the cast of yellowjackets in yellowjackets season 2

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

‘Yellowjackets’ season 2 doesn’t let up on the tension or mystery

The season premiere picks up the pieces right where we left off.

 

Michelle Jaworski

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Analysis

First arriving on Showtime in 2021 to become one of the year’s surprise hits, Yellowjackets combined mystery box elements, the kind of delicious melodrama in most HBO prestige shows, and some damn good character development. If season 2 had wavered or been less consistent now that more eyeballs were on it, people would have understood; sophomore slumps happen to the best of shows.

Warning: Some spoilers for the Yellowjackets season 2 premiere.

So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. (Unlike many people making television nowadays, showrunners Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, and Jonathan Lisco treat their show like TV, not a 10-hour movie.) The season premiere, which dropped online last Friday but aired on Sunday, picks up the pieces right where we left off.

In the present day, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) and Misty (Christina Ricci) are trying to cover up last season’s big murder. Taissa (Tawny Cypress) discovers what she’s been doing in her basement. Natalie (Juliette Lewis) is held captive by Lottie’s (Simone Kessell) wellness center/cult, which raises more questions. It even has a *chef kiss* moment in Jeff (Warren Kole) angrily jamming out to Papa Roach. (As ever, music supervisor Nora Felder’s needle drops are immaculate.) The past timeline in the Canadian wilderness is where the meatiest parts reside.

Yellowjackets has gotten Lost comparisons since its pilot, but “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” got a more unexpected comparison: Background characters going mainstream. We meet new Yellowjackets, like theater kid/JV player Crystal (Nuha Jes Izman), who bonds with Misty (Samantha Hanratty). It brings several minor characters, such as Mari (Alexa Barajas) and Akilah (Nia Sondaya), to the forefront. And background players Mya Lowe and Jenna Burgess now have character names (Gen and Melissa, respectively). 

The result is a bunch of “wait, who?” quandaries, Nikki and Paolo comparisons, and the new cast poking fun at the first question at our expense. 

At the end of the episode, a pregnant teenage Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) becomes the first Yellowjacket to resort to cannibalism after she eats her dead best friend Jackie’s (Ella Parnell) ear. With a cold winter and food supplies dwindling, it’s a matter of time before more Yellowjackets follow. And with several guaranteed to make it back to civilization, those new background characters might be the perfect people to serve up, quite literally, to the Antler Queen.

Why it matters

Yellowjackets’ introduction of those new characters is a little clunky, as is the case when you establish new characters in an isolated environment where it’s hard to make them feel organic. (Also, if Crystal spent months pissing everyone off by singing show tunes, we’d have heard it sooner.) But at least the memes are delivering.

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