both these timelines pick up with the common thread of the Yellowjackets facing the brutal consequences of their Season 1 actions.
For the young Yellowjackets, this means mourning the loss of Jackie (Ella Purnell), who froze to death after her teammates exiled her. It’s been two months since that tragedy, and a very pregnant Shauna’s (Sophie Nélisse) disturbing coping mechanisms send shockwaves through the team.
Present-day Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) also finds herself in a bit of hot water as police investigate the disappearance of her former lover (and murder victim) Adam (Peter Gadiot). Instead of turning to the rest of the core four Yellowjackets like Misty (Christina Ricci), Taissa (Tawny Cypress), and Natalie (Juliette Lewis), she leans on her ride-or-die husband Jeff (Warren Kole) for help.
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For most of the six episodes sent to critics for review, Yellowjackets keeps the core four separate in the present. Taissa reckons with the horrifying impact of her sleepwalking — remember her sacrificial dog altar? — in a storyline that leads her to ex Van (Lauren Ambrose). A kidnapped Natalie finds herself staying at a community run by Lottie (Simone Kessell). Not one to leave her friend hanging, Misty teams up with fellow Citizen Detective Walter (Elijah Wood) to track her down.
While the sheer volume of plot can occasionally feel overstuffed, these branching storylines deepen the cast of characters in some exciting ways. Obviously, it’s a treat to meet two new adult Yellowjackets and see what life has thrown at them. But it’s equally rewarding to see Jeff get an expanded role, along with his and Shauna’s daughter Callie (Sarah Desjardins). Shauna and Jeff’s murder coverup results in some of the season’s most darkly funny moments yet, allowing Lynskey to once again peel back the layers of Shauna’s housewife exterior to unveil something darker and more reckless.
Wood’s Walter is also a welcome addition to the cast as a potential friend to Misty. The two of them are a match made in heaven, from their Citizen Detective skills to their love of musicals. Dare I ship them, even though they’re both public menaces? Oh, I dare.
Yellowjackets Season 2 leans into the supernatural in a big way — and a lot of that is thanks to Lottie.
Lottie takes center stage.
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.
Season 1 of Yellowjackets teased us with a strange symbol, a man with no eyes, and Taissa’s frightening sleepwalking self. The new season deepens these mysteries and hints at a few answers, but don’t go expecting full explanations just yet. For now, Yellowjackets seems content to turn up the dial on horror. Mysterious dead birds and slack-jawed apparitions are all on the docket this season, along with rivers of blood and flesh-rending gore. Remember, this is a show about cannibalism… although by the end of the season, that might not be the worst transgression our Yellowjackets have committed.
By far the biggest supernatural element this season is young Lottie’s (Courtney Eaton) connection to the wilderness. After killing a bear and sacrificing its heart in the Season 1 finale, Lottie has become a kind of spiritual leader for the Yellowjackets. She carries out a bloody ritual to bless Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis’s (Kevin Alves) attempts to hunt, and she encourages her team members to nurture their relationship with the wilderness. Then, there’s the matter of her visions, which have helped the team find food and inspired faith in many of her compatriots. These omens take a wicked turn in the present, though, as Lottie worries that the darkness they encountered in the wild has followed them home.
As someone who rarely finds visions to be particularly compelling or interesting storytelling devices, I enjoyed Yellowjackets‘ restraint when it comes to Lottie’s. Her mysterious powers are less the focus than the rift they cause between the team’s true believers and skeptics, creating a dynamic push and pull in the flashback sequences that extends to present-day Lottie’s own cult. Team member turns on team member, and Yellowjackets examines each character’s capacity for cruelty as they slip ever-closer to the ritualistic cannibals we met in the show’s very first episode.
Eaton delivers in her newly expanded role, portraying Lottie as a genuine believer who just happens to have been placed on a pedestal by some of her friends. It’s sometimes hard to buy people’s reverent treatment of her in the season’s early episodes, but Eaton plays Lottie’s commitment with such sincerity that it’s easy to believe her actions, no matter what those around her may be doing. Her present-day counterpart Kessell is somewhat more slippery, especially given her apparent cult leader status. As we learn more about her time between the rescue and now, her motivations become more clear in ways that illuminate Season 1 events as well.
Yellowjackets has always blended genres, including psychological horror, teen drama, and dark comedy. With the extra emphasis on the supernatural, Season 2 takes us further into this blend while incorporating even more surreal elements. Taissa faces off against her sleepwalking double in a mirror. In one dreamy sequence, one team member stumbles into a crowded mall while wandering the woods. In another, one Yellowjacket fantasizes of a life where they had never even gotten on the plane. These departures from reality give fascinating looks at each Yellowjacket’s mental state and the different ways in which they deal with and compartmentalize their trauma.
Other similar departures, such as a sequence in which the Yellowjackets view themselves as Greek goddesses, don’t land as well. The latter undercuts a pivotal moment with tonal disjoint, to the point that my reaction to the scene was not to imagine the horrific consequences of the scene, but rather to sit in confusion.
Despite this, I still appreciate Yellowjackets’ dedication to going above and beyond the wild expectations it set for us in Season 1, both in terms of story and style. Season 2 is bolder, darker, and willing to take more risks with its deeply disturbed characters, and it pays off. Could I use more answers as to what the heck is going on in the wilderness? Sure. But I trust that Yellowjackets will take us there. In the meantime, this season’s many twists, turns, and cliffhangers are enough to keep me hooked — and buzzing for more.
Yellowjackets Season 2 begins streaming March 24 on Showtime, with new episodes streaming weekly on Fridays(Opens in a new tab). Episodes also air every Sunday on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET, starting March 26.