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Yellowjackets: Season 2 Review

Yellowjackets Season 2 is not completely without its faults, but it is still a beautiful, haunting, and tragic season of television.

After seeing the series all over my TikTok feed and seeing that some of my friends were really into it, I finally decided to give Showtime’s Yellowjackets a shot.

The basic premise sounded compelling enough, and I had seen a surprising number of actors in the ensemble before, such as Sophie Thatcher. My biggest concern is that I knew going in that the plot was going to get pretty bonkers (and even that feels like an understatement). I had also had some key plot elements spoiled for me by TikTok, which is never fun, but the app did play a part in getting me to watch it, so it is what it is.

So, with Yellowjackets Season 2 already in full swing, I went on a pretty quick binge of the first season. Within the first ten minutes of the pilot episode, I was hooked and by the time the credits rolled on the finale, this series had become one of my favorite television shows in recent memory.

The concept and mystery of Yellowjackets were fascinating to watch and try to figure out as more was revealed about the 1996 and 2021 timelines. Each member of the titular soccer team had their own unique arcs that tied into the larger narrative.

Then there are the fantastic performances from the entire cast. I became particularly fond of Shauna Shipman (played by Sophie Nélisse and Melanie Lynskey), Natalie “Nat” Scatorccio (Sophie Thatcher and Juliette Lewis), and Jackie Taylor (Ella Purnell). I genuinely wanted nothing but the best for these characters and experiencing their highs and lows as they tried to survive in the wilderness and seeing what became of them after brought out so many emotions.

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Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna in YELLOWJACKETS, “Burial”. (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

Thankfully, I did not have to wait for the second season and got myself caught up. Yellowjackets Season 2 had such a high bar to live up to, because the first season was an absolute five out of five stars. It also ended on the incredibly intriguing cliffhanger of Natalie Scatorccio (Lewis) being kidnapped by mysterious figures seemingly related to her former teammate Lottie Matthews, who has schizophrenia and experienced disturbing visions during the team’s time in the woods (portrayed by Courtney Eaton in the 1996 timeline and by Simone Kessell in the 2021 timeline).

The last thing that I wanted was for Yellowjackets to have a bit of a sophomore slump. Too often, I have seen a show have an incredible first season and then completely fall flat on its face while trying to follow up on it. It gets a little rocky at times, but Season 2 manages to be nearly as good as its predecessor.

Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets Season 2 continues to tell the story of a high school girls’ soccer team and the lengths they go to in order to survive after their plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness in 1996. The series also focuses on their lives 25 years later in 2021, after they are rescued.

The story continues to uncover what exactly happened to the team in the woods, and how they managed to go from normal teenage girls to a group that did horrible things and seemingly worshipped some kind of entity. Then there are the multiple present-day storylines in Yellowjackets Season 2, like Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) having to deal with the aftermath of her affair and subsequent murder of her lover. It is a lot to keep up with, but the writers manage to make it work for the most part. They continue to draw fascinating parallels between the past and present timelines repeatedly.

Said parallels help Yellowjackets Season 2 create less of a disconnect between the older and younger versions of our main characters. You are beginning to see how Sophie Nélisse’s younger Shauna eventually becomes the person that Melanie Lynskey portrays in the 2021 timeline, for example. The same can be said of Taissa Turner, as the version of the character played in the 1996 timeline by Jasmin Savoy Brown took major strides towards becoming more like her 2021 counterpart portrayed by Tawny Cypress.

Not only are the characters in the flashback timeline beginning to feel more like their present-day counterparts, the mystery of what happened in the woods is also bleeding even more into the present storylines.

Yellowjackets Season 2 provides us with answers to some questions that we had in Season 1, but some of those answers have only raised more questions. It quite frankly is brilliant long form storytelling on the part of the writers. There is a plan here, and watching the pieces continue to be spilled out and put together is part of what makes Yellowjackets one of the most exciting shows on television.

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Lauren Ambrose as Van in YELLOWJACKETS, “Two Truths and a Lie”. (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

It is an exciting watch, but Yellowjackets Season 2 can also be gut wrenching with its blend of several genres. There is the mystery element, but the second season leans even further into the thriller/drama territory. They also continue to focus on character development and give the younger and older versions of each character time to shine.

You will have your favorite characters, but even the characters that you dislike will be ones that you cannot bear to lose after spending all this time with them. You will be scared for plenty of characters and go through a world wind of emotions as things begin to ramp up in the woods and in the present day.

The creative team behind Yellowjackets have built a story around interpersonal dynamics and the idea of how trauma can impact the lives of people. There are no true heroes in this narrative, there may be characters who you root for and love, but they are not heroes in the slightest. In Yellowjackets Season 2, the horrors that these characters had to go through to survive in the woods for 19 months are not hidden nor should they be. It is realistic and more than anything else tragic, and the characters are more than aware that what they did was wrong. Seeing them struggle to survive and the subsequent trauma gained from being in survival mode is what makes both timelines so heart wrenching to watch.

This is not the show to watch on a full stomach. There are sequences that will send chills up your spine and might make you throw up your lunch. I do love that much like with the first season, you are not overly exposed to the gore to the point where it seems excessive. Even though there is more gore, it has a clear purpose when shown.

So many of the characters get awesome development, and naturally that leads to some phenomenal performances from this talented ensemble. Sophie Nélisse gives the greatest performance of the younger versions of our main characters. Shauna goes through so much this season as she deals with the aftermath of the death of her best friend Jackie at the end of last season and her pregnancy. Nélisse is extraordinary during all the flashback sequences and makes you feel every emotion that Shauna experiences with her stupendous facial expressions, and unbelievable vocal shifts. She will leave you stunned, shaken, and in tears at multiple points during Season 2 with a beautiful performance.

Of all the actors portraying the main characters in the present day, I was completely blown away by a newcomer to the cast. Lauren Ambrose joins Yellowjackets Season 2 as the adult version of Vanessa “Van” Palmer and immediately you can connect her with her teenage counterpart. Ambrose makes you believe she is Van almost instantly, taking cues from Liv Hewson’s performance in the flashbacks to lay the foundation while doing several things to make the character her own.

I completely forgot to mention her earlier, but I have been a Callie Sadecki (Sarah Desjardins) defender since episode 1. Callie is Shauna and her husband Jeff’s daughter in the present day and in Yellowjackets Season 2, she is such an intriguing character. Her arc in the second season takes her away from the traditional rebellious teen onto an incredibly fulfilling journey.

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Sarah Desjardins as Callie Sadecki in YELLOWJACKETS, “Storytelling”. (Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME)

We get to see her interact with Shauna more and learn exactly what the two think of each other. Desjardins brings so much more of her charm and genuine passion to Callie that we only saw glimpses of before. Her interrogation scene is one of my favorites of the entire season, because Desjardins has her full talents on display and is such a hilarious joy to watch.

One of my main complaints about this season has to do with some of the present-day storylines in Yellowjackets Season 2, some portions seem like time wasters for right now. This is especially confounding when you consider the number of more interesting plotlines that Yellowjackets put on the back burner. However, even those so-called time wasters have their positives like Callie’s development. There are also some developments that are sure to be divisive among fans, but they should not be completely unexpected if you have been paying attention.

I also miss Ghost Jackie, and do not understand why the writers expect the audience to forget that her haunting of Shauna was a key component. I understand Ella Purnell was likely busy with other projects during the production of Yellowjackets Season 2 but I wish they would have found a way to make it work. Mostly because the idea of Jackie haunting Shauna and the narrative throughout the series sounds delightful.

Several incredible performances and mostly excellent writing make Yellowjackets Season 2 must watch television. Certain elements and developments might be a lot to handle, but you can clearly see where the writers want to take this story as they bring another season full circle while leaving compelling unresolved storylines for the third season to pick up on. This show has not fallen off, it is continuing to build and I for one will be turned in until the very end.

Get it on Apple TV

Yellowjackets Season 2 is now available to watch on digital and on demand.

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